Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Long and Beautiful Life (A Cat's Story)

Tuesday, Day 5 - Cleaning out the pet food pantry last night, I came across his needles and needle clippers and his medicine droppers.  I was crouched down on the floor, and I hugged the box I found them in, and I cried.  His bottle of insulin is still in its special spot in the refrigerator; I can't bring myself to discard it, any more than I can discard his predecessor's prescription bottle for thyroid medication from 1990.

I will never forget the look on his face as our vet gave him the shot that would relieve his pain and suffering forever.  Ira wasn't ready for the Big Sleep, even though he was full of cancer and he'd been having violent seizures for two solid days, and was so drugged with phenobarbital I don't know how he managed to open his eyes.  I was standing next to Dr. Vega, Ira's "personal physician" - a wonderful vet at Hunter's Creek Animal Hospital - and Ira looked at us both, a trifle balefully, as if to say, "Hey! Not yet, I'm not done fighting this thing!"

And what a furry fighter he'd been.  Over 2 years fighting feline diabetes, taking his injections in the back of his neck, twice a day, like a trooper. Then six months before, he developed horrible seizures, so severe I thought I was going to lose him before I got him to the Animal Hospital, where Dr. Vega was waiting for us.  I'm not sure how I got there without being pulled over by FHP, because I was driving way above the speed limit with one hand, while trying to hold Ira steady as he continued to seize on the car seat.  I remember telling him, "not yet, not like this", and he hung on, and Dr. Vega was able to stabilize him, and he had no more seizures until those two days before he died.

This is the cat that slept right up close to my face so he could breathe the air I exhaled. As he got closer to the end of his long and beautiful life, I had to carry him upstairs every night, while he wrapped his front paws around my neck.  Always affectionate, he became even more so, gluing himself to my left side as I sat on the couch watching television or in bed reading a book.  These days, none of our pets will sleep next to me on the left side, even though I've invited them to do so.  Anakin, the Last Cat Standing, will sit there for a few minutes, but then he always leaves what will be eternally thought of as "Ira's spot."  The real spot, of course, is in my heart.

So I overdid today, not because of Ira but despite my sorrow and depression. I had several appointments, each one taking well over an hour, and I got gas for the car, and I went into Target to check on my new glasses and now I am tired and hurting and bordering on crabby. Someone or something was just driving sharp hot needles into my right arm and underarm, which is scary because that's where I had a tumor removed in 2006.  It was thankfully nonmalignant, but until I got to that point in the diagnostic process - well, you can imagine.

Obvious to me, if not to you, I did not make any additional progress on those empanadas.  Fortunately the fridge is full of cooked food (and I'm always willing to fry an egg) otherwise we all would have starved several days ago, our last coherent thought of unfinished empanadas.

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