Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blue's Second , (or maybe we are on his Third?) Chance at Life

Yesterday was Blue's big day!

My very good friend Chris (and IMMENSELY talented surgeon) came up to JVC to do his fourth ever PRAA (persistent right aortic arch) surgery, (because it is so rare). He has never even heard of this happening in a cat. I am sure it does happen, but based on the huge number of kittens who don't even get a small shot at life, I would guess the huge majority of cats with any kind of congenital birth defect fall to the wayside. They are merely labeled as "failure to thrive" and forgotten to die, or euthanized, or eaten by something higher up the food chain. Even if a kitten is diagnosed, (implying their owner spent a couple hundred bucks and a whole lot of TLC to get them to the "diagnosis" point) the odds of that kitten getting a $2500 dollar surgery are slim. (Only JVC would be crazy enough to do that!)

Chris and Jess right before surgery

Chris came in on his one day off and spent three hours with me huddled over Blue's tiny chest. Jess, his new mom has invested many hours, day and night, over the last three weeks, to get his body weight over 3 pounds. This is no small undertaking when you can only feed him watery-gruel in a syringe. His care puts "labor intensive" in a whole new light. When Blue weighed in yesterday, as we were calculating his anesthesia induction agents, he registered at 3-1/2 pounds. Jess was very proud of herself and elated knowing that Blue's chances were significantly better if he weighed more than 3 pounds. Seems every medical statistic for prognosis tips at 3 pounds.

I.v. catheter in place, i.v. fluids running, ventilator keeping Blue breathing, four gowned and gloved surgical personnel, and so began Blue's surgery. Working in a surgical field of 4" by 4" we gently opened up the left side of his chest and began the two hour investigation into finding our needle in Blue's elaborate, delicate thoracic haystack. His heart remained steady and his breathing solid even after we packed off the entire left side of his chest. That little 3-1/2 pound kitten held stead fast as four enormous (relatively speaking of course) human fingers fumbled around to find a dead fibrous strangling piece of tissue around the esophagus in the northern suburb of Blue's heart base. For two hours Chris and I searched. We questioned our diagnosis, we questioned Blue's history, and we debated where we had gone wrong because for the life of us we could not find that piece of tissue. There were multiple points at which we debated giving up. But between the two of us, we took turns probing, re-positioning, and volleying new ideas back and forth. Then mircaulously, and with the help of Dr. H and an endotracheal tube down the esophagus, we finally found and transected the congenitally important but now lifeless tourniquet. What an amzing moment it was to see that trach tube pass into his esophagus without interuption at Blue's heart base! He could now swallow solid food for the first time ever.

One big finger in a little hole in little baby Blue's chest

A short time later the chest was closed, the room air evacuated, and the left lung field re-inflated. And then a few assisted breaths later and Blue was up and complaining. Within two hours he was begging for his now very late breakfast.

Blue 2 hours post-op

One day post-op Blue is trying to get used to a new opened esophagus. His brain is telling him to eat! eat! eat!, but we are still asking  him to try to take it slow. There is no convincing a cat of anything. So we have instead decided to offer little hors d'oeuvres of food every hour. The old adage, about "not rocking the boat" too hard is not what Blue wants to hear. Blue is feeling great! His incision isn't bothering him, he is purring, and playful. But he has a mild left sided facial paralysis which is probably the result of those big human fingers pushing tiny unidentifiable nerves out of the way. This should resolve soon.

He is the same happy, voracious, vocal, and bratty kitten he was yesterday pre-op. I expect the voraciousness will resolve as he becomes a normal feeding kitten, and the brattiness is fine with Jess. So maybe those happy endings really do exist?

Many Thanks to Chris, and VOSM, and the staff who donated their time, talents, and cajoling for funds.

As fate would have it for me. Two hours after we finished Blue's surgery a 5 month old Cocker Spaniel mix puppy came in after she was hit by a truck that fractured her pelvis in 3 places. She needs $3000 of surgery to walk again. Anyone got a bulging bank account? and/or a surgeon who owes you a favor? I am low on both for a while.

Here is Sadie, our next cause..

Here are some pictures of Blue from today, 11/21/11, 1 week post op. He is really doing amazing! He just started eating on his own, his eye is getting better, and boy is he happy!

His incision looks great! Yay for Blue! we got another donation for him today, many Thanks to everyone!

Blue 11/22/11

Very happily eating REAL SOLID food on Dec 7, 2011

Pets with Santa, Dec 5th, 2011. Blue with his two mommies.
Unable to focus on the camera because all he wanted to do was play with Santa's pom-pom.

These were taken 4/16/12. Because his mom brought him into work after he ate, and started vomiting an art eraser. Bad Blue! He is doing great, and he coughed up all of the eraser within a few hours.


Blue just celebrated his second birthday. He is fat (not so happy about that) and very happy with his second mom.

1 comment:

  1. Sooooo glad Blue is on the mend! Please keep us updated.