Monday, May 02, 2011

A vacation from this past week's vacation is sorely needed, almost no question.  Not that I didn't enjoy myself, but the highs and lows in such a short period of time have been short-circuitous to my brain and psyche.  I should have taken a huge hint from the universe when I set out on my long drive to Kennedy Space Center after having dropped my big orange cat baby off at his regular vet - after he'd already spent a night at the emergency vet's under observation and testing and seemed to be improving.

So he hasn't always been the healthiest of cats.  In his younger days, he had some major skin irritation that flared up at the back of his neck and occasioned his first emergency vet visit many years ago and a surgery that proved to be inconclusive as to what the source of the irritation was.  It left my cat with his first scar, an irregular bald patch between his shoulder blades that would still get mildly irritated, but not like that one scary night I found him meowing from pain with a huge open sore there.  Things didn't get scary again until two years ago, when my husband had to take him in for surgery again, for removal of bladder stones, and I came home from my in-laws' to this sight:

It was still hurricane season. I called his collar the cat cone of uncertainty.
My husband wasn't always fond of the cat, and that feeling was mutual in the beginning when, in our first apartment together as a newly married couple, the cat crawled out on one of the rafters in the loft in the middle of the night and started hysterically yowling in panic at his predicament.  I awoke an hour or two after midnight to my husband laughing in a manner that was almost as hysterical as the yowling because the cat wouldn't come to him.  All it took to beckon my orange baby off the skinny board he was precariously perched on was my hand reaching over the upstairs banister and a few clicks of my tongue.

Eventually the cat warmed to Dan, too, but when Dan took him in for the surgery, he didn't need to ask me to know if he should do so or not.  Despite my husband's cat allergies, he knew how important the cat was to all of us, especially me.  I'd had him from when he was two months old and my ex-boss rescued him from a neighborhood crack house where - she learned later - if the litter of the cat's brothers and sisters that was still there weren't placed in other homes, they would've been put into a trash bag and hauled out to the curb for the sanitation crews to take them away.  I didn't intend to keep him, but he was mine from the second he climbed on my bed, found my hip, and took a long snooze on it.

But last Tuesday, when I came home, I could tell my cat wasn't feeling well at all. I'd never seen him looking that bad.  He wasn't breathing well, and his ears felt cold.  He hadn't moved from his spot on the floor by his water dish since that morning.  It looked bleak, and I started to mentally prepare myself to let him go.  He'd had a good 12 years or so on this earth, this big cat baby.  If the tests showed he was in decline, then it was best for him to go to his rest...

...but he rallied the next morning.  His blood work was good.  There was color coming back to his paws and his gums.  He even tried to groom himself, they said.  I dropped him off to his regular vet with hope in my heart and turned my car towards the east coast to the hotel I'd be staying in for three nights while I visited NASA.

After my trip down there, I am now firmly convinced of one thing: any navigation skills I might have once possessed before I married Dan are now nearly lost.  My husband called me while I was still on the road and asked where I was.  "You're where?" he asked incredulously.

Hey, it could happen to you, too, if you mixed up I-95 with I-75:

I am amazed I found Florida. Honestly.

The other reason for the phone call, aside from chiding me for going all the way to Tampa, was that my cat had taken a turn for the worse.  Dan was in Mandeville with the vet who had done the bladder stone surgery. My big fluffy orange guy had already stopped breathing once and was on life support.  It was a respiratory illness he'd contracted, and even though his blood work was still good, it was highly likely he'd be brain-damaged after having suffered one cardiac arrest.  I had to make the decision - on the road, while I was trying to extricate myself from my bad navigation decisions - to keep him alive or let him go.

I got to my hotel late at night with a heavy heart.  I couldn't let him suffer any longer.

My vet was upset.  My in-laws sent me condolences.  And I came home after my trip to a cat-less house.  I miss my fluffy baby.

Rest in peace, my Leo.


J.B. said...

Aw, Leigh, I'm sorry. I missed my own cats terribly while at #NASATweetup, but my li'l guy/gal are fine. I know your pain, though - I once had to remotely approve the relief of pain for a 21-yr-old cat who had been with me all my life (we were both 21 at the time) b/c it wouldn't have been fair to make him wait until I could be with him.

Please accept my condolences as well.


Kevin said...

Oh, Liprap. I'm so sorry. Losing a pet is one of the most awful things ever.

Kelly said...

Oh, I am so sorry. Huge hugs your way.

Chuck Rummel said...

All things happen for a reason, though we may not comprehend. In this case maybe the highs and lows are not meant to short-circuit you but to counterbalance - namely to keep you from feeling overwhelmed by your loss. Condolences from me and my family.

WendyW said...

Oh damn, Leigh! :( I'm so sorry for your loss!
My own Dan lost his 6 y.o. marmalade meower just over a month ago to a liver shut-down.
My heart is with you and sending y'all healing energies. I hope your fluffy guy is being shown around Purr-idise by my late Toppy and my Dan's Charlie.