Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Losing Pagan

Today, I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends. My cat Pagan had been sick with urinary tract problems for a while now. When he first started struggling to pee, we took him to the vets. They gave us some medicine to help calm him and told us to give him only wet cat food. It worked at first. He seemed to get better.

But about a week after the medicine ran out, Pagan started struggling to pee again, only this time, it was worse. He couldn't pee at all, and he kept straining and trying to do so. It was obvious he was in a great deal of pain. So we took him back to the vet's. This time, it was more serious. He needed to be admitted for treatment. I was quoted an £800 bill. He could die overnight without the treatment. But then they wouldn't start treating him until my husband and I qualified for a £1,000 loan through them, because we didn't have the money to pay right away. Several hours later, we were finally approved for the loan and they started treating Pagan.

We got to bring him home a few days after that. We were told that his urine was now clear and he was having no trouble peeing. The vet gave us some pain medicine for him. But by the very next day, he appeared to be straining to pee again. I rushed him back to the vet's. They said he might have an infection from when the catheter had been in. I was given more pain meds for him, more medications to keep him calm and some antibiotics for the possible infection. And he was sent home again.

I asked for the final bill, but they told us, ominously, that they were still calculating it. He had an appointment to come back the following day.

The next day was Sunday. Again, I was told that, despite the bit of straining he was doing when he tried to pee, the fact that he was peeing a little and that his bladder didn't feel overly full, meant he was still recovering. I told them that the first pain medication they had sent him home with was almost gone, and the vet said she'd get him some more because it was important that he take it. They were out of stock but would get some in on Monday and call me to come get it.

On Monday, the only call I got from the vet was them telling me that the final bill needed to be signed and that the final amount was £972.60. Pagan seemed okay for most of the day. He'd peed at night and some during the day. He was cuddling with me, "chatting" with me, lying on his back for tummy scratches and acting normal. But by early in the evening, he started straining to pee. He was only getting a few drops out. I gave him the pain medicine already on hand an hour earlier than normal, called the vet about the missing pain med and then went to pick it up. They informed me that they had forgotten to add the medicine to his final bill and that it was another £25.60 that would be added in. When I got home, Pagan was resting, not straining any more. He seemed slightly better.

The stress was killing me. I love Pagan so much, and seeing him suffer and worrying about whether he was going to get through this was sapping all of the light from my days. I was faithfully giving him his medicine (which he hated) at the right times, keeping the other cats away from him and keeping his food separate from them too (as some of his medicine was put into his food). Why hadn't everything we'd done for him helped?

He was still getting drops of pee out, and he had the missing pain medicine added to his schedule of medications, so we waited overnight to see if he improved much more. In the morning, as I got the kids ready for school, I noticed Pagan straining in the litter box a bit again. The school run takes me two buses, a long walk and a total of just over two hours. I gave Pagan all of his morning medicines and then left to take the kids to school, praying that when I got home, he would have peed.

When I got home, I found him huddled behind the couch, growling when I tried to pet his head. Through tears, I called the vet, who wanted me to take him straight in. I called my daughter and her husband for a lift to the vet's and took Pagan back to the vet's.

The vet told me that he was in a lot of pain, which I could already see for myself. His bladder was bloated and solid. She told me it was idiosyncratic, meaning they didn't know why it kept returning. She said it would keep happening. She tried a last ditch effort of using a needle to remove some of the urine causing the pressure in his bladder. He struggled through it and still strained and couldn't pee. Then he vomited.

Our option was to watch him die slowly, suffering, or to have him put to sleep. I, very unhappily, chose to have him put to sleep. She brought him back in to me, and his body was twitching with the pain he was experiencing. But when she injected the fluids that would put him to sleep, he relaxed into my arms and started purring.

I help him long after the purring stopped.

I love you, Pagan.

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