Rocky Road; life or death

My Big Boy

Today I woke up, (grateful) and per usual, I went to the living room to give all my babies morning love. I sat on the ground and all my babies came running for lovins, except Rocky. I called out, “Rocky baby, where are you?”

He slowly but surely waddled into the living room from around the corner. He went straight to lay down in a pile of blankets I had set there for washing. I thought, that’s weird. I went and picked him up to give him love and he whined a bit. He seemed uncomfortable so I put him down. He went straight back to lay down. I called his name, unresponsive. I called him again, no head move, nothing. Now I’m concerned.

I get up to get their morning nummies to see how he reacts. Normally he hops, prances around, and talks to me. Almost screaming he gets so excited. I set the food down, nothing.

I noticed he started to breath heavy. I decided it was time to call my vet because this is unlike him. I could tell he was not well.

The vet said they were all booked up and not taking walk ins. They referred me to another vet down the street from them. I called, but their line was busy. I had no time to waste. I called my old vet across town. They were allowing “walk ins” but really, they’re drive ins. Given the current status of the world from COVID-19. I made an appointment for 11:30 am (1 hour from the call) but they said they’re not sure how long it’ll take for him to be seen or how long I’ll need to sit in the car. I said ok, “he just needs to be seen. I don’t mind waiting.”

I jumped in the shower, brushed my teeth, and checked on Rocky. He seemed to have gotten worse in 10 mins. I needed more information. I looked up fatal warning signs in cats on google. Change of gum color was one. I checked his gums and they were white. I thought, I’m ready enough now, he needs to go NOW.

We got in the car and 5 mins in he seemed to be fading. Fading, meaning dying. I called my vet and said, “there is no time to wait, it is an emergency, I think he is dying.” She said, “ok, we will get him into care the second you get here.” I pulled up, they ran out and grabbed his kennel. They had me wait in the parking lot till they had news.

15 minutes later, I get a phone call from the doctor. I happened to be on the phone with my friend Shayne who is like Rocky’s dad, so I merged the calls joining him in to hear as well. The doctor began to list, “Rocky’s gums are very pale and they should be pink. He has a high fever of 104 and his breathing needed to be stabilized. He is currently on oxygen. We did x-rays and we found fluid build up in his chest cavity. There is so much of it it is collapsing his lungs.” I began to cry softly. “His blood panels surprisingly came back with no elevations which ruled out cancers for the most part. At this point, we will need to drain the fluid and run a culture test on the fluid to figure out what it is and why it is there. Is this something you would like to do?”

Wiping my tears I said, “yes! Please do whatever you need to do.”

He exclaimed, “exactly! The current estimate for where we are at is 1,000 dollars. Can we continue?”

I replied quickly, “yes, please! I do not care how much it costs, I will spend my whole savings if I have to, to try and save my baby.”

Again, with excitement he says, “exactly! Ok. I do need to tell you, there is a chance he may pass. If he does, would you like us to perform CPR?”

“Yes. Please,” I respond.

He asked me if I had any questions. I wanted to know how long this could have been going on. How does something like this happen. He said something like this could be over time, or it could happen in a split second. He told me a story of him being in vet school and a cat with no issues was brought in for x-rays. For them to learn. The x-ray came out normal. They did another x-ray shortly after and the lungs were filled with fluid. The cat was rushed to get treatment.

He proceeded to tell me they were closing at 5pm and if all goes well, it would be best if Rocky goes to an emergency vet. The doctor said he lived 10 minutes away and would be willing to come in the night to help Rocky if something happened, but he did not want to take any chances. He said anything can happen and with Rocky’s condition, he could need attention faster than he could get there. He would get 24/7 care from doctors if he was at a critical care center. I agreed with his suggestion.

“Rocky is my priority today. I will call you back with an update,” he said. We hung up.

Knowing Rocky was in wonderful hands, I drove home to wait for an update. Despite Rocky’s chances of living, I felt at ease, knowing how much this doctor cared. Wow, I could feel his energy and desire to save Rocky’s life. About an hour had passed since our first phone call, when my phone rang. It was the Doctor.

He said they were able to remove enough fluid from his chest to relieve pressure off of his lungs. Enough to get his breathing stable for me to transport him to the ER vet. The fluid is so thick the doc wasn’t able to get it all. Getting chest tubes in him will be how they are able to remove it all. Where they can drain the fluid and clean the chest out. This procedure will be done at the ER.

I felt relieved to know I was the one who was going to be taking him to his new vet. Knowing I could love on him before his next procedure was comforting. Anything can happen and coming to terms with a life transitioning (death), is much easier on the processing when one is able to say goodbye and feel they were able to have a conscious last interaction. Mindfully in the moment together.

I jumped in the car and headed to my baby boy! I picked him up and opened his kennel. He was not placed in his kennel comfortably, so I repositioned him. Before taking off I said, “hi big boy! Hi Rocky.” He turned his head and looked at mommy. I had a sigh of relief. The doctor gave him some antibiotics which had some pain medicine in it. It was a bit of a sedative, so it allowed him to be more himself.

I drove with my hand on him the whole way. I talked to him in his favorite voice. Said all the things he loves. “Are you my big boy? I love you so much. You’re going to be ok. Mommy loves you. My handsome boy.”

When I pulled up to the ER, I called to let them know I was there. I began loving on him. He became responsive for the first time since morning. The nurse came out to get him but I asked if I could have 5 minutes with him. He said yes and was happy to know he was doing better. He began kneading with his one available paw, (the other wrapped in gauze) slowly rolled over on his back, and lifted his back leg up for a belly rub. More peace came over me.

He was in heaven. Purring loudly, and as happy as can be. I noticed after a bit, his mouth opened and he begin to pant while purring so I immediately stopped petting him. I did not want him to get too worked up since he had restricted breathing.

It was perfect timing because the nurse came back right as I stopped. He took baby boy and I signed paperwork.

Sitting in my car in the lot, after about 10 minutes of waiting, (these doctors were moving fast) the new doctor called to tell me all of what will be happening. She gave him an ultrasound and found Rocky has what they call, Pyothorax. Pyo being puss, and thorax being chest. Puss explains why the fluid in his chest was so thick. Rocky has a chest infection from a puncture wound to a specific spot in his chest, which causes this specific type of reaction and infection. “They got the right spot,” is what she said. They being, an outside cat from a fight, or playing with one of his brothers. Arrow or River. She said this happens and it is not something abnormal.

He will have two chest tubes, one on each side. Again, to drain the fluid and clean the chest out. Rocky will be in the hospital from 3-5 days given everything goes well. If he does not recover, and the fluid keeps coming back, they will have to do surgery to open up his chest and see what deeper issue is causing the infection. She reassured me with some information about this kind of infection. She said most cats recover from this and given him being young and healthy, his chances are much higher for living. She also mentioned there is always a risk with anesthesia, but that is not anything new. So I was not concerned.

From the new update, I felt about 80 percent at ease. I headed home, walked in the door, and went straight for my my babies. Giving them so much love while being mindful and grateful for their existence. I realized, it’s 4pm and I have yet to eat anything. I got up to look in my fridge and I thought, there is no way I am cooking right now. So, I called in my order at VegeNation which is a Vegan restaurant here in Vegas, for curbside pickup.

I ordered pineapple jalapeno sausage pizza, lettuce boat tacos, and a sweet potato/black bean quesadilla. Mmmmm. So good.

I got enough food to last me a few meals so I could relax and not deal with cooking.

While picking up my delicious lunch, my phone rang but I was outside signing for my food. I got in the car to find a voicemail from the vet with the BEST NEWS YET! It is 4:30pm at this point.

“Hi it’s Dr Bradson, I am calling about Rocky. Just wanted to give you an update. He did fine with his chest tube placement, he’s back awake now and he’s quite happy. Eating. The sedative we use makes them hungry too. So that’s good. He looks good. He’s on oxygen as of this moment, but I am probably going to try him without it in a little bit, now that we got all of the fluid out of there. His fever is already down a bit from the antibiotics and procedures, so he’s hanging out. Our plan would be, to continue monitoring him and keep flushing his tubes over night. If you have any questions, give me a call back. Take care.”

I was so happy with her message I had to listen to it again. I was happy, relieved, and feeling 100 percent relief surrounding his current condition. I have hope. I began driving home with my food and new exciting news. After listening to the voicemail, it wasn’t until that moment I realized, the severity of what just happened today. Now that it all had slowed down a bit, I was able to reflect on my day.

My baby almost died. It all happened so fast. Had I of waited any longer, his lungs would have collapsed. Tears started streaming down my face because I thought about how GRATEFUL I am for these intelligent, caring, magical life workers. Doctors and veterinarians who save lives every SINGLE DAY. These doctors saved my baby. I am grateful for science and our ability to manipulate life, to SAVE LIVES. Doctors are the miracle. I just wanted to scream it to the world. If you are any type of doctor and you are reading this, THANK YOU. Thank you for your heart, mind, and service. I see you.

At this moment, writing this, I am happy. I am pleased with the support and excellent work from everyone today. I am thankful for my wonderful bird tribe friends who sent healing reiki energy to Rocky through this, and I am grateful for my Mom and Shayne who were there for me and Rocky today. I am at peace knowing Rocky is in good hands.

Whatever happens, I know, I did everything I could. I know, Rocky lived a wonderful life, despite it being “short.” I choose to place no ideas or judgements on what the outcome should be. I am hopeful, but I am ok with whatever life brings. Anything is possible. Rocky is in good hands and he is loved. I could not ask for more.

ROCKY! Mommy loves you, keep fighting, and I will see you soon! In whatever form it may be. ❤

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