Then, about 4 years ago, she began leaving spots of blood where she walked. We discovered she was bleeding from an open wound in her right leg. We quickly made an appointment with our ‘regular’ vet and they bandaged her up. Fine.
About 4 hours after we got her home, the bandage was off. Ugh. We upped the ante and called in the big guns. They looked at it and bandaged her so she kept it on. Unfortunately, this became a sad routine for the next 2 years. There would be some progress, then it would start leaking again, then a major set back: as the original wound began to heal, another began to develop – possibly because of the bandaging. This new wound became worse than the original. I finally asked our doctor if there was anyone, like doctors who specialize in diabetic wounds, in the vet world. Didn’t appear so. I asked if we could get another pair of eyes on Persef’s wound and the vet had no problem with having the head of the vet hospital see her.
The head looked at the wound and concluded – especially after a year of bandaging – that it wasn’t going to heal the way we were going. She suggested several paths:
- ‘Abraiding,’ literally rubbing off the ‘bad’ flesh to get down to ‘good’ flesh.
- Worse case scenario: amputation
This was not a happy perspective as amputation for Persef would mean at the hip, as we couldn’t go the prosthetic route as there is no way we could conceive of her letting it stay on as she and her brother chewed off their flea collars in about 10 minutes when they were kittens.
I asked the vet if her left leg could hold her up since the plate in her leg was already cracked (we saw in the x-ray) and she is not exactly svelte and she’s more like a little bowling ball but she indicated that it would.
We tried the abrading but the stitches didn’t hold as she ran around. The vet suggested that we do this again but this time confine her. We reluctantly agreed as we weren’t getting anywhere this way and I realized it would be much easier for both of us in getting her ready to travel to the vet.
Why? Over the year Persef has become very aware of the clues to her imminent travel. We often thought that she had the appointments marked on her personal calendar because when it was time to load her up she would be nowhere to be found. It was a game of cat and mouse as I learned her hiding places and she sought out new ones. Her best was under our King Sized bed: she discovered I couldn’t reach her if she hid in the middle. We tried coaxing her to no avail so I tried the spray water bottle. This worked – once. The next time we tried it, she just crouched there, almost saying, ‘You can soak me all you want but I know what you’ve got in mind and I’d rather be soppy wet than go to the vet!’ [Cat owners have these conversations a lot, by the way.] Finally I used a broom and this was effective as I – literally – swept her out.
Each time, after rousting her, I would put her in our powder room, get the travel case, then get her out of ‘storage.’ She would entwine herself under the little table, yelp a little, sometimes even hiss at me but never bite or scratch. In fact, once I got her in my arms, she would kind of just collapse as if she was saying, ‘OK, you got me,’ as I put her in the cage without any resistance.
At the vet, it was a different story. All over her file – rapidly approaching War and Peace size – were orange stickers reading, ‘Beware! Cat bites!’ This was because, following the operations I would drop her off for a bandage change and she would be rather restive and the only way they could do it was knock her out. This was quite expensive – about $85 a pop. But in this series the vet did it differently: I would reach in, the vet tilting the cage up and I’d drag her out on to the exam table. Then two aides would be ready – one had ‘lion tamer’ gloves – I’d put Persef on her left side, then a bath towel would be placed over her – especially her head – and the aide would more or less lean on her as the other aide held Persef’s leg up so the vet could cut the bandage off, clean and examine the wound and wrap her up again. This was much better: faster – only about 15 minutes – and even though it involved 3 people, it only cost $30 a time (later $60) + antibiotics. For most of the time, this was once a week but for a time after the abrading we were talking every 3 days.
Finally, the head vet, thought it might be a good idea to bring in another specialist – a physical therapist. [I can’t tell you how our friends reacted when we told them about this.] When I dropped Persef off I was given a bio on the woman and it seems she specializes in ‘alternative medicine’ such as acupuncture and herbs. In the conference after the examination the PT said that she walks well with the bandage but the problem is the wound is not healing fast enough and suggested an alternative – laser treatment, but not as zapping but to use heat, without removing the bandage every day + still changing the bandage every 2-3 days. The idea is that the heat would encourage the skin to grow over the wound, something that wasn’t happening very well. Another alternative is something that is actually done with diabetics: a honey-based salve placed on the wound.
One of the receptionists at the vet told me, ‘When I die I want to come back as one of your cats – you treat them so well!’ but what choice do you have when one of your closest family members is ill?
That’s how we stood 13 months after the wound opened up.