The Saga of Sequel

October 19th

Finally a chance to come up for air.  It was a harrowing couple of weeks and now I feel like I can catch up on my life.  And I’ve missed talking to all the silent people out there.  I don’t even know who reads this, although someone is, cause when I check my stats, there are numbers there.  It’s always a surprise to see that you’re reading my words…. A nice surprise and it feels good. 

So I have this orange cat and he’s the second orange cat I had of much import so his name is Sequel.  And I’ve had him for 13 years.  He is a character and everyone loves him who meets him.  When I moved here, I made the decision to let him go outside, for in the condo complex, he wasn’t welcomed outside…. Those darn HOA’s.  And since I’m on the first floor, it was much more difficult to keep him in.  Now Callie the female, the rotund, bulbous long haired white female, will stare at the door and not go out.  But Sequel makes a break for it nearly every time the door opens.  One day I opened the door, and he wouldn’t go out.  I also opened a can of wet cat food which he’ll practically turn cartwheels for a tiny taste (actually I’ve gotten him to stand on his hind legs.. ..one of his tricks) and he turned up his nose after sniffing and walked away.   That’s when I began to suspect something was wrong.  He has an emerald green collar on with a little bell and usually when he scratches or runs around, it jingles a bit.  But he wasn’t jingling at all.   Having just moved here I didn’t have a regular vet, so one Saturday night when I started to really get worried, I took him to the Animal ER in Berkeley.  Now I didn’t even know they had animal ER’s but I guess if they were going to have them somewhere, it would indeed be in Berkeley.   So began the saga.  He hadn’t eaten for nearly 3 days I was beginning to guess, so I grabbed a textbook and with him in his carrier, we went off to the ER.  And returned 4 and ½ hours later.  They had tea service in the lobby and I got 100 pages read in between watching all the other patients come in and out.  Mostly dogs actually, but some cats, all with various ailments.  One poor mutt – fairly large actually – I think part lab, had been running and did something to his paw.  Another one had one of those umbrella collars on, which I think makes animals look so bizarre – kind of like a plastic clown ruffle.  And they can’t eat very well and it looks so sad. 

So the initial plan they presented to me, since they couldn’t find anything at first was $1200.00 worth of testing and staying overnight.  So I said since that is not an option, what can I do to help him tonight?  They gave him fluids after checking his vitals and gave him medicine to help with his nausea – he had been throwing up.  And we went home.  On Sunday morning after making it through the night he still was lethargic and had this semi-lifeless look in his eyes so this time we went to the Animal Care Clinic in El Sobrante that the ER had recommended since they’re a bit cheaper.  What a caring loving group of animal doctors live there!   We visited another 4 times and at the end of 2 weeks and a diagnosis of pancreatitis he is good as new.  During the following days though he received fluids and antibiotics and anti-nausea pills and I ended up giving him an appetite enhancing pill and subcutaneous fluids all by myself.  That was interesting and I felt like a nurse, finding just the right spot between the shoulder blades to insert the needle.  I hung the IV bag from one of the kitchen cabinets and held him on the counter and every time but once he sat there patiently while the tube’s liquid dripped down the tube until a mg was dripped in.  The one time he did pull out the needle I got it re-inserted without incident thankfully.  So 4 times in 5 days he visited the vet and got poked and prodded, having x-rays taken and bloodwork done and then after 5 days of fluids I brought him back for a clean bill of health!  He then got his shots and I could administer his flea drops and he was ready for the outdoors.  He’s been going out now for about a week and all seems okay.  I have to admit I worry.  The vet thought he was close to dying and this cat had never been to the vet all the 13 years I had him.  So I never thought of him as ever getting sick.  I’ve never come this close to losing him.  He is a great companion and the thought of him not being here was devastating.  I’d always wondered what my limit would be in dollars for caring for an animal and this actually got up to 800.00.  I’d had that happen once before with my rotund kitty, but I had gotten donations when I wasn’t working, for the ear surgery she needed and my outlay was only around 300.00 for an 800.00 episode.  I’d always hypothesized what my dollar limit would be and never could get over 1,000.  Now having faced this, I’m not sure if there is a limit.   I know that I might not have enough funds if this were to happen again or if it got worse and I’m not sure what decision I’d make.  Take my tuition money out?  Or raid my IRA?  I don’t know.  When I was younger, I always seemed to have concrete decisions in my head on what I would do in certain situations and the older I’ve gotten, I’ve learned it’s not so cut and dried until it happens to you.  During all of this I had to write a paper concerning the readings and discussions we’d had on war and the oppression of war and the Truth Commissions on Conscience in War.   I read Chris Hedges’ book War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and my ultimate decision has always been – in my mind – that not under any circumstances could I kill another human being.   And I’ve had parents tell me, but if you had a child, you would defend her to the death.  And I can understand them saying that, but I still don’t know that I could kill someone.  And then I thought, if I don’t kill the person intent on killing another, am I then complicit in the death of the victim?  In that circumstance, does it then mean I would have to ultimately kill someone?  I don’t know.  I hope that never happens to me, but in my older wisdom, I now know better than to say what I would or would not do.  For I don’t know until it happens to me how I might feel.  I know that my intention would be to not harm another, but after reading Hedges’ experiences in Bosnia and Kosovo, it’s not an easy answer after all.  We never know how we will react until we are forced to find out. 

So now Sequel runs outside and plays during the day and comes running back to me when I call for him at night.  He’s eating heartily and I hug him incessantly and am so very grateful he’s still here.  It’s not that I didn’t appreciate him before his sickness, but there’s a bit of “in the moment” gratitude that didn’t exist before.  And I am very grateful for that.

With Sequel from Mayberry,

Jo