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Intestinal Obstruction, now...I am overwhelmed!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I just had to leave Lucy at the e-vet with a suspected intestinal obstruction. She threw up several times in the wee hours of yesterday morning. She threw up a few more times while I was at work (I skipped her breakfast to let her tummy take a break). By the time I got home, she had no interest in food, but was still acting like herself. She can be a picky eater, so I decided I'd try again a little later. She was still drinking, and there was no diarrhea. She slept with me, and all was well except for the lack of appetite. When we woke up this morning, she had diarrhea and just generally looked like a sick cat. I took her to the e-vet, fearing either distemper (seemed like a long shot, but who knows?) or an obstruction. She's fully vaccinated for distemper, and that was the only real concern as far as communicable diseases (the shelter we adopted her from had a distemper outbreak right when we got her). The new kitty has a bad URI (and remains separated), but Lucy hasn't had a single respiratory symptom.

I don't know if you guys have seen my other posts, but in two weeks, two new cats, between pet deposits, adoption fees, spay costs, e-vet visit for Lucy's leaking spay incision/seroma/suture reaction, initial vet check-ups (required by the shelter), follow-up vet visits for Lucy and the URI new kitty, additional diagnostics and compounded meds for the new kitty, I am in the hole several thousand dollars. I know we have to expect veterinary costs, but I reallyreallyreally wasn't expecting to get hit with so many different things at once. In all my life, I've never had so many things go wrong with my cats at one time.

I just left an $800 deposit for the "low estimate" to hospitalize her for approximately 24 hours, give her fluids, etc. The "high estimate" for just hospitalization (24-48 hours, and depending on how many sets of x-rays, how much additional bloodwork, whether or not they end up doing a barium x-ray, etc.) is around $2000. That's without the surgery, and I am just in complete shock. The surgery, if the vet's offhanded comment about it was accurate, will run around $2000 additional (plus, I imagine the hospitalization costs will increase if she has to stay even longer due to surgery/recovery).

Lucy's initial x-rays didn't reveal a specific obstruction. The vet said she also did some sort of ultrasound probe (sorry, but after going over the estimates, my eyes kind of glazed over and my comprehension went downhill) to see if she could locate string or something similar. However, the shape/position of her intestines indicated there was something obstructing them (I guess they can start to bunch up together with a linear obstruction, and hers were forming sort of teardrop shaped sections and full of gas). The vet had the radiologist (this place only does specialty and emergency/critical care - so I guess it's nice to have a specialist handy to take a peek) glance at them, and the first words out of her mouth were, "Did that kitty eat something?"

So, the plan right now is to get her on IV fluids, see if she vomits or has any more diarrhea. They're going to offer her food around midnight (barring anything else coming up), and possibly do another set of x-rays around 2am. If she looks worse, they may do the barium x-ray overnight, and then possibly surgery. If not, they may just continue the fluids and hope she passes whatever it is on her own. The vet seemed optimistic that she hadn't vomited again. I asked her if she thought she'd continue vomiting without me giving her any food. The vet said they generally vomit regardless when there's a bad obstruction. She did warn me about a recent case where the cat never vomited once, had x-rays, nobody saw anything, so they sent him home, and he ruptured his intestines. So...on that cheerful note, I'm going to try to chill out.
post #2 of 13
Oh my goodness!! You've been having quite the time latley!

Sending you lots of good vibes for Lucy
post #3 of 13
You really have had a rough time of it. Here are major healing vibes for Lucy and hugs for both of you.

I hope Lucy can pass the obstruction on her own without surgery. I don't recall the details of Lucy's spay but is there any chance something could have gone wrong there? Accidental damage to her intestines, perhaps? I'm grasping at straws, I know.

I also hope your other kitty is recovering from her URI. Positive vibes to her.
post #4 of 13
I am soooooo sorry. My summer has been running about like that for Vet bills, too. First my 15 y/o landed in ICU ... then my 13 y/o his pal, did. But those are old cats, and I kind of expect the end years or months to be high-end. I hate ending up having to make financial-based decisions about my babies.

We got 3 shelter kitties though and one ended up having RINGWORM (oral meds, dip for all, and topical besides), and another has some kind of nasal/sinus thing and has been through two antibiotics (and L-Lysine) to no avail. AAAAUGH! But that is my story ...

Please keep us posted on how she is doing. I hope she does well!
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
I explained her issues with her spay incision to the vet. The incision has healed well, so there was never any need to open her back up, so it's a mystery, really. I'm sure it's possible, and I'll definitely bring it up to the vet again, especially if they go ahead with surgery (I imagine that would only have a surgical fix, anyway).

I don't like the idea of having to cap the veterinary expenses, especially in a young cat with no other health issues. In an older animal, or one with chronic/terminal illnesses, I always weigh the impact of any treatment against the long-term prognosis. Given my past experiences, I'd rather euthanize a few days "too early" than wait until my pet is miserable round the clock by holding out for a long shot. As long as this is "just" an obstruction, I'll get by, financially (I had been thinking about getting a second job, anyway ). If it is an obstruction, there's no reason she can't live another twenty years in good health.

I don't want anyone to think I'm some sort of saint...I have no kids to worry about taking care of. I'm not a homeowner, and my rent is paid ahead, so I'm not going to lose my house or anything. It will be rough, but at worst, I'll just end up maxing out my credit cards (they no longer have a $0 balance after my recent move and my recent veterinary adventures ) and possibly owing my mother the difference. It makes me queasy to think about not having any financial cushion, but I'll risk it. I don't like the idea of the Bank of Mom, but she'd probably disown me if I put my cat to sleep, for financial reasons, without giving her the option of helping me out.

Thanks for the vibes, folks. Really. There are very few people "in real life" who wouldn't think I've completely lost my mind (see thread: "It's just a cat"). I've calmed down a lot (although, I was pretty calm before, just in a state of shock). There's nothing I can do now but resist the urge to call the e-vet to check on her every five minutes. I've been leaving them alone, but I figure I'm allowed to call and see if the fluids have her feeling any better.
post #6 of 13
Oh I'm so sorry! Do you think the high costs are due to this being an ER vet? Elsa had an intestinal obstruction and with the surgery, hospitalization, and everything it was less than $800...
post #7 of 13
I'm so sorry that Lucy is having these problems. I hope she is doing better soon.
post #8 of 13
I totally feel for ya!

Leo had to have surgery this summer after a couple previous emergency visits, and I was facing thousands of dollars of vet bills.

You might want to look into Care Credit. It's a credit card you apply for specifically for vet bills (they also have other cards for a variety of human health services), and you get to pay them back interest-free within a set period of time. For Leo's bill, I have 12 months. It makes the total seem so much more managable.

Sending good to you, Lucy & the new kitty!
post #9 of 13
They are the prettiest cats! I love them. I learned the hard way that pet insurance is a good idea, I have gotten it for Gina since she was a kitten. I will get it for Kitto, too, most likely when I renew Ginas policy next year. I have already spent 500.00 on Kitto and I have only had him for 6 weeks( a sprained ankle) It is too expensive to get it on the older cats at this point. I know people say you may never need it, but I GUARANTEE if I dont have it we will have a crisis of some sort!
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am quite sure the fact that this is an ER vet makes a difference in the cost. I also live in a very high-cost area, so that doesn't help (even regular veterinary care is much more expensive than other areas I've lived in). The overhead for a vet hospital in this area is pretty insane, so prices are higher, accordingly.

As for pet insurance, I am kicking myself for not getting it. I was pricing it when I got Lucy, and it wasn't that expensive (I was looking at VPI - but, get this, she came with two months free pet insurance from ShelterCare!). However, I really didn't think something like this would happen so soon. I have gotten my finances under control in the past year or so, paid down a lot of debt, and manage to live on just my base salary. My job has bonuses, and the bonus structure just changed drastically, so I make significantly more from bonuses (almost doubling my base salary). To make a long story short, I expected to be completely debt free by November (with the exception of my car payment) and figured my credit cards could absorb any emergencies, along with the savings I had been steadily building.

It might sound stupid, but to be quite honest, if this happened two months from now, it would suck, but it certainly wouldn't be so stressful. It would basically mean I didn't get to go on a vacation or buy a bunch of new furniture. I can deal with that. I certainly don't want to spend $4k+, but I can swing it and pay it off in a reasonable amount of time. It's just alarming to me because, like I said, I've never had so many things go wrong with my pets at once. I worry about the URI kitty. Her globulin was slightly elevated. What if it's cancer? What if Lucy comes home and breaks her leg next week? All of the "what if"s are freaking me out right now. I have gotten used to having a cushion, and watching it vanish in two weeks' time has really taken a toll on my stress level.

As for actual Lucy news...she vomited around 7pm. They said it looked like it had some food in it, and the only food she could have eaten while I was sleeping is dry food (Nature's Variety Instinct...the ferret eats it). They won't be feeding her at midnight, but they will repeat the x-rays around 2am. I'll give them a call around 3am to see what's new.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
The attending vet (who is, strangely, still there) just did some more x-rays. She's not out of the woods...just vomited a little while ago, but her intestines aren't so "bunched up" and the gas seems to be moving along. We're all still hoping to avoid surgery, and this is hopefully a good sign.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Me, again...I am a horrible insomniac on the best of days and wake up often throughout the night, and this isn't helping. Oh, right...and I can't call people in the middle of the night to update them on the position of the gas in my cat's stomach.

She vomited again right before her latest dose of whatever they're giving her to curb the nausea/vomiting (pepcid was mentioned previously, but not sure if that's what she's on), but she's perked up a bit with the fluids. They're giving her some pain medication, since she seems pretty tender in her abdomen with all the gas, but the overnight vet is also optimistic about the second set of x-rays.

With fingers crossed,
post #13 of 13
hoping that Lucy is getting better and better. Soon she will be home.
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