Friday, June 20, 2008

Raven plans, and God laughs

Originally, June was going to look very different. I had wanted to go to Evolution 2008, and today is a workshop on ontologies and evolutionary biology that I was especially interested in attending, as it ties tightly into the work I'm doing to continue my dissertation research.

Instead, I'm playing intensive-care cat nurse x 2: Isadora's amputated ear wound site is healing nicely, and Cleo is having surgery today. She has stopped eating on her own, so I've been hand- and syringe-feeding her. She's not so sick, though, that she can't fight back against the syringe-feeding; we both hate it.

It's not quite clear what's going on with her, but there's something wrong with her mouth--whether or not that's the whole story, we don't know at this point. We do know that she has bad teeth, and a lesion in her mouth. But she's so compromised at this point--and she went downhill so quickly from being fine at the end of May--that we've been putting off anesthetising her because of the risk.

Best-case scenario: the lesion in her mouth is just inflammation from bad teeth and gums, and the dental work will alleviate it, and she'll go back to eating on her own, once the dental surgery's in her rear-view mirror.

Worst-case scenario #1: the biopsy comes back malignant from pathology. In that case, we'll euthanize her--keeping her around while a facial tumor takes its toll is not doing her any favors. We lost our cat Momo to a facial tumor in 2002, and to this day, I am not quite sure that we didn't keep her around just a little too long for Momo's quality of life because we were reluctant to let her go. We won't do that to Cleo.

Worst-case scenario #2: the biopsy comes back benign, but Cleo continues to decline after the surgery, and we never figure out what the problem is.

Sad, but not worst-case, scenario: Cleo is a very poor anesthetic risk at this point, but it's clear that this is her only chance, and we're going to take it. She may well die under the anesthesia. If she does, we'll be sad, and we'll miss her, but we won't regret going forward with the surgery. If she has a chance for any future life with any degree of quality of life, this is it. But she's DNR (do not resuscitate) if she dies in surgery.

In her favor, we've temporarily gained a little ground with steroids and antibiotics--it's not a permanent gain, but we're hoping it's enough to get her safely through dental surgery this morning. She's alert, her eyes are clear, and she's looking around for the food I normally give her by hand in the morning (she's been NPO, or nothing by mouth, since midnight).

Carpe diem. I'll let you know how it turns out.

UPDATE, Friday AM: Leaving for the vet now. Cleo is awake, alert, and the talkiest I've seen her in weeks. I love you, Cleo, and we're hoping for the best. Whatever happens in surgery, I'll remember how your old self showed itself this morning.

UPDATE, Friday night: Cleo came through the surgery fine, much better than we were expecting. Yay, Cleo! I brought her home, and she headed right for the food bowl. I think we've found and fixed the problem! I didn't let her stuff herself, because she's had quite the shock to her system today, but clearly she wants to eat.

She had about half her teeth extracted, and the biopsy is sent out, but the vet thinks it's stomatitis, or inflammation of the mouth, rather than cancer. Her canines were abcessed, and their proximity to her sinuses may account for her chronic respiratory issues--so we just may have solved another problem in addition.

Good Cleo! I'm glad you came through so well.

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