after crashing last wednesday, i did not give her any more insulin shots. i was too scared. i checked her blood that night and it was in the 200 range. a little high, but low for her.
we went to oliver's soccer party friday evening. we returned home, ate, and i fell asleep on the couch. there had been some bright yellow urine on the floor by the box. not altogether unexpected in our household, except i had just cleaned the box. when brian woke me to say he was going to bed, i did what i always do when ttyki isn't sleeping next to me and i asked him to make sure she's okay. he went to find her.
i heard him call my name in a worried tone from the bathroom and i ran in there. she was lying on the floor and hovering over the water bowl. this is not terribly unusual for times she's not feeling her best, but it did have me worried. she seemed particularly weak. i brought her back to the couch with me. i woke over and over again through the night. the first time, ttyki was no longer beside me. i forget where i found her, but i put her back on the towel in a box i had set up for her to nest in with a little privacy after her crash, and i slid it over to where i could see it from the couch.
when i woke again, she was gone. i believe i found her in the kitchen. i decided to get through the night just letting her be where she wanted to be. i was feeling pretty sick that she had something horribly wrong, especially since i knew she wasn't crashing on insulin. i knew we would be going to the vet in the morning and i started hoping she would die during the night, if that was where she was headed.
i continued to wake over and over and kept myself from getting up each time to check on her. when i finally decided it was time to get up for the day, she wasn't on the couch or in the box. i walked through the dining room, holding my breath, and could see either urine or watery vomit in the back living room. i didn't see her on the back couch or under the little table where she likes to nap during the day. i turned toward the kitchen and saw her lying in the far corner, just past another pool of bright yellow urine.
she looked awful. there was a knot forming in my stomach. she had obviously not had the energy to leave that spot. and i tried to not feel guilty about not checking on her over and over again through the night. about the decision to not bring her back to the couch each time.
i guess i called to brian because i remember him being there to help clean up. i think i sat down on the floor with her. maybe i cried. i didn't know what to do. she was covered in mats and thin as a rail and i had to take her in. i said i wanted to bathe her, but i didn't know how because she didn't look like she could hold herself up. brian started the bath and scrubbed her while i helped her stand.
i kept going back and forth from feeling like i was preparing her to die and crying, crying, to hoping it was like so many other times i felt she was dying and instead, she came back home with something silly like advanced constipation or a UTI.
i don't know, i guess i knew. but you never completely know. i've been noting how peppy she's seemed, all things considered. how she's the one who comes into the kitchen approximately every 12 hours to patiently wait for me to give her a couple of treats with her injection. she hobbles with energy after me when i come back from dropping off the kids, waiting for me to crack open some wet food for her. she would lay on the couch while i worked at night, waiting to join me on the couch. some nights, she got to where she would fall into such a deep sleep, she was surprised when i would nudge her to let her know i was leaving the room.
i gathered up the courage to call the vet. i asked if dr. debender was in and was told she was, but all the vets were completely booked. i explained i had an elderly, diabetic cat who seemed very sick. she said she could work us in and asked what was going on. i told her she had crashed and was now very lethargic and weak. she sounded more urgent, saying, "you should go ahead and bring her in now."
i went to the bathroom to tell brian they sounded worried. and then i sat on the toilet, watching her, and cried.
a little later, i sat down with oliver and told him i didn't know what was going to happen with ttyki. i didn't know how sick she was or if she would be coming back from the vet. i told him he might want to tell her goodbye, just in case. then, at some point, i realized brian was trying to go with me.
after i had finished getting ready, i came out of the bathroom and found ttyki had crawled halfway out from under her bath towel inside the box and was lying partly on the floor. i felt the knot in my stomach tighten.
i sat down with her and did the best i could brushing her and cutting matted hair out.
then it was time. i got out the old, pink towel. the one i used with her when she was a pup. i put it in the bottom of the carrier and she went straight in. i heard her mew anxiously a couple of time as i was walking up to the car. i held the carrier on my lap while brian drove and tried to keep her from falling over during turns, stops, and starts.
when i walked in the door, i placed the carrier on the counter and cried, "this is ttyki." they took her to the back immediately and the four of us sat down.
it only took a handful of minutes before the technician took us back to the examination room. i gave her the details of the past couple of days and in no time flat, dr. debender came back into the room. this certainly was not normal.
she carried a piece of paper listing a 95 degree temperature, normal blood glucose levels, and a backsliding weight of five pounds. they had already put a shunt into her leg, but i don't recall what for.
it didn't take long for her to cut to the chase.
just like that. no mention of possible treatments. no shots or pills or liquids or IVs. no hope of anything at all. it was such a certain response, i didn't even think to question it. "she's dying."
i started wailing. it just all started spilling out from way deep down.
she said she had turned yellow and i immediately realized i had subconsciously noticed something had been wrong with the color of her ears while i had been grooming her inside that dim box. she said it wasn't the diabetes. it was that mysterious underlying cause.
i imagine whatever it was, that was the reason for her crash wednesday. i think the doctor said she was yellow because possibly her liver, her gall bladder, was breaking down red blood cells.
she said she was suffering. she said i could take her home, but it was going to get a lot worse and she would likely start having seizures. she would be in terrible pain.
there was no hope of anything. nothing.
she passed the box of tissues to where i was standing. eyes leaking.
i wailed and i fought and i said i didn't want to be there and i didn't want this day to happen. i sat on a chair in the corner while she went to go get ttyki. i cried and cried and cried and tried to find some way to make this not be my reality. i wanted my cat who defied death over and over again. death rolling right off her, oily and slick. my cat who could take anything you threw at her. my cat made of steel. where was she?
this wasn't happening. i couldn't escape.
dr. debender came back in carrying ttyki wrapped in a towel. she was quiet. still. the catheter stuck in her leg hard to ignore.
i cried some more and rubbed her head over and over. i needed her to tell me what to do in a way that wasn't possible. i begged her to tell me. i begged her to forgive me. for everything. ever. for now. for that day. i called to her, baby, baby, baby, please, baby.
i asked what would happen. she said she there would be two injections, the first to make her unconscious and the second to stop her heart. the same drugs used for anesthesia.
dr. debender drifted in and out. trying to be present, yet unobtrusive. i had told her i understood what needed to happen, i just didn't know how to get from here to there. i asked brian to leave with the children. i asked the children to tell her goodbye. "goodbye, ttyki!" violet chirped happily as brian held her eye level with the examination counter. they left and i shut the door.
dr. debender said she wasn't rushing me, but would go ahead and get the form to sign and draw up the drugs. i told her i already knew i would want her back. she left. i picked ttyki up in her towel and sat on a chair. cuddled her like a little baby. i eventually noticed i could feel the warmth of her stomach against mine, which i have loved feeling so many times over the past year when she slept next to me at night.
i talked to her. i told her i loved her. i told her i was sorry. i cried.
dr. debender came back with the form and kneeled down to use the chair next to me. she asked if ttyki had bitten anyone in the past 10 days and i said, "yes." i think she thought i wasn't be serious and i repeated that she had bitten violet. she looked worried and i became alarmed that whatever was killing ttyki could have made its way through that bite. "what's wrong?!" she said they're required by law to test for rabies if that's the case, and i managed to do enough calendar math to know it had been over two weeks since the bite. dr. debender said i didn't want to know how they tested for rabies, but i was way ahead of her.
she handed me the pen to sign my name. i started and then realized just what my signature meant. i wanted to run out of there. she left to get the drugs.
more crying, more cuddling. ttyki started trying to get up and out of the towel. i don't know where she was trying to go, but it made me feel even worse. had she been unconscious or definitively showing signs that she was pretty much not there anymore or in tremendous and undeniable pain, it would have been... easier, i guess. but to see her getting up. god. it was unbearable. did she want to use her legs one last time? was she trying to find a way out of there? did she know? was it just another day for her?
i held on to her. i think that actually propelled me to put her back up on the table. there was a soft, blue blanket folded up for her to rest on. i asked dr. debender if i could i retrieve the pink towel from the carrier and cover her with it. she said, "of course. it smells like home." i told her i've had it as long as i've had her.
i stood there struggling with what to do. or, how to do it. dr. debender offered to take the catheter out and let me take her home. i told her i knew i couldn't do that. i just didn't know how to decide when it was okay for her to be alive one minute and not okay to be alive the next minute. how was i supposed to know when we had reached that threshhold? who was i to make that decision for her?
i went back and forth from leaning across her and hugging her and kissing the top of her head to crouching down and staring into her eyes, looking for a sign. her pupils seemed so incredibly large. there was nothing there telling me what to do either way. whenever i thought i had reached the place where i couldn't take the torment any longer, i would stop crying and start muttering, trying to figure out how to make the words come out of my mouth. i said, "okay," a few times, but it was so quiet, it didn't count. i noticed that i was moving back and forth during those times. from one foot to the other. like i was checking something out and trying to make sense of it.
then i would retreat back into tears and staring into her eyes.
i would look at dr. debender as if there was something she could do and drop my eyes again because i still couldn't say it. she asked me to think about why i would want to keep her alive. i explained i didn't feel i had the right to decide the last moment of her life. she said this would be the most selfless thing i could do for her. that she wasn't going to get better. that this would give some dignity to her death.
i asked her to explain the injections again. how much time between the two? i think i wanted there to be some pause where she was unconscious, but living. that maybe seeing her like that would make it more peaceful for me.
there's no pause in between.
as she gently picked up each syringe to explain its purpose, i couldn't help but notice one was a cloudy white and that there were three syringes. i didn't want to ask what the third was for.
i cycled back through my three phases for what felt like an eternity. my mind going down and down and down this big plinko board of life and death, trying to fit itself through the right channels to land in the right slot to make sense of this. and then back to the top again. plink plink plink.
i tried closing my eyes and counting to 20 and trying to imagine who all might be on the other side waiting for her. i mean, i really don't know what i believe about the after life, but i hope there's more after this and believing there are friends and family waiting on the other side of the coin was what i needed to feel. maybe it's all those episodes of long island medium i've been watching lately.
and i felt like there was a crowd coming through those walls. a huge mob in sepia tone. i imagined ttyki, young and soft-haired and fuller-figured, hopping off that table and jumping into someone's arms.
i reached 20 and muttered another, "okay." but it didn't take. she didn't know. i lost my nerve again and had to start back over.
more last looks. more tears, not the last. i put my forehead to hers and kissed her. i counted to 20 with my eyes closed again, breathing as slowly as i could. and said i was ready.
she said she was starting the first injection and i dropped to my knees and pressed my head to ttyki's and cried, telling her i was so sorry and i loved her and it was going to be okay. she was going to be okay.
i felt her going limp and she said she was asleep and she began the second injection. i repeated over and over she was going to be okay and i loved her. i tried to not say i was sorry. i tried to concentrate on making her feel better.
it was only seconds before i could see dr. debender pull out her stethoscope, place it under the towel and say, "she's gone."
i've never held anything dead before. there's a very big difference between the resistance of holding something that's asleep and holding something that has died. like liquid in a membrane. almost like it's losing its form.
her little head. her little face. i tried to gently close her left eyelid. i nuzzled my face against her neck. more i love yous.
dr. debender had already quietly stepped from the office, whispering, "i'm sorry," and placing her hand briefly on my hunched over back.
i didn't have a clue how i was supposed to stand up and walk out of there, leaving ttyki behind. how long should i stay? what was appropriate? what would leave me with the least regrets?
i guess i could have stayed the rest of my life. but i know how i am and the longer i have something, the more difficult it is for me to let it go.
i said goodbye to her for probably a couple of minutes, petting her head, and making sure i had no regrets about touching her body. i made sure the pink towel was covering her as much as possible, pulling it up farther around the top of her head and covering the end of her tail.
i knocked on the door and called, "dr. debender?" she stepped back in and i asked to make sure the pink towel would go with her. it would. i thanked her for all the help she's given me with ttyki and opened the door to leave.
brian was standing out there with the kids. i shut the door behind me and fell into a tearful hug in the hallway. i bawled as quietly as i could.
we went back to the front and i asked him to pay so i could get out of there. oliver came out with me.
my car was only yards away from the exit and after opening oliver's door for him, i heard someone call out. i thought it was someone from the office telling me i had forgotten something. i looked at her and she asked again if i needed anything. i shook my head and she walked over to me. she was older and quietly beautiful. stunning eyes. she told me she was sorry and held me for a moment while i cried. she asked if i was able to drive and i said my husband was inside. later, when i asked brian where she had come from, he told me she had gone back in and given him a hug as well.
i rode home quietly. holding the empty carrier on my lap. i walked back through the courtyard and to our door, wondering if joann had noticed the emptiness. i couldn't believe i was coming back home without my furry little girl.
may 1993 - may 12, 2012
since this has stretched on endlessly and saturday felt like one of the longest days of my life, i think i'll save some of the torture of writing this for a different post.
oh, wait. today, friday, i was baking cookies for the end of year school picnic and thinking, wondering, when i was going to get the call from the vet to come pick ttyki up. it had only taken a couple of days when beany died. i was trying to be patient, but was at the point where i was starting to worry. you can only make so much progress knowing you still have another step to take. i spent all week wondering where she was and if the cremation had taken place yet and putting all this emotional energy into trying to "stay" with her through it.
then it occurred to me. they probably used brian's number to call and, for whatever reason, he never checks his voicemails. i grabbed my phone to look at the vet's number and then pulled up his call log. three days ago they had called.
i was crushed. she had been sitting there for three days. three days. while i had been sitting here all wound up about her. i was pissed. and i didn't want her to sit there for a second longer than she had to. but those cookies were taking too long and i had to go pick up violet. the second the last round chimed in as done, i looked at the clock and saw i had an extra three minutes. i took them and drove over there. as soon as i walked in the door, i knew an emotional bandaid was being ripped off. i was shaking and crying quietly. she brought her back out and said they were sorry for my loss.
there she was. sitting in that little cedar box with the gold padlock. two gold keys dangling from it. i took solace in the fact that she was going for a ride in the car. i even opened the vent for her like i used to. she used to sniff the outside air immediately, her nose pointed toward the vent and her eyes squinting. and, of course, i cried and cried and wondered how on earth i was going to have time to recover enough to pick violet up. i turned on to audelia and, in an attempt to escape the replay of a donna summer interview and the spectacularly bad music on kxt, i switched to mesquite school's radio and, by god, they were right in the middle of playing this:
i couldn't believe it. i laugh-cried and nudged ttyki's box. who knew my cat had such a spectacular sense of humor.
but then, with the threat of having to act like nothing was wrong in front of others, i started leaking again. i sat in the car for a minute, enjoying al stewart and wishing it was cat stevens, even though the kids were already coming out to the parking lot. and then i saw john and marianne come up the sidewalk, so i got out. marianne asked how i was and i murmured, "oh, okay." she said something about the party tonight and i muttered, "mmhmm," with my head down and walked past them.
all hope was lost.
violet was the last one there and i was losing it some more. i had to briefly explain to charlotte before getting back out of there.
god, i'm so tired.
but i think i'm on the verge of figuring this whole soul-displaced-from-body bit. i think i'm about to crack a really big code. i'll let you know more later. maybe i'll write a new age book about it.