Sunday, June 01, 2008

End of suffering, End of day

Sorry there haven't been any work stories lately. It's either been too mundane or too sad. Both on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, the other vet I was working with and I stayed after closing to euthanize the patients we'd worked on that day. Makes one want to go straight home to a glass of wine!

Saturday's emergency case was a cat that had been attacked the night before by a dog. The owner heard the ruckus but didn't find the cat until mid-morning. By then he looked like he was checking out: lateral, pale, shocky, low heart rate, and body temp so low it didn't even register on the thermometer. He was 18 years old, very matted, now covered in blood, fleas, ants, dirt, and leaves. My team, moments before jovially talking of weekend plans, immediately set to work - we started IV fluids, placed a circulating warm air heating pad, gave morphine and ampicillin, hooked up the EKG. Blood pressure was also unreadable. We started shaving mats off the cat's body to evaluate the damage. There were lots of bite marks on the legs and pelvis, then we found a quarter sized hole in the abdominal wall. The mesentery (lining around the intestines, not the guts themselves) were oozing out the hole, and the more I tried to clean around it the more it kept spilling out. Even though it was getting contaminated by dirt and dried leaves, I had to just bandage the belly while we stabilized him. It would be a long time before he would be ready for anesthesia and a surgical repair.

Eventually his body temp rose to 91, 92, 93 (normal is 101). We never could get a blood pressure reading, but at least he went from white to pale pink. We revived him enough to get a blood sample, and found he was in advanced kidney failure. Not too surprising for an 18-year-old cat, but it didn't bode well for his recovery. I told the owner with kidney values like that, IF he made it through the grueling recovery and surgery, it may be for just a few months of life. The owner wisely chose to let his cat go, even though his partner was on a plane, not there to help him make that decision or say goodbye. RIP, Ashley.


The Laukkanen's said...

You are such a good vet-I am glad to work with you! It is amazing that you care enough to try, work as hard as you do to save them and keep the owner's on the right track to do what is right as well! Not many vets have all those qualities. (Others would either not even try or not give up until the cat died on its own). I am sorry this one didn't make it.

Emily said...

Poor kitty. What a sad and violent ending to such a long life.

ColeBugsmommy said...

I heard about this case on Saturday, sounds like a tough one!

mainlyclearskies said...

That is so sad, and especially because the poor cat had to end his long life like that instead of in the lap of luxury like he should.