Do you believe in second chances?
Do you give them? Do you wish for one, or two, or more for yourself?
What would you do if you could have a "do-over?"
I think about this. And as much as I would go back and do things differently inside I am glad I can't. It reminds me to not screw up the here and now. I would waste lots and lots of time if I knew I had a free pass to just do it over.
This is the story of Diamond. Her life is a three-peat of do-overs. And if I had to place a chip on the table I would bet the house on there being a four-peat.
Diamond was brought to our clinic about four months ago. She was a card on a carrier in a long list of cat carriers. It was a spay-and-neuter-athon day at the clinic. The sort of day where names where irrelevant and the goal was just to draw a line through the list in as short a time as possible.
I vaguely remember the first time I met her. A pure black young girl who only stood out because one of the handlers felt a small round ball under her skin behind her ear.
"Doc, what do you think this is?" she asked.
Half ignoring her I felt the bump her finger lay upon, "BB." I half consciously replied.
BB's are unfortunately not an uncommon finding. We live in the country and people are despicable sometimes.
"Hey, I feel another," the girl chirped again. This time the BB was on the other side of Diamonds face.
"Can we take an x-ray?" a whole cackle of volunteers asked in unison.
"Yes,,," I quietly replied. I was in surgery and I say yes to almost everything. It allows me to stay focused and quiets the storm for a few minutes.
There were seven small metal pellets strewn about Diamond's body. Left, right, front, back. She was a graffitied buckshot canvas. And a miracle to be standing before us.
Attempt Number 1;
Her spay began like every other spay. She arrived at my surgery table belly up, clipped, washed, and spread eagle machines providing her dreams with quiet calm oblivion.
Scalpel, cut, dissect, enter abdomen, scoop uterus, clamp left ovary, ligate, cut, follow back to uterus to other ovary.....umm,,,hello? other ovary?
There was no other ovary. Diamond was seemingly missing her right ovary. Her uterine horn led to a dead end of scarred, clumped unidentifiable, somewhat familiar mass of stuff that looked like it was at one point a loop of intestine, a kidney, and omentum.
I stop plucking for pieces of tissues that my hands recognize. This cat is a mess, she's going to blow my pace. I look for a volunteer, a volunteer who can make a decision.
"Close her up, and move on to the next."
Needle drivers, suture, thumb forceps, sew, sew, sew, close up the belly, make it look pretty and the lifeless body goes to the next station in the assembly line.
Four months pass, and a call is placed to the rescue.
"We adopted Diamond from you a few months ago, she has been acting like she is in pain, yelling, screaming, meowing, there is something wrong with her."
They relay the message to me. "Crap, I guess that right ovary is still in there?"
Tell them to bring her back we will go in and take a look for it.
Attempt Number 2;
Diamond arrived a few days later. She had been out of heat for as many days. We re-scheduled her surgery. I explained that I was already going fishing for a needle in a haystack, the needle is a lot bigger if she is in heat. So we will wait for her needle to amplify.
Attempt Number 3;
Diamond sat in the surgery cage waiting for her number to be called. When it was her time on deck we opened her cage and the devil erupted out at us.
Talk about hormonal, this girl was ANGRY! I now knew why her parents were a little worried about her erratic behavior.
Once again Diamond lay on the stainless steel table. Once again I went on a fishing expedition in her belly.
There it was again a conglomeration of coagulated curiosity. All jumbled and jelled together.
I picked, parted, fumbled,,,, I opened the incision larger, I pulled out anything not tied to something else..
Finally there it was a tiny cystic bubbly thing about half the size of a pencil eraser buried in tissue that it shouldn't be. All nestled by itself in the bottom of an intricate network of tissue.
How had she been shot so many times and not been injured? One of those BB's had penetrated her abdomen, severed the ovary from its stem and caused it to adhere to everything else surrounding it.
As I held her presumed ovary in my fingertips I debated. How could she be so lucky to survive gunfire, and me be facing not being able to fix her?
"Crap," of course it was a Friday, we close early, and this mess needed about three hours more than I had to dedicate to it.
I gloved out of surgery and placed a call to her parents. I was worried about jeopardizing the glued pieces of colon, intestines, pancreas and omentum.
We agreed that the difficulty of Diamonds surgery wasn't worth the cost of losing her. They felt that as long as she "wasn't in pain they could live with the hormonal outbursts."
I closed her up again.
A few days later Diamond was back at the office.
Her family was concerned about her incision. I was losing sleep about her attitude.
I had spent the last days thinking that I had made a mistake, I should have spent the three hours in surgery. I should have helped make her life better, her house quieter, and her family love her more?
Oh, the guilt.
I called my friend to ask his advice.
I had done the surgery for free, both times. He told me I had done enough. It was their decision now. I should refer her surgery, I should walk away with a light heart.
I wasn't and I couldn't.
"If she was my cat i would remove the ovary." I said to her family.
"But? Isn't it risky?" they worriedly replied.
"Well, it might be, but if you don't she will be going into heat, and I am worried about your sanity with a screaming cat who hisses and might even lash out at you, and you have small children,,," My mind had been racing with every sort of worst case scenario. I was afraid that Diamond would be back on the street, or abandoned at the shelter. I had seen her, she was vicious.
Her mom paused. "No, we love her, she is a part of our family. We will never abandon her, and we love her just the way she is."
I can be found @FreePetAdvice, @pawbly, or if you have any pet questions you can ask away Pawbly. Please feel free to comment. And as always, Thank You for reading.