The Other Shoe
It’s no secret to most of you who read my blog that this past week was rough. Really rough. My cat was on death’s door and not expected to survive, and I’ve been suffering with lower back pain that began after a run just before the July 4th holiday. It started getting better, but then I lifted a struggling two-year old last Thursday morning and felt an instantaneous pain like I’d never felt before.
As if those two things weren’t enough, there was a third element. I couldn’t exercise. As most of you know, running or biking is my therapy. The inability to take off and let my body help my mind process and deal with my suffering cat had brought me to a low point that I haven’t seen in myself in a very long time. I wasn’t eating or sleeping.
Maeby’s ordeal reads like a chapter out of A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket. It began with a bouquet of flowers that were never intended for me in the first place. And yet they were beautiful, so I put them in a vase on my dining room table. I watched my curious little cat jump up to sniff the flowers. I even saw her chomp on the orange tiger lily not knowing they were deadly to her. I shooed her away, but then left the vase on the table for the next two days where she was free to inspect the flowers when no one was watching.
The flowers showed up on Saturday. By Sunday we could see that she wasn’t feeling well because she tried to throw up and didn’t have an appetite, but she was still resting comfortably and purring. We resisted the costly emergency visit, but we did call and were told it didn’t sound like a dire emergency so we decided to watch her and wait until Monday morning unless she got worse. We woke very early on Monday to the sound of her vomiting and what came up where hair ties. Mystery solved. Or so we thought. I took her to the vet and an xray was inconclusive as to whether there were any more in her stomach. He sent us home and told me to try to get her to eat. She wouldn’t.
Little did we know that the hair ties were the least of her problems. We also didn’t know when she ingested them. We were told they could have been there for awhile. I’m not even sure where she found them because I don’t let her play with them for fear of her swallowing them. I may not have known about lilies, but I do know cats like to swallow stringy things.
I stayed home with her on Monday and saw her declining. After two scary episodes where she tried to hide from me and was foaming at the mouth, I took her back to her vet that afternoon. He kept her overnight. The next morning she seemed better but he felt she probably still had hair ties in her stomach. Given the choice of him doing surgery or referring her to a bigger facility for the non-invasive endoscopy, I opted for the latter. Pre-procedure bloodwork finally identified the real trouble she was in. “Is it possible she ingested lilies?” I was asked. “Fuck. Yes.” I said.
Here we were at 72 hours without any treatment started to rid her kidneys of the toxins. The prognosis was grim. The doctor told us that she had never seen a cat survive with kidney values that high, but she followed up that statement with, “but she isn’t acting like she’s sick,” which prompted me to ask, “Then can you please try to save her?”
Does something bad always have to follow something good? Are we conditioned to believe that when things are going our way that it won’t last? When will the other shoe drop?
I don’t really believe any of that. Sometimes, shit just happens, but it’s interesting to look back on a conversation that I had with Mike few weeks ago. He had just been offered the job of his dreams, and we talked of all the wonderful things that had happened in our lives over the past year. Then he said, “It scares me that things are so good,” and I knew exactly how he felt. I think we can all relate to that.
I know we didn’t do anything to bring that awful week into our lives, but I think it’s important we keep our thoughts in check. Even when I was beginning to resign myself to losing Maeby, I was trying to put negative thoughts out of my head. I found myself wondering what I was going to do with that six-foot cat condo. Should I put it on the curb with a Free sign? Should I take it apart and save it for the next cat that I couldn’t imagine ever wanting? Then I would chastise myself for thinking that way. I closed my eyes and brought up images of her sleeping in my arms like she does every night. I thought about all my friends who were holding her recovery in their hearts.
Perhaps the other shoe did drop, but not for any other reason than a series of unfortunate events. The flowers, the first sign of trouble on a Sunday, the hair ties that delayed diagnosis, things that just happened the way they happened. We learn from these things. We learn life is precious. Any life. We learn we are a community rich with love and support. We learn that a feisty little tortie can win the hearts of her doctors and nurses and beat the odds. And finally, we learn to pick up the other shoe and keep going because life is still wonderful.