Yesterday we got a call at about six in the morning. The doctor on-shift at the hospital had noticed that Page was having trouble breathing, and she wanted our consent to give her...I don't remember what it was called. It was a tube they were going to put in her nose to get the air out of her stomach. I'm sure it all made sense to them.
Of course we said that was okay, but all the calls from the hospital after that had more grim news. They couldn't give her the tube because cats have smaller noses, and it was putting her under too much distress to keep trying to fit it in. Her liver stats were still inconsistent with fatty liver syndrome, but one of the numbers was rising unhealthily. Her levels for pancreatitis were slightly elevated (meaning she has it). They were going to test for lymphoma. And of course they still couldn't get her to eat.
One of the doctors arranged for us to visit her in the afternoon. We texted Brother and Sister D. and headed over as soon as Brother D was done with the other thing he was doing. When we got there, they asked Athena and me to put on hospital gowns and they took us to the area where they kept all the animals, and there she was in a sad-looking cage surrounded by barking dogs. I can't blame the dogs for barking; I imagine it's not the most soothing situation for any of them. But it would have been nice if they'd had a separate area for cats. We could tell that they tried to make sure Page would be comfortable, except for the measly handful of paper shreds in place of kitty litter. ...Sorry if I sound a little bitter sometimes. It's a hard situation.
She looked so miserable. They opened the cage and let us stand by it and pet her as long as we wanted. At first it seemed like she didn't recognize us, which makes sense because we were wearing masks and covered in hospital gowns, and she'd never really seen us like that. It may also have been a result of whatever was going on in her body. After we talked to her and pet her for a while, she rolled over in what we hope was an indication that she did know who we were. It was really hard to see her so weak and so yellow. I wanted to be there for her for as long as she wanted us, but it was really hard when all we could do was pet her.
We talked to her of course. We could tell she was in bad shape, and after a month of refusing to eat, we did wonder if she had deliberately been starving herself. We told her that if she wanted to go back to Heavenly Father, we would miss her very much, but we would be okay with it. We kept telling her we loved her, and we couldn't stop ourselves from repeating, "Oh, poor kitty..." I'm not sure that was helpful.
Eventually she used what little strength she had to go to the back of the cage, so we figured she was ready for us to go. We found someone and told him we were going to go. We talked about how we wished we could do everything for her, but the bill was just so high, we weren't sure we would be able to keep her there much longer. He showed a lot of sympathy and told us Page is a sweet cat. Just before we left, Page came back to the front of the cage, so we pet her a little longer. We didn't wait until she got up again before we left, so I hope she didn't feel abandoned. But she always did have a habit of getting up and walking off when she was done being petted, then, for example, go drink some water and come back to hang out nearby, but if you tried petting her again, she'd walk away. We waved to her, of course.
We went back to the car to wait for Brother and Sister D., who had gone walking around the area while we visited Page. While we were there, we cried about how much Page was suffering, and how we knew we couldn't afford to keep her in the hospital much longer (with all the care involved, which is top-notch (at least, the medical stuff is), it adds up to about $1300 a night), but how we didn't know if we could take care of her ourselves. And how we hoped either she would be miraculously healed so we could take her home and get her back to her usual self with minimal medication, or that she would be taken back to Heavenly Father that night.
On the way home, we asked Brother D. to give us priesthood blessings, so we stopped by their house. The blessings reminded us how much Heavenly Father loves us, and gave us some comfort. We realized we needed food, so we reluctantly asked for a ride to the grocery store. Then we came home and took turns showering and eating. And then we settled down for the evening.
That's when the hospital called. Page had just coded, and the doctor told us they were doing CPR. She said that, in Page's condition, even if they did manage to get a pulse back, it wouldn't be long before she coded again, and she asked if we wanted them to keep trying or to let her go. The doctor was amazing and very kind, and let us know that of course it doesn't mean we don't love her enough if we don't keep trying to hold her here. So we finally gave the DNR right as they got a pulse back. The doctor said she would do an evaluation and call back.
A few minutes later, the doctor called and said that while Page did have a pulse, the lights didn't seem to be on in her head. I kind of felt like that meant that, while her body was still alive, her spirit had already gone home. The doctor asked if it would be all right for them to make her passing easier, and we said yes. She offered to wait until we could get back there to see her one last time, but I thought if her spirit was already gone it wouldn't mean much to her to see us. The doctor wasn't sure if Page would last long enough for us to get there, and she also seemed eager to relieve Page's suffering (in a sympathetic way, not because she seemed euthanasia-happy or anything). So we gave our consent, and we confirmed it to another witness.
Then we hung up and we said a prayer. We're so, so glad that she's not suffering anymore. We still don't know why she stopped eating. When she started refusing to eat, I wondered if she had just decided she was done and determined to die. I don't know.
But when I looked back at my phone (there were two missed calls, both from the pet hospital, at the exact same time we got the first call, so I wonder if they tried calling from three phones at once or something), I learned that the first call (to let us know she had coded) came at 7:01. I don't know how long it took for the doctor to make the phone call, but it makes me think maybe Page coded exactly at 7:00, like she had an appointment. And that gives me comfort, because it makes me feel like it really was her time.
It's hard with Page, because she was younger than both Oreo and Mimsy. And she seemed so healthy until she just stopped eating. We even took her to the vet and they couldn't find anything wrong. So even though it took a month to happen, it feels so sudden. Maybe because they didn't find anything wrong, so we felt like all we had to do was get her to eat again. She was healthy otherwise, so if she would just eat, she could get her strength back no problem.
She was a really good cat. She would come sit with us when we were playing video games or watching TV, and she'd even gotten to the point when she could tell my knee was hurting from bending it too long under her weight (I like to sit cross-legged on my bed, and she likes to sit on my lap that way), and she'd either get up or shift her weight. Sometimes she would meow for us to open the door and then not go outside, but the strays would come in, and we wondered if she just wanted to make sure they got something to eat. She wasn't very social with them, but sometimes it seemed like she cared about them.
We took her home from PetSmart on December 31, 2009, and she was between one and two years old. We had her for ten and a half years, and she brought a lot of joy into our lives. One of the reasons we named her Page is that she was opening a new chapter in our lives (partly because it was New Year's). Now it seems that chapter is closed. We wish we could have let her live in a house with a yard and a cat door so she could go out whenever she wanted, but I think we did okay with what we had. And I believe that she's happy and surrounded by love now.
We meant to sleep in this morning, but we were both awake around dawn. Rays of sunshine poked into our bedroom briefly, right around the time our alarm clock usually goes off. That's when Page would always come into our room to say good morning, so I like to think she wanted to make sure we were awake for her to say good morning today. It was a bittersweet feeling, but mostly sweet.
Goodbye, Page, until we meet again. We love you.
Today I'm thankful for getting to visit Page in the hospital, the support we received from the small circle of people we talked to about this, all our editors being understanding about the possibility of our work being a little late, all all all the joy Page brought into our lives, and the hope brought about by Jesus Christ's Atonement and Resurrection.