Monday, February 21, 2011

Sleepless Night

On Saturday night I was editing pictures from our weekend trip to St. Louis, with every intention of sharing them in a blog post on Sunday. Sunday, however, had other plans for us. Our little old man Celtic had seemed slightly more stiff than normal the previous evening, but Sunday morning he woke up at his normal early hour and ate breakfast and went outside. He came back in and went back to bed with us for another hour or so before we got up to go to church, which was also completely normal. When we got home from church, however, it was clear that something was wrong. He was still laying on the bed, but Chad noticed that the dog treat I'd given him before we left was still sitting next to him uneaten. For Celtic not to eat is super unusual and super worrisome.

Chad tried to get him to get up, but Celtic refused. Even when Chad picked him up off the bed and stood him on the floor, Celtic wouldn't go anywhere. He didn't cry or whimper, but he laid back down right where he was. A few minutes later though, he got up and moved himself a few feet to the dog bed, so we started thinking that Celtic might just be hamming it up for the attention, which he has definitely been known to do in his life.

Thinking he might be faking, we tried to coax him up again to no avail, so Chad carried him outside to potty. He took a few steps and lifted his leg, but then turned right around so Chad could carry him back in to his dog bed. He still refused water and even leftover hash browns from our brunch, so we started contemplating a trip to the emergency vet, because Celtic is certainly not that good of an actor. We decided to wait a few more hours to see if he would improve on his own first, so I went off to a baby shower and Chad took off for the driving range.

When Chad arrived home from golfing, he tried to get Celtic up to potty again, but this time Celtic couldn't even stand. Since he was clearly getting worse, Chad texted and called me to come home, but unfortunately my ringer was off during the shower. When he didn't hear back from me in 20 minutes, he hopped in the car and drove over to the shower to get me. I was obviously a little alarmed to see him, so needless to say I gave my friend Karen a quick hug, said thanks to the hostess and ran out the door! We zoomed home, got Celtic in the car and were on our way to Stone House Animal Hospital in Topeka.

Poor Celtic was alarmingly lethargic and unresponsive during the drive, and even after we arrived he didn't show any interest in any of the people and pets in the waiting room. Chad carried him into the exam room and laid him on the table and he didn't display the tiniest bit of resistance or curiosity about his surroundings. We were happy to have Dr. Carder, the vet who fought so hard to save Celtic's brother Steeler 4 1/2 years ago, come in to give Celtic an exam. He didn't seem to think there was actually any true paralysis, since Celtic seemed to react to touches of his feet and tail, but touches of Celtic's spine seemed to cause a lot of pain. His hope was that it was some sort of spinal injury that would heal with some steroids and lots of rest. He said it was also possible that Celtic had something more serious going on, such as a tumor on his spinal cord, but there's no way to tell without a CAT scan, which could only be done at K-State's Veterinary Hospital. His recommendation was to wait a day to see if the steroids started working, and then decide whether to take him to K-State if he doesn't improve.

So Dr. Carder gave Celtic a shot of steroids, a shot of painkillers, and a third shot of a muscle relaxer, just to sedate him enough to drain his bladder, so that he could rest his back the rest of the night without getting up again to potty. Once Celtic was pretty much out of it, they wheeled him back to the treatment room, which happened to be the same room where we watched Steeler die that fateful night in 2006. As if the day hadn't been emotional enough, I about lost it when I walked into that room. I turned right around and went back to the exam room, telling myself that Celtic wouldn't know I was missing since he wasn't awake anyway.

After his bladder was done draining, the vet tech supplied me with Celtic's oral steroids and I paid our bill while Chad pulled the car around back so our little man could be loaded into it. When I finally got out to the car after standing in line (it was super busy Sunday afternoon in the emergency clinic), Celtic was loaded in, but he wasn't doing well. He was only taking about one labored breath every ten seconds or so, and Chad and I weren't at all comfortable with driving him home that way. I went back in and got the vet tech, who then went and got the vet, who came out to check on Celtic in the car. Dr. Carder agreed that his labored breathing was very abnormal and thought that Celtic had just become so relaxed with the sedative he was forgetting to breath. His heartbeat was strong and his circulation was okay, but the doctor went and grabbed yet another shot to reverse the sedative. After about 5 minutes of us and the vet watching his breathing carefully, Celtic finally woke up and started breathing regularly again, so Chad and I started breathing regularly too!

After we got home and put Celtic to bed, our worries still weren't over. We still couldn't get him to eat, move, respond, drink water or even lift his head. He just laid there staring into space, refusing to sleep and also refusing to acknowledge us. We petted and rubbed and loved on him all evening, but by bedtime things had just gotten worse. He had started panting, which generally indicates a dog is in pain, and the shallow pants soon turned into labored breathing. He was so listless and lifeless, Chad and I tried to prepare ourselves for the worst, since we weren't even sure he was going to make it through the night. I made myself a bed on the floor next to him, where I slept fitfully, waking up every few minutes to check and see if he was still breathing. Needless to say, it was a bit of a sleepless night.

Crazily enough, at about 3 a.m. I opened my eyes to see Celtic staring at me, with his head raised a little and his eyes bright. He acted like he wanted to get up, so I offered him some water and was thrilled that he drank heartily! After a few drinks he calmed back down into his bed and relaxed, staring off into space again.

When I woke up at 6:30 Celtic was awake, alert, responsive and hungry. He ate his breakfast in bed and drank more water before Chad carried him out to potty, and although he still couldn't really stand on his own, he kind of moved his legs like he was walking when Chad lifted his tummy with a towel. He's spent most of his day in bed and still isn't walking on his own, but each time he's gone outside today he's moved those little legs more and more. He's eating well and totally interested in any food item anywhere in the house, and his stubborn and determined personality is definitely shining through again. Yesterday we were worried we'd lost our little man, but today we are definitely more hopeful. We know his troubles aren't over yet, but we're thankful that today was better than yesterday and praying that tomorrow will be better than today. We know we can't keep Celtic with us forever, but it just seems too soon to lose him considering he was sprinting around in the snow just barely over a month ago!


Tish said...

Oh my gosh my heart was pounding hard in my chest reading this one lol...I was like "KIM! JUST TELL ME HE'S OK!!!!"

Glad to hear he is :)

Matt Langley said...

Hey Kim,

Jenna and I have been in your position many times with our animals...mainly our grey tabby Zeus. I'm glad to hear that Celtic is on the road to recovery. Times like this make you remember how much you love them.

Beth said...

I am so glad this blog post has a happy ending!