Threading Through The Red Sea part I: A Mi Manera

Most of baby boomers like me possibly don’t know Frank Sinatra, though he is one of my favorite singers.

Not because of his voice, nor his look, but for the invaluable lyric in each of his songs.

One on my top list is “My Way” that talks about a performer (my mother said it’s about a runner, but I don’t know, Frank Sinatra’s already dead before I got to learn about that song so I can’t ask about it via his twitter), who, tells his journey of life: the ups and down, his rights and wrong, and the best of it: his pride in questing through life. This song is re-formatted and sung in Spanish by Simon Cowell’s Il Divo around year 2k and I love this Spanish version better because it actually empowers the original lyric.

Last week, however, I found an even more powerful version of that song through the life journey of a small kitten, namely, Frank, of course.

I met Frank sitting forlornly on a sidewalk by the puddle near my office, where I stop to pat him on the head and share the ferals along my path. He was a little bit dirty, but otherwise seemed all right, and even have full stomach, so I intended to leave him after feeding but feel uneasy because he was, after all, too quiet for a kitten. He didn’t meow, he didn’t jump, or run, or head butt, he just sit there, looking at me, with blank expression.

So here is the plan: my boss is not around that day, and other staffs won’t care, so I can sneak him into the office, bring him to the vet, and when he was declared OK, I’ll put him back.

Part one initiated immediately. I can easily found an empty space in my bag, push him in, and walk by as if nothing happened. Nothing, but a little note in my head: his belly was darn hard.

For the rest of the working hours he stay inside my workstation, sitting by the fireplace (well, actually it’s my computer CPU). He ate more fish, drink the whole bowl of water (trust me, he drank a lot!) but still quiet.

Hence, part two initiated. I bought him home, put him inside a basket along with Mama-san (she has an appointment for spay surgery, but that’s another story) and brought both to the vet.

The examination is pretty quick: he has mega-colon, and the vet told me he is a SHE, though she (the vet) knows that I address any cat with “he”, it’s my trademark quirk.

Mega colon is:

a term used to describe a very dilated, flabby, incompetent colon.  This usually occurs secondary to chronic constipation and retention of feces, but may be a congenital dysfunction.  Megacolon itself is not a specific disease entity, but it will usually result in obstipation (inability to defecate), since feces is retained in the colon in a larger diameter than is able to pass through the pelvis.  This feces also becomes very dry and hard, as water is absorbed by the colon.  Surgery may be required to treat this condition if medical management has been exhausted.

~American College of Veterinary Surgeons

Mega colon  usually happened to senior cats between 5-9 years old, but here in Indonesia, anything can happen, especially to ferals. My newly-found, three months old companion probably had severe, prolonged dehydration on the street before I found him. His feces were too hard so he has to get a C section, which for a kitten his age, is a very risky procedure.

The other option? Leave him be, and he’d be dead after a few days, because his hardened feces will obstruct the intestine, and whenever she eats, or drink, his intestine will grow bigger, and finally burst.

I took the risk, and the vet start operating him right away, despite the clinic was fully packed that day.

We started at around 8 pm, and finish at 10 pm, extracting around 100 grams (that’s an ounce) of hard-rock feces from his colon and a cup full of urine. The surgery itself shouldn’t be that long, but the expanded colon had already obstructed his urinary tract. He can’t pee, and all his urine was kept inside his small kidney that it was swollen and when the vet cut him open, some of its smaller blood vessel already started to burst. His kidney was bleeding and the surgery became more complicated.

What amazed the whole clinic was the small kitten’s resilience. With extended surgery time, no one had high hope, but he made it past the surgery and woke up with a loud meow. He came home with two iv pipes on his small body, but the vet said his vital sign is good.

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Hi there! got a nice dream back then?
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The vet was shaking her head when she put on the iv, Frank’s leg is as big as the catheter head

Tell me about vital sign. This little kitten is such a devil, even a few hours after the surgery (that got to be wee hours in the morning right? The surgery finished in 10 pm) he already tried to jump out of his basket, and therefore, prevent me to get any sleep at all.

This made me worried because he was supposed to stay put (remember the iv), so my only option is to bring him along to the office to make sure she won’t  drag his iv bottles all over places. Unfortunately my boss is coming, so I can’t possibly smuggle him inside without being noticed. The only thing I can do is to make him as comfortable as possible that he can sleep the whole day like other cats do when I am working. Then, for the whole day I worked with worry inside my head.

Canceling all my after-hour jobs that day, I went straight home, only to see what I feared the most. There he is, sitting by the door, dragging an empty iv bottle behind him. When I gasped in terror he instead pranced and jumped and run to welcome me, still with that iv bottle behind him. So, I called the vet and tell her what happened as well as informing her that I am going to get the iv needle off Frank so he won’t stuck his extra tail somewhere and hurt himself. The vet laughed, and I remembered her telling me I got myself a tough little lady, but that means the kitten’s going to be all right. It was Wednesday.

For the next two days Frank took part in toppling my kettle off the counter (don’t know how he done that, I just saw the kettle tumbled), running all over places and rammed into the adults, got bathed by Peta (my ultimate, supper nanny cat – you won’t believe he’s male), climb on my bed, play hide and seek in the cardboard castle, catch four roaches and killed them all by himself, and eat like an elephant. He climbed all the way to the top of my head whenever I sit on the floor to put my shoes on, climbed on my legs asking for my food, and get Sue out of her shell and made her a ‘normal’ kitten instead of an outcast.

The next Saturday, four days after, no one would believe he’s been sick, though I’m worn out for not sleeping for four nights watching him and prevent him from jumping all over places too much and tell him to sleep instead. I have cancelled all my side jobs and lost good amount of money that I need to keep the Syndicate operating, but for a life, it’s worth it. I brought my feisty little friend to the vet clinic early that day, before its open hour because I know the staffs and vet would want to play with him a little bit, and everyone is happy to pet him and call him “good girl” until the vet said “Josie, this time you are right, your kitten is a boy, not a girl” Obviously his enlarged colon had suppressed his tiny testicles that he looked like a girl.

A ha; and I bet Sue is not going to be happy about it. Sue, my pocket monster, jacket camper kitten was kind of shy and a loner, and no kitten, much less adult cat can go near her without making her hiss or yowl. This tough kid, however, can do that with no problem.

Since then, his name is Frank (you know where that name came from right?) and I happily book an appointment in Tuesday to remove his sutures.

At Monday, however, I found him sitting powerlessly by the door, among everyone else, when I came home from work.

All right, kittens are known to drop their stamina suddenly, only to bounce back a moment later, but this is worrying, so I called the vet again, ask her to stay longer (it was 9 pm) because Frank is deteriorating at an alarming state.

I arrived at the clinic fifteen minutes later, and both vets at the clinic were ready for lifesaving procedures. Frank is still sliding down, and within the next hour almost every pipes and cables in the surgery room were attached to him. They gave him warmed up iv, oxygen, heart monitor and then performed CPR when he slide down further, and they didn’t stop trying until midnight.

Frank was gone.

It’s not the first time the two vet ladies came to me withholding their tears. In this breeder capital city the most complicated thing a vet can perform is a C section for a female animal in labor (the breeder gave them too much hormones and vitamins they have too many or too big children that they can’t come out naturally), but for them, the real challenge always come from me, with my street picked animals, and though neither of them wish for such challenge, it gave their four years of bachelor degree education more meaning.

I shrugged. “Hey, Frank was hopeless, but you ladies gave him a chance to be a real kitten for the whole week. Don’t say that doesn’t count”

“But he was the bravest, strongest kitten I have ever met”, said one nurse, “I think he is a miracle”

“Then let’s keep it that way, won’t we? He did it his own way. He broke all of our forecasts”

I mean, we would never know why he slides down that fast, but he was a street cat  kitten. It has been a harsh weather, and we wouldn’t ever know what he’s been eating before we met, how he lived and how hard the elements had beaten him in his street life.

But just in case any of you are curious. Just in case, below is the real song, so you know what Frank is like:

And now, the end is near;

And so I face the final curtain.

My friend, I’ll say it clear,

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

I’ve lived a life that’s full.

I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway;

But more, much more than this,

I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few;

But then again, too few to mention.

I did what I had to do

And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;

Each careful step along the byway,

But more, much more than this,

I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew

When I bit off more than I could chew.

But through it all, when there was doubt,

I ate it up and spit it out.

I faced it all and I stood tall;

And did it my way.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.

I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.

And now, as tears subside,

I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;

And may I say – not in a shy way,

“No, oh no not me,

I did it my way”.

For what is a man, what has he got?

If not himself, then he has naught.

To say the things he truly feels;

And not the words of one who kneels.

The record shows I took the blows –

And did it my way!

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