Reflections Back on 2017 from the New Year

I can’t speak for you, but let me start this by saying that I spent my first night of the new year sleeping on the floor. No, you too? So let our first resolution be to stay home next year! Nothing stronger than water had crossed my lips, we missed the ball drop in New York because we were arguing too much as we channel-surfed at the last minute and I couldn’t tell you if there were midnight fireworks because we were all asleep long before the year crossed over. Some of us on the floor. I was there mostly because the makeshift mattress set up for the kids was very narrow. If you were next to your mom you would be snuggling, but if forced to share the same space with your sister it would have been a war zone all night. I chose “some sleep” over “none”. The great thing to come out of this? Everything settled to the down side and I’m convinced my silhouette, as seen from the left, is much slimmer.

I had lots of time to think while performing this balancing act. I remembered the faces of some I’d said goodbye to in the previous year. “Nella” was a gallant Golden Retriever. He was named as a young dog by a child too young to know a girl name from a boys and owned by a war veteran too kind to correct the child. Nella was the color of a vanilla wafer cookie. He was a big-hearted dog, always gently greeting me with a wave of his plumed tail, no matter the exams, the blood tests or x-rays that were needed. At 16 years of age, he suffered from severe arthritis. His owner always had a kind smile and a silly joke when he came in. He thanked us for our efforts to keep the big dog comfortable. He cooked for Nella when needed. On the bad days we hugged. And finally there was no denying that the most loving thing he could do for his dog was to let him go.

I started 2017 with a C-section delivery on Jan. 1. Ring in the new!

I ended 2017 with an 18 pound cat, Shrek, that had his bladder obstructed by tiny bladder stones they call “sand.” He couldn’t urinate. His bladder filled up tight as an over-filled balloon and the plumbing backed up until the pressure shut down his kidneys. It is hard to walk when your bladder feels like a large boulder in your stomach. When your kidneys shut down you feel tremendous nausea. It’s called uremic poisoning, because the body waste that the kidneys should filter out are reabsorbed into the bloodstream, poisoning you. It is impossible to eat when your kidneys shut down. A true emergency, his bladder at risk of rupture, we rushed Shrek into surgery. Under anesthesia we spent long minutes trying to break down the plug of small grit blocking his urethra until we could place a bladder catheter and empty his bladder. Then we pumped him full of intravenous fluids to encourage his kidneys to go back to work. Shrek looked a little odd, with one tube dripping fluids in at the front end and another dripping out more fluids (urine) at the back end. Key to prevent recurrent formation of this “sand” in Shrek will be his conversion to a diet of food developed specifically to prevent urinary sand of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) syndrome.

My final thoughts before drifting off to sleep were of the first stanza of a poem I memorized years ago. The poem is by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light:

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.


May the new year be kind to you and your pets.

Christine B. McFadden, DVM

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