I have an update on Zechariah. The short version is:
“Zachy-Pooh is recovering nicely and should be herself in a week. Thank you for your prayers and kind concern. Praise God!”
Yes, I know I spell her full name Zechariah and her nickname Zach.
For those of you interested in more detail, read on. Otherwise, thanks for everything.
Here’s the long version, as I am able to recall at this time.
Cathy & I moved on October 31st, and the new place is still pretty messy and half-done. Zach didn’t seem to like the new place, and she kept more to herself, although she still greeted me in the morning and demanded my attention. About 11/14/2004, we noticed that Zach looked a little skinnier, so I fed her more treats. The next week a friend came over and asked if Zach was pregnant. She was even skinnier, but her belly was big. Zach started keeping to herself, and on the day after Thanksgiving I started calling around looking for a vet, and I got a recommendation from a friend that lives close by. A former veterinarian dropped by and told me that Zach just looked fat, so I concluded that she was depressed. I resolved to have her checked out just in case.
On Monday, November 29th I checked online for the doctor my friend recommended, Above and Beyond Pet Clinic in Downey. My boss was out Monday and Tuesday, so I was unable to leave the office on those days. During Tuesday evening I became very concerned with Zach as she did not eat much, and her belly seemed bigger to both Cathy & I. It did not appear to me that Zach had groomed herself that day. I resolved to take Zach in during the workday the next day.
Wednesday, December 1st, I took a long lunch. I went home and picked up Zechariah and took her to the vet. I was seen pretty quickly. Zach weighed 8 lb 8 oz, and she was apparently not feeling well. The doctor, Gerald Citek, spent a couple minutes with Zach and asked me about her feeding and behavior. He felt her stomach and concluded it was a cyst, although we would have to x-ray to make sure. Dr. Citek told me he just treated another cat with a cyst and operated on November 30th, and after initial exploratory surgery, the doctor and owner agreed to put the cat to sleep on the operating table. Dr. Citek told me that Zach was probably in bad shape, and that I should prepare for the worst.
We took the x-ray immediately, and the doctor showed me Zach’s x-ray along with the other cat from the day before. Zach’s was much larger, he said, but that did not matter. What mattered was where the cyst was growing and whether her kidney or liver functions had been compromised. If the cyst was on the kidney, she would probably be OK. If the cyst was on the liver, it was unlikely she would make it through surgery. We could not tell from the x-ray, so exploratory surgery was the next recommended course of action.
Dr. Citek recommended that we operate right then. However, I was unable to face the possibility that this would be the last time I would see Zach, so I asked him what other choices we had to determine her likelihood for recovery. The doctor indicated that we could do a full spectrum blood analysis which would tell him whether the liver and kidney functions, among other things, were impaired. The test would be sent to a lab with results coming in that evening. I paid for the blood test and took Zechariah home; they told me to call at 6:30 PM.
Cathy & I loved on Zechariah and prepared for the worst. We agreed that we would pursue any possibilities for her treatment, and I resolved that I wanted Zechariah back healthy. If the treatment would make her a live but unhealthy cat, a former shadow of herself, I would still put her to sleep. We prayed, and I pleaded with God to have mercy on me, since I knew my Zachy-Pooh would be better off whether she recovered or not.
We had an appointment in Redlands at 07:00 PM, so I was on the road when the clinic called shortly after 6:00 PM. The tests indicated that the liver and kidney functions were normal. This was very encouraging news, and it lifted our spirits tremendously. Several test results had not come back yet, so the doctor wanted to wait until Thursday to operate. I was to call in the morning. Zach did not eat well that night, which the doctor told me later was due to a simple lack of space; she was starving since she could not get enough food into her stomach as there simply wasn’t room in her body.
The next morning I spoke with the clinic. The results were negative; Zach had no feline ailments and her body was functioning normally. The doctor wanted to operate right away. We pampered Zach and went to work. I took an extra long lunch and went home to spend time with Zechariah. I arrived at the clinic around 11:30 and met with the doctor. He told me the procedure would go quickly, and that he would begin initial exploration and update me about 10 to 15 minutes after the procedure had begun. At that point, if the cyst was inoperable, they would let me know.
At 11:57 I watched an assistant take Zach away from me. I called my wife and we prayed together; I promised to call her once they updated me. I was alone in the waiting area, praying and pleading to God for my cat’s life. About 12:20, I realized that I had been praying for longer than 15 minutes, and nobody had updated me yet. I took this to be a good sign. Several minutes later an assistant came to me and told me the cyst was on the liver; my heart sank. Thankfully, he kept going and said they were going to perform a “crunch” procedure. They realized that I wanted very much to try to save Zechariah, so the doctor did not stop to update me. I went back to praying, still fearful, but hopeful.
At 12:50, not quite a hour after it began, the assistant informed me that the procedure was over, and that the doctor would update me shortly. They brought out Zechariah and let me see her. Zach looked pretty pathetic, and she was still very drugged up. I cradled her head and petted her. The doctor came out (BEGIN ICK ALERT) and told me that they drained the cyst, which contained a liter of blood. As soon as the cyst was drained, (END ICK ALERT) Zach’s condition improved, which the doctor says was probably due to the cyst inhibiting circulation. Zach’s body temperature remained constant through the procedure, which he indicated was a good sign. However, at this point, he felt that Zach’s chances were 50-50 that she would make it through the night. He had isolated the part of the liver with the cyst and cut away a third of Zach’s liver. If her circulation is good to the liver she could make it. I would be allowed to visit Zechariah that night after 08:00 PM, so I went back to work happy.
Cathy and I ate dinner and called the clinic, and it was OK to come by to see her. We arrived at 08:30 PM and they brought Zach out to us. They had warm water balloons all around her and a heating pad beneath her. Zach was not responsive, and she did not feel warm to Cathy & I. We covered her with a towel, petted her and prayed over her. The doctor said that her temperature dropped during the afternoon, which was not a good sign. If she made it through the night, her chances would improve, but at this point he was uncertain. Dr. Citek gave Zach some malt from a tube, which he indicated was necessary to jumpstart her system. She should be fed to keep her health up. We were allowed to stay until 09:00 PM, so Cathy & I stroked Zach and tried to warm her up. Her temperature did increase a bit, and she drifted to sleep.
We asked about who would take care of her that night, and basically nobody would be checking on her until morning. Cathy believed that Zech had been depressed being away from home, so we talked to the doctor about taking Zach home with us to keep her warm. It may have seemed unusual to him, but the doctor did not see any harm to that, so I warmed up the car and we took Zach home with us, the heater on high. We prayed for Zach on the way home, as well. She was aware of us but unresponsive. We bundled her up and turned up the heater.
Honestly, we thought we were going to lose her.
When we got home, I closed off her favorite room and warmed it up while Cathy waited in the warm car. We took Zechariah into the room. Just as soon we took off the top of the cage, Zach perked up, started looking around, and climbed out of the cage! We were ecstatic! We fed her some malt every hour. She warmed up a bit as the night went on. We stayed up with her until Zech used the cat box and climbed onto her favorite chair. She curled up to go to sleep, and shortly after that we thanked God and went to bed.
On Friday, Zach was still tired, but much more at ease. Cathy took her back to the clinic where they checked on her and feed her a little bit hourly. I picked her up at 2:00 PM and brought her back to work with me. I fed her hourly and she rested most of the time. After work, I took her home and Cathy & I doted on her as much as she could take it. We were to give her amoxicillin twice a day and feed her a tiny bit of soft food hourly.
On Saturday morning, Zach purred for the first time since I took her to see the vet. I cried for joy. Cathy took Zach to the clinic while I went to attend to my duties at the pet shelter we volunteer at (adoption time). The doctor said to keep up the amoxicillin, but to feed her four times a day. Zach weighed 6 lb 6 oz. The doctor indicated that if Zach kept eating, that means her liver is functioning properly. Cathy kept Zach in the room by herself on Saturday, and we spent the evening in there with Zach. The other cats and the dog wanted to see her, but we didn’t allow them to yet.
On Sunday, Cathy stayed home with Zach while I went to church. Zechariah had her first bowel movement! Her appetite has increased steadily, and she asked to be let out to explore the rest of the house. The critters were happy to have her back, and Zach appears to feel comfortable being around everybody again.
It is now Tuesday and I will be going home during lunch to feed Zach this week. Her body is filling out a bit; she is still very skinny, but when we pet her now the bones are getting more difficult to count. She is back to jumping onto furniture and people, and she is recovering nicely. We have a recheck this week, but I believe God has granted me mercy and let me keep Zechariah.
Thank you for all your prayers, emails, and kind words. May God bless you all,