Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Can't Put Her Down

After a busy afternoon, my son and I picked up my niece and nephew so that they could come over and spend the night with my son. I took them out to dinner at a restaurant called Pastini's, which just opened. They're a local chain that operates in Portland - really good pasta. Afterwards, we came to my house and pulled into the garage. And, there was poor Elizabeth, our cat that we've had for 18 months, limping toward the kitchen door dragging her right hind leg. Her paw was hanging limply as if broken.

Luckily, my folks came right over to watch the kids while I took her to the vet. After an hour and x-rays, the diagnosis was a torn achilles tendon. She didn't have any signs that she'd been in a fight or hit by a car, so as near as the vet could tell, she apparently tried to jump up or off of something and got caught, tore her achilles and apparently hit her head or jaw hard enough to break off part of her tooth. One of her claws was torn off.

Treatment choices are 1) amputate her leg; 2) surgery; or 3) euthanize her. (Actually, the vet didn't give me the third choice, but I gathered that that is always an option.) I chose surgery. I'm hoping OSU's vet surgery is open tomorrow, otherwise, I need to drive her up to Clackamas to take her to a vet orthopedic surgeon. I have an appointment at Clackamas at 12 in case I need it.

The cost? $2500.

Criminy. I do have pet insurance which will cover up to $1000. That means $1500 out of pocket.

Can't really afford it. But I also cannot bear the thought of putting her down. While waiting for them to bring Elizabeth back into the room, I thought about the option of putting her to sleep and started to cry. I just can't do it.

The thought occurred to me that this could be me . . . what if insurance or my doctors decided to go the cheaper route of either euthanizing or amputating an appendage? My own battle with cancer can be characterized as doing whatever it takes to maintain a relatively high quality of life. How can I not do the same for this animal that trusts me and who has given me comfort? I have to do what I can to give her a good quality of life.

She is also Eddie's first pet. He's bonded with her and I couldn't bear the thought of taking her away from him.

I know that many people out there believe that animals are just animals, below humans. But in the Inupiaq belief system, animals have spirits, too, and even more, they also have intelligence and free will. Animals are people with a different skin.

Maybe a year ago, maybe less, Scott said that he had a dream while staying at my house in which he saw a cat come out of my bedroom closet and make its way to my bed. Either the week before or the week after, as I was going to sleep, I felt a cat jump onto my bed, but I knew that I'd let Elizabeth out, so she wasn't in my room. My conclusion was that Ptery (short for Pteradactyl - when she was a kitten, she jumped on my shoulders like a bird roosting there - tried a bunch of bird name, but didn't like them) had come to visit. Ptery died in Dec 2006. I got her initially in 1989 and she was my cat for a few years, until I moved to DC to do some work. Then, my brothers and then my folks inherited her. Ptery became their cat. But she still remembered me. It reminded me of one of Richard Bach's books, I think the one called "A Bridge Across Forever" in which he and his then-wife, Leslie, were trying to learn how to have their spirits travel outside of their body while they slept. When they finally remembered doing so, Leslie said that she saw the ghost or spirit of a cat she had owned still hanging out with her.

So, I can't put her to sleep. The good news is that I refinanced the house, with cash out, a little over a week ago - my interest rate is a full percentage point lower than my current mortgage and I also save almost $300 a month in mortgage payments. So, I guess some of my cash will go to the surgery instead of doing something in the house. The house can wait.

Okay, road gods, please be clear if I have to go to Clackamas! The roads north of here have been really really bad . . . but hopefully they clear up.

It's always something, huh?


Doug said...


I know what you mean about putting down a pet. It's a very difficult thing to do. I was with Toby, our Golden Retriever of 15 years when he went "home". He was very sick, and would have died suffering, so we made the tough choice about a year ago. It was very difficult. I am happy that you have the means to have your kitty fixed.


Dee said...

Hi Doug,
I agree - if Elizabeth were suffering with no chance of getting better, I'd make the hard choice to let her go. But she can still have a high quality of life, so . . . off to the surgeon we go. I didn't make it to Clackamas; instead, they told me about Springfield. It's closer. Her appointment is on Monday. We'll see what happens.