Last Tuesday, July 23, Sara and I took Henry in for a seemingly routine cataract surgery. I was a bit concerned about having it done, just because. . . surgery, but the surgeon came highly recommended, Henry was almost completely blind due to the rapid onset cataracts related to his diabetes, and she assured me that he was a good candidate.
After we dropped him off at about 8:30 AM, I was a nervous wreck – of course – and we went to run errands and whatnot to stay busy. I checked back around lunch and was told that all of his pre-admission testing was normal and that he would have the surgery soon.
At around 2 PM, the surgeon called and said that the surgery was over, that he had done well, and that we could pick him up later that afternoon.
When we picked him up, I happened to see his pre-op labs and noticed that the surgery had been done with his fasting blood sugar at 428 – and this really concerned me, both because that is way too high for a fasting blood sugar and because I didn’t understand why that was called “normal” pre-admission testing.
Still, at that time, they were bringing me a very groggy post-op Henry – and I had no idea how relevant that blood sugar would come to be.
Things Go Awry
We brought Henry home and he was groggy and had no appetite. Of course, that is not uncommon immediately after general anesthesia. Through Tuesday night, we monitored him closely, having to hold his insulin because he wasn’t eating. On Wednesday, he ate a meal but vomited shortly thereafter. He went for a recheck at the eye surgeon’s office, where we were told this was related to anesthesia and to watch him through the night and to encourage him to eat – but, again, not to give insulin if he didn’t eat (of course).
By Thursday morning, we were in trouble. Not only would he not eat – which is completely not Henry – he began projectile vomiting water. We went to our – now former – vet’s office immediately, where he was admitted right away and placed on IV fluids.
They ran labs at that time (Thursday morning) and reported to me that the only abnormality they found was a blood sugar of almost 500 – so they began giving him insulin injections.
Since they have a policy that has always been horrible for Henry and for me that humans cannot see their babies while they are inpatient (and I will say more about that later), I could not see him and was told that he still was not eating as I called for updates Thursday and Friday. I was also told they were not finding anything else and “might consider an x-ray” later.
I asked them to please go ahead so they did – and found nothing.
On Friday night, I had heard nothing in many hours and was worried sick. I asked to please speak with a vet and did I ever.
The vet got on the phone to tell me that they would schedule an ultrasound as we should be thinking about cancer because these labs were all normal except for the glucose and Henry still would not eat.
I. Lost. It.
I simply could not understand how we could go from healthy except for diabetes and having eye surgery to cancer in three days. And I didn’t understand how the hell you casually drop that on the phone 15 minutes before closing on someone you aren’t even allowing to see their ESA.
I came unglued.
I was up all night, beside myself.
And I started calling back as soon as they opened on Saturday with more questions, of course, only to be told that the vet comes in late on Saturday.
THEN, when I didn’t hear from the vet, I was told they had gotten tied up. Okay.
Finally, I just lost it. And, lo and behold, a vet was available.
She informed me that she was terribly concerned that Henry wasn’t eating and perhaps he would eat for me? And they scheduled the ultrasound for the following Friday – 6 full days later. Oh my word.
I went and picked him up – which turned out to be a God thing that is part of what saved him because they were rolling with their cancer theory and it was wrong and he was NOT WELL – and brought him home for the night with his IV catheter still in his leg. I also made arrangements to transfer his care to another vet’s office – with great recs – on Monday – it was too late to do it Saturday as they were closing for the weekend – and they were going to do an ultrasound then.
Once he got home, it was obvious that he was so so sick. He wasn’t eating but he was drinking water through the night. Then everything changed.
Early Sunday morning, Henry wanted to go outside. As we were walking out the door, he vomited – and I saw bright red blood. And I lost it.
So much of what I have to report next is only a God thing. I am so so grateful.
I looked up emergency clinics to make a plan, as I was done with our former vet and the “normal” labs – and pulled up Steel City Emergency Vet and we all loaded up and went straight there.
They immediately took him back, ran labs, and the vet came to us and took a detailed history and let us know what was actually going on.
And it was incredibly serious.
As the previous clinic hadn’t bothered to check anything other than a glucose since Thursday, they didn’t know that everything had shifted – but it had.
Henry had gone into full diabetic ketoacidosis with a blood sugar of 600. His electrolytes were profoundly out of balance with a critically low potassium level. He was in acidotic crisis and in grave danger.
The doctor said that she felt he could be stabilized but they needed to act quickly.
He also needed treatment for the incredible amount of GI tract inflammation he had.
She asked that we go get his things – he is on a series of eye drops from his surgery AND she said to bring his blankies and lovies – and then come back AND SIT WITH HIM.
Such an unbelievable contrast – and so much better for Henry and for us as we were all so afraid.
They put us in a visitor’s room with a cozy love seat and Sara and I were able to just stay and love on him as he got his insulin drip through the night on Sunday night.
He also had the ultrasound – which ruled out cancer. Praise the Lord!
Monday – A Turnaround
Monday morning, Henry was transferred to our new vet, only a few miles from our home, where they are wonderful – and also encourage us to stop by and visit as often as we like.
We took him in with his insulin drip bag and they immediately restarted him and we met with our new doctor.
He went over all of Henry’s labs from the weekend – and only then did I see the actual values from when Henry arrived at the emergency vet.
Y’all, only God saved my baby to get him there. I mean that. It is so so scary how bad they were and I am so grateful.
He discussed Henry’s care plan and we left for the morning and came home to rest.
By Monday afternoon, it was clear that Henry still needed to be closely monitored all night and our vet has a window were no one is in the clinic so we needed to take him back to Steel City for the night with his insulin drip.
We picked him up and returned to Steel City – and I am so glad we did. They let us stay the night with him in the visitor’s room. They also spent time with us, educating us on various aspects of his diabetic care.
They have been just incredibly kind to our family and I will be forever grateful to them.
As they worked with him through the night, he began sitting up, trying to get our water, stealing his sister’s spot, and wanting to eat.
For the first time in a week, he ate an entire jar of turkey baby food. I was so so happy.
He began acting like my Henry again. ❤
When we returned to our regular vet’s office on Tuesday morning with such a good report, he began making plans for Henry to spend the night at home on Tuesday after some med adjustments and testing.
Throughout the day Tuesday, Henry came off the insulin drip, started long acting insulin injections, and began his new diabetic diet.
Right now, he is snoring next to me in his spot on the bed for the first time in too long. ❤
He will go back to the vet this morning for more insulin adjustments – and sister and I will go off in search of diabetic treats for his return this afternoon. 🙂
A Thoughtless Person – At The WRONG Time
I also want to share that, on Monday morning – when I had been awake for 27 hours – and had slept for maybe 10 since Tuesday? – I glanced at my Facebook, where I have been posting Henry updates but haven’t been the most on top of things with him so sick, and saw THIS.
The person that felt free to post this awful thing is an acquaintance I might not recognize if I ran into at Target. Unlike most people on my Facebook – who are people I actually know well – I really don’t know her. I went to nursing school with her many years ago and we weren’t close.
I had mentioned that they were considering a diagnosis of Addison’s disease for Henry, that it is treatable, and that I am so grateful that they have taken such good care of him.
And she posted THIS.
I will first say that I understand that others have pets and that everyone is different and that everyone is not about their pets like I am about Henry.
Henry is not a pet. Henry is my ESA. Henry is part of my family. Just like all of my other loved ones – my blood family and my chosen family – I will do everything in my power to fight for him, care for him, and help him. It takes about two seconds of looking at my page to see how I feel for him. It is completely fine if someone doesn’t understand. All they have to do is move along, say nothing, keep going.
This was completely unsolicited and completely uncalled for.
Needless to say, especially in the condition I was in, I did not take it well.
Also, who the hell says that they felt their pet was suffering but that they had spent too much money on them to do anything? What is WRONG with you???
I’m done now.
Learning To Be An Advocate
These past seven or so days have come with many lessons, especially as I am a nurse.
Coming from a healthcare background, I always feel that I need to encourage people to advocate for themselves and their loved ones in the human healthcare system.
Yet I’ve always felt completely STUCK when we weren’t treated well or were blown off by our former vet when it came to Henry.
- I didn’t know that it wasn’t standard to not be allowed to see your baby when they were hospitalized. They maintained this policy, despite seeing the grief it caused Henry and me and knowing that he is my ESA. Now I know that it IS perfectly normal to expect to walk in and see him. Our new vet encourages it – and the emergency vet even let us spend the night with him. Our previous vet caused so much unnecessary suffering for both of us.
- I asked repeatedly for a longer acting insulin for Henry because I was concerned that his blood sugar was inadequately controlled only to be treated almost like I was overreacting. Now I know that expecting solid blood sugar control is not only reasonable, it is standard. He is on a longer acting insulin and is returning for daily stays until it is properly controlled. Dogs with diabetes have normal lifespan if they have good care and I just want to do what’s best for my baby. I am so grateful to have a partner in that now.
- I had expressed concern at one of Henry’s previous stays at our old vet about him being on IVs and having no one with him all night, only to be told that is standard – so, more or less, tough cookies. He was very sick then – not like he was this week, but still sick and still needing to be watched and I didn’t want him unattended for seven hours in a cage on an IV. I was never even told of the option of Steel City. That is unacceptable. That should have been MY choice, once I said I was very concerned.
- Finally, when Henry was diagnosed with diabetes, a diabetic diet was never offered or suggested – though our old vet prescribes and sells it. As I learned about this at the emergency vet and discussed it with our new vet, I was SO angry. When he was diagnosed, I did change his food to what seemed a better choice – but he could have had, and should have had, the proper diet all along. This was just poor care – and a lack of caring.
Now I know to advocate as loudly in a veterinary atmosphere as I would in a human healthcare setting. I should have gone with my instincts when it came to Henry’s insulin and staying overnight and diet but I didn’t know what was available and so the “expert” was able to walk over me like I see physicians do to people who don’t have a medical background.
I HATE that this went on for so long.
However, there is nothing I can do about the past – other than leave excellent reviews all over for the places that have helped us so AND let others know what happened at our old clinic so it doesn’t happen to their babies.
Trust your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is.
Advocate for your people, y’all. Two AND four legged.
Restoring My Health
Of course, my body has not taken this well – as expected.
My CRPS foot has revolted despite the high dose pred, my mouth ulcers I haven’t had in years have returned, and I’ve had some massive nosebleeds.
So, as we get my Henry stabilized, I’ll be planted in my spot, reading, writing, sleeping, juicing, and recovering.
Henry and I both have some getting well to do.
Please keep the prayers, good vibes, and warm fuzzies coming.
And, Finally, All Of The Gratitude
Finally, when I say having gotten Henry to emergency care and them being able to help him was a God thing, I mean it. It is just a miracle.
I am so profoundly grateful that he is on the mend and sawing logs in his cozy spot.
So many things could have gone so differently and only God took care of us.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
Be well, everybody. Go love all your peoples – two and four legged.
Grace and Blessings.