… a moment of grief.

by Doc Coleman on August 7, 2013 · 14 comments

in Asides

The previous post released earlier today was written last night before we went to bed. Little did we know then that in a few short hours events would change so much as to wreak such dramatic havoc on our day. It has been hard to bring myself to write this post, but I feel I need to put these feelings into words somehow. The following is a tragic tale, and may be too much for some readers. If you think this description fits you, I will understand if you choose to re-read the previous post and skip this one.

A somewhat happier return to the vet.

More frequent readers of this blog may remember this post, recounting how Thunder’s hip dysplasia and arthritis pain, combined with a severe hairball blockage in his guts had prompted him to go off and hide himself, and the steps we took to bring him back to health. That was at the beginning of May. For the last two months, he has been his usual cheerful self. Until yesterday.

Yesterday started off well enough. Tryll had some hairball problems again, but some doses of lactulose seemed to have taken care of her and put her back in a better mood. Thunder showed some signs of similar problems, so we gave him a dose as well. Neither one had eaten all of their food on Monday, so Tuesday morning I went off to work without feeding the cats, letting their bodies clear things out a bit before introducing new food. If they truly got hungry, they had plenty of dry food and water available.

Tuesday was also the day that Thunder was scheduled for his annual check-up. He had been pretty healthy, but occasionally had shown signs of having some difficulty with his hips again. Kee was going to take him to the vet and see about scheduling another laser treatment for him. That was the plan. Since Thunder hadn’t shown much interest in moving about in the morning, Kee gave him a dose of his pain meds. This should both make him more amenable to being handled, and make it easier for him to go in the carrier, being slightly stoned. All seemed to be going as planned until Kee got to the vet.

During the examination, they discovered a four centimeter long tumor in Thunder’s abdomen. There was no telling how serious this was, as cats do tend to get tumors from time to time, and most of them go away on their own. But they had some concerns that the laser treatment might have promoted the tumor growth, so they decided to skip that, and schedule Thunder to come back on Wednesday for more tests and potentially a biopsy of the tumor. Since he was due for a rabies shot, they did give him that.

After Thunder came home from the vet, he seemed strangely lethargic. When Kee first opened the carrier at home, he just lay there and didn’t want to move. By the time I came home from running some errands after work, he had exited the carrier, but was still lying on the first floor, and hadn’t gone upstairs to his usual place at the foot of the bed. After I noted that he was still very logy, Kee carried him upstairs where we could watch him. He didn’t seem happy, but we couldn’t tell what was wrong, other than his lack of energy. While upstairs he did get up and move around, including going to the litter box.

I came downstairs to do my daily writing and when I headed back upstairs, I discovered that one of the cats had spat up a sizable amount of fluid on the top landing. Since Tryll had recently had hairball issues and there was a small hairball with the mess, we didn’t know which of the cats it had been. Thunder still seemed ill at ease when we were getting ready for bed, be we didn’t see any cause for alarm. Besides, we were already planning on taking him back to the vet tomorrow…

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Since I wasn’t carpooling on Wednesday, I set my alarm for 4 AM and went to sleep.

When the alarm went off, I got up, and as happens from time to time, Kee got up ahead of me to go to the bathroom. And she screamed. Thunder was lying on the floor, unresponsive. Kee started to panic, and Thunder gurgled. We weren’t sure exactly what happened, but there seemed a glimmer of hope that he might still be saved. We dressed quickly, wrapped him in a towel and rushed off to the 24 hour vet in Rockville. He was limp in my arms as I held him. It seemed that the lethargy from last night had become some kind of paralysis. He was still warm. I hoped that we would get there in time.

As we sped through the morning, Kee asked me to blow through his nose, helping him to breathe. It was awkward, but I did it, sharing every other breath with him in the hopes that it would put enough oxygen in his lungs to keep him hanging on.

We arrived at the vet and my arms were aching as I slid from the truck and carried him inside. The position I had to hold him to assist in his breathing put all of his weight on my right arm. We went inside and handed Thunder off to the vet techs, who took him straight into the back. I went to Kee, whose emotions were welling up again and hugged her as best I could. She cried and screamed in my arms.

We didn’t have to wait long.

One of the vet techs came back and gave us the news.

“I’m sorry, he’s gone.”

More screaming and crying.

We don’t know when he died. He might have died just before we got up, or perhaps in my arms while we were speeding our way to the vet. And we’ll never know exactly why he died. It could have been the pain meds, the rabies vaccine, the tumor, or some combination of the three.

We made arrangements to have his remains cremated, and went home.

Worship me.

This day has been a time for grieving. For mourning our loss of a great, furry, wonderful lump of a boy who filled our lives with love and joy  for almost 12 years. Goodbye, Thunderstar Stormcloud of Mysti Isle. We miss you already. Your passing was swift. I hope you have found more congenial shores on the other side. Rest well, Swimming Cat.

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