This is a seriously long story and I think I've written it as much as a personal download as to let you know what has been happening to us in a whirlwind week. I could not write this before as I was too busy coping and reacting to what was going on. I will write Red's Tale and my own as other posts but this one is all Magic's.
Friday 13th was the start of what has turned into a very scary rollercoaster. I was clearly over optimistic when I wished everyone a happy 13th! Magic was not herself, nothing specific, just 'hingy' as we say locally. So that evening off we went to our vet with me hoping that she'd laugh at me being an overanxious owner and send us home.
Instead the vet thought her conscious chest x-ray looked like she had cardiomyopathy and bilateral pleural effusions. Naively, stupidly, I was utterly winded by the idea that she was so ill. My last cat was a walking medical miracle/disaster zone and lasted till she was 16 and a half and we told ourselves that she lasted so well because of our fabulous care and adoration. So to be faced with losing Magic at only 11yrs old seemed to knock the wind out of my sails. More vet visits ensued but didn't manage to get to the bottom of it but they still thought it was her heart and that the prognosis was poor. A very bitter irony as one of my private names for her is 'my wee heart's ease'.
I was sick with worry for her and broken hearted as I thought we were heading to the end of our time together. My girlie looked so sad and she just seemed to be deteriorating with tiny, brief rallies. I'd had to begin syringe feeding her on Wednesday on the vets advice and thought I was winning but she began vomiting the kitten milk and the vet food I'd been given for her. By 01:00hrs her breathing became a little noisier and she was crying out when she vomited. I knew she couldn't wait for the vet appointment in the morning and I felt that even if her condition was ultimately untreatable she was becoming a medical emergency and had exceeded anything I could do for her. So, after a brief call to warn of our arrival, we set off with all due haste for the Small Animal Hospital at the Glasgow University Vet School. Luckily it is nearby and we immediately saw the loveliest vet. She examined Magic then admitted her to be assessed and promised she'd call me.
It was 3am but I couldn't rest and knew I certainly wouldn't sleep so I sat out in the still warm garden with a coffee and the home and mobile phones watching the dawn rise until I got the call from the vet at 04.30hrs. I had been right, Magic had become critically ill. It turned out to be due to Diabetic Ketoacidosis which is life threatening and she had been taken into the Intensive Care Unit for very intensive treatment for her new diabetes and all the physical derangements that accompanied it while it was uncontrolled.
I had the strangest reaction during the call; although I wasn't cold I sat and shook and rattled involuntarily and my teeth chattered while I tried to hold a sensible conversation with the vet. I hadn't realised how viscerally stressed I was and this was like a release. I was both very scared because she was so desperately ill but bizarrely relieved because, if she survived this critical period, diabetes is a lifelong but TREATABLE condition. Very little sleep was had afterwards but lots of praying did happen.
Through the Thursday they tried hard to stabilise her as so many of her organs and her bloods, fluids and electrolytes were all in disarray. Somehow she managed to rip out her nasogastric tube and had a 'hissy fit' according to the vet. I remain mystified as to how she managed it as it was stitched to her nose and forehead AND she was wearing a lampshade collar! On Friday and Saturday, Magic had very bad days including having a general anaesthetic. Her potassium and phosphate remained off, she wasn't able to eat, she had hepatitis and cholangitis, pleural effusions and all the other issues that go with DKA. On the good side her blood glucose was improving on insulin therapy and her one peripheral IV line remained patent. She had more scans and surgery to place an oesophageal feeding tube. The central IV line could not be inserted and post-operatively her respirations were giving serious concern. I was unable to visit her as it was not in her best interests to have her disconnected for a visit but the vet's gave very detailed update calls and I was reassured with their care.
By Sunday her breathing had improved and she was holding her own. I was able to have a few minutes visit. Although I was bursting with joy to see her, she was still clearly very ill and just lay quietly beside me. She looked so miserable and barely able to look at me seemingly mortified at her IV lines and missing fur. The only thing I saw was a beloved little girl cat and the heartfelt hope that our time might not be at an end.
On Monday she continued to improve and they had established tube feeding, she had been changed onto the longer acting insulin and we had a longer visit where she was significantly brighter. She'd also been deemed fit enough to be moved to the cat ward which is quieter. When I visited, as the vet lifted her from the carry box, she got quite agitated and only after I had lifted her onto me did I realise her agitation was because she was having a widdle! Hey ho, I've endured worse! The vet left me with a bowl of Magic's favourite treats and when I did my super-bright "SWEETIES!" she sat up and voluntarily took her first oral food in a week. I was overjoyed. Obviously a special diet will be needed but the big deal was just to get her to take something by mouth. She was showing interest in the room and trying to jump down for a look but she was still rather weak so I cut off her vague escapes. While the vet was chatting with me he commented on what a lovely nature she had and how she had been a pleasure to look after even though she was so ill. I wondered if he'd forgotten about the NG tube incident but knew what he meant as Magic is a delight and seems to have a very old wise spirit in her nature.
Tonight I visited her and she was bright and communicating with her big green eyes but happy to just cuddle up beside me as I chattered sweet words to her and stroked what fur has not been shaved. She's eaten a little today and although her blood glucose is not well controlled this is thought to be due to the change from short-acting to longer-acting insulin and will stabilise.
The plan is to get her home on Thursday. She will need blood glucose monitoring, twice daily insulin and will need fed through her oesophagostomy tube dependent on her oral intake of diet. I know I can learn to do all of these for my sweet girlie but am not surprisingly a little daunted to make sure I do everything right that she needs. Thursday is going to be a steep learning curve for me.
We are not out of the woods yet but compared to last week the future looks a lot brighter.