It takes a special kind of person to save little animal lives.
I am incredibly grateful to the talented folks at the University of Wisconsin Madison veterinary hospital for being those kind of people.
Last Tues. Karma, our newest kitten, was critically injured. You can read that story here.
After rushing her to my local vet, I was referred to the University of Wisconsin - Madison due to the complicated nature of the surgery she required.
I am not one to rush critters to university hospitals. I figure if livestock can't be saved on the farm, then it's probably best if they pass along.
And if a pet is critically injured, well, I just always figured we'd have to put it down.
But Karmalatte - our Siamese kitten - well, it seems we were already too attached to this tiny peanut with the gigantic purr and the fearless heart to let her die without trying to save her.
Papa Bear and I agreed - if they could help her in Madison, we'd get her there.
So I went, speeding through the midnight hour, worrying as her breathing became more and more labored as she sat in her kennel beside me.
I knew I was losing her. I prayed she would hold on.
The staff that greeted me at U of Madison was amazing. They met me at the door and rushed Karma to an oxygen chamber to assist her breathing.
Doctor Paige Mackey, DVMtold me her surgery would be in the morning unless her condition declined enough to warrant starting it sooner. She asked me about CPR options and treated me with the utmost kindness when I burst into tears all over again at the mention of Karma's possible death.
Since the hospital doesn't generally allow visitors the day of surgery, and since there was nobody at the farm to handle the next morning's chores, I decided to return home.
It was 7:15pm Tuesday evening when I first grabbed Karma and headed to my local vet's office. It was 4:30am Wednesday when I finally returned home from Madison and crawled into bed.
There was nothing I could do now but wait and pray.
Shortly after dropping wearily onto my pillows, the phone rang. It was the university. They were concerned about her declining condition. They were calling in the surgical team early.
I fell asleep fitfully, reminding myself that she was now in the capable hands of the surgeons.
Around 7:00 am I got a call that the surgery was over and everything had gone well. They had succeeded in repairing her ruptured diaphragm. Her lower abdomen organs had pushed up through the rupture, causing her problems breathing.
Without the surgery, she would have died.
I breathed a big sigh of relief.
They said she wasn't out of the woods yet, due to the traumatic nature of her injury she may develop contusions on her lungs (bruises) which could fill with blood and cause inadequate oxygen levels. They were keeping a chest tube in just in case they needed to drain any gasses or fluids.
They would know more after 24 hours.
Throughout the next two days I received regular updates from Doctor Julie Walker, DVM, DACVECC regarding Karma's status. All of the updates were positive.
I breathed another sigh of relief.
Wed. afternoon I heard from small animal surgery vet Kevin Kroner, DVM that they had taken some additional x-rays of her pelvis and found several fractures. The recommendation was additional surgery, but we had the option to wait and see if she could heal them herself.
We opted to wait.
We got the OK to come and get her Friday afternoon.
When Dr's Walter and Kroner brought her into our room and handed her to me she seemed a much frailer version of the kitten we knew.
She sported a blue "soft collar" which would keep her from licking her incision until the staples could be removed.
Her front legs and entire belly were shaved and stained from the iodine disinfectant. A long incision ran down her abdomen, held together with metal staples.
She was on pain medication that made her sleepy.
Despite all of this, when I gingerly held her to me, she purred loudly and licked my cheek.
We were going home.
We may not be able to afford a trip to Europe in the near future, but after watching her sleeping comfortably in her crate in our own living room, I asked Papa Bear, "Was it worth it?"
The unwavering answer came back immediately -