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49275Re: [FH] Elvis is gone

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    Nov 18, 2013
      Dear Anastasia;  I am so sorry to hear of Elvis' passing.  I always loved his name and enjoyed reading about him because your love for him was so obvious.  Reading through this post reminded me of my Max's passing and I cried with you through at least half of it.  Max is gone 2.5 years now, and I can still very easily cry, but mostly I just have fond memories of him (I don't let myself dwell on the passing, just all the love.)  After he was gone, the absence of his love in the house was palpable;  it was then that I realized it wasn't just us loving him, it was him loving us so much all the time that made our time with him so special.   I guess the price we pay for this is having to let them go so soon;  a price I would pay again and again.  After about 5 months we went to the shelter and took a needy cat home with us;  he has filled our hearts with joy also...it's not the same, and never will be, but there is a good feeling knowing we are doing something for a cat who really needed help and who totally responds to the love and the environment we are able to give him.
      I know that you and your husband will help each other through this and eventually the pain will be less constant.  I wish you well, and thank you for the love and care you gave this very special boy who surely did know that he was loved and cared for.
      hugs...Judi and Angel Max and Tuckerbug

      -----Original Message-----
      From: anastasia <anastasia@...>
      To: feline-heart <feline-heart@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Sun, Nov 17, 2013 9:56 pm
      Subject: [FH] Elvis is gone

      Hi everyone,

      Some of you might remember Elvis from about 2 months ago. I've been lurking the messages since then, and every time I dreaded reading one of the R.I.P. posts, because they would always send me into a bawling fit knowing it was coming for my little fur-baby as well.

      Now it's my turn to write one of those. Yesterday, Elvis has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and I'm beyond devastated…

      I apologize in advance, as this is going to be a super-long post. I just want to share our journey and everything we went through with the group, as it may offer some hope or a piece of mind to others in a seemingly dire situation.


      (the clot)

      It all started 2 months ago, when our lively 8 year-old Elvis suddenly had a paralyzed back leg and was in excruciating pain. After rushing him to the intensive care in the middle of the night, we found out he had a blood clot in his hind leg, along with congestive heart failure (fluid in his lungs), and he was likely not to survive the night. My husband and I were in complete shock at the news, but were very calm when we were listening to the doctor explain what's going on. We left him in urgent care overnight, but as we got home, I completely broke down. I had no idea just how much he meant to me until there was a real possibility we were going to lose him.

      The next day we received good news that Elvis has made it through the night, and was stable. Unfortunately, later that day, when we talked to the cardiologist on staff, the news wasn't so good. As we found out, Elvis had a very severe HCM, and his prognosis was very poor (3 month, 6 at most).

      (from bad to wise)

      Completely heartbroken, we brought him home, and resolved to make his last months the best time in his life. However, Elvis had a slightly different plan. He was recovering from the clot relatively well, but from all the stress and now medications, he completely stopped eating. We tried baby food, every cat food under the sun, giving food from the finger… Three different appetite stimulants were also of no use. We also had the worst time trying to pill him. He would struggle like mad, and then run away and foam at the mouth once we were finally able to get the pills in him. Bacon-flavored liquid suspension were a non-starter either. All that probably just made the inappetence worse. 

      Poor guy became so skinny and weak… After one week of him not eating, he was back in urgent care, where they kept him overnight, and tried syringe-feeding him. He just wouldn't have it and spit it out. He was just one of those kitties who wouldn't tolerate anything near his mouth. At the same time we noticed that he started sniffling - he probably got a cold virus during his first night in urgent care.

      So with no other options, we chose to take the risk of anesthesia, and get the e-tube. The first few days of feeding were really hard. He was still sick, with a stuffed nose, struggling to breathe, and didn't want to stay in one place for that long. It took both of us and about an hour for each feeding (4 a day). But at the same time, we were able to now give him the medications through the e-tube. Then little by little we fell into the routine, and it got a little easier. Two weeks later, all while dealing with his cold and the infection at the e-tube site, finally things started looking up, and he started to feel better and getting his energy back. Suddenly, one day, we decided it was time to try appetite stimulants once again, and after just one dose of cyproheptadine, our little mister started eating on his own! And eating really-really well! We were ecstatic, and so were our doctors (by now he had his own cardiologist and internal specialist). Two weeks after him eating on his own, we made the decision to take the e-tube out, and switch to injections for all his medications.

      (back to square one)

      Apparently, this was a bad idea, since the same day we brought him back home after taking the tube out, he stopped eating again. And this time he also stopped drinking. Again, both us and doctors were at a complete loss. We did every diagnostic possible, and there was nothing physically wrong with him. We believe it was somehow psychosomatic. Maybe caused by stress.

      After waiting another week, and begging him to eat or drink, we were at a crossroads. Was this really the end of the road for Elvis? But both husband and I could not in good conscious say good bye to him just yet. Apart from not eating or drinking, he was still his usual self (albeit much more weak than before). He was enjoying our company and petting, purring for us, sleeping with us. He wasn't ready to go just yet. So the decision was to go for it and put the e-tube back in. 

      (a miracle)

      I brought him home that night, since he came out of anesthesia really well. He was so happy to be home, purring, sleeping with us. The next morning I gave him his first tube feeding, and what do you know… He rushed to the sink, and started drinking like crazy! And a couple of hours later he was eating again! And again he surprised us all. The doctors and us were so happy, and decided we would keep the tube in as long as we can, and use it for his medications.

      A week later, Elvis made the full recovery. He was strong and playful as ever. His stamina was just a little bit less than before the clot, but otherwise, he was himself in every little way. And he was so-so happy. I think he knew that we wouldn't give up on him, and was so thankful.

      (another clot)

      Last Sunday Elvis got another clot in his front paw. I already knew what it looked like, so I saw it happen right away. He was uncomfortable with his paw, limping, and shifting side to side. We rushed him to the urgent care, where they confirmed it was a small clot. But his lungs sounded clear, and it wasn't getting any worse, so we took him home. He recovered from it really well, and had no limp 2 days later.

      On Thursday we had an appointment with his cardiologist. He had the ultrasound and other routine tests. His condition was still as severe as before, but overall he was looking really good. The cardiologist could not believe how strong he came back.

      (and another clot)

      The next night Elvis got another clot. This time both of his hind legs were affected. At that point deep inside I somehow knew this was bad. I gave him a shot of buprenorphine right away (opioid-type pain killer), since I remembered the agonizing pain he was in the first time around. I weeped in the car as we were rushing him to the urgent care in the middle of the night. The doctor on staff has confirmed the clot in both hind paws (he could still sort of hobble around, so they weren't completely paralyzed). We decided to stay in the hospital for another hour to see if his condition gets worse. But he was seemingly stable, and we brought him back home. My hubby showed me a business card for an at-home euthanasia service, which the doctor slipped to him. We finally went to bed at 5am.

      (the final hours)

      At 7am the hubby woke up to check on Elvis. Looked like he tried to eat something and then vomited. My hubby cleaned it up, and then gave him some petting. Elvis gave him lots of loud purring. 2 hours later, at 9am, hubby checked on him again, and by now he was just laying in one spot and didn't want to get up and walk around. He just seemed very uncomfortable, and kept stretching his legs and shifting side to side. By now I woke up, and gave him another pain killer shot. He calmed down a bit, but still looked uncomfortable. 

      We took him to his favorite feeding place to give him some medications, food, and something to soothe his stomach. Before, every time we took him there, he was always so happy to get his medications and petting, he would always purr for us. But this time he was just lying there and trembling.

      After that he went to hide under the dresser. We would take turns lying on the floor next to him, talk to him, give him petting, and watching how he was doing. He still seemed very uncomfortable, and his breathing was very fast. As I was lying next to him and petting him, he rested his head on my hand and then looked me right in the eyes. His look… Maybe I'm projecting, but it was so full of pain. As if he was saying "Mommy, it's my time. Please let me go now." At that point I knew what we had to do.

      I gave my husband a timer and asked him to count his breaths. Normal breathing rate for Elvis used to be in the 16-17 range. I was in the kitchen fumbling around and trying to fix something to eat. When my husband came out, he said that the breathing rate was around 40-45. I told him I thought this was it. He said "I think so too", and broke down. I've never in the 8 years together had seen my husband sob, and this broke my heart even more. We left a message with our cardiologist, and wanted to hear back from him to give us some validation.

      In the mean time, over the next couple of hours we watched Elvis slowly deteriorate. He was getting less responsive. A little later the pain medication started to wear off, and he lets us know he was in pain with his meows. We gave him another pain killer shot, and cuddled up with him on the floor. He seemed so tired, and looked like he kept trying to go to sleep, but couldn't, because he was so uncomfortable. We were hoping he could just fall asleep and drift off peacefully. But he didn't want to leave us. Maybe it was another clot in his brain or lungs, maybe not enough oxygen was getting to his brain, or maybe it was a reprofusion injury, we don't know. But it doesn't really matter. All we know is that we was fading away from us. One of his eyes became more dilated and started looking askew… We could also see some blood in the corner of his eye. He would barely respond to our voices. But he still was closing his eyes when we petted him, and was happy to rest his face against mine.

      (the passing)

      After another hour, we couldn't wait any longer. We called the number on the business card and asked them to come to our house and put Elvis to sleep. They finally called and said they were outside our building. My husband went out to meet them, and called out Elvis's name and petted him. He turned to me, and sniffed me. Then I think re recognized me and gave me a little kiss on my nose and a headbutt. At that point I completely lost it.

      Then the husband-and-wife vet team came in. They were really comforting, explained the process to us, and asked us if we were ready. They said they would give Elvis the first sedative shot, and after that the final shot. I guess I didn't understand how long it would take for the first sedative shot to take hold, and how sedated Elvis would be. He didn't enjoy getting that first shot, and bolted under the table looking bewildered. And before I had time to realize what was happening, not even 10 seconds later, his head slowly sunk to the floor. If there is one and only regret I have about the whole thing, is that I didn't rush to him right then, and that I wasn't there to hold him and talk to him and pet him as he was drifting off to sleep, and catch his head as it fell.

      At that point I asked the vet if it was OK to hold him, and she said yes. But by the time we moved the table, and I picked him up, he was completely unresponsive. I held his lifeless little body in my arms, as they delivered the final shot and made sure he was completely gone. Then they gently swaddled him into a blanked, and carried his little body out of our home. 


      I can honestly say, I've never in my life experienced so much pain. I haven't stopped crying since yesterday. And I woke up from my husband sobbing this morning. He always gets up before me, and they had the whole routine with Elvis. It's so empty in the house without him now… I had him since he was little and he was always there for me. Always happy to see us and be around us. Always wanted to play or do some kind of mischief. He was such a wonderful and loving cat, a happy cat. And this disease… It came out of the blue and he perished in 2 months… 

      Why am I writing all this? Well, I just need to share all this with someone, and I though a lot of people here are going through similar struggles and can relate.

      But most importantly, it's this. 

      Even though I have some regrets of not being there for his last conscious moments, and not being able to make him more comfortable in his final hours, even though he did succumb to HCM in the end, the journey was 100% worth it. If anything, the first incident and the diagnosis gave us a chance to understand how much he really means to us, and really show it to him with love and care.

      Both my husband and I fought for him tooth and nail. Even when the prognosis was dire, even when he stopped eating (twice!), we never-ever gave up on him. And it was SO worth it! I'm so-so thankful that we got those 2 extra months with him. And especially the last 3 weeks - they were some of the happiest weeks of his life. He came back so strong, and was so happy, got so much attention and playtime. And he was so loving… 

      So if anything, please don't give up on your kitties, every extra day with them is precious.

      This group has been so very helpful all throughout our process. I would love to thank each and every person who gave us advice and support, and sent us thoughts and prayers during the tough times. 

      I have some medicines and supplies left. I'll reach out to a couple of local rescues, but if they can't take the medicines, I will post the list here. Maybe they can help another kitty in need.

      (P.S. I will cross-post into the assisted feeding and heart kitty group, since they both have been beyond helpful)

      Much love to you and your furry ones!
      ~ Anastasia and Elvis

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