Peekaboo, ICU

It was when the gigantic dog sitting across from me farted — a colossal, mephitic, asphyxiating fart, whose sulfurous tendrils snaked into the recesses of my skull and all but blurred my vision — that a lifetime inclination to agnosticism crystallized into the final certainty that there is no God.

The dog was apparently at the vet’s office to get staples out from a recent surgery, and her owner, the kind of muscle-shirted, unsmiling, shaven-headed guy that you know has a gigantic dog because it makes him look badassed, did not acknowledge the fart but herded her off shortly at a call from the vet. I exhaled.

I was there waiting to find out how bad things were with Torvald. After a year of holding pretty steady on medication for congestive heart failure — they warned me there might be a day or two like this — he had suddenly gone kinda slo-mo and then started breathing thirty-two, thirty-eight, finally forty-eight to the minute, when thirty is supposed to be the absolute tops for a cat at rest, no matter how much Lasix I slammed down him. After the third reading I bunged him in the carrier and hurtled to the vet. I think if they had had a crash cart they would have brought it out. I hate that moment, when your sick animal, boxed into a plastic-and-metal crate, is swept away from you without your having even a second to hold him. At least the bastard with the farting dog could pat her on the head.

After a while they stuck me in a consulting room — away from other dogs of any gaseous output — and a cheery, dumpy little vet came in to show me x-rays that displayed clear signs of fluid in his lungs, how surprising, and a slightly larger heart than any previous images. They had him in an oxygen chamber with a little peekaboo window through which I could pet him, they were pumping more Lasix into him, and he might be able to go home at midnight and might have to stay the night.

He stayed the night. When this happens the night shift vet calls you at 5:30 a.m. to give you an update. You cannot believe how chipper I can manage to sound at 5:30 in the morning. He was ready to go home, he was breathing about forty to the minute, but then he was at the vet and he was really ready to go home, as the tech who brought him out to us a few hours later observed. (The Engineer, a mensch, drove the car. At this point I was completely blown out.)


I am home now and I am still pissed

“He hissed at me,” she said. “Sounds like him,” I replied.

The cardiology practice saw him at noon. True to form, as soon as we arrived he peed in the carrier. He didn’t entirely hate it until they started his exam:

150but once he was taken into the room with the echocardiogram equipment, he hissed and yowled at the technician, had to be decanted from the carrier in a cumbersome three-person maneuver, revolved like a lawn sprinkler with claws when it was time to assume the position on the ultrasound table, and generally declared to the world that he was going to be Ragnar Lodbrok and die with his sword in his hand. By some miracle, no one got bit.

By the time they finished his exam report, took all my money that the regular vet hadn’t already gotten, and made his next appointment, he was trying his damndest to make a break from the carrier.


Before I got him home he had just about bit through the wire mesh. He was a little tuckered after all that, and didn’t perk up for a while, but was last seen moseying around the first floor, scratching various posts. The breath reading I got earlier ran about 24, which is normal. He is full of drugs, and will be taking them on a new schedule. Haven’t seen him eat yet, but he’s probably sneaking it when I’m not looking.

I kind of get how he feels. I’m still shaking off the effects of that apocalyptic dog fart.




17 thoughts on “Peekaboo, ICU

  1. This morning he is very slowed down again. I’m a little concerned all the diuretic might have dehydrated him, and you can’t give sub-Q fluid to a cat with heart failure — it’s too much too fast. So I’m giving him a little water from a dropper every hour or so. His breathing is totally fine now, he just doesn’t want to move around or do anything but sleep in his chair. Best case, he’s just blown out and the stress of yesterday has caught up with him. If he is really not going to get better, I don’t want to hassle him with a vet trip. There is no heroic thing you can really do for this problem, at least nothing that hasn’t been done.

    Whether he lives long or a few more days, he deserves the joy of his bowl chair.

  2. Poor Torvald. Poor you. I know you love him to bits and would endure any amount of noxious dog farts to keep him happy. I’m hoping he is just tired and sleeping off the stress and the attack.
    I don’t suppose he’d be any happier using a harness rather than the carrier? I have to do that with Spot, as he would go demented in a little box. Of course the whole drive with him I’m terrified some asshole will hit us and I’ll have a Spot-shaped missile going through the windscreen. Also requires two people, to make sure he doesn’t go under the pedals.
    I wish him the joy of his chair, and you the joy of his company, for as long as possible.

    • Thank you.

      I think he’d really hate a harness and with those huge dogs in the vet waiting room he would be terrified. I have been dribbling a little water into him at intervals because he had SO much Lasix and should keep having it vs. backing it off. So now I REALLY suck, just ask him.

      • You could always try it for a stroll around the yard. He used to be outdoor, it might make the harness bearable.
        However most cats I’ve known fall over and pretend paralysis when one is put on. Spot is rather unique, I know.
        I had him to the vet Wednesday- kidney values are good, better than hubby’s – but now he has bone marrow loss. So that entirely sucks. Oh, and a bladder infection which I have to pill him twice a day for. So, I am right next to you at being the source of all evil. Luckily I’m a master at pilling cats. He only managed to spit one out so far!

        • I am lucky in that Torvald takes a pill like a champ – you just drop it in and he swallows.

          Apricat of the magnificent mane

          had to have his hind end rearranged because bladder crystals and he would get those infections and yowl. And he spit pills. Stealth-spit them. I would find them under the stove. There is a real art to it with most cats.

          Thinking good thoughts to your guy. Guys.

          • Been to see Apricat – wonderful name! Had to do that to my mom’s Siamese, but it didn’t last as he also had major bowel leakage and perforations…broke my heart.
            The dog is better at the stealth pill rejection as her mouth is so big. I think I’ve got it in the back and nope…lick lick spit, it’s on the floor.
            How is Torvie doing now?

          • Chilling in his bowl chair. He’s sitting up a bit more pertly and his eyes look brighter, so that is good. We’re going to be out for a while so I gave him more water. I REALLY suck. I just want to get him eating again on his own, but I can sort of relate to him just wanting to snooze it all off.

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