Tuesday, September 28, 2010

By Wednesday afternoon...

I'll be back at the beach! We may not have much time to visit or post because Mom got a big work assignment today (she keeps reminding me that we're NOT on vacation) and then she's going to Mexico for a week (I get to stay with my pal Gayle!) so we'll be thinking of you even if you don't hear from us for awhile!

Happy Oktoberfest!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Four for Asta's Fourth!

It's ASTA'S fourth birthday so to celebrate, I've chosen four of my favorite photos of the two of us!

...Taking a break from organizing my toys in alphabetical order

...sitting like good dogs, watching the numbers on the elevator...

...I have a feeling treats are involved for such synchronized sitting....

...And doing what we do best, playing like crazy pups at the dog run!

Happy Birthday Asta! Here's to the next 4!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Many thanks for all your kind words

Over the past week, your thoughtful comments and prayers have meant so much to me. Just being able to use this blog to express my feelings, knowing that I'd be sharing my emotions with other people who feel that the dogs and cats that share their lives are members of their families, not just pets or possessions, was of great comfort.

Petey and I both miss Mica and know it will be a long time before we stop looking for him in a nest of cushions, tapping my hand to share whatever I'm eating, or sitting by the sink, waiting for me to turn on the tap. (My friend Karen sent a card where she referenced "brushing my teeth with Mica, every time I come to visit.")

But this week is easier. Gentler. More peaceful, knowing the decision to let Mica go, no matter how difficult, was absolutely the right one. Across the miles, Petey and I leaned on your shoulders, felt your hugs.
I hope to get around to visiting all your blogs in the weeks to come. There were so many kind wishes from new friends as well as old.

We'll never forget your generousity of spirit.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The silence....

How could such a quiet creature leave such a deafening silence?

I moved my feet on the couch last night, having caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eyes of Mica who, of course, was not there. In his later years, Mica was less likely to greet my arrival home at the door, more likely to open an eye then settle back into sleep on his nest-like pillow. Unlike Petey, who even if you wake him up by opening the door, comes around the corner, grinning madly and wiggling like he's doing the watusi and sometimes emitting happy whimpers or little barks. And yet, it is Mica's silence I miss when I open the door. It's impossible not to look for him.

I've had a low barricade to keep Petey out of the kitchen (and out of Mica's litter box) so he won't bolt in and gulp down Mica's food. (Apparently, cat food and poopies are doggie delicacies.) Now it's no longer necessary, but I still automatically lift up my feet as I enter the kitchen. I decided that Petey can start eating his meals in the kitchen, rather than right outside it. And as I prefer Mica's white enamel bowls, I've decided they are now Petey's. So I put Petey's dinner in one last night and called him. Now, let me tell you—Petey usually eats so fast that sometimes I have to be sure I actually fed him, it's gone so fast. And after years of trying to get to Mica's food, suddenly he was very hesitant about going into the kitchen. Instead, he stood in the doorway and stretched himself at a 90-degree angle for a couple bites, then just backed off into the living room. Maybe it's too soon. He seemed relieved to have his breakfast out of his old bowl just outside the kitchen this morning.

I've been looking for signs that he realizes Mica is gone. This morning, he walked into the kitchen and began sniffing -- the air, the rug, Mica's empty bowls. He followed his nose into the living room, sniffing the carpet where Mica spent much of the day yesterday before letting out a sigh and going back to sleep in his favorite chair.

One more story in this already too-long post...

My Mom wore a gold pine cone on a chain around her neck. She wore it all the time — you can see it here in this photo.

I have since put it on a much longer chain and I purposely put it on yesterday as I knew I wanted my Mom's strength to be with me on this tough day. (I had my Dad's watch on as well.) After the vet gently gave Mica the injection of Valium, I was talking to him, whispering endearments, singing our silly song. I gave the vet the nod for the second injection and told Mica "Now, go find Mom and tell her I love her." He breathed his last. And when I looked down, the pine cone charm was pinned down by two claws on one of his front paws.

He had arrived. My message was delivered.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And he is gone....

Please say a prayer at 4:15 today...

...as that is when my sweetest Mica will be crossing the bridge. Here is my last photo of him, spooning with Petey on the couch last night. It was the first time they've ever done that.

So many tears.

Thank you for understanding what an incredibly difficult decision this has been to make.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another morning...

Last night, I went to sleep pretty much convinced that Mica would pass in the night. He was disoriented, extremely wobbly and his breathing was raspy, like an overworked bellows. When I picked him up to carry him into the bedroom, he fought wildly against me, peeing down my side. (Which for once, I didn't mind, as he has only been using the bathroom once a day, despite the vet tech telling me that the daily IV would make him pee more often.) I got him settled down on an old bed of Petey's near his favorite spot on the floor and got myself cleaned up. Then I lay down facing him and we talked of hundreds of little furry toy mice that he used to love so much - tossing them in the air, leaping for them, and wriggling in excitement before pouncing on them. We talked about the acres of chairs and sofas, just waiting to be shredded by scratchy sharp nails. We talked about when I first picked him out of his litter at just three weeks old, a feisty little boy meowing furiously with a little tail that looked like a bristly triangle and enormous ears. I sang our little song to him, so only he could hear it. And I told him it would be okay if he needed to move on in the night. I fell asleep in tears.

Around 2:00 a.m., I woke up and was startled to see the silhouette of Mica's head against the dim light of the shades. Surely I must be dreaming, but then he sneezed and I realized that yes indeed, in the dark of the night, he had scaled my high bed (a feat that Petey requires a running start and a footstool to achieve) and was now draped against my outstretched arm. Where he remained for the rest of the night, sleeping peacefully in the crook of my arm albeit for the occasional burst of sneezes.

In the morning, he jumped down off the bed, landing awkwardly, still startled that his once powerful body doesn't respond like it used to, and made his way across the room toward the closet. I sensed he needed the litter box so leapt from the bed and carried him to the box. No sooner than I'd put his front paws in, he determined he must be fully in the box and let loose with a nice long pee. Fortunately, this time it was on easy to clean up tiles, rather than Petey's bed! He drank some water from a bowl -- but only as long as the faucet was running -- and ate a few teaspoons of food while I gave him his IV. He's been sleeping peacefully all day, despite the housekeeper vacuuming and cleaning around him in the bedroom. I woke him up a little while ago and he wolfed down a tablespoon or so of canned tuna, always a big treat. (Petey cleaned up the rest.)

The vet called with the results of his blood tests. He is not in kidney failure, which is a bit of a surprise. He is anemic and she thinks he may have something going on with his intestines but won't know without more tests and at this stage, we both agree that he doesn't need to go through that ordeal. I cried yet again and asked if it was time to bring him in and she said let's wait and see. He's having a good day today so we're going to take it a day at a time. If his days become more like his night early last night, then it will be time.

Day by day. So savor your favorite treat. Take time to enjoy some gentle strokes. And at the end of the day, stretch out on a comfy bed and dream of better times to come.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Brotherly love...

Mica has had another very quiet day. He's been sleeping for most of it, ate about a marble-size blob of cream cheese with his IV this morning and about a teaspoon of food, a few sips of water. He is not in any pain, spent most of day sleeping in his favorite spot on the couch, while Petey and I visited friends in New Jersey this afternoon. (It was good to have a bit of a break from the constant worry.)

Waiting for whatever may be next...

Thank you, each and every one of you, for all of your kind words of love and support. Especially to Alett for her calm yet compassionate advice. I wished we lived closer to Boston as I cannot imagine a finer person to trust with your pet's healthcare.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Prayers, please...

What do you do when every decision seems selfish?

In the past 10 days, Mica has seemed to be on the decline. His usual robust appetite was diminuished, even his sense of smell seems to have disappeared, as he usually has a bit of food still on his once immaculate brick red nose.

His beautiful rudy Abysinnian coat now seems to hang like cloth across his bones. Every bone can be felt. While he was always a slim cat, he's now all elbows and angles. And yet his sweet smiling face remains unchanged.

His eyes, green as grapes, now seem slightly unfocused. Can this be the same fellow who caught four mice just 9 months ago? His back legs are stiff and a bit wobbly. Yet he can still find my leg to stretch out against on the couch. I haven't heard his birdlike "chirrrup" in months or had him tell me off when I'd closed him out of room. But he still purrs contentedly while angling his chin for a soft scratch.

What do you do when you just can't seem to stop crying?

I look at these photos, many not taken that long ago, and I'm astonished at some of his physical changes. In between tears, there have been moments of horrible frustration. Like when he used Petey's bed (or the laundry bag...or my gym bag) instead of his litter box. Knocking things over a couple times a night so I'll wake up and go turn on the bathroom tap for him. Now he follows me into the bathroom whenever I go near it. I have to help him up to the sink, he can't always make the jump. And more often than not, he doesn't even bother drinking, or dips his face too far in and sets off a round of sneezes. I go through yet another bottle of Nature's Miracle, scrubbing away another accident and I'm frustrated that my home is being ruined. Then I get mad at myself for feeling that way.

We've been together through almost my entire adult life. From the time he was 5 weeks and 6 days old until now - 20 years and 6 months later. He moved with me into my first apartment. Curled up on my heaving chest when I cried at losing my first cat Moki and my third cat, Maui.
He was meowed his way from Boston to New York on a late night shuttle flight and learned to make those "ackakakakakaak" sounds at pigeons that dare rest on the air conditioner outside the window. On those dark terrifying nights — after 9/11, when I heard my father was diagnosed with cancer, when I left my job—I'd find calm in stroking his soft fur. He'd give me a "we'll be fine" look and a single raspy kiss on my finger. Petey rarely gives a kiss, Mica bestows them freely.

And now the thought of losing him, it rips off all those carefully layered bandages of mourning. And the pain of losing my Mom, my Dad, my other pets, back to my childhood dog Sam all come back in a blurry collage of pain and memory and loss. I think of my two dear friends who are fighting for their lives against horrible cruel diseases and feel as if I'm mourning for them as well.
I took Mica to the vet yesterday. He was his sweet, gentle self. Never complaining at being poked and prodded. A patch of his snowy white fur on his neck was shaved for blood work and it was determined that despite his unquenchable thirst, he was very dehydrated. A vet tech showed me how to administer subcutaneous fluids, while Mica sat still as a monk, deep in meditation as she first stuck him, then had me try. On my third unsuccessful time, I just broke down. He turned and looked and me as if to say, "we'll be fine." I got the needle in and he got the rest of his fluids. While the vet tech told me that many times a cat will look like a camel with a hump after the fluid goes in, Mica's body was so dry he just absorbed it instantly. He slept last night, curled under my arm, braced against Petey's back. Around 4:00 am, he jumped off the bed and went into the bathroom where I'd placed a second litter box. I'm delighted to report he's now used it twice. Petey's bed, freshly laundered late last night, is tucked away unused in corner. Petey will just have to make do with his favorite chair and my bed.

Mica had his second injection of fluids this morning on the kitchen counter, nibbling away at contraband non-prescription cat food as my pet sitter and I played nurses. He never made a peep, just retired later to his new favorite spot on the rug in the bedroom, facing the bathroom with it's ever-promising spring of water.

I am supposed to fly to Hilton Head on the 29th, and Eric, a friend's son and a fourth year med student, will be staying here while he's on a rotation at NYU. I have no fear of him administering the IV should that continue to be necessary, but would I really feel comfortable leaving Mica , even for just four weeks (one of which is supposed to be spent on a holiday in Mexico)? Is it fair to Mica or Eric to have to worry about Mica waking up Eric late at night or having accidents in the apartment for him to find and clean up? And should something happen to Mica, how could I stand to not be there for that final farewell?

How do we really measure "quality of life?" How do our needs balance one another's? Is it selfish to keep him alive when he's already lived far longer than most cats for many happy years and his passing is inevitable, not curable? Or is it more selfish to let him go, even if he doesn't seem to be in pain and is quite content to pass the day sleeping on the couch?

What do you do when you can't stop crying and no clear decision presents itself to you?

You pray.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The last summer weekend...kinda.

We'll be headed back to the beach in a few weeks, where summer will linger long into October (and where I can be on the beach all day long without a leash!). And we realize that summer doesn't officially end for another three weeks.

But for those of you who are already thinking of fall leaves, shorter days and sweaters, here are a few more moments of summer sunshine...

Ice cream - all for me!

Running flat out....

Hanging out with "flat Petey."

Happy Labo(u)r Day Weekend!