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Survival Part II

Posted by Tom Benedict on 21/06/2013

Ember, Coned

Ember came home Friday before last, but from the moment he came in the house he was in steady decline. He went right back to the vet Sunday morning, a day and a half later. His abdomen was swollen and hard, he was in complete renal failure, and he had popped one of the wires holding his femur together. The vet wound up draining over 280ml of urine from his abdominal cavity. It turns out the force of the impact with the car had perforated his bladder, and unfortunately his urethra as well. She stitched his bladder shut, and put in a catheter to give his urethra something to regrow around. The next two days were a real low-point in my life.

Not everyone I know has as firm an attachment to their pets as I do. I know this, and yet it’s still strange when people tell me, “I’d have put him down.” Maybe. But he wasn’t done yet! So how could I give up on him?

Over the next week Ember recovered while perfecting the art of removing his own catheter, even with an Elizabethan collar on (also known as “The Cone of Shame”.) In the end the vet extended the collar by about a centimeter by wrapping the cone with duct tape. (“Hey, Bubba! The vet fixed my cat with DUCT TAPE!”) A blood transfusion and a change of antibiotics to deal with a new infection in his urinary tract finally saw him solidly on the road to recovery. The popped wire in his femur was fixed using external pins and a cast. For now, every part of him is on the mend.

But the vet is quick to point out that he’s not out of the woods yet. Using a catheter as a mandrel for an animal to rebuild a damaged body part around is risky. There’s a chance that he’s not repairing the damage to his urethra at all. Catheters can’t stay in place more than about three weeks. So at the end of that time, the catheter will be pulled. Once it is, he’ll either live on to finish healing his broken leg, or he’ll go into complete renal failure again with no way to repair the damage.

For now Ember’s life is hanging by a plastic tube. Only time will tell if he’ll pull through this. If he does, it’s a testament to his will to survive. And if he doesn’t, it wasn’t for his lack of trying.

– Tom

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