Just as soon as I celebrate Jeffrey's many unprecedented triumphs over the last week, he goes blind. At least it's only temporary, but still. It's extremely heartbreaking.
Sunday evening I had noticed Jeffrey's pupils were very dilated. But honestly, I didn't think anything of it because it was fairly dark in the office and I figured it was because of that. But yesterday morning I noticed they were still quite big and all the confirmation I needed that it just wasn't right was when Tina walked in and said, "Geez, Jeffrey's pupils are huge! They're completely dilated and it's not dark in here."
"Yeah," I frowned. "I was noticing that, too."
I consulted with one of the websites I've been getting most of my info. from and searched for "dilated pupils." Sure enough, it's a sign of detached retinas due to hypertension (high blood pressure).
I waved my hand in front of Jeffrey's face and he seemed to follow it. Then I took a toy mouse, waved it in front of him again and watched him follow it. But when I suddenly dropped the mouse on the floor, Jeffrey continued to look for it in front of him and then started looking up for it.
I called the hospital, explained what was happening to the woman who answered and then waited for her to consult with a doctor. "Is Jeffrey still finding his food and water?" the woman asked.
"Well, yeah," I answered.
"The doctor doesn't seem very concerned," she said. "He can probably wait until his follow up to get looked at."
"Okay, thank you," I said and hung up.
I turned and looked at Jeffrey sitting on the chair behind me, washing himself. From day 1 I listened to "my gut" when it came to anything regarding Jeffrey's illness. In that moment I just knew waiting until Thursday wasn't going to be a smart idea.
I bundled Jeffrey into the carrier (which he hates so much by now that he sticks all four legs out in attempts to keep me from getting him inside) and we set out for the ER. Most of the staff at the hospital know me at this point so when I walked in one of the women said, "Oh, no! What's wrong with Jeffrey?"
I explained what was happening and then the woman brought me and Jeffrey to a room where we waited for the doctor. About 5 minutes later a doctor who'd not treated Jeffrey before walked in. I swear, by the time this is all over Jeffrey will have seen every vet on staff.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Rovan," the doctor introduced herself. "You're Liz, right?"
"Yes," I nodded.
"I recognized you and I know Jeffrey," she said.
"Aw," I smiled. Then I went on to explain what was happening.
"Okay," she said. "Let me take him to the back and take a look. We'll be back in a few minutes."
About 10 minutes later Dr. Roven came back to the little room. "His retinas are very detached," she confirmed. "His blood pressure is 180 which isn't too too high, but it's definitely the cause nonetheless."
"Okay," I said. And then I asked the question I think I've asked at least a dozen times in the last two weeks. "So what do we do to fix it?"
"There are a couple of options," she said. "The first is to get him on Norvasc to bring his blood pressure down. The second is to see an opthamologist. The problem is that ours is out until January second."
"Yeah, that's no good." I mused. "Do you know where I can find another one?"
Dr. Rovan went through a list of area vet hospitals where I might find one around, despite it being Christmas. "Your best bet is Tufts. They have two on staff, so maybe one is available."
I thanked Dr. Rovan, checked Jeffrey out and headed home to call the area hospitals. I first tried Angell since it was closest, but their opthamologist was out until Friday. I then called Tufts and they said they had one on call today so bringing Jeffrey in would be fine. I went on the Tufts VETS website, grabbed the address, Mapquested it, stuffed Jeffrey back in his carrier and set out on a 40 min. drive to Walpole.
When we arrived I said, "Hi, I'm here with Jeffrey, the detached retina cat."
The two women behind the desk looked at each other, puzzled. "I don't think you spoke to us," one of them said.
"I'm not sure who I spoke to, but they said there's an opthamologist on call today," I said.
"Oh!" the other woman explained. "You need to go to our facility in Grafton. We don't have an opthamologist, but they do. Here are directions. It's about 45 minutes away."
*sigh* Insert Benny Hill music here.
45 minutes later we arrived at the correct location and they took Jeffrey right away. After the doctor and I went over Jeffrey's extensive history, I went to the lobby to watch Judge Judy (shut up, it happened to be on). And let me tell you, the two hours I sat in that lobby were extremely depressing. Within the first hour there were two puppies that had been hit by cars, a dog that had fallen on glass and was bleeding out, and a couple with a dog that they walked into the hospital with (it even came up and sniffed me), which I was then shocked to see the couple left without the dog an hour and a half later, the girl sobbing uncontrollably. Worst of all were the two women who walked in calmly.
"Hello," the woman behind the desk greeted them. "Are you here with an emergency?"
"Not anymore," one of them said.
A few minutes later two techs rolled a gurney outside to the women's car and then returned with a motionless black dog wrapped in a blanket. I had to look down at the book I had been reading after Judge Judy ended because I was starting to cry. The last thing those women probably needed was to see some stranger crying for their dog while they were managing to hold it together.
Soon after Jeffrey's doctor came out. "Well, I have some good news," she smiled. "As I'd mentioned earlier, our opthamologist, Dr. Jurk (pronounced 'Yurk') was on call today. We consulted with her and she was very positive. You did the right thing in getting treatment right away, so she's pretty confident Jeffrey's vision will return. It might not be as perfect as it was, but the retinas will re-attach. It will likely take 6 days and could take as long as 14 days."
I sighed with relief.
"Dr. Jurk is very interested in seeing Jeffrey," she continued. "She's pretty booked up on Friday, but wants to make him a priority, so she asked that you call here on Wednesday. I'll give you the number of who to call and what to say."
"Wow, really?" I asked.
"Yeah," she nodded. "That's a really great sign and he'll be getting the best care with her. In the meantime she wants him on Trusopt eyedrops to prevent glaucoma. That can often happen if detached retinas are left untreated for possible fluid pressure build-up before they re-attach."
Jeffrey and I arrived home at 8:15 p.m. and had been traveling around, dealing with this since noon. "Jeffrey's 'Vision Tour' is finally over," I said to Tina as we walked in the front door. "I swear we've driven a total of almost 4 hours today."
I brought Jeffrey up to my office and saw that he's still getting around pretty well, despite the vision challenges. His food, water and litterboxes are all in the same place, so he finds everything okay. The only problem is that he gets nervous about jumping up on his chair, so I had to move his blanket to the floor under my desk.
Thank God this is temporary. And I'm VERY glad I didn't wait around on this one. Jeffrey's come so far and to have him end up blind would have been horribly unfair.
I hope everyone else's Christmas was a little more pleasant...! ;-)
Oh and P.S.- The Rocky Balboa movie was AWESOME!