RIP Floyd

I was wrong. I thought Floyd had another week or so left. I thought I would stay home today with him, since Steve flew to LA last night for a one-day business trip. I thought I would hang out with Floyd, get some work done, and do my hard track workout. But, things can take a sharp turn very quickly.

Yesterday, Floyd seemed fine, as fine as you can be when you have a 100% fatal untreatable virus. He ran to the door to greet me when I got home, ate some food and a little ice cream, wandered out to the patio and back. He seemed fine. And, then after Steve left, around 10:45 last night, suddenly Floyd couldn’t walk. I watched him stand up and fall over. He stumbled and dragged himself halfway across the room before collapsing. I carried him to his bed and tried to give him some water, but he was so upset and confused. He jumped out of my arms, but his legs couldn’t hold his landing and he crashed into the wall.

We thought we’d see how he was in the morning after sleeping, but he never fell asleep. He threw up the first time in my bed around midnight, and after I cleaned it up and put his little bed and some towels on top of our bed for him to lay next to me, it just got rapidly worse. He started shaking and making these little moaning noises as he tried to breathe. He’d still try to get up, but would just fall back over. Sometimes, I’d swear he had actually stopped breathing, but then he’d have a sort seizure fit and let out this terrible wailing noise. Those painful, awful seizure fits got more and more frequent and violent after 5 a.m. I laid in bed next to him, dozed off twice during the night for 20 minutes and each time woke to him trying to struggle to get up. And he just kept looking at me wondering why was I doing this to him.

At times, the look he got as he stared at the floor, with both his front paws splayed out, reminded me of the look I get when I’m really sick. It’s the I can focus and make this go away if I just try hard enough look.

After Steve said good-bye over the phone, I took Floyd to the emergency clinic early this morning so they could put him out of his pain as quickly as possible. With him crying and limp in the front seat, barely able to see consistently anymore, we got caught in the very early commute traffic. The sun was just coming up and blinding both of us. And I’d been laying in bed all night, half reading a magazine article and trying to keep up my tiny cat’s spirits, I’d forgotten it was just a regular Wednesday.

I was the only person at the emergency clinic. I said good-bye and promised they’d make it stop hurting now and they took him away. I could have stayed with him the whole time, but then they want to make it pleasant and not messy for the owner, so they do it by IV drip and it takes much longer. We’d had enough time and he just needed to be done.

This blog will be about sports again soon, but not right now. One last time, it’s about Floyd:

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What Can We Handle? Floyd the Cat Has FIP and Isn’t Going to Get Better

There are, throughout life, these little moments that are so insanely perfectly awful that they become wedged in your brain as symbolic of so many other things gone wrong, of larger problems. And, yet, there is nothing to do but store these moments up as stories to turn into bleak jokes at parties or trot out as anecdotes in future novels. You can only hold onto them.

I had one of those back when Steve was released from the hospital after six days and surgery — six days that I had driven back and forth, slept little, crammed in work when I could, and slowly come unraveled. The afternoon after Steve was released, I had to oversee my high school kids at a cross-country meet because the head coach was out of town, at which I quite literally nearly drove over the side of a cliff because I was so gone I couldn’t tell the car wasn’t in reverse. Then, I moderated an election debate, even though I had no wherewithal to do so, because I had already committed before the accident. On my way home, I was stopped at a DUI checkpoint and the cop who tapped on my window was the same cop who had pulled me over a few weeks earlier. At that time, a few weeks earlier, I had started crying from whatever myriad of fatigues and small slights seemed overwhelming then. But, that night, and that whole week Steve was in the hospital, I didn’t cry. So, the cop tapped on my window, I rolled it down, and he said: I’m glad to see you’re having a better week. Which was so unequivocally untrue, so mind-blowingly inaccurate — whatever had seemed so terrible a few weeks earlier paled so drastically in comparison to the previous six days — that I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t do anything but laugh hysterically.

It was one of those perfectly awful moments.

I had another one this past Friday. For a variety of reasons, this week was harder than it should have been — too many stories not panning out, essential calls not being returned, the kind of fatigue from work that builds up sometimes into a sharp malaise. And Thursday I went to an event that, because of specific circumstances I won’t go into on a public site because I’m not as stupid as I look, was sort of awful and tiring.

So, I intended to wrap up work early, run/explore a new trail, hang out with Sachini on Saturday, throw my own one-person Oscar party Sunday — you know, have a weekend. Then, I got back to the car from my run Friday afternoon and there was an email on my phone from the vet: Just got test results back. Looks like Floyd unfortunately has FIP, which sucks and strikes kitten. Protocol is generally to make them comfortable: sometimes they can go on for a few months before being put down and, sometimes, if they’re really sick, then they have to be put down right away.

Wait. What.

I rushed home and jumped on my computer, because isn’t that what we do now when something is wrong. I learned that FIP (Feline Infection Peritonitis) is a rare, strange, and 100% fatal disease that comes from a very common virus that somehow, in some cats, mutates into a fatal version and destroys their organs — in summary. There is nothing to do about it.

It turns out, then, that Floyd isn’t just sad and not eating. He doesn’t need a friend. He’s anemic, yes, but it can’t be fixed by antibiotics. If the diagnosis is right, and it almost certainly is, then he is simply dying.

But, Friday evening, I didn’t have a lot of time to do anything with this information. I had to be at a writing critique group that I had previously committed to. So, off I went.

At the group, I got ripped into. It happens. The story I had written wasn’t great and there were problems with it. That was why I had submitted it for critique. There would have been things that people could have said that I would have understood. But, instead, it started with one girl, who I’m fairly certain already didn’t like me based on my previous mocking of her use of the word ‘passionate’ in conversation, spending an inordinate amount of time telling me mostly everything was wrong. The main character wasn’t likeable, it didn’t resonate, it lacked description (writing groups are always going on about more description), it was shallow and not colorful, it wasn’t believable – even the things that were actually literally true. And, perhaps what was most odd to me: some words were wrong or used incorrectly or didn’t make sense.

Since I do write for a (pretty decent) living, I don’t generally use words incorrectly. It’s not something I’ve done since college. I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.

While other people in the group had other things to say, some good and plenty bad and most of it fair, the initial barrage was more than a little overwhelming. The criticism slowly piled up and the confusion over my word choice kept cropping back up. When I said the well-manicured women had “expensive husbands,” someone had crossed out “expensive” and written “wealthy,” as if I simply didn’t understand the difference between the two words. (No, it was deliberate, supposed to be a commentary, oh nevermind.) When I described big houses with “moderate lawns,” no one knew what that meant, perhaps I should describe the lawns, were they green, what kind of grass was it. (It’s not really about the lawns, oh nevermind.) And, the one that really stung: When I used the phrase “mediocre happiness,” it didn’t make any sense, she didn’t understand, how could happiness be mediocre?

Oh, honey.

I tried to respond at first. Then, I stopped. There’s not much to say really. And, my brain was too full and there was nothing left to be nice with. I tried, instead, to be polite, but I’m well aware my politeness comes across as cold, as I think you’re an idiot but I’m trying not to say so.

And, then, at the end, when it was all a little much, the girl turns to me and says: I thought you said you could handle it, haha.

Which I don’t know that I actually said. It’s not the word choice I would use. But, I’m sure I conveyed some similar emotion or idea, and it’s true. I can handle it. It’s fine. I’m not going to hate myself because of what you said or give up my job because you think I’m so very terrible at it. But, in that moment, it didn’t mean I didn’t want to punch her. It was one of those so perfectly awful moments that becomes etched in your brain.

Because Floyd is most probably going to die. For him, this disease is not something he can simply handle or deal with. No amount of positive thinking is going to make it go away. And, we’re going to have to decide, make a list of what is too much, when will we put him down (since with animals, as opposed to ailing humans, this is simply a given). When he loses control of his bowels? Gets paralyzed? Just wastes away?

I hold out a small hope that it is actually something else, something treatable, but the odds are it’s not. And, we will handle it, all of it, all the horrible specific awfulness of dying and the shocking pain of what I love being suddenly gone without knowing when that will be. Because it is painfully, horribly sad. But, it is also something that we will go on from. There are many terrible things in life and, for all that this is awful, this will not be the worse that ever comes. And things can either be handled or they simply can’t.

So, girl who made the ‘Whole Foods ought to be called Whole Paycheck’ joke like it was an original, yes, I can handle you. Of course, I can handle you. But not tonight, ok? Not tonight.

Floyd the Cat is Sick

This has nothing to do with sports or running or training, other than that giving Floyd his medicine is costing me a lot of time and skin.

Floyd the Cat is sick. This was him yesterday, laying all day in the sun, so I tucked his 49ers scarf around him:

Floyd did nothing but lay around and glare at me all day.
Floyd did nothing but lay around and glare at me all day.

He has some infection, which is causing his red blood cells to break down or something, giving him anemia. So, he’s anemic and his kidneys are enlarged I think and his body is trying to fight off the infection. He hasn’t been eating much for a couple weeks because of all this, so he also lost a pound. That’s a lot when you weigh 4.5 lbs.

The vet prescribed an antibiotic, which we’re hoping will kill the bacteria and that it’s not actually some other more rare and less treatable thing that is causing the infection. The vet also prescribed a steroid to help him put on weight again and eat and stuff, I think. (It gets a little murky when vets start talking.)

Hopefully, he gets better. He already felt enough better last night that he started slamming his head into the door and meowing at 5 a.m. until we let him in our bed. He usually sleeps in his bed in the bathroom, but I guess he was just all excited and awake? I don’t know, he didn’t tell me. And, then he sat on my face until 8 a.m. and poked me in the eye. “Are you awake yet? How about now? How about now? Hey, now? Hey. Hey. Hey.”

Aww, Floyd the Cat.
Aww, Floyd the Cat.