Aging Baby-Boomers and The Circle of Life
Nothing seems harder than to try to understand why someone or something must die. Yet, it is a fact of life we all must struggle with, even us aging baby-boomers. It all started over nine years ago when our grown children surprised us with a gift. Smiling as I think back they sure pulled a good one on good ole mom, she never even saw it coming.
We had recently lost our family cat, Chloe and had vowed "NO more pets". The agony of losing a friend who sits by your side, lies by your side in bed and sleeps on your lap can out weigh the joys they bring to your life. We were at that point and didn't want to put our hearts through anymore grief.
Our kids thought they knew better and were preparing to surprise us with a new, energetic bundle of joy…I didn't even see them pack in the box, the bags of accessories nor did I even notice the sly glances and smiles on their faces all day long.
As I was fixing dinner I kept hearing something, it resembled the soft cry of a new kitten. Yet, I knew we didn't have one. I hadn't seen any feral cats outdoors either. Finally I asked my family if I was crazy or did they hear the weak cry of a little cat, too.
They couldn't restrain their joy any longer and gave in to the excitement of the moment. My daughter and son disappeared into the bedroom and reappeared carrying a box with something "alive" in it.
Watching the look on their faces I knew that a kitten I didn't want was in the box…. I was mad, frustrated and then I opened the lid. There sat a black, hairless bundle of ugly kitten. How on earth was I going to love something like that?
Then it happened…that kitten jumped straight up and out of the box. He was spastic, all over the place. What was up with this little, skinny, ugly cat? Come to find out he had been neutered that morning at the local pound where the kids rescued him from. The veterinarian assured them that the anesthesia would take awhile to wear off. The kitten surely would be quiet for the night and slowly return to himself.
Well, that was the beginning of our family getting to know "Sylvester", our rescued pound kitty. Sylvester was not your average kitten. NO…not average at all. It took all of about 20 minutes to realize that this cat had a unique personality, there was only ONE Sylvester and now he was all ours compliments of our kids.
Fast forward six years…
The first time Sylvester showed signs of being sick he disappeared into our bedroom and hid under the desk. Without warning he had puffed up and was gurgling, a sound foreign to us. He looked terrible and didn't want to be touched. We had no idea what was happening to our furry friend.
Other than the normal kitten shots, Sylvester had never been to the vet. Now, I don't know if you are familiar with cats, but he is different from most. He does not like being put into a cat carrier and he dislikes riding in the car even more. He definitely is a house cat and a spoiled one at that.
Arriving at the vet's office we waited our turn to have Sylvester examined. Within the hour we carried our furry friend back to the examining room. Waiting with anticipation we hoped for the best.
Taking one look at the bloated feline the vet told us he had crystals in his urethra and it was making it impossible for the cat to urinate. She described it to a human passing a kidney stone, extremely painful.
She prescribed an IV to keep him hydrated and we were to immediately change his food to one with low ash content. She suggested and urged us to purchase the brand she had on hand. Not knowing the difference or where to find such food we did as instructed.
I was confident that I could administer and watch over the IV. By doing so it would save us hundreds of dollars. So, we loaded Sylvester back into the crate and headed for home.
Now, imagine having a splinter in your foot. You are sick with the flu and achy all over. Your dad takes out his pocket knife to remove the splinter. How do you feel? Are you happy about it, willing to let him touch your already hurting body? No? Well, neither was Sylvester willing to let mom (me) stick him with that IV needle. No way, no how, and he didn't think about it for one minute either.
Back into the crate and to the vet's office we went without skipping a beat. I've never heard any noise like our cat made that day, nor do I ever want to again. He was in such pain he was lashing out at everyone even his momma who feeds him twice a day.
The attendant at the office smiled as I dropped off the crate heavy with the hissing cat. I would return for him come Monday morning, when he had passed the crystals and returned to normal.
Three days later we returned to our local veterinary office to pick up Sylvester, our pound kitty. Today the girl at the front office was not smiling, neither were any of the attendants. It appeared that our baby did not behave well while he was recuperating. Angry, hurting and hungry for his food all Sylvester wanted to do was go home. It took some coaxing but I finally convinced him it was me, Mom…back into the crate and off we went heading towards the comforts of home…$400.00 and two trips to town later.
We finally found the right food and drinking fountain for our finicky friend. I wondered what my grandma and grandpa would have thought had they seen the time and expense we went through to save a pound cat…after all feral cats are plentiful. They keep the mice population down and are cheaper to maintain…outdoors. Yet, we fell in love with the mangy cat named Sylvester and he was now a part of our family.
Not more than a week had passed and we thought we were out of the woods with Sylvester's urinary tract problem. Such was not the case and we found ourselves right back at the vet's office with the same problem.
She assured us that we simply had to make ample water available to him at all times, feed him properly and his system would return to normal. We had done everything according to directions and yet the cat's system was not cooperating.
Another IV was administered and an x-ray taken. Come to find out he had multiple crystals and this one just happened to get lodged before being caught in the stream of urine and passed. The crystal was smaller and easier to pass this time and within a day our feline friend was back home enjoying the company of his family.
Tragedy strikes out of nowhere
Have you ever noticed that many events have a unique way of happening at the wrong time and place? The day before a long holiday weekend is not the time for children or pets to get sick. Most professional offices close their doors allowing their employees to spend much needed time with their families and recuperate from long hours at work.
This was the case with Sylvester this past week. Friday afternoon, right before the New Year's weekend he started to act funny. Literally minutes earlier he and Dexter, our 85 pound boxer/pit office dog were running and bouncing through the house playing. He seemed a bit off his game as he usually goes toe to toe with Dex…however, this time he was a bit slower.
After a cool drink of water he meandered off for his afternoon nap. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and we went about our daily routine of answering the phone to serve our auto transport clients. Typically, around 3:30 in the afternoon Sylvester waltzes into the office and hops up onto my lap for some afternoon loving. That Friday though he didn't appear. I was busy though and didn't pay much attention.
Later that evening we noticed he was visiting the litter box a little more than usual. Cleaning it out, we didn't find anything out of the ordinary and left it at that. The next morning though it became quite apparent that we had a problem…rather, Sylvester had a problem.
Hissing, crying and screeching became a thing of the moment. These cries were worse than either time before. As we watched in horror he raised up on his back paws like a gleaming black stallion in the wild, flailing his front paws as if to say "help, I'm in pain here".
Next came the projectile vomiting and I knew something was terribly wrong. At the same time he was throwing up he lost control of his bowels. Oh what a mess we had to clean up. As quickly as he entered the room he disappeared and we couldn't find him.
Finally, today he lies in the bedroom, serene and asleep finally out of pain yet not completely back to normal either. With fresh water and food available all we can do is wait. Our pain in the butt, "didn't want this pound kitty" furry bundle of love is just that…we love him and he is part of the family. For better or worse we took him under our wing and to death we must care for him the best we can. For now we are touching and stroking his head to let him know we are close.
Now it's time to lay our friend into his grave out back. The circle of life has once again come around full circle and closed the door one final time. We have lost our friend and pet, Sylvester the pound kitty.
"Good bye sweet Sye"
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Carla Gardiner is an auto transport broker, dispatcher, health coach and a forever young, fiery grandma. Her passion and purpose lies with the baby boomer trends and the people she works with daily; aging baby boomers who are broke dispatchers, brokers and truck drivers, too. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new focus of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor others in regaining their health while building a top business opportunity, too.