Saturday, October 19, 2013

Successful op ends in tragedy

As I'd explained in my mid-week post, on Thursday the vet arrived to neuter our two [new] cats and spay the Guest House guard dog, Honey.
Dr Mawaluko, the vet arrived punctually at 8.30 am

Dr Mawaluko arrived punctually at 8.30 and I took him through to our large bathroom. Here I'd set up an operating table and already laid out the items I had for him to work with. Micro-chip and rabies inoculations; I will administer the second injections (against feline AIDS, feline Parvovirus/catflu, and leukemia next week.
The operating theater in my home with Dr Mawaluko setting out his instruments

Contrary to their normal boisterous behavior, the two kitties woke early and other than ask to come into our bedroom (they sleep in my bathroom until they can be properly integrated with the Tanzanian Trio) seemed to not even notice that the breakfast bowls were empty morning. They played around until 8am when Regina had freshened their boudoir and put them back in there to wait their turn on the operating table. 

By 9am the doctor was ready, and I fetched Topsy who still lay calmly in my arms when I placed him onto the table. The vet was ready with the anesthetic but as he plunged the needle into the cat, it was as if a bomb had gone off. The cat yowled and jumped onto the floor, trying to get through the closed door. As soon as he was a little calmer, I put him onto the table again and held him down while the vet plunged the needle in again. This time he dispensed a little of the drug before Topsy, loudly voicing his fear and discomfort, shot out of my arms and onto the floor again. Down there, he began to swing his head and lick his lips (a sure sign the anesthetic is taking effect) 

We waited for ten minutes and I lifted the cat onto the table again.The doctor had the Micro-chip ready and as he inserted the thick needle, he quickly depressed the plunger. Just as well: the chip was expelled and under the cat's skin and the cat's head dropped onto the table. He was out at last.
In the photo above, as Dr Mawaluko managed to insert the Micro-chip, Topsy fell asleep 

Or was he? 

I turned the cat onto its side and the doctor began to prep the area for the procedure. As he touched the cat, it screamed blue murder and jumped up; this time, literally falling onto the floor. 

I glanced at the bedside clock we'd set up on the windowsill near the table. It was 10.45,  the cat was still conscious and Dr Mawaluko and I were at our wits' end.  He kept saying he'd never come across a cat like this!

Once again I lifted Topsy gently onto the table and stroked his head. Within a few more minutes, his eyes glazed over and he seemed to finally be asleep. Before starting the little operation, the vet administered the rabies injection. This time Topsy lay quietly under anesthetic and didn't budge. 
 Out at last!

The doctor quickly got to work; with a snip here and a couple of stitches there (I had to hold the suture while he weaved it through the loops) he completed the job. As I swabbed the the area, I looked at the clock. Five minutes had elapsed! I took the cat through to my bedroom next door where the air conditioning and an overhead fan would keep the kitty cool while he slept. 
Back in the bathroom, I cleaned the table top, discarded swabs and prepared the surface for Tipsy's operation. As Tipsy weighed over five kilograms the doctor and I expected him to take even longer than Topsy (who weighs 4.6kg) to react to the anesthetic. However, although the little guy was very nervous of the smells and the strange man in the room, he was very calm as I held him on the table. The doctor administered the anesthetic and within ten minutes the cat was asleep and the doctor ready for the next step - inserting the Micro-chip. Then the vet administered the rabies shot and injected  the area in question with local anesthetic. He told me that if you don't do this, the animal will feel the pain through the haze and this heightens the stress levels unnecessarily. 

After almost two hours of trying to get Topsy to topple over, his brother Tipsy was a pleasure to treat

Ten minutes later I was swabbing the area of the procedure and took Tipsy through to the recovery room where I lay him down next to Topsy.
 Both cats rested in the cool, quiet recovery room after their procedures

Once I'd cleaned the operating table again, next I called Michael, trusted Askari and cat-carer to bring Honey the guard dog in through the back door. (The Tanzanian Trio were safely ensconced on the veranda behind the locked screen door.) Honey arrived in the bathroom as meek as a kitten and sat down on the floor while the vet administered the anesthetic. While we waited for it to take effect, I stroked her head, speaking softly to her.  

As soon as she was out, Michael lifted her onto the table and the vet administered pain killer shots. Then he looked at me and Michael (who stayed to help with Honey) and warned us to be prepared for the next step. He said once had made an incision and the animal's intestines were revealed, many people watching came over faint. I assured him I would be strong; Michael said it was no problem for him either.
Michael took over from me, stroking Honey's head while the anesthetic took effect

Honey on the operating table, under anesthetic and ready for the operation

At this stage of the post, I would have warned that the next photos (which I would have posted) were not for sensitive viewers. I took photos of the professional manner in which Dr Mawaluko successfully removed the fallopian tubes intact and subsequently closed the incision. He instructed me and Michael to gently swab the beautifully stitched wound. Then Michael lifted Honey in his arms and with me supporting her head, we took her across the short path to Johan's cottage in our enclosed garden. There we lay her on the floor under a fan with the screen door and open louvers opposite, providing further ventalation. Her breathing was regular and she was sleeping peacefully, albeit with her tongue still protruding!

While Michael cleaned the bathroom for me, removing the tables and emptying the waste basket, the doctor filled in the cats' vaccination certificates. He then issued me with two invoices, one for me regarding the cats which I settled immediately. The other invoice for the dog's spaying was made out to the company. Grant arrived to meet the doctor and took the invoice to the financial department. The doctor collected his money from them on the way out of town.

After Dr Mawaluko had enjoyed a meal of grilled chicken and rice, (which Paulo brought across from the Guest House), he and I walked across to the cottage to check on Honey. The doctor pronounced her well on the way to recovery. With a final check on the two cats who were also breathing regularly, I walked the doctor to the door. Michael had strapped his medical kit to the back of his motorcycle and with a wave Dr Mawaluko rode off out of the yard. 

The time was 2.30pm. We'd been on our feet, bending over the operation table for over five hours! During the afternoon, every fifteen minutes I made checks on the cats and then the dog. All was well. That night Grant and Johan had meetings with our HO CEO who'd flown in for two days. When Johan walked into the garden I called him from my back door, telling him that Honey (whom he loved) was asleep in his house and that she was doing well after a successful operation. 

I had placed a bowl of water near the door which, Johan told me (the next day),  she almost emptied at 10pm. Then she asked to go out, walked to the corner of the garden where she relieved herself. He said when she returned, although he was waiting with the door open, she lay down on the mat outside. The weather is beautifully warm and dry at the moment, so Johan left her and turned in himself. 

At 5am, I was in the kitchen making tea, when Johan called at the back door. His eyes were swollen and red and with a thick voice he told me that he'd woken up at 3 and went out to check on Honey. 

She was lying peacefully on the patio.

She was dead. 

So sadly, although her operation was technically a success, her system couldn't handle the shock and it shut down for good. 

The cats, on the other hand, have come through their ordeals well and seem to be fit and healthy. Grant has renamed them: Topsy is Jess (from Postman Pat's black-and-white cat) while Tipsy has become Blackie. 

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.


PS Michael was devastated when he arrived for work and I told him Honey had died; he kept saying : "but, Bibi, the operation went so well!"  He carried her out of my garden and gave her a decent burial in the empty plot next door. 

RIP dear sweet Honey


  1. So sorry for the loss of this sweet pup.

  2. OH how sad... I'm sure that all of you were very sad to see this happen. Rest in Peace, Sweet Honey...

    Glad the kitties did okay --although one of them really caused you some problems...


  3. Five hours is a long time. Glad the kitties were a success but sorry to hear about Honey.

  4. Your title grabbed me and I read with a lump in my throat. May Honey RIP. I hope Johan gets through his grief. It is always hard to lose a beloved pet companion. I'm glad the kittens made it through unscathed and are doing well. Hugs, Jo. xx

  5. Oh, that sweet girl. I'm so sorry, Jo, for you and for Johan and also Michael. It was a trauma for all of you, I'm sure.
    Operations, even simple ones, are sometimes too hard for the patient to take, even when the patient is human.
    If there's a heaven for dogs, I'm sure Honey is there.
    Love, Kay

  6. How very sad for Honey, dogs are much more fragile then cats. I can imagine the grief. Ex Topsy's behaviour reminds me Arthur who becomes a devil at the vet, he behaved like a tiger all claws out and ready to bite, and it was just for a check up. The vet had to give him a shot through the grids of the cage, impossible to take him out, and it took quiet a long time until he finally calmed down and she could do what she had to do. What a stress ! You were very brave !

  7. How very sad for Honey ! Dogs are far more fragile then cats. Can imagine the grief of his poor guy who probably will think it probably had been better not to spay her. Ex Topsy behaved like Arthur when I took him to the Vet for a check up! He became a wild tiger, all claws out and ready to bite. She had to give him a shot through the grids of the cage, impossible to take him out, and it took quiet some time until he was quiet enough for the check up. What a stress ! You were very brave !!

  8. Sorry to repeat myself, I hadn't seen that you have "comment moderation" now and thought my comment wasn't published !

  9. Hi Jo, I stumbled across your blog and wanted to say you have a lovely space here. So sorry to hear about your dog. May she rest in peace .. I have 2 dogs of my own and I can't imagine how painful this must be for you.

    Hugs from Singapore

  10. How sad, I am so sorry about Honey! It is great that the two kitties are Ok and doing well!!

  11. That was a big day for everyone but how sad for Honey and Michael.

  12. What a day you had with the 2 cats adn Honey. it was very sad that she did not make it but i am sure she just passed away in her sleep.

  13. I am so very sorry Honey didn't make it. Anesthesia is hard for pets to take, dogs especially succumb after the surgery. Sending lots of warm purrs of sympathy from our cats.

    Carolina Mountains

  14. Oh Jo, I am so very sorry to hear of Honey's fate. We can but do our best but there is a much greater power that controls all things.

  15. OhmyGoodness! Poor Honey!!
    SO very sorry sweet friend!!!

  16. Oh, Jo...I cried as I read this. Honey was beautiful! Hugs to you from way across the ocean.

  17. I was thinking how I'm going to joke about the cat not wanting to be cut and then the story of Honey came. Having dogs that are like children in the house makes me very sad when I read something like this.


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