Roscoe spent last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night in the animal hospital ICU.
During my Friday evening update call, the vet told me that his fever broke (thanks to some steroid pills), but the lab results they were waiting for still weren't back. He hadn't eaten or drank water in forever. Couldn't potty. Couldn't walk, or even stand up.
The vet said he was in bad shape, scared, and stressed, and then she started in with "I don't know if you have plans tonight or how far away you live...", like it was going to take some coercion to get me to come see him.
She continued "...but if you want to come see him, we can disregard the no-visitor rule for you", and I hopped in the truck and away I went.
When I got to see him, he looked awful. He looked dead.
They wheeled him out on a gurney; he was laying on his back, sort of comatose, with his legs hanging limp and drool cascading out of his mouth. His eyes were enlarged and jaundiced yellow. His belly hair had been shaved so they could do an ultrasound, and some hair had been shaved off his legs where various needles and IVs had been inserted. Zero energy. Zero ability to stand on his own or even really understand that I was with him. Zero life.
The vet techs laid him on the floor and I just sat next to him for an hour and half. No person or animal should ever have to live in that type of condition.
I made the decision then and there that one way or another, Roscoe was coming home on Saturday. Nature could run its course. He'd only gotten worse at the animal hospital, lab results that were supposed to show up within 1 day had take 2+, and I didn't particularly care for the difficulty I had in trying to get a simple daily update on his condition. Also, the animal hospital hadn't found a single thing that was causing his liver to stop working. If he was going to die, he was going to do so at home with Freckles and I at his side.
On Saturday, I called around 10:00am for an update. I was told to call back at 11:30.
I called at 11:30, I was told to call back at 1:00pm. By that point I was pretty angry.
I finally got a chance to talk to a vet a little after 1:00pm. They'd gotten the lab results back. No cancer. The vet didn't see any way his condition would improve and while there was a very remote chance that they could cut him open, cut out a chunk of his liver, and send it off for examination, in his condition the odds of him even surviving that procedure were slim. Plus, the steroid pills might have temporarily killed off any harmful cells the liver scan would pick up.
I was told that in his condition, euthanizing him wasn't an incorrect decision.
I told the vet that I wanted to bring him home and whatever was going to happen, it was going to happen. The vet OK'd the discharge. On my way out the door to get Roscoe I emailed his primary vet to see if they could euthanize him, if it came to that. I also texted my mom, who'd asked about visiting Roscoe. I told her that if she and my dad wanted to see Roscoe, this would likely be their last chance.
I went to the animal hospital, picked up Roscoe, put his almost entirely lifeless body in the back seat of my truck and drove home. Before leaving the animal hospital they tried giving me some pads for the seat of the truck in case he urinated on the way home.
When we got home I picked him up out of the truck, carried him into the house, and set him on his big pillow in the front room. I did all this while trying to keep Freckles from bouncing off the walls with excitement, which was pretty cool to see.
Almost instantly, Roscoe struggled to his feet - and it was a serious struggle - and started walking, staggering really, towards the back door. He walked, on his own, all the way there. From there I picked him up, carried him down the deck stairs, and set him down. He walked about 3 inches out into the yard and let loose with some bright orange urine for close to 45 seconds.
To recap so far, at the animal hospital he was legitimately near death although he showed no signs of cancer, his blood pressure and other measurable were decent, and while there was some thought that he could no longer control his bodily functions, he proved otherwise on the ride home. When we got home he was able to walk on his own, sort of, and he was sipping water every now and then.
We stayed out in the yard the rest of the day. Roscoe was wiped out and in pretty poor health, but I thought some sunshine and fresh air might not be the worst thing. Also, Freckles would stay outside 24/7 if I let her so being outside was the only way for all 3 of us to be in the same place.
I tried giving him some food on Saturday, no luck. We went to bed that night and I crossed my fingers.
Roscoe was still with us on Sunday, which was great, although Sunday was mostly the same in terms of Roscoe's condition. He perked up a little bit but I wasn't expecting a big bounce-back given what he'd been through.
I tried working on the porch a little just to get a mental break from everything, but that was a dumb idea; I went inside to check on Roscoe every 3 minutes and when I did manage to build something it was mistake city. Around 3pm I called it quits and decided to go sit next to Roscoe on his big pillow for the rest of the day.
Roscoe didn't eat anything Saturday or Sunday (or the preceding 4 days), despite my best efforts. He's always gotten to eat a large amount of people food - chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, sweet potatoes, yogurt, etc. - and I was concerned when he refused to eat any of that stuff. We went to bed Sunday night and I again crossed my fingers.
Monday morning, Roscoe was still with us. I stayed home from work and just sat with him and Freckles all day. I tried feeding him some chicken, no dice. Even if I stuffed it in his mouth, he spit it right out. He's stubborn, for sure.
But so am I.
I went to the refrigerator and got out some Greek yogurt, strawberry flavor, something he always liked. I put a giant glob on my finger and stuffed it in his mouth, knowing he wouldn't be able to spit that out so easily. Surprisingly, he didn't try to. Roscoe decided maybe he'd like some more.
He ended up eating some yogurt and I've never been so happy to see something eat food in my life. I ran and grabbed some chicken out of the refrigerator and he ate a little of that as well. That was about all he ate for the day, but he was drinking water, walking a little better on his own, and he started to look a little more normal all the way around.
Fast forward a few days, with no meds, no supplements, no anything...Roscoe is now eating a decent amount of chicken, fish, and/or beef every day. He can walk on his own just fine, and goes up and down the deck stairs all by himself, like normal. Freckles stays close by his side and has done an impossibly phenomenal job of watching out for him. She'd have been a great mama dog.
Now, Roscoe is attentive, alert, and his scalp is 1,000 times better than it's been -- I think the Cushing's Syndrome meds really dried it out. No more dandruff, or at least until, if I decide to, I start him on those pills again. He's sleeping good, and while he's still not eating as much food as I'd like...baby steps. It's sort of amazing how much of an impact environment has on one's condition; all the meds and veterinary science - with euthanizing being mentioned more than once - didn't do shit for Roscoe over the course of 3 full days, but bringing him home, spending a lot of time with him, feeding him real, whole food...I dunno, it kind of worked?
I think, cautiously, Roscoe isn't done living just yet.