Sunday, April 20, 2014

Henry's Recovery

Warning, there are some graphic pictures at the end of this post.

Henry is continuing to heal. I see progress every day, but it's painstakingly slow. He started turning the corner last Monday. I think the scale at the vet's office was very wrong because I finally unpacked mine and he was nearly a pound lighter than what the vet's scale indicated. Henry got down to 4 lb. 1.6 oz. That is absolutely skeletal! He has gained 8 ounces in the last 4 days!!! He's never gained that much that fast, 1/4 pound, but I could feel the difference when I held him. I feed him 150% what I was when he was healthy, in small meals around the clock, plus still give him sub-Q Ringer's Lactate every 24-36 hours since he can't drink enough yet to stay fully hydrated since a full stomach puts too much pressure on his lungs.

I can't begin to explain how I knew Henry would live and wanted to live, and he had more strength of will than I did. At one point I felt so terrible, that after all he's done to fight this awful pneumonia that he still wouldn't live and he'd have suffered for nothing, but I was wrong and I'm so glad I gave him a chance to prove himself.

Right now he's resting beside me on the sofa, lying on his side, something he can now start to do again periodically. It's been impossible for him to breathe in this position until just a couple of days ago. Even just a few minutes ago, his mouth opened and he started having trouble breathing, but I now know that when he does this, he's about to hack up some nasty mucus from his lungs and, sure enough, that's exactly what he did (but it's still scary to watch). And I took a picture of it to show you all how viscous and nasty this stuff is. The red stuff in it is a little bit of his food. Tonight's mucus was a new level of yucky, as he's finally starting to expel the stuff that's very deep in his lungs. The amount you see in the pictures came up all at once. I'm so grateful for this even though it's gross and messy and I have to stop him from eating it, because it gives him digestive trouble, just like Apple got when she kept swallowing her mucus when she had pneumonia. It's crazy how much comes out of such a tiny little cat. When I get a chance, I'll see if I can put pictures of his x-rays up for you all to see. I know when it's best to do coupage in his feeding schedule so he doesn't lose a meal with the mucus. He's started to groom again, but tires out very, very, very easily, then just sort of collapses where he is and rests up. He still uses his oxygen tent a few times per day, just for a rest, and I've found Brother in there with him a couple times now. I'm also still using a warm mist vaporizer and he actually likes it. He's on three antibiotics, but it's the Azithromycin that really kicked the mycoplasma and saved his life. He's also on Baytril and Clavamox. I give him feline digestive enzymes and probiotics, too, for his digestive tract.

I'm in awe of this little cat. Tonight as I laid beside him, he kept in constant contact with my body, if I moved, he'd reach out a paw to find me. I arranged for a friend to feed him the day I had to be out-of-town for Apple's casts removal and he was clearly peeved at me all the next day. He and Brother have more facial expressions than any animals I've ever seen. They are both very expressive and easy to read, it's amazing. The other night I settled Henry in the living room and then I pottered around the house a little bit more and when I finally came in and sat near him on the sofa, he was so clearly relieved to have me near. He's known from the very beginning that he's absolutely dependent on my for his life. He understands about needing his medicine. He takes ALL his meds willingly and without any problems at all.

Despite his skeletal appearance, Henry is comfortable, eating voraciously, eliminating well, and showing many signs of recovery. I know it's hard to see him this way, but he has been direly, desperately ill and it's a miracle he's pulled through. His recovery will take some time, but he will enjoy a very good quality of life again, and, hopefully, many more years filled with good health. All the pictures below were taken today.

Henry's spine.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Casts Are Off

Last Thursday, Apple got her casts off. It was just in time as it's turned rather hot here and she was over-heating just walking around the house. She's already using her new fingers, but they are, understandably, weak from being in the casts and the new configuration needs time to learn to move, she drops her spoon every couple of bites, but they'll soon strengthen right up.

Today, I had to remind her that she can now play with her toys, especially her books, which are her favorites.

She does have a complication. Not on her hands, but the abscess on her head has turned out to be colonized with MRSA. I am working with the doctors to decide the best course of care and treatment, but would welcome most of all, your prayers - specifically, that the wound will heal without the need of surgery. It would be best for our family and, especially Apple, if we can postpone any further surgeries until fall. This last recovery seemed quite hard on her. She really needs a break.

So, the casts came off without any problems. Apple didn't much like it. She's really fed up with anything medical right now and doesn't even tolerate a chux pad being laid across her lap or even being weighed. I love how she looked at her new fingers. She did keep her arms bent for about 30 minutes after the casts came off, but started to straighten them once I let her play in the washing water.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Doing Better

Blossom and Jie Jie have been going through a bit of a rough patch, but finally committed to doing their best and putting forth effort in all they do and what a great difference we're experiencing now!

I have a few new homeschooling tools and this one is helping the girls put words of a sentence into grammatically correct order. They really like it and think it's fun. The second sentence was the hardest for them since "to" was used twice. The last sentence is a much longer one and for fun, but they got it put in order quickly.

Henry's Recovery

Henry is still alive, but last Thursday I took him to the vet because he'd started to get worse. The x-ray showed more fluids in the lungs. The vet didn't really know what more to do and suggested IV antibiotics, the same ones he's been taking orally. However, I wasn't comfortable with that since they clearly weren't working. He'd maintained his weight, 4.9 pounds, but tonight when I weighed him on my scale, he was 4.1 pounds - shocking to have that big a difference in scales, but I trust mine because he looks that skeletal.

Since I still didn't know what to do, the vet went to give me an estimate for the IV treatment and realized she didn't even have the antibiotic she wanted to use in stock. She also suggested the possibility of using a diuretic to try and rid the lungs of fluid, but it's very risky so I declined. I brought Henry home and gave some serious thought again to his quality of life. His appetite was voracious and that's not a cat ready to die so I called my old vet and caught her on a layover in the Denver airport on her way flying back east. She suggested the antibiotic Azithromycin. It made perfect sense since this antibiotic targets mycoplasma, tiny bacterial cells that act like a virus and don't have a cell wall. The other antibiotics Henry was taking target the cell walls and prevent the bacteria from forming a cell wall and then they die. Azithromycin prevents mycoplasma bacteria from growing by interfering with their protein synthesis. It binds to the 50S subunit of the bacterial ribosome, inhibiting translation of mRNA so it can't replicate. There is definitely progress! His breathing is so much better now and he's learning to relax in his oxygen tent.

He had a very good sleep last night. He's resting during the day much better. He's extremely thin, though, scary thin, so nutritional rehab is still of upmost importance. I also have to watch for toxicity with azithromycin since cats don't clear it very well. Today Henry drank water for the first time on his own though not enough to stay properly hydrated so I'm still giving him sub-Q fluids. Poor thing hates the needle. It must be so painful in his condition. He also tried to bury his waste. Until now it was all he could do to get in and out of the litter box.

I made him a much more comfortable oxygen tent using my packing shrink wrap and a little kid table. Today he went inside willingly for the first time so I think he's understanding it helps him. The first day, he looked like he was in jail. I took the pictures below on the first day.

Life in Casts

Apple has been doing very well for a 2 yr. old stuck in full casts on both arms. It took her about two weeks to figure out how to sleep through the night comfortably, and she's bright and happy in the morning, but by late afternoon, she's pretty bored and ready to be entertained. She's walking very well and doesn't fall nearly as much as she did at first, which has saved her head. Her abscess is still there and today I requested a wound care specialist and was sent to a local plastic surgeon who called it granulation tissue which she said is overly vascularized, inflamed, infected skin. She did culture the wound by sticking a swap inside the hole and swiping under the skin which didn't feel good at all, then she put silver nitrate inside it so now it's a huge black scabby looking thing. It had more pus tonight when I cleaned it so I hope the doctor didn't infect it further. Time will tell....

The casts are due to come off in three days and it's just in time. The weather has turned hot here and Apple is always sweltering. Her hair and clothes are always wet with sweat no matter what I due, just part of her medical condition, but getting those casts off will help her regulate her temperature so much better.

I'm looking forward to a fun summer with her and hope she enjoys the pool this year. It was too cold for her comfort last year but she's got more meat on her bones now so I hope she finds it fun and comfortable.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We Have Been Having Fun, Too!

My best friend from my old area came down for a few days with her two youngest daughters, who are about Jie Jie's age and we all had a blast! All the girls have declared the exercise room the most fun room in the house, we ate out at our favorite buffet restaurant which happened to be kids eat for $.99 night, then it was Frozen on dvd and a slumber party - my girls' first. Needless to say, the giggling went on far into the night, which was fine with me.

Then, my friend helped me start getting set up for daycare. She worked for me in my previous daycare, so she knew exactly what needed to be done. We moved the rest of the big things out of the daycare rooms, including this stove, which turned out to weigh a lot more than either of us thought it would, so we used a little ingenuity, and succeeded. She also gave me all her early education stuff since her kids are big now. She's very talented and made file folder games and flannel stories and much, much more, 10 grocery sacks full, in fact. We will be using this as a family and with my daycare for sure.

Thank You, Anonymous!

Whoever you are, I can't thank you enough for telling me about this machine. Just a couple days ago, I asked a fireman friend of mine how I could get some oxygen for home use and he said I couldn't. Then you told me about this great machine and you were so right. I found one on my local craigs list for a very small amount of money. Henry isn't keen on the little mask I made or being in the "box" but he seems to like when I hold the tube up to his nose. I'm going to work on making a better tent so he can see and I've added those frozen blue things for use in coolers to keep the "box" from getting too hot, something I learned from my vet. My vet was thrilled to hear about this, too, and, in all fairness to them, they've been great about making Henry's care affordable. If I was still in my old area, I would not have been able to afford the vet care there, which would have run over $1000 by now. It's such a great feeling to have the support of a great vet team. I think they are also fascinated by how long Henry has lived with his birth defect and how good his quality of life has been until his last two bouts with pneumonia.

He looks pretty bad, very skinny and a bit grubby since he doesn't move when he vomits and it usually gets on his legs, but he still follows me around, sleeps on my chest at night, and eats well. He's still vomiting a lot of lung stuff, which is very good, but makes for a ton of laundry and he usually gets me at least once a night along with my blanket. I'm using the grubbier blankets right now so I can keep tossing them into the wash.

Some might think I should euthanize Henry, but he has a very strong desire to live. Otherwise, he'd stop eating and stop following me around. I appreciate the support and advice I've been getting, especially from Anonymous!