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My best friend of 11 years is gone and I think I failed her


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I am going through the grieving process and the last 24 hrs I have been experiencing a lot of guilt, over my decisions.

I just lost my cat Lulu, my best friend of 11 years less than a week ago. It wasn't cancer like many cats or dogs, but my otherwise healthy princess was diagnosed with something called chylothorax - fluid in chest cavity due to leak from a lymphatic system, earlier in March. There is a 50/50 or even less chance of recovery but my cat seemed to be responding well to the medication after initial draining, x ray recheck showed less fluid, and in May I felt that she was recovering, or at least was manageable, her breathing was back to normal and I was planning to get an x ray done to see progress. In mid May, she seemed to have developed an edema on her belly ( just in skin) and my vet suggested that this was unusual for chylothorax and perhaps I should schedule a CT scan for her ( although I have insurance but I was already 3k in from all the non covered charges  and this would be another 1k of my costs, after insurance) however, we could try to treat edema with furosemide, a diuretic to see if it helps. She told me it might take couple of weeks for it to work. After 2nd week, I didn't see change, although my cat was acting fine, eating, playful, pretty normal. I asked if we should try to increase dose slightly, maybe it was not strong enough. She agreed, but after another week no change so she suggested that I should get the CT scan to see what's going on. I agreed  this time, and was in process of making an appt, it seemed like it was not quick to get it scheduled at 2 local specialty hospitals. I had an appt for Thur June 8,  following week.

On Sat June 3, Lulu was acting weird, not herself, not eating, mostly spending time in a spare bedroom alone. I took her to to the specialty clinic for emergency appt and there I was told, that after ultrasound test on my cat and blood test, they could see she likely had lung torsion - twisted lung, which was likely caused by presence of fluid in the chest and that's prob why she was acting weird, and in pain. They gave her pain meds and I was told to drop her off following night for the overnight stay and she would get a CT scan and likely surgery on Monday, if confirmed she has torsion. It was, and she was to get surgery Monday afternoon. They felt it was urgent. The surgery cost and hospital stay 2 days post op, was at around 8-9k. With my insurance covering 70% I agreed because I love her so much and I was willing to do it.  She survived surgery and I was ecstatic. I was told however, she seemed to have post surgery low blood pressure, but I wasn't told this was a larger concern. Just that she did. 

Next day she still had low blood pressure, they were confused, and also told me she had low proteins so they suggested she needs plasma. She was on blood pressure meds, IV, we also did antibiotic and anti inflammatory. There was talk of possible sepsis or pancreatitis causing the low blood pressure. But no certain opinion what it was, just guesses as her tests and CT didn't show  anything particular.

The whole week was up and down, she was better, walking, but still blood pressure low. Thursday 8th, suddenly had more chyle fluid in chest, so they drained it. I told vets I couldn't afford more stay in hospital as we were nearing 20k for all the emergency, CT scan, surgery and hospital costs. I would take her home on Fri if she was stable and not worse, and we would see vet daily to check blood pressure and get her drained if she needed it soon, until she stabilizes. Her blood pressure was still low off meds, but they felt she was stable and maybe just needed more recovery days and perhaps home recovery would be more beneficial, so she would feel comfortable, away from barking dogs and many people in the clinic. There are no low blood pressure meds for home use but she was off it for a day and stable. We also ordered the blood pressure gadget. 

By midnight of first day at home, I realized her breathing was labored, and we took her to emergency room to get her lungs drained. They did, but doctor told me her blood pressure also dropped so low, he felt she def needed to be back in hospital for few days at least, he put her on IV drip/meds already. He also said the chest fluid seemed to be building up very very fast. The reason they couldn't close off the fluid source  during surgery as it was in the opposite lung side and they could't operate on both, surgeon told me there might still be possible fluid leakage but with meds should be manageable as before. But this fluid was building up very fast now, it started 3 days after surgery.  So I knew, that we might have to say goodbye as I couldn't afford another week or two at hospital trying to figure out what's wrong ( $1500 a night ). And we didn't know if she would get better. I told him I need to get my sleeping husband from the car. When we came back, doctor went over things but while he was explaining it to us, she suffered a cardiac arrest from the low blood pressure. She got resucitated but she was no longer breathing herself and we had to say goodbye right there, when she was no longer lucid when doctor gave her the shot.

I was heart broken of course. I couldn't believe she survived lung surgery but she got taken down by low blood pressure, and that fluid was back at great rate, which would not be manageable for us. That we didn't have a chance to say goodbye. I was grateful for the few hours spent at home though, together on bed. 

Yesterday, I shouldn't have but I decided to check on side effects of the diuretic ( she was off it since Fri June 2),  could this be possibly causing low blood pressure. The doctors knew she was on it prior to surgery. I have been doing research last week but it didn't occur to me to check the side effects of this drug, I was just looking up what causes low blood pressure. And guess what, it can cause both low blood pressure and pancreatitis. So I knew that this was probably why she was ill on Sat 3rd, not from the lung. After all, the vet increased the dose slightly, at my request. She possibly had pancreatitis, she seemed to have some pain. And so I had instant regrets of keeping her on this med for 3 weeks, increasing the dose. And why didn't the specialty vets postpone the surgery, check her blood pressure and give her IV to treat possible pancreatitis. Multiple vets said she needed surgery for lung, but no one said, hey, it could be pancreatitis also, because of the drug, let's wait a bit before surgery. 

I am beating myself for not getting the CT scan sooner, for keeping her on this med. Maybe if she had lung surgery 2 weeks earlier, she would have made it, maybe the fluid wouldn't be back then. I know these are maybes, but I am so so upset over my cat dying, over my possibly not doing the right thing when I could have. Possibly vets not doing their dilligence before undergoing such a surgery. She was my best friend and soulmate and I can't believe I lost her from something that I didn't even know was making her sick. I didn't think you could feel such a pain from losing an animal but here we are, it's so so painful and I feel I failed her. Thank you for reading this far. 


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I am so sorry for the loss of your cat, it is so hard and esp. as she'd already survived lung surgery.  My heart goes out to you, I lost my dog 8/16/19 and my cat 1/06/20.  We were a family.

You can rest assured your kitty is at peace now...

The what ifs blame game happens to most of us going through early grief, it did me when my husband died nearly 18 years ago...it's not that we are guilty of anything but loving them, and the truth is feelings are not facts, but it's that we can't wrap our heads around what happened, and our mind is trying to find some different possible outcome so it searches all the what ifs...

Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers

A Dangerous Villain: Guilt
Breaking the Power of Guilt
A Dangerous Villain: Guilt

I hope this short video brings you some comfort and peace.


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Thank you @KayC

Currently it's hard to accept that I did everything I should have, but I hope that soon enough I can accept that at the time I didn't have the knowledge I have now. She knows (from above) I have always rushed her to the vet, whenever I thought something was off. I just feel so sad I have failed her when it was really important and it made a difference in her life and death.  

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