Thursday, January 19, 2006

Did someone say "STRING"?!?

I have an unhealthy obsession with all things string. I admit it. And, despite the trouble this has cause in my life (and in our house), I make no apologies for it.

Last night, The Agent freaked out when I nabbed a bit of dental floss from the bathroom counter--not 10 seconds after she had layed it down--and ran with it. She yelled as she chased me into the hallway--even grabbing my tail to keep me from bolting. She grabbed at the floss, trying to prevent me from swallowing it. I just don't get why she feels she must ruin all of my fun!

Well, maybe I do get it.

Around our house, July of 2004 is referred to as "The Month Brach Almost Died."

The drama began when The Agent decided to take us to Grandma and Grandpa's house to house-sit for two weeks. I remember that her biggest concern was that Grandma had some questionable houseplants that needed to be isolated because they were poisonous to Kukka and I, but I don't think she ever expected that it would be something much smaller and seemingly less-threatening that would almost do me in.

The first Friday--about 5 days into our visit, The Agent and a friend went out for the evening. When she came home, there were two spots on the carpet where I had gotten sick. Since Kukka was following her from room to room, begging for treats, she assumed it was me who wasn't feeling well and set out to find me. She did. I was crouched under the bed in the upstairs bedroom. Even though I knew she was worried and wanted to comfort me, I made it clear to her that I wasn't feeling well and wanted to be left alone.

She checked on me several times throughout the night and in the morning, she knew I still wasn't feeling well. Thinking I may have somehow eaten a bit of a houseplant, she called the vet.

She brought me in and they said I was dehydrated. After looking me over, and also believing I must have ingested some harmful foliage, they hydrated me and send me home with The Agent. The instructions: Keep a close eye on him. Try to feed him bits of moist cat food (read: stinky goodness) and if he isn't wanting to drink his water, give him bits of water through a syringe.

The next day, The Agent called the vet back to tell him I wouldn't eat and was not wanting the water. I was still vomiting often. They asked to see me again.

After hydrating me--again, the vet said that if I had eaten a toxic plant, it would have been out of my system by now. He asked to take x-rays. The Agent was eager to do whatever she could to help me.

The x-rays found nothing. They were all very confused. The vet said to continue trying to feed and hydrate me and that, if by the next day I was not feeling better, he wanted to perform "exploratory surgery."

I remember how The Agent would lie on her stomach and comfort me as I would do nothing but lie under the spare bed. "Oh, Brach..." she would say through her tears. "I want to help you, but I don't know how to make you feel better, baby. I'm so sorry you feel so badly..."

The next day, we returned to the vet office for my surgery. My vomit was now a green color and the vet said it was waste that was coming up through my system and that I was at risk for an infection--and certain death--if they didn't do the surgery. As we drove to the vet's office, The Agent was crying so hard she could hardly drive. She was sure that she was going to have to say goodbye to me that day.

A few hours later, the vet called her with news of my status.

"The surgery was a huge success, but it was what we discovered prior to the surgery that clued us in to what was really happening with Brach. When we opened his mouth to insert the breathing tube in his throat, we noticed his tongue had a very deep cut--way in the back. We discovered he had tried to swallow a piece of thread which caught around his tongue and extended through his stomach and into his intestines. Because the string would not loose itself from his tongue and couldn't pass through his system, it began to tear holes in his intestines. The intestines work like an accordian. They move back and forth, helping food move through. That back and forth motion--against the thread--caused 18 holes in his intestinal walls which we were able to successfully repair. He is resting comfortably now and we would like to keep him overnight to continue hydrating him so he will gain strength."

The Agent cried and cried with relief (and guilt that she had made it possible for me to obtain thread, I am sure).

The next morning, when The Agent came to pick me up, I was my old self again. I purred and rubbed up against her. I wanted to walk around and look at everything going on around me.

"He is like a totally different cat now!" exclaimed the nurse.

"He is Brach again!" The Agent replied, with a great sigh.

The vet thanked The Agent for allowing them to perform the surgery. "Many people would not have been willing to make the investment--both money and time--and, as a result, would have had to put him down. It's situations like this that made me want to become a vet and help animals in the first place. I love that we were given the opportunity to help Brach feel better. That's what it's all about."

The Agent really likes our vet. Secretly, I do too.

When we got home, The Agent lay on the bed and I spent the next half-hour nuzzling and loving her. She understood my power-purrs were my way of thanking her for loving me so much and not stopping until she had done everything she could to make me feel better.

As she stroked my fur, she whispered in my ear, "I love you, Brach."

Suddenly, she laughed, stared at my bare belly (did I forget to mention they had to shave me for the operation?) and said, "DUDE! It looks like you should have asked for a tummy-tuck while you were under the knife!"

She always has to have the last word...


Anonymous said...

OMG! This is horrifying on so many levels. Our first cat, Charcoal, was left alone with a helium balloon. We came home, and the string was coming out of her mouth, connected to the balloon several feet up. (And yes, we laughed our heads off at first, because she looked like a comic strip character who was saying something.) We could not get the string out - she'd already begun to swallow some. We held her mouth open and cut it off (in our defense, we were teenagers - poor as hell and still stupid!). A few hours later, she was howling and chasing (in circles) a poop-covered string which was coming from her rear end. At this point, we held her down, cut the string off, and waited for the next batch two more times. It all came out, finally. After reading your story, I know how close we came to losing her right then. I can't imagine how the next 16 years would have been without her! Brach, you're so lucky!!

Brach said...

How horrible! I know that things like this are bound to happen, but when you read about specific situations--or they happen to you--it is horrifying!

And yet I still obsess about getting, chewing on, and subsequently EATING frickin' string!

The Meezers or Billy said...

Oh my goodness Brach, that is horrible. Gramma Trixie loves to eat ribbon - you know, the kind that people make all curly with skissors? Mommy tries very hard not to have any in the house because she said that pulling a foot of it out of Trixie's mouth was the grossest thing ever and she was never going to do that again.

Big Piney Woods Cats said...

Oh Brach, thank goodness you are OK and have such a loving Mom. What a good lesson to all us kits about strings.....I shall have to scream it in Mittens ear.....

Amy in NC said...

Brach, we are so glad that you made it through. Good for your Mom deciding to go ahead with the surgery. This is what I worry about most with Knightly. He loves to chew string and *knock on wood* nothing has happened yet.

The Monsters' Mom

WCTs said...

What a story...great happy ending. My vet told me about seems to happen a lot.

Big kisses to you!
Mom is adding you to our blogroll, is that OK?

The Whippy Curly Tails in the Toasty South....


Just Ducky said...

Brach, Buddy glad that you make it through your surgery. Mum is very careful about leaving any sting or even small plastic string like things she cuts from clothes. They get picked up and tossed out right away. Also, if she is working on stuff with yarn, that goes away every night too.

It is funny though that so many pictures show cats playing with yarns an stuff. This stuff could be lethal.

Your mum gets a big BRAVO for being brave and doin the surgery.

KLB said...

I guess I should thank you for warning my mom about the dangers of string, but I'm going to sorely miss eating tinsel off the Christmas tree and fishing used floss out of the garbage. I refuse to give up the Q-Tips, though.


Edsel/The Pooch said...

it's a good reminder 'bout the evils of things like string and dental floss

Ivan and Izzy from WMD said...

Wow, Brach, you poor boy. And your poor mom! We're so glad there was a happy ending to that very close call.

But, dude? You gotta stay away from the string!

Kukka-Maria said...

You cats are giving him way too much sympathy! The boy is obsessed with eating string--even though it was practically the death of him!

A friend of my mom's recently said that it takes men 2 months to fully digest and understand what has been said to them and that women expect way too much from them on that front. That must explain it why Brach hasn't gotten the message yet: STRING + CATS = TRAGEDY.

What would 2 months be in "cat years?"

Ivan and Izzy from WMD said...

Hmm. Could be why I can't break my weatherstripping habit...

Chatham said...

my doofus brother won't stop eating any kind of string or ribbon. My People worry alot and are always on the lookout for stuff like that.

Anyway, string doesn't taste good. Now, cardboard, that's what I like ...

Max said...

Dude! That's amazing and awesome and kinda scary all in one! You totally have to go do something cute for your Mom now!

Henry said...

Can't blame you Brach, string is just pure fun.

Carolina Cats said...

Wow Brach! That must have been so scary! We're glad you are ok, but please be careful with the strings. Buddy likes to play with them - ribbons mostly, but he doesn't eat them.

Finny & Buddy

Edsel/The Pooch said...

hey, i didn't realize you guys live in the mitten state too! we're fellow mittenganders!

Zeus said...

Wow. I'm so sorry that you went through this Brach. Now that you are officially a Veteran of the String War, I will honor you this coming Veteran's Day.