Monday, March 31, 2014
Since my last post on Henry, he declined rapidly. He vomited constantly, 12 or more times per day, for 10 straight days and got down to 4.7 pounds. He was 7 pounds 9 months ago, and over 5 pounds in January. I did take him to the vet for x-rays and finally got a good look at just how "mega" his mega-esophagus is. It's enormous and has displaced his trachea. It is rare for a cat to live very long with this condition, none of my vets, in fact, have ever seen this. Because Henry has enjoyed a good quality of life and because he still follows me around and beseeches me to "do something" with his big round eyes, I turned to deep prayer and research and was pleasantly surprised to find that in the 5 years since I last looked, there is more information available, mostly concerning new drugs that stimulate the upper GI tract.
Starvation sets in after only a day of not eating. Imagine throwing up 12 or more times a day for 10 days. The first thing I gained from my prayer was to simplify. Stop focusing on the biggies, like his lungs and breathing, discontinue the medication that's no longer working, and look at nutrition. Ringers Lactate isn't nutrition, it's hydration. So I made my own home hydration solution using water that I'd boiled rice in, then strained the rice out of, to give him carbohydrates, then added carefully measured amounts of sugar and salt and baking soda. I started with just a teaspoonful in a syringe and he held it down. I upped it to 1 tbs. and gave it to him every 30 minutes. When he tolerated that, I added 1/8 tsp. raw egg yolk and upped that after he tolerated it. His appetite has remained vigorous, but he just couldn't keep anything down until I started this regimen. Then, I had to think of calcium. Cats require a lot of calcium, so I continued giving him the Ringers Lactate subcutaneously and the vet had given me an injectable antiemetic to administer to Henry at home, which I did. After 24 hours, I also added 1/4 tsp. fortified baby oatmeal cereal to give him the vitamins and minerals he'd get from eating a rodent with a stomachfull of grains. Giving Henry grains is dangerous since they can bloat his digestive tract, so knowing proper amounts is crucial.
At the same time, he also needed probiotics, which I had in the fridge, so I added them to his tiny meals. Then, the big problem - how to stimulate his upper GI tract? In my research, I found three possible drugs to use and one of them was in my kitchen cupboard, something I used when trying to stimulate lactation when I was nursing Apple. So I gave him the appropriate dosage of that. I'm not sure it's working yet, but there are two more drugs to try, if needed. His original medication might start working again if his health is better.
The most important thing to remember is that when the process of death begins, the digestive system is the first to shut down. Getting the body healthy enough to halt to process of death is paramount, but a starving body cannot heal. This is the catch-22 that cancer patients used to face. How can their bodies heal and fight with the chemotherapy, when the vomiting from it starves them to death? Hence, the new improvements in GI drugs.
Currently, I'm living by the timer. When the bell goes off, Henry is in the kitchen waiting for me to get his next meal ready. He's getting fed every 30-45 minutes. I have tried tiny amounts of his regular catfood, but he can't tolerate it yet. So, it's my own hydration/carb solution, with raw egg yolk, and fortified oat cereal. He has more energy today, enough to start grooming. Hopefully, enough to stop losing weight and start to heal. I've left a message with my vet about obtaining the best prokinetic drug and, hopefully, Henry will respond well and we can address the issue of his wet lungs.
Henry is "just a cat" but he is special in that his talent is giving love. He doesn't know a stranger, and he and I are definitely connected in a special way since he's depended on me for his very survival all his life. I was once told by a vet that I'd know when it was time to euthanize my first cat and I did know when the time came. Henry's time has not come. Through prayer I was able to discern his most pressing needs and found the tools in my own home to address those needs. Henry's life so far has been a miracle. His continued life is a greater miracle and the love and joy and tenderness he adds to my household is beyond measure. One of my favorite things right now is when Apple squats down beside me as I tend to Henry and ever so gently pets him with her casts, and looks into his eyes and then my eyes and knows that we are healing and loving Henry. At the same time, I provided an excellent example to my older girls of how I'm constantly learning new things, too, as I explained how I researched new medicines on the computer for Henry. They think I know it all and don't understand that we learn all of our lives.