Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hyperthyroidism, arterial thrombosis, and phantom limbs

The lexicon of my current days...diseases of the cat. Bianca (the small black and white fur kid on your left. Willie is the big boy) is hyperthyroid and can't stop puking to save her life. She's been on transdermal tapazole for nearly a month, and the only difference I see is that she keeps her food down for a few hours before puking it back up. But she also vomits numerous times between midnight and wake-up-o'clock. Often there is nothing for her to bring up but water or mucus. Of course, since Walter is no longer with us, she has started to sleep with me for the first time in over a decade. Walter ruled my bedroom for his entire life and while I adored sleeping with him every night of my life, I suppose he was a bit of a bully when it came to sharing me with the others. So I do love that Bianca is now sleeping with me. But the vomiting...not so much loving. I am on my feet with the bedside light on, paper towels and Resolve in hand, before I am even awake. This scares her, surely, as she must think that I'm mad at her given the alarm response her retching elicits in me.

We go to the vet "first thing" tomorrow morn for a blood draw, and "first thing" is very late for me recently, given the crappy sleep pattern I'm currently not enjoying. Gracie, the very first cat in my Cat Collecting Period, circa 1991, died of the cardiomyopathy associated with hyperthyroidism several years back, so I know this road. Gracie was pillable. Bianca is not. Thus the gratitude for our own local compound pharmacy. Bianca and Willie came to me right after Gracie did back in Monterey, CA, in 1992, and the three of them saved my life back in the day, in more ways than 24. I got Willie to keep Gracie company (an idea she was not fond of at all, as it turned out) and then a friend sort of dumped Bianca on me. How could I not keep her given how much she resembled Willie? It blows my mind every day that Willie and Bianca, both 15ish, remain the sole survivors in terms of the cat elders. Sadie is only 5.

I had the three Monterey cats for a few years (and Fred the hermaphrodite guinea pig) and then just as I was preparing to move to the Southwest, Merlin showed up feral in my yard. It took us days to trap and when we did, it was only because he had buried himself under the hood of my old Toyota truck. God he fought it and ripped into my hands something fierce from inside the pillow case. Shortly after that, I moved four cats and whatever I could fit into a U-Haul trailer with me to New Mexico, where we picked up adorable shelter Milo during our nine-month stay in hell, and then onto Colorado, where we found our Walter three months after moving into our own home. I liked having six cats. I loved not having to apologize to a landlady for my love of cats or get permission from anyone to add another should I care to. But then they started to thin out from various disease processes, and I added the dog in 1999 solely to accompany me on my walks.

I lost my first home in Colorado to foreclosure in 2002 and moved out with the dog and three cats, Willie, Bianca and Walter. Four months later, feral Sadie kitten dashed in front of my car in an alley, severely dehydrated, tiny and starving. I was back to four, my feline homeostatic point of equilibrium, and a new kitten helped us all adjust a bit better to the disorientation and loss of the foreclosure. I rested comfortably at four cats from 2002 until just last month when Walter died from a saddle thrombosis with a suddenness and unexpectedness that still makes my heart reel when I dwell upon it. I moved across the country, from Colorado to North Carolina, with my four cats and our dog, and now that I'm down to just three cats, I constantly do the nightly nose count to four. It's the phantom limb of an amputee. I don't feel whole without Walter, for sure, and his painful departure was certainly a severing process. But there is something about meeting my minimum daily feline companion requirement going on here too. I'm deliberately holding off on actively finding a new cat or kitten, mostly because I never have to look for them...they truly do all find me, and of course I am waiting for Walter to reincarnate immediately and come right back to me. But also for Bianca's sake. I've no desire to stress her daily life any further than it is with her health issues and whatever treatment course we decide to pursue.

I was emailing a friend that Bianca had puked three times night before last between midnight and 2:30am, and then I found mucus in my awesome black and white paisley Wal Mart flip flops in the mud room the next morning. That had me musing about this darling photo of my Beloved Walter on the pink and white paisley flip flops. I'm not in the mood to discuss the specifics of Walter's thrombotic demise right now (there's a very nice man under my house fixing the A/C, praise Allah) but I just logged onto one of my very favorite blogs, Crazy Aunt Purl, and saw her photo of one of her four babies on top of her flip flops. It put me in the mood to savor one of the 9,886 photos of Walter I've taken over the last 11 years.

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