i am an unrequited astronomer, pretend patient, gentle adventurer, pedal enthusiast, recovering calligrapher, occasional thespian and unfinished poet living in portland, oregon. contacting me via email is usually a good idea.
10:04 PM: the lion sleeps tonight
you know it's a bad day when you wake up and wonder whether your cat will be alive or dead when you open your eyes, and when it ends with an emergency ultrasound finding cancerous pancreatic lymphoma throughout her abdominal cavity.
amelia hadn't eaten for almost two days and was spending most of her time lying around sadly and listlessly. occassionally she'd get up, take a couple of steps, and then collapse with the effort of it. we were keeping little dishes of water nearest her circuit of lounging spots and trying to get her to lick more than one mouthful of food from my fingers. finally, last night i knew i was going to have to talk to the vet again. sven & i slept downstairs with her and as she purred on my legs i worried it might be for the last time.
so when i woke up this morning, i steeled myself to find her lifeless by the comfy chair; my heart sank when she didn't even twitch her tail when i called her. it was only after i put on my glasses that i realized she was still breathing. after trying to get her to eat and drink a little more, this morning she went in for xrays. this afternoon i received a call that amelia's urine was unusually high in bilirubin and that there was a "suspicious mass" in her abdomen. if we didn't ask for an emergency ultrasound, we'd have to wait to schedule one till monday; given how much she wasn't eating, i didn't think she'd last that long.
i couldn't read any of the blurry images on the screen, but the ultrasound tech was surprised at the size of amelia's liver and spleen, which were pushing some of her other organs around. she had never seen the "cobblestone" texture of amelia's liver before, either. finally, when a particular blur was named as amelia's pancreas, the shadows were particularly ominous. the vet turned to me and said, "her prognosis isn't good." i looked at amelia as she lay on the steel table with her mouth wrapped around a blue tube, the heart monitor beeping steadily and rapidly, her iv wrapped with yellow tape printed w/ smiley faces.
so i called sven & michaelmas and waited. when sven arrived, we petted her as the vet injected a light blue fluid into her iv and left the room. within seconds amelia had stopped breathing. her shaved belly and pointy paws grew cold. her eyes grew glassy, then textured and dull. her tongue grew dry and lined with purple. after the needle, it would have been harder to have seen her laid out limp and sightless if she hadn't essentially been doing that same thing at home for the past several days.
tomorrow i'll need to cancel the reservations i made for amelia at kitty condos and return the case of bland prescription food i bought her. in a week i'll receive her ashes and i'll spread a third of them here at powell butte, give a third of them to michaelmas, and keep a third of them for the trip to california i know i'll take in the next few years. in a month she'll probably stop being the first thing i think about when i wake up. in a year i'll be 33 and write a brief memoriam about my moody, frustrating, intelligent, responsive, beautiful, discerning cat. but tonight i feel like i've resolved the paradox of schrodinger's cat -- and wish i hadn't looked in the box.
[update aug19: three very sweet blog responses from sven, from michaelmas and from matpalm. also thanks for words of support from markalope, dang, ann, terrilynn (who lost hobbes recently), briant, mph, cindy, chuck, susan brown (wow!), jennifer nowotny, bryan, gerrie & colleen mcluckie.]