Friday, May 8, 2015

Saving Tyrion Lannister - Friday

First and foremost, Ryan and I are overwhelmed by the incredible amount of support that we have gotten from our friends, family and even a handful of strangers.  We will never forget this or the kindness people have shown us.

It's hard to believe that it has been a week since this nightmare started, especially when the days are long, spent waiting for anticipated phone calls from the amazing vets at U Penn.  It seems as though one bad day precedes just another.  When we get a kernel of hope, it is crushed with more bad news.

Today, a veterinary cardiologist would evaluate Tyrion as part of the transplant requirements and just to check on what we were dealing with.  This was not an invasive procedure, so it was almost another day of rest. Early this morning we had learned that Tyrion had maintained his red blood cell count over night, actually increasing a little bit independent of another transfusion; a good sign that his bone marrow was still functioning somewhat.  How things change so quickly....we waited all day for a call from the lead vet on Tyrion's case.  It was a long day.  She finally contacted us around 8pm to tell us some abnormalities were seen on Tyrion's echocardiogram, but that this wouldn't necessarily rule him out for a transplant, but it didn't help matters either.  We learned that Tyrion is kind of like the cat version of Benjamin Buttons.  He is a little old man in a little kitty body.  The things that were presenting on the echocardiogram were things that were typically seen in a much older cat, as were his issues with his kidneys.  His case involves more twist and turns everyday.  The transplant nurse warned us this would not be an easy road, but I'm not sure anyone could ever be prepared for this pothole filled path.

At this point in time, medical management (medications and interventions) are failing Tyrion.  Our choices were laid out very clear in front of us.  Go for  a possible dialysis catheter in his femoral (thigh area) artery or give up.  As long as I've had pets, I have never wanted to be presented with this choice.  I'm always reminded of my black lab, Kirby's passing.  While sudden and unexpected (even though he was 12), it was fast.  We didn't even have a choice in the matter.  He was gone before I could get dressed to take him to the vet.  I've always been thankful I didn't have that choice.  It's hard to know when to say when and while there will always be those people who have vastly different opinions than what we have regarding what we will or will not put our pet through, it is ultimately not their choice at all.  We took Tyrion to U Penn with the intention of doing everything we could to get him back home happy and healthy and we reaffirmed that commitment to him tonight. Through many tears, we decided that we are going forward with the placement of the femoral artery catheter.  It is all we have left.  Our last hope that Tyrion will pull through.  All along, I've felt that the dialysis process would be the most difficult hurdle to overcome for him due to his size and frailty.  We feel if he can just get through this, he can overcome anything.  Tyrion - our little lion.  We are hoping for a Game of Thrones (for those who don't watch, Tyrion is a main character on the show and his namesake) ending to this, with Tyrion persevering.  If there is a day that we could all use some extra prayers, it's tomorrow and Sunday.  There are many risk not only to placing the catheter, but to performing dialysis thereafter.  If we can get him through the first treatment, I have no doubt he will prevail.  Some people may feel silly praying for a cat, but like I said earlier, this kitty is not just our pet, he is a family member just as all of our pets are.

Tomorrow evening will be make or break for this precious kitty.  We had a choice to allow him to die without intervention or at least try.  We have decided this is his very best chance at life and we will not look back with regrets or what ifs.  Maybe we are prolonging the inevitable...but, maybe we aren't.  At this point, we think Tyrion's legacy will long live on at U Penn.  We think he is teaching them more about treating small kitties with very strange disease processes.  At every turn he has run into an unexpected road block.  We hope this is not the case tomorrow.

Some people have asked (or incorrectly assumed) about where the kidney donation comes from.  The kidney donor would come from a pool of cats that they have at U Penn that have already been cleared to be donors.  Tyrion would have to be typed and cross matched, just like any other human getting a transplant.  Whichever hero cat matches him then becomes ours, which we welcome with open arms.  If a donor can save little T's life, we will give that cat it's best cat life.  Cats, like people, can also live with just one functioning kidney.  I'd give that kitty my OWN kidney if I could.  The donor cats are never euthanized.  Ryan told me these donor cats kind of live the high life at the hospital (which happens to be named "Ryan Hospital").  They have a huge cat playground and have the run of the place, in areas where they are allowed of course.

So for tonight, I try to think about all of the fun/good times we had with this little kitty.  I don't want to imagine how he looks right now.  I know he feels bad and I can't explain to him the rhyme or reason behind his feeling crappy.  Some may say this is inhumane treatment of an animal, putting him through all of this, but quite honestly, this kitty is getting better medical care than some people.  Because we stay committed to him.  Every person makes their own choices and limits for their animal.  I'm choosing not to share some of the outcomes that may occur tomorrow, because there is only one good scenario. As Ryan said tonight, tomorrow evening he will either be getting better or he will be at peace.

So until tomorrow, I'll share some of the good times (which there are so many) we've had with this kitty in the short time we have had him in our lives.

Not even 24 hours in his forever home.  This is one of his favorite tricks; jumping up on us (and scratching the bejesus out of us in the process) and sitting on our shoulders like a parrot.  Eventually, Ryan had taught him to do this on command. 

Tyrion LOVES the warmth of the computer and when he was teeny tiny, he used to fall asleep on the keyboard!

I'm not sure if this is a trick?  It sure is funny though!

Best pals.

Little T *loved* his Christmas stocking.

Another "trick".  Seriously, this kitty is constant entertainment, but at the same time has made some huge messes! Open glasses are never safe! Chocolate milk was his very, very favorite thing to swipe.

Curious kitty in his first snow.  He was so cold, but inquisitive (and pretty stunning in the snow).

Tyrion is a one photogenic cat!  He put up with my incessant picture taking without complaint.

Always finding him in silly places. He was originally named "Joker" (his brother was Batman) because of his "mask" marking.  He definitely lives up to his original name.

I told you he likes his picture taken.

The boys. Biggest and smallest. Even though Roscoe outweighed little kitty by 100lbs, he had zero fear of him.
If you'd like to contribute to our fund helping with Tyrian's medical cost, please visit:

And once again, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

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