Hermione’s Secret

…okay, I’m quickly running out of suitable Harry Potter chapter titles – but I figured an oblique reference to time-turners somewhat applies to the fact that time has run away with me since my last post.

I can’t believe it has been two weeks since our painkiller drama! Literally. I’ve had to double-check. This past week has been mostly spent trying to catch up with my life, which slid by the wayside … and off into one of those marshy ditches filled with run-off and half-empty Gatorade bottles…while the world revolved around Harry for a bit. But no news is super news in our case:

STITCHES 

They came out last week. No fuss, no muss. I could hear Harry growling from reception, but they didn’t even need to sedate him (they had anticipated that they would, given his charming temperament when at the vet).  It took all of fifteen minutes once they took him into the back, and he wasn’t even removed from his crate (the top comes off). He has been delighted, since, to have full run of the flat back and to be free of his dapper outfits. I, secretly, will miss the opportunities for glamour shots:

 

MEDICATION

Harry was taken off the Metacam on the day of stitch removal, which was two weeks post-amputation. The vet said that inflammation-related pain usually subsides by 14 days after surgery and Metacam is an NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). The Gabapentin, which is used for nerve pain, has been gradually backed down from thrice a day, to twice, to once, and today was his final dose. I’m pretty confident he will be alright at this point. There has been no return of signs of discomfort.

THE C WORD

I did ask the vet for some more information about bone cancer in cats, at Harry’s final check-up, as I was in a better state to retain the information at this point. There wasn’t much comfort on offer, but also doesn’t seem cause for immediate concern. The only treatment for bone cancer in cats, I was told, is amputation of the infected limb (dogs have additional options, but the disease also tends to be more aggressive in them and a very large majority of cats do not experience metastasis – and when they do, it is mostly seen in the lungs first. Harry’s lungs are completely clear. Harry does also have asthma, but I was assured that if he was at the point that cancer was causing asthma-like symptoms they would see large masses in the lungs). Of course, there is no way to be sure. And, of course, cancer is a total dick and likely to re-emerge some day. I occasionally get gripped with fear, and sadness, over the likelihood of there being some vestige of disease hiding in his fuzzy little body. But. For now, it’s best to focus on Harry’s incredible healing and to appreciate this borrowed time he is living on, hopefully for many years to come. And to not forget that appreciation when he is waking me up at four AM.

MOBILITY

Not much new to report. He’s getting around very much like he used to, with the exceptions that he still tires pretty quick, usually likes to use the steps I’ve put in place to get down from places and he still looks pretty funny – especially when he runs. He’s had a few tumbles over or off of things, which stop my heart every time, but he seems unphased. Best of all, he’s back in play mode some of the time. Here are a couple of videos of him getting up to generic hi-jinx

No door will stop me

Huraah! String!

And here’s one of him using some of his make-shift steps (I wasn’t watching that show, by the way…it came on after something else :P). I have to say, I am so glad I started trying to put together a home-made bookshelf out of unfinished crates, and then got distracted, this September. Those things are almost perfect – I may do another post later about why they’re not 100% perfect and how to make them so.

I guess I’ll move, if there’s food

BONUS

As a little bit of “here, your life has sucked for a while, you deserve a treat,” the powers that be saw fit that I win a draw at my vet’s for $200 worth of free high-quality pet food! No, unfortunately, the amount cannot be put towards my substantial medical bill; however, this will help immeasurably with Harry’s new weight loss regimen. So: yay.

Things could hardly be going better (without, you know, my cat having four legs and perfect health).

The Unforgivable Curses

Just a quick update to say that five-six days after amputation was decidedly too soon for us to go off pain killers. It turns out that this is such an individual thing, there is sadly nobody to blame, but by Friday evening Harry was yowling and twitching and biting at me in a “hey, that hurts, knock it off!” sort of way. I still don’t know if it’s nerve/phantom limb pain or incision-site pain (Turns out there are actually three types of pain associated with amputation, as described in this interesting article: Post Surgery Pain in Tripawd Dogs and Cats).  It did come on quite suddenly, but it lasted until the Metacam kicked in (nearly an hour) as well…so your guess is as good as mine. Either way, it was unbearable to witness.

So, it was off to the vet, through a blizzard, in the dark – to fetch some replacement Gabapentin (after dosing him, immediately, with the Metacam I still had to hand). This takes a few days to kick in, unfortunately, so it’s only today that he is back to seeming mostly comfortable. He squawked and shivered off and on yesterday and I just had to comfort him and wait it out (cannot express how hard that sucked). But, he is now doing swimmingly once again.

Here he is showing intense interest in an intensely interesting scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 3, Episode 10: Amends (and who can blame him?):

 

 

Seen and Unforeseen

I cannot believe how well Harry is doing. This time last week he had four legs. He was limping terribly and I was worrying madly about the pain he was in, the upcoming procedure, and whether or not I was doing the right thing. I was told that he would heal up faster than I expected, but I didn’t really buy it.

We are five days in and he’s much like his usual self now, except for getting tired a lot more quickly and looking funny. He’s eating regularly, using the litter box properly (in all ways – it took almost four days for #2, in case you’re facing the same thing and wondering), getting up on the bed when he wants, and purring during pets.

He is already coming off of his pain medications (he’ll have his last Gabapentin with dinner and his final Metacam tomorrow evening. The Tramadol was done yesterday morning) and tonight will be the first night I wont have to get up at weird hours to dose him. I’m still supposed to be keeping an eye out for signs of pain, in case he needs something more, but at the moment it’s looking good.

He’s even tried to make a break for it:

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Work is tough. Yesterday was my first day leaving him and it was painful to go. I’ve been reminded quickly enough; however, that Harry is truly Cat and as such is pretty good at being on his own, even with a major injury. He spends most of his time sleeping or resting right now and I don’t believe that changes when I’m away.

Just in case, I’ve been leaving him like this:

img_1014

The humiliation should keep him subdued. He doesn’t wear his cone when I’m home, but I’m afraid he’ll be able to get around the t-shirt when I’m not there to thwart his efforts (efforts he has not actually made. yet) so he must suffer the indignity for now. His back, right paw is wrapped in vet wrap to keep him from scratching up from that direction, in this photo but this, I’ve officially learned, is useless. Both yesterday and today he was out of it by the time I popped home at lunch to check in. I suspect he was out of it minutes after I left. I have no solution for this risk at the moment, aside from hopeful thoughts. Maybe a belt…

Anyway, mostly I’m feeling relief, a renewed appreciation for the time I have with my pal, and certainty, now, that it was the right choice to amputate. We’re on our way.

 

The Potions Master

I only recently learned that people pharmacists make animal medicines (when Harry was diagnosed with asthma last year and was on steroids for a while). It’s still a bit strange for me to pick up a prescription for “Harry The Cat” at the Wellness centre, but they seem unphased. They even mix in chicken or liver flavouring to make it more palatable (they think)!

Harry is now on tramadol as well as metacam, to get him through until the amputation. He is currently staring, large-pupiled and flat on his side, at the doormat.

Instructions are to give “as needed” up to three times a day. As he’s ace at hiding his pain, this is a bit tricky. The pharmacist says that so long as he’s not walking into walls, he’s alright on a dose every eight hours…I guess we’ll see how things go.

In other news, I’ve come across the suggestion that procuring onesies and cutting out the butt, to use as a t-shirt-like deterant to stitch licking following surgury, is effective. I went to Walmart tonight, and their selection was limited:

onesies
Something to look forward to.