The Space Needle is My Neighbor

"A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Thursday, March 08, 2007

The High Price Of Pets

I've spent the last week or so watching my cat, Gracie, becoming weaker and weaker as she's battled some unknown illness that's aggressively robbing her of her strength and taking away her ability to do the simple, funny things that I've grown to love about her so much in the six years that have passed since we rescued her from her life of living on the street. Gracie came into my life a few months after we put our other cat, Mina to sleep. After having a cat for 15 years and spending the last three tending to her various ailments as they developed, I was heartbroken when Mina died. I had only been in Seattle for two weeks and the day after the movers left, it became apparent that she was going into severe congestive heart failure and nothing could save her. The discomfort she was feeling was palpable. She crouched in a corner, unable to move and just stared at me. After she was gone, I was crushed. Here I was in this new city; displaced and feeling very much alone. Mina had been a very resilient character. When I brought her home from the shelter at the age of two, I had been advised that she'd probably hide under the bed for a few days until she got acclimated to her new surroundings. I opened the carrier and Mina hopped out and got right on the sofa and stayed there, defying their predictions. This was a time when I could have used some of her bravado.

Knowing the tender state I was in, Jeff hesitated at first to tell me about Gracie. He saw her every day, sleeping under a car in front of his apartment and occasionally coming up on the porch to eat some of the food that belonged to the kitties that lived in his building. Her days were numbered. She had to be rescued, and so she was. I put aside the sadness I felt and took her back to the same vet I had found to take care of Mina when we arrived in Seattle. Gracie had a punctured ear drum and all sorts of other problems. I cried in the waiting room as I felt all of the sadness at losing Mina welling up inside of me. After countless surgeries and procedures, Gracie recovered. The fur grew back on her previously naked and bat-like ears. She learned to trust me, somewhat grudgingly and finally began to sleep on my head, like a sentinel always on the look out for trouble. She'd sneak up behind me while I was talking on the phone. I'd turn around, look down, and there she was, because of course I was talking to her, wasn't I?

After spending thousands of dollars to prolong Mina's life; after all of the extraordinary measures I had taken- including giving her subcutaneous fluids while I held her on the bathroom vanity in the hotel room where I stayed until the movers came- I'm struggling with the decision to fight this battle once again. Hope is the thing that lives inside of all of us; after making the decision to put Gracie to sleep on Sunday night, and then finding myself unable to do it, I took her to the vet to see if anything within reason could be done. They gave her fluids, she ate a little food; hence the road sign- "You are now entering the land of false hope", I told myself as I left the doctor's office. Amazingly, her blood work and her vital signs are practically normal. The illness remains undiagnosed. Whatever is wrong with her must reside deep inside, just like my hope. She's on some medication and will probably be getting re-hydration therapy to see if we can jump start some kind of recovery. Her personality is returning, little by little. She jumped up on the bed. She watched me talking on the phone. I want to do the right thing. I hope I'll know it when I find it. These road signs are so confusing.


Anonymous Peri said...

I'm so sorry about this, FP. It is so hard to watch a cherished pet struggle with pain and illness and having to make that awful decision to try and treat or to put down.

Gracie got one really lucky break when she met you; her life was extended by many years when that happened, and they were probably the best years of her life.

You will know the right thing to do because you're already doing it. You will give her all the help and love you can for as long as you can, whether it's weeks or years.

{{{FP and Gracie}}}

5:45 AM  
Blogger FancyPants said...

Hi Kiddo~

If anybody understands, I know it's you, and you're right- the one thing that helps is to know she wouldn't have made it as long as she has without my intervention. I'm taking her in this morning for the fluids-it's just breaking my heart to see her so weakened, so rapidly. Thanks for the much-needed hugs.

7:43 AM  

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