Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saying Goodbye To A Friend

It has taken me a little while to be able to write about my Catboy and his passing.  I first wrote about him here in my original blog, Deedee, Cut Adrift! way back in the beginning of 2009.   Then I did another post last April that you may have seen here, revealing my thoughts during his old age and decline. 
He'd developed diabetes and we were treating him by giving twice daily shots of insulin and trying (with little success) to control his eating.
Last summer was difficult for Catboy, and maybe even harder for me as I struggled to deal with his advancing age and illness.  He stopped using his litter box and had started urinating in various places around our apartment.  For weeks, I tried every suggestion and trick to stop this nasty behavior (I finally got some improvement when, on the advice of the vet, I purchased one of those four foot long, two foot wide, four inch high, under-the-bed storage container thingies and filled it with the world's most expensive cat litter), but I couldn't stop him from eating everything he could get his teeth into, including Ceecee's food, and Rigby's dog food as well.  This did nothing to help with his diabetes, as he was supposed to be on a strict diet and I felt like a failure as a caretaker for him, because I just could not control his intake.

Then one night, he had a seizure.  He was lying near my feet in the living room, seemingly at peace, when he suddenly bolted up and took on a very strange looking pose.  An unearthly sound suddenly emanated from him, sending a chill through me.  Within seconds, he was convulsing, rolling and scrabbling across the carpet, his lips draw back in a grimace.  I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of corn syrup and a syringe.  When he stopped convulsing and was still enough for me to open his mouth, I shot some of the sticky liquid down his throat as I had been instructed by the vet.  At about that point I noticed that he had lost control of his bowels and there was a trail of excrement laced across the carpet.  I felt this was really the beginning of the end for him.

Then came the autumn morning when I noticed him walking crookedly across the kitchen floor, his lopsided gait drawing my eye as I prepared his breakfast.  I studied him as he ate his food and then curled up under the kitchen table, seemingly okay for time being.  With some misgivings, I gave him his insulin, and then my husband and I left him and headed for work.  My son (who works the night shift), went to bed for the day.  Late that day I got a call from my son just as I was about to head home from the office.  Upon rising for the evening, he had gone into the kitchen and found Catboy under the table in a pool of his own waste, barely breathing.  I told him I would meet them at the vet's office, and sped off.

I was escorted into the depths of the animal hospital upon my arrival, and found my kitty lying on an examing table wrapped in several white towels, attached to an intravenous drip, his little pink tongue lolling out of his mouth, his eyes partially open.  The nurse attending him was sure he was not conscious of us.  It had been determined that this episode had nothing to do with his diabetes, as his blood sugar levels were good, and his current state was probably the result of something neurological in nature. 

I started to cry when I saw him like that because he looked so helpless.  I knew right away the decision I had to make.  He was old.  He had diabetes, and now this.  I could see there would be no more quality life for him.  I don't see any value in artificially prolonging life; it makes no sense.  And yet... I still hesitated.
Was it my decision to make?  I have been in this situation before with my dog Gretchen, and I don't like playing God. 

The vet was talking about a 24 hour care facility we could take Catboy to, where they would monitor him overnight.  I stared down at him and stroked his head.  I was acutely aware of all the ways my life would suddenly be easier if I no longer had to clean up urine and prepare insulin syringes twice a day, and that realization wracked me with guilt.  I wanted to do what was best for him-could I trust myself to think only of his best interest and not my own?  The responsibility was weighing too heavily upon me; I'd been alone when I made this decision for Gretchie and here I was again - I had a family who should share this burden.  I took my cell phone out and dialed Mac who was working in a basement a few towns away.  He said he felt the time had come and we should help him go.  It would be the best thing for all concerned, and yes, the best thing for Catboy.  With a torrent of fresh tears and deep sorrow, I asked the vet to euthanize my little pal.  I held him as she administered the injection.

This is without question, the hardest part of being a pet owner, but many times it is a necessary thing.  I had a friend once who owned several dogs and I had watched two of them a few years apart suffer terribly as they died slowly over the course of weeks, lying in the same spot, crying and in obvious pain, because the owner could not bring herself to euthanize them.  It was a terrible thing to see, and I swore I would never let an animal suffer like that.  But, making the decision to help a pet pass on will never be easy for me.  Rest in peace, my little buddy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Slow Going

We are moving ahead on the work at the new house, albeit slowly.  The damage from the fire was more extensive than we thought.   A few of the roof joists and rafters were burnt nearly through and were not sound enough to provide reliable support to the roof or the attic floor, and so that meant more work for Mac.  The second floor is now almost completely framed, and after we get the electrician in to do his thing, we can install new insulation and sheetrock.

I spent this weekend installing joist hangers with a palm nailer (nifty little device that acts like a mini-jack hammer, pounding in nails with shocking speed) and pre-drilling holes then putting screws into those holes to hold a fire barrier in place where the walls meet the roof.  I also had the displeasure of pulling off more lath and plaster as well as removing more clumps of rock wool.  The photo below shows another wall that was damaged by the fire with some clumps of the dreaded stuff still clinging to it.

I also chose the space where the skylight will be installed a little later this spring when Mac puts the new roof on. I am so excited about the skylight, I can't even say.  I have loved skylights ever since I was a kid and went to a friend's house for a playdate. There in her bedroom was something I had never seen before - a window in the ceiling! She could lie in bed at night and watch the stars! I stood transfixed with my head thrown back, staring at the blue sky and the branches waving with pink and white clouds moving behind them. Since that time I have promised myself that someday, I would have a window into the heavens over my bed.  Now, it's really going to happen!  There will be a four foot high, by two foot wide skylight in the roof within the next couple of months.  I just can't explain how giddy with joy that makes me feel.

My sister and I installed the dark channeled material you see between the rafters here - it is called "proper vent".  It creates a channel for cool air against the outer walls of the house, behind the insulation, thus making ice dams less likely.  We each took turns holding it in place while the other secured it with a staple gun.


These horizontal pieces you see below we installed this afternoon.  They will keep the new insulation in place.

Very soon now the plumber will be here to install the fixtures for the little half-bath. Once the plumbing and electrical is complete, we can sheetrock and paint.  It is not looking like we will be ready to move in by our original deadline of four more weeks, but Mac is trying his hardest.  The poor guy is teetering on the edge of burnout this week.  He is spending nearly every free moment at the house trying to do as much as he can, staggering home after midnight.  At least there was no more snow this week to hamper his efforts and distract him with a load of shoveling to do on top of it all.  I thank the Lord for such small favors.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Can't Stop The Seasons

While we desperately try to chisel ourselves out of the ice shroud that encased us yesterday, forming over the three feet of snow we have accumulated since the first of the year, I was heartened to know the our little Groundhog friend Puxatawney Phil did not see his shadow yesterday and so proclaimed an early spring!

To lift all of our winter weary spirits, I have decided to post some photos of spring. Enjoy!

These wild roses you see in the photos above grow everywhere around here in late May and early June and fill the air with their sweet perfume. I can't get enough of them.

These look a lot like Black-eyed Susans, but are a bit different.  Probably of the same family.

This is the Forsythia hedge beside the garage here at "CatBird Heaven".  When we leave, I will miss this early harbinger of spring so much, I guess we will have to plant one when we finally settle in to our new place, "At Last!"

These in the shot below are my very favorite wildflowers of all: Bluets.  When you see a patch on the newly thawed ground, you do a double-take, because they resemble left-over patches of snow.  The flowers are tiny, with four petals which are white and have a slight blue tinge to them, and a deep yellow center.  I have loved these tiny flowers since I was a child and found them growing in the neighborhood baseball field near my home.  I can't wait to look for them in a few months.

This one below is of a flowering tree that sprung up wild in the margin between our yard and the street.  I have no idea what it is.  The flowers are tiny, yellow and in clusters.  They have an extremely strong fragrance, similar to an Easter Lily.  I know when this tree is in bloom before I see it, because the scent drifts all over the neighborhood.  If anyone has an idea about what it might be, I would love to know.

And you just can't beat those wild roses....These above bloom in our yard, tumbling over the evergreens and hanging off the oak saplings - the fragrance is just amazing! 

This is how I plan to survive the next two months of foul weather - with memories and dreams of spring!  The seasons keep turning, nothing can stop that and as bad as this winter has been, I know that spring will come and it will be even more appreciated this year than most.