Friday, July 24, 2009

Adventures in Tonsil Removal

So Erik got his tonsils taken out this past Monday. What an adventure it was...

He was scheduled for 7:00 Monday morning. That was changed at that last minute to 8:00. We woke up early and drove to Bel Air. He was scheduled at a surgery center.

Those of you who know Erik probably also know he is deathly phobic about needles. Not just doesn't like them - he literally passes out at the sight of needles or the smell of rubbing alcohol. It's bad.

Knowing this, his doctor gave him an Rx for Valium - it works enough on his anxiety that at least he doesn't actually pass out.

Anyhow, he took his valium before we left so I was able to get him out of the car into the surgery center with no problem. They took him back to get ready while I waited.

About thirty minutes later, they called me back. Erik is sitting on a chair, still dressed, looking anxious. Uh oh, I thought - this isn't good...

Turns out the anesthesiologist refused to do his surgery at the surgery center - because Erik has a diagnosis of sleep apnea, the surgery HAD to be done in a hospital. Now *I* am anxious. And annoyed.

I have to say, the surgeon was very good about taking charge of the situation - immediately reserved an operating room for that afternoon at the local hospital, even though it meant canceling all his appointments later in the day. He knew Erik had limited time for healing and I had limited time off.

Erik and I drove home, and he immediately crashed on the couch (the Valium was working pretty good) and I even got a nap in before the kids woke up. Erik didn't wake up again until I woke him up at noon to take another Valium and put on his shoes.

Everyone at the hospital was very nice and helpful. They did a great job of explaining everything that was going on, what to expect, how long it would be, etc. The surgeon came and went over the whole surgery and what he would do. The anesthesiologist came and explained why they made us reschedule.

And remembering how nervous Erik is, the surgeon gave an order for a lovely sedative that Erik found quite enjoyable, though he doesn't remember much...

His surgery was supposed to be at 1:30, but they didn't take him back until closer to 3. I settled into the waiting room - I had a book and crossword puzzles and was set. I sat down, and realized the chairs were THE MOST COMFY chairs... I promptly fell asleep.

And woke up at 5 - how I slept for two hours with all the noise and people I have no idea!! It wasn't too long before the recovery room called the waiting area to let me know Erik was done and in recovery.

Dr. Jordan came out not much later to tell me about the surgery - He said Erik's sinuses were pretty full of scar tissue from earlier surgeries. A few small polyps had to be removed. All in all, he didn't have to do much with the sinuses, which was good - no packing and no slats.

The tonsils - well, apparently they were pretty bad. Dr. Jordan seemed very surprised that they were never removed before given how they looked. Cruddy, full of scarring and even small crystals of gunk. He removed the uvula and trimmed the palate, which he said would give Erik a much larger airway.

At that point, the doctor suggest I go get something to eat - it was close to 6 and Erik wouldn't be up for visitors for awhile. I barely made it to the local deli to grab a sandwich when the recovery nurse called though!

By the time I ate (quickly, driving back to the hospital!), Erik was awake. He was SO groggy - he kept doing the repeating the same question over and over thing. It would have been funny except he just looked so pale.

He couldn't be released until his oxygen levels were up. He wasn't taking deep breaths between the pain in his throat and how sedated he still was (lots of morphine and the after effects of anesthesia). I kept having to wake him up, tell him to breathe deep... His oxygen would go up to 96. Then he'd drift out again, it would drop to 93.

After awhile he was awake enough that the nurse felt comfortable releasing him. He had so much less bleeding than I figured - he had one little trickle from one nostril on the way home and that was it.

I didn't think about the fact that he'd been on IV fluids for, um about 6 hours by that point... The whole way home he kept saying... hurry up, I gotta use the bathroom. Wow, did he have to pee!!

I got him all settled downstairs in the recliner - he has a little table set up with his medicine and gauze and anything else I think he might need. During the first day, I would wake him up every 4 hours to take his pain meds - trying to stay ahead of it so he wouldn't be too uncomfortable.

As the doctor said, his worst pain has been the past few days - the first couple days the post op steroids and anesthesia kept the pain level way down. Now he's really feeling it.

He's been good about keeping hydrated - he has consumed so much gatorade and apple juice! I've never been so glad for an ice maker!! Pudding, jello, ice cream, yogurt... Today I think we will try to add in mashed potatoes and broth.

Erik says he's hurting, but it's still not nearly as bad as he thought. Especially the sinuses - that's bothered him barely at all. Hardly any bleeding, no swelling or bruising. The throat is sore, but the pain meds seem to be controlling it pretty well.

So that's the update - I expected to be taking care of him much more! It's mostly just been making sure his drink is filled or getting more ice. And going to the grocery store to get more Gatorade and pudding.

Erik's mom came to stay with us for a few days as well, to help with the kids while I was at work. It was so nice to know she was here when I was out of the house! Erik is still pretty tired and the medicine does make him a bit loopy.

But he has Monkey Island and Halo 3 to keep him entertained!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saying goodbye

I didn't even realize how long it has been since I've updated. I tend to post the day to day stuff on Facebook and have neglected posting more meaningful things here. But I am feeling the need to write in depth and that brings me back to my blog.

Last week we had our kitty Floyd put to sleep. I've had cats my whole life. I've had PETS my whole life. Several of them have been euthanized. But this... This was the first time I had to make the decision.

Erik & I adopted Floyd in the Summer of 1997. I remember thinking that he must be getting ready to propose if he wanted to get a kitten together. We got her from some neighbors who had taken her in after the mother cat got hit by a car and died. She was the only one of the litter that survived.

We named her Floyd, after Erik's favorite band Pink Floyd. We originally thought she was a boy. She was so little it was difficult to tell. Once she got older we realized we were wrong, but it seemed to fit - she really was Pink Floyd.

She was so little that she hadn't even been weaned. I could carry her in the palm of my hand. I would be her in the front pocket of my overalls and carry her around like a kangaroo. I had to mix kitten food with kitten formula (yes they do make such a thing) until she was old enough for regular food.

At the time I had long long hair and every night she would curl up in my hair to sleep. This was very cute when she was teeny weeny but the habit stuck and as she grew, she basically would curl completely around my head - from ear to ear. Erik called her my cat hat. In the Winter it was lovely and warm. In the Summer it would get quite hot, but the comfort of falling asleep to a purring cat in my ears outweighed the heat.

Floyd did not play well with others and as our kitty and human family grew, she never really bonded with any of our other pets or our children. She was mine. She was my kitty. She would tolerate Erik if I wasn't available, but whenever I sat down - she was on my lap.

She particularly loved the laptop - as soon as she heard the computer open, she'd come running - she knew that there would 1) soon be a lap forming and 2) it would be warm (she'd rest her head on the battery and go to sleep). Once my IT guy commented on the amount of cat hair in my laptop keyboard and asked if the cat was actually sleeping on the computer. Umm.... sorta yes?

But the life expectancy of a house cat is usually 10-15 years. We've had cats that lived much longer - 20 years, so I suppose I hadn't quite prepared myself for the fact that Floyd was, in fact, a senior citizen in cat years.

She first got sick last Fall - a UTI that put her in the kitty hospital for 3 days. She returned from that and did quite well for the next several months, but she was having other health problems. Her thyroid was bad. She had lost so much weight so fast that she was having liver problems. The thyroid medicine unfortunately caused problems with her kidneys.

Over the past few months, I noticed she was really starting to show her age. She no longer ate too much. She no longer wanted kitty treats. I had to lift her on to the sink because she couldn't jump.

So when we went on vacation and my friend called to tell me that she didn't think the cat was eating at all, I knew it was probably the beginning of the end for Floyd.

I came home to find that Floyd had dropped more weight. She had also developed a respiratory infection and had stopped grooming herself. Her eyes were crusty and glazed over.

She was still drinking water, but clearly wasn't eating. It was so difficult to decide what to do - I knew I could take her to the vet and they could put in an IV - hydrate her and give her nutrients. Give her antibiotics to treat the eyes and lungs... I wanted to save her and make her better.

But I knew that all I would do is prolong an ending that WAS coming. I had to let nature take its course. It was so difficult - so many days I felt like I was just letting her die. I felt so guilty for not doing everything I could to help her.

I tried to make her comfortable. I brought water and absorbant pads into the bedroom because she was having trouble walking to the water dish and the litter box. She still wanted to be on my lap. She still let me pet her. She would still purr. She still followed me from room to room.

But one by one, I saw the signs. She stopped eating. Then she stopped drinking. Then she stopped sleeping with me on the bed. The she would no longer purr when I scratched her chin. She would just sit quietly on the vent in the bathroom - the coolest place in the house.

I kept hoping that she would just pass away quietly during the night - and I wouldn't have to make the choice. But she held on - she held on until Erik and the kids got home from vacation. They got home, they unpacked, we went to dinner, and when we came home Floyd had gotten so bad she could no longer walk.

So it was time. I had prepared myself - I knew it was coming. I had made my peace with the fact that we might have to euthanize her. But still... I cried. I sat on the floor next to her and cried and apologized. And then it was time to go.

I was so impressed with the vet - we went to Harford Emergency Vet because it was late on Friday and nobody was open. We had called to tell them we were coming and from the moment we walked in, they were wonderful. They were kind and empathetic and understood how devastating and difficult the whole thing was.

Erik & I were allowed to stay with her. When we were ready, we got to hold her and pet her and tell her we loved her as she fell asleep and then drifted away. It was so fast, so peaceful. She just lowered her head and closed her eyes and exhaled and she was gone. I was glad I was there.

We buried her in the backyard. Marc cried when we poured the concrete over her body as he realized that he was never going to see her again. He said he'd miss how she always drank right out of his water glass when he wasn't looking. Lisey said she'd miss how she followed the sunbeams through the house. Erik shared his favorite memories of her. And I said I'd miss her sleeping on my head and sitting on my lap.

That was last Friday (the 10th). I spent most of the day Saturday crying. I really wasn't prepared to miss her as much as I did. I never realized how much she was just always THERE. I had her for 12 years - she was there pretty much every single day for twelve years.

You'd think with 3 other cats in the house I wouldn't notice. But I did. Because she wasn't on my lap. She wasn't curled up around my ears. She wasn't at her food dish. When I sat down to read she wasn't sitting in the middle of my book. She wasn't sleeping in the sunbeam.

We went to the pet store this week to buy a kitty door for our bedroom. Of course, the kids ran to look at the kittens. They want to know when we're getting a new one. I don't want a new one. I'd never thought I'd say that. I can't bear the thought of a new cat right now. I miss my cat and I don't want to replace her.

This week has been interesting - seeing how the other cats responded. Floyd never bonded with the other cats and they pretty much just fought all the time. So they don't seem to be "missing" her.

I asked Erik if he thought the other cats were being way more affectionate this week - he said no, they were always like that but since Floyd was always on my lap they never had a chance. So it seems the cats are now jockeying for the prime lap position.

And so life goes on. It goes on without Floyd. And Lester and Gus and Misty and Scarlett and Howie and all of the other animals that we loved and have since passed away. We still remember you and are thankful for the time we got to share, even if it is always just not quite long enough.