Thankful

This year has been a bit different in terms of what I am thankful for.  I am thankful that I am finished with my 4-year degree earlier this year, and that it was paid for.  I am thankful that I have a full-time job when I know a number of people are struggling to find work.  I get along with my co-workers pretty well.  I think they are a good group of people.  That has not always been the case.  I realize that more and more as the years go by.

This week has been a difficult one for me.  My cat, Cheddar, fell ill a week or so ago.  He was very lethargic, not eating much, not drinking more than a few drops of water, and had lost noticeable weight.  He rallied a bit over the weekend and seemed to be getting better.  Then, his conditioned deteriorated.  On Wednesday, I caught him trying to find places where the other cats or people would not bother him.  This alarmed me, because Cheddar is a very social cat.  I took him to the vet.  Their initial assessment was terrifying.  Cheddar had a red blood cell count so low that he likely would have died within 24 hours had I not taken him in.  He required a blood transfusion.  Also, the vet detected an erratic heart beat and labored breathing.  He was on oxygen for a couple hours prior to the blood transfusion.  They considered giving him another, but were concerned about stressing out his heart.  X-rays revealed an enlarged heart and fluid.  I told the vet that I knew he was ill, but I hardly believed that he was at death’s door when I decided to take him in.  Thursday, I was encouraged when I saw him considerably more active about 12 hours after his blood transfusion.  He had snuzzles and purrs for me when I visited him.  Later that morning, however, I received grim news.  The vet called and said that in addition to his low red cell count, the number of a certain type of white blood cells was a few times higher than it should be.  She suspected a type of blood cancer, though blood tests that might provide stronger evidence of this were not back yet.  An ultrasound would confirm for certain, but I do not have the money required for such tests.  So, with the information we had, we decided to start him on some steroid medication to help control the white blood cell count.  She said that if the cancer is confirmed, his best outlook is two months.  He stayed stable overnight and I brought him home this morning.  My goal is to keep him comfortable and love on him while I can, whatever may come.  I am still waiting for the results of several tests before I can fully anticipate Cheddar’s next few weeks.  For now, I am happy that he is home.

I adopted Cheddar and his brother, Colby, at four and half months old in November 2004.  I found them at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter.  I do not know how they came to be there, but I was delighted to find two orange litter-mates and promptly brought them home.  Since then, they and my Siamese, Chantico, who I brought home a year later, have seen me through some of the best and worst times in my life.  They traveled with me when I returned from Oklahoma City to Seattle.  They are indoor only kitties.  I lived on a four lane road with a speed limit of 45 mph when I was stationed in Oklahoma.  My home street in Washington is a two lane residential street with four schools within a mile.  There is a lot of traffic, and not all of it obeys the speed limit.  I keep them inside so I do not have to worry about the streets.  Also, Cheddar is a very friendly cat.  This has been confirmed a number of times over the years.  Most recently, his two night stay at the vet clinic, proved how endearing he is.  Every technician I talked to had smiles and happy thoughts about Cheddar.  He was so well liked that he was allowed to freely wander the back instead of being kept in the kennel.  I have always thought that if he were outdoors regularly, he would wander up to someone and they would take him home.  It is difficult for me to believe that I may soon say goodbye to Cheddar.  I thought I easily had several more years to enjoy his company.  But, I will take this one day at a time and enjoy his company while he is still here.

One thing that I have dealt with today since bringing Cheddar home is the reaction of his return from the other cats.  Colby does not act any differently, but Chantico has spat at him at least twice.  The first time occurred while I was sleeping.  Cheddar was snuggled nearby and Chantico decided to lay down next to him.  However, as she got close to him, she hissed.  At least one of my parents’ cats has reacted similarly.  I wonder if it is the scent of other people and animals from the vet clinic, the combination of medications he is taking at the moment, the scent from his transfusion, a stronger odor of his illness, or a combination.  Luckily, I have the next couple days off to keep an eye as Cheddar readjusts to being home, and the other cats come to terms with his return.

Wednesday and yesterday were busy days due to trips to the clinic, trips to feed two pets I am watching after this week, and Thanksgiving dinner.  I did not sleep well either of those days, and then had to work both nights.  Fortunately, both nights were fairly quiet, though last night had a couple minor events that made the night feel odd.  My family let me sleep until a few minutes before dinner was served.  It was appreciated, considering the news I had gotten a few hours earlier.  One brother arrived at the house just after I got off the phone with the vet and heard the news.  Mom told my other brother when he arrived a couple hours later.  Grandpa asked for an update at some point, likely when Grandma was occupied elsewhere and would not interrupt every few words with questions about what they were talking about.  We had a large turkey, courtesy of a friend who works at a meat deli, along with green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, salad, stuffing (of course), rolls, and a variety of sparking ciders.  Grandma told my family before I joined the festivities that she might not eat dinner because she was not hungry.  We were glad to see that she decided otherwise.  I missed a lot of the repetitive questions.  She asked both my brother and Mom where they worked.  She asked about her purse.  She could not get over how big one of my parents’ cats is; Tuxedo is at least 20 pounds.  She could not remember Mom’s knee surgery.  I am sure there were more, but those are what I have heard about so far.  My grandparents did not stay for dessert, which disappointed Mom, since there were a variety of pies to choose from.  I will gladly be sampling them over the next week or so.  It was a good evening, and I am thankful that it went well.  I did my best to find a good mood, despite my worry over Cheddar.

I hope to hear the test results for Cheddar later this weekend or early next week.  Until then, I will give Cheddar his medication and keep watch over his activities.  As I have mentioned, I am thankful he is home and I am grateful for the support from my family and friends.

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About emeree

I am an Air Force veteran. I served as a Security Forces troop for nearly seven years and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant before separating in 2008. My tours of duty were in England and Oklahoma. I live in the Seattle area, which is where I grew up. I used my GI Bill and earned a degree from the University of Washington. I currently work in downtown Seattle and experience all the adventure that comes with that.
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