Life With Lazarus – Day 1 – Let’s Go Get Our Boy

After a late Saturday night, it was not easy to roll out of bed at 6:30, but Dr. Hutt had told us that one day of hospitalization ended at 8:00. We’d spent about $2,600 so far, and knew we would need more as the days went on; so we wanted to be sure to get Laz discharged by 8:00.

It was not a good morning. I will not go into why, but, frankly, I had no patience. When a family member is ill, possibly dying, even if it’s a four-legged family member, it puts things in perspective. It also drains your emotional resources. I was in no mood to take responsibility for anyone else’s feelings. My own were too much for me.

Anyway, we got to the vet and they brought out Lazarus. He had a Fentanyl patch in a shaved spot on his back. It seemed to make him walk like a drunken man. That worried me, because the patch said it was applied at 11PM, and Dr. Hutt had said it took 12 hours to kick in. Would this get worse?

The good news is, the answer to that question was no, it did not get worse. We took Lazarus back to my Mom’s house while we worked on rearranging her dining room and I got a door installed in the new bathroom I was building. (Bathroom doors are kind of important, after all. Right up there with toilets and showers.)

The discharge instructions told us that his pain patch would last four days. If we wanted to spend more time with him than that (meaning, if he lived longer, by some miracle, or we did not decide that he was suffering and needed that last, quick injection) he would need additional pain management. Don’t let any other pets get hold of the patch, we were warned—it’s highly toxic. He was also given prescription meds, a Chinese anti-cancer drug. That’s all we know about it, because the labeling is all Chinese, except for “Do not take if you may be pregnant.”

We were warned that his blood pressure could drop, and that he could be at risk for sudden death. Well, aren’t we all?

Dr. Ward texted first thing after we got him to my Mom’s, asked how he was doing, and discussed the need for steroids with me. We agreed to meet up at 12:30. I’d like to point out that it was Sunday, her office was closed, and she had remembered to check in first thing. I realized, not for the first time, that I had really, really, really lucked into the right doctor for my non-human family members.

I finished trimming the door so that it would clear the marble threshold I’d installed, and then headed to West Friendship. Dr. Ward showed up with a goodie bag: Royal Canin canned food, easily digestible and high in energy, steroids and an anti-cramping medication. We still had one more test to come back, one that would tell the real extent of his pancreatitis. Again she reminded me that there was no roadmap to follow, but she was excited that Lazarus seemed happy. I showed her a photo of him lying under my Mother’s dining room table in a spot of sun, content. I began to believe that Lazarus might have at least a little time left with us.

Back home, after finishing the bathroom door and doing lots more cleanup—there’s a lot of stuff in my Mother’s house. Again, more to follow—Lazarus and I chilled in my old bedroom and watch a little TV. He fell asleep with his head on my leg, purring loudly. I couldn’t help hoping it wouldn’t be the last time he would do that.

When it was time to head home, we had only one cat carrier and two cats. Ethan and Jess had brought their cat, Milo, to my Mother’s for the night. So Renee drove while I held Lazarus. This time, he did not cry. He snuggled against me and was content. He was less content when we got home and I had to pry open his little jaws and throw three pills into him, but he managed to get them all down.

And then, exhausted, we went to bed. I don’t usually let Lazarus sleep with us. He tends to walk all over the bed all night and keep us awake. But tonight, well, we didn’t know how many nights were left to him. He fell asleep with me, only getting up when Renee came into the room about an hour later. He went and slept on the floor. For a while, 24 hours earlier, I didn’t think that would even be possible.

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