When we brought Mickey home last night, I knew he was happy to be out of
the animal hospital. He'd been sedated for a procedure and was stil a bit
groggy, but recovering. He spent most of the day on my wife's lap where
she could monitor his IV drip. He wasn't too happy about the cast-like
wrap of tape on his right front leg that held the IV in, nautrally. He
moved clumsily in the few instances we could let him (such as when he
needed to use the litter tray).
We fed him a couple of times last night, adding water to wet food and
forcing it into his mouth with a wide-mouthed syringe, about a CC at a
time. When it was time for bed, we brought him to the bedroom where we'd
set up a cage with a bed and litter tray; a place where we could safely
put him without too much worry about him moving away from where the IV
hung. When we got him into the cage, though, he was not happy. He used
to love being in the bedroom with us. He'd sit on the bed and purr and
purr so loud. Then he's walk up and lie on your chest and smell your
breath. So of course, feeling at his worst and suddenly having that joy
taken away must have been worse than I can imagine. When he realized he
was in a cage with no way out, he let out a little cry, the most
heartbreaking sound I've ever heard. I keep hearing it play over and over
in my head and it's tearing me up inside.
He wouldn't settle down, even while we were both sitting just outside the
cage, petting him and reassuring him. He got so worked up, I think, that
he started deep, uncontrollable panting. At that point, we had no choice
but to take him out. We didn't know what to do. It felt like forever
before his breathing began to calm, but it was probably something on the
order of 15 minutes. We decided that since we couldn't keep him in the
cage. We'd take shifts sleeping while the other sat with Mickey, making
sure he didn't pull out his IV or have trouble making it to the litter
When she settled, my wife, that wonderful person whom I love so very
very much, decided that she was okay spending the whole night on the
floor, cradling poor Mickey. And so she kept him company in his last
hours. He had another panic attack in the middle of the night and she
comforted him as best she could.
In retrospect, of course, I feel horrid for subjecting him to what were
eventually fruitless efforts. And I don't know which is worse, the pain
of loss or the guilt. Guilt over the uncomfortable treatments. Guilt
over all those days of hunger. Guilt over all the times I was mean or
angry with this sweet little animal over the years. Terrible guilt for
knowing he was barely eating (half a dozen bites of turkey or cat food at
a time) and waiting for his scheduled vet appointment (about a week later)
rather than following my instincts that the thyroid meds were a bigger
danger than any condition and insisting we take him to the vet right away.
So how can I help but feel responsible for what happened?
Deciding not to act is still a decision.
And so my last memory of Mickey is a little kitty, belly shaved for the
earlier ultrasound and lying on a towel with his eyes half open even
though he was already gone. And all throughout the house I keep seeing
reminders of our struggle to save him: his pill bottles on the television,
the little dish of the one dry food we could find that he'd eat, the cage
in the bedroom. I don't write this entry to torture anyone who might be
reading it. I'm not writing it to constantly remind me of the pain and
loss. I'm hoping that getting this all down, getting it all out, will
help me with a little sense of closure.
I'm so sorry, Mickey, wherever you are.
(Updated Friday, August 1, 2008 5:58 PM)