Or as in our case, the "easy tube."
As I'd mentioned last time, Jeffrey regained his sight. But with everything that happened as a result of losing his vision (mouth sores, depression, not eating, etc.), Jeffrey lost even more weight and was growing further dehydrated. I was syringe feeding him, but between getting the pills in and the battle of trying to squirt food into his mouth, he wasn't making any weight progress.
On Thursday of last week I brought Jeffrey in for his weekly follow-up with Dr. White. She had the same concerns I did regarding Jeffrey's continued weightloss and dehydration and suggested something I was hoping she would: An e-tube.
"At this point he's not going to make any progress if he doesn't gain weight," she said. "His body can't support improvement without proper nutrition, so I really think the best thing we can do is put in an e-tube."
I nodded eagerly. "I did a lot of reading on it and I'm glad you're suggesting it."
With Jeffrey's mouth sores, it's just been uncomfortable for him to eat. And my syringe feeding him and cramming in pills isn't exactly helping him feel better. Plus cats are different than people; it doesn't take much to deter them from eating, so they'll never eat just because they're starving. They will literally waste away unless we step in to help.
The e-tube (esophagostomy tube) is different than one of those nose tubes you see stuck in dying hospital patients. This kind goes in through the side of the neck and into the esophagus. Then I unscrew the cap, syringe in Jeffrey's food, water and medication, bypassing his mouth so it can heal and his stomach receives everything it's supposed to.
I left Jeffrey with Dr. White so she could do the procedure and then picked him up at 7:00 that evening. A vet tech demonstrated how I use the e-tube, plus she explained that Dr. White wanted Jeffrey on anti-biotics to keep his mouth from getting infected while healing. Finally Jeffrey and I set out for home.
Very long story short, this e-tube has literally turned Jeffrey into a different cat. Or rather, I'm seeing the old Jeffrey I hadn't seen since November: a playful, energetic Jeffrey.
Within a day of my feeding Jeffrey this way he noticeably started to fill out (ie- he was no longer a dehydrated skeleton). Plus he has been trying to eat on his own:
You can see the e-tube here... I untape it and stand it upright when I feed him. He doesn't mind the tube at all and never tries to pull it out.
The second day Jeffrey came up and tried to get in my lap while I was working. He hasn't tried to do this since I'd been syringe feeding and pilling him, which made me think he had associated my lap with those two unpleasant activities. I happily picked him up and let him settle in my lap as I worked.
At one point I knocked my phone charger off my desk and Jeffrey started scrambling to get down. I thought it had scared him, so I set him down next to my chair. When he got to the floor I was shocked to see him start batting at the dangling cord. He was playing with it!! Something I hadn't seen him don since November.
In general Jeffrey's been doing fantastic. We still give him subQ fluids every other day to ensure he's staying properly hydrated. The only issue is that the Clavamox (anti-biotics) has given him awful diahhrea and runny nose. Dr. White said this will stop once he's off the meds, but we're best to put up with it for now because a mouth infection would be far worse than the Clavamox side-effects.
Jeffrey's even started coming down for morning feeding time to try and eat with everyone else:
That bums me out a bit because the regular cat food is WAY too harsh on his kidneys. I'm not going to discourage him from eating though, so I put a phosphate binder down his tube whenever I catch him eating adult food. I can tell he wants very much to be back to normal, so I'll do what I can to help him achieve that.
All in all, things have really taken a turn for the better. Jeffrey's acupuncture appointment on Saturday went beautifully. Jeffrey put up with the needles for 45 minutes this time; granted he insisted on sitting in my lap for it. Still, this was great since the most he's ever been patient for was 20 minutes.
Marie Cargill also gave me a tube of probiotics so the Clavamox doesn't weaken his system too much. She also praised how well he seemed to be doing.
"His body feels a lot warmer," she remarked as she gently felt his middle. "And his nose and ears are a little pinker, too. Lookin' good, Jeffrey!"
Last night Jeffrey also did something surprising: he played with the foster kittens. Not all-out running around, but he got inside a cardboard box and was batting at the kittens as they tried to sneak up on him:
Excuse his wet face from his runny nose, which looks terrible. I can't wait until he's done with the anti-biotics...!
Tomorrow Jeffrey has his check-in with Dr. White. I just hope his tests conicide with how well he appears to be doing! Fingers crossed...