Our Shine, King of Barncats. Mighty Hunter.
It's going on about a month or so since our real life adventure with Shine - but this was no tale. We went out in the morning like usual to get the rabble rousted... but when we went in to see the barncats we knew it would not be a normal day. Shine was hunched over, covered in cobwebs, and wheezing.
I immediately snatched him up, shoved him in a carrier, and ran for the car. I yelled over my shoulder that I'd be back in a couple hours. Of course, our vet always has a standing open spot for us.....so we told them we'd be coming in hot and fast. We figured Shine had a respiratory infection and I'd get some antibiotics and maybe some prednisone and come right back.
When Shine didn't scream the whole way up to the vet...or at all... I drove faster. Really fast. We were hurried right into the exam room. The vet began asking questions that were not in line with what I expected - Had he been poisoned? Was he chewing on electrical cords? Trauma? Fall? Hit by car? What had he been doing lately? Had Shine eaten anything weird?
I had my husband search the garage for antifreeze leaks, poisons, frayed electrical cords. Nothing.
When they told me to leave Shine with them and come back in an hour or so I started to fret. I was back in 59 minutes and they walked me back to see the xrays that I knew they were going to take - along with bloodwork and some other things.
"WHAT IS THAT?!!"
Technically I actually said a fair bit of "colorful" language in my question to the Good Vet...but I"m sure you take my meaning.
The xrays showed Shine's trachea....but not in the graceful slow curve it should be - but more like a horseshoe river bend. It wasn't supposed to be that way.
We love our little buddy, Shine. But sometimes he is a goose. What are you doing in that crate?
I spent the next 10 hours between our Good Vet and the excellent people at OSU's Emergency Veterinarian Medical Center. We always figured we'd end up there with one of our crew. But we did not think it was going to be that day and for that circumstance.
It was horrible.
Midway thru the day I went to get my husband from work because we Didn't Know What Was Going To Happen.
No one actually knew what was going on with Shine but all agreed it was bad. We were afraid that we were going to have to Make Decisions. All we could do was sit and wait. They had a host of tests lined up.
Here is a LifeProTip for you - never walk into a teaching hospital and tell them you "don't care about the money" because they will find all kinds of ways to leave you with empty pockets. And how.
The OSU Vet ER is one of the best in the country. People come from all of the states to get access to their equipment and expertly trained vets. Their teaching program is outstanding It's really kind of amazing. The staff is incredible. The facility is a wow. And I tell you the truth, it is the saddest place on earth.
Friends, we are tough people. We don't shirk, shrink, or step back from adversity. We don't believe in grand displays of emotion. Neither of us are criers. We set our jaws. We face into the wind. We do not fear. We show no weakness. But the waiting room of the OSU Vet ER very nearly broke us.
I say to you again, it is the saddest place on earth. The SADDEST. Everyone is critical, everyone is crying, and everyone is trying to figure out if they have enough money for their best friend to live. The shepherd with bloat, the little dog with whatever, the old cat in a box crying, the lady with the irritable teenager who could care less as her mother cried and asked the attending vet why it was $3300 to fix her dog? Could she see her little dog one more time? And us... it was awful.
There was a younger couple in the next group of chairs. He was trying to get his wife to eat but she just held the food halfway to her mouth. She was almost catatonic. Everyone was sobbing.
I turned to find a magazine to distract myself but found instead a children's book, "Why Does Annie Only Have Three Legs?" It tried to explain amputation and cancer in dogs to kids. I felt myself starting to crack.
They called us back to Discuss Things.
Near as they could figure there was one of three things that could be going on:
1. It was a cancerous growth and our Shine would slowly strangle to death.
2. It was some kind of abscess and our Shine would quickly strangle to death.
3. It was something else entirely.
I said these options back to the attending vet. We made a plan. They implemented the plan. We waited.
They called us back again. I sat resolutely and waited for The Findings.
Thank heaven. It was not cancer. It was also not some kind of abscess. It turned out to be some kind of edema - that is, swelling of the cells. They had no idea why. She shrugged and handed me a huge sack of medication. This was twice a day, that was once a day, be sure to ......I kind of stopped hearing her and just wanted my cat back. I was so relieved.
It was an expensive day.
Remember how we were kind of joshing around about that gal with the chicken getting the fake leg? Yeah well, also remember that we get it because we've our share of stomach churning vet bills. That day was a looloo. During just one of the hours that I was sitting there I saw folks at the desk total up about $10,000 worth of vet work for different folks coming and going. Frankly, I think we got off easy. However, my Plutonium credit card from The Fancy Pants Bank groaned under the charges. I thanked the staff at the desk for their kindness. They were very professional.
The next 10 days were a tough mix of love and scratching. We incarcerated Shine in the garage - hovering over him and fretting over every odd look or loose eyelash. He was stuck in the garage with the lame duck and our limpy chickens. And me. Twice a day I tricked him into coming close enough for me to shove pills down his sore throat and follow that with a chaser of liquid something else. By the time the medication was done our Shine was entirely done with me.
Then I had to take him back up to our vet for a follow up. Our Good Vet poured over the report from OSU. He re-examined Shine. He asked me questions about how Shine responded to the medication. In the end he determined that the cause was.....
Yes. Bunnies. When we first went into to see our Good Vet he asked me if Shine had gotten into anything weird. The only thing I could think of was that just about every day for the previous week Shine had brought in a bunny. We figured he had found a nest of wild rabbits and was helping himself to the bunny buffet. "Good job, Shine!" We'd call to him and then we'd let him go along his way, dragging the bunny back to his lair to eat it. This wasn't really unusual because we'd seen Shine drag in rabbits almost as big as he was - but it was noteworthy that he got one every single day.
The vet thought that maybe a bunny bone somehow created a wound in Shine's esophagus, which caused an infection, which caused the edema, which was pressing on his trachea and impacting his breathing. It was a one in a million shot and I'm positive that it would only ever happen to us. Bunnies.
"I see." I said coldly as I devised a way to handle the Bunny Menace that tried to kill my Shine. I thanked the Good Vet and he laughed that he didn't want to see anymore of our foolishness and maybe next time just bring in the crew for shots and not some weird mystery. I laughed back that I hoped I wouldn't have to see them again for a while. They did not charge me for the follow up. Honestly, I think they felt bad for us. But I was grateful.
The next day Shine was cleared for duty and free to go. He happily trotted off into the tall grass.
As for the bunnies. Let's just say that all of the bunnies have now gone on to other opportunities. We thank them for their years of participation here on The Good Land Farm and we wish them well in their future endeavors. If they come back they will be met with extreme prejudice as meted out by My Fighting Uruk-Hai Princess BearKiller. The Shining Light of the Realm. She hunts what we cannot see. VengeanceBringer.
After a while Shine finally got his meow back but the entire recovery was very long. We praise God for our Good Vet, the extraordinary folks at the OSU Vet ER, and that our dear Shine lived to hunt another day.
And that is what really happened to our Shine. Can you believe it?