I think I’ve just had the most insane 3 hours of my life.
I was checking on the cat about every 20 minutes and at every sound I’d hear coming from upstairs. Her breathing was getting more shallow, she was clearly weakening, not able to support herself steadily, but comfortable once lying down. In the afternoon on one of the last checks I found that she had some blood coming out of her mouth, it seemed like it was time. She was close, but at the same time she was holding on to life and I wasn’t convinced that though she was pretty out of it, she wasn’t now also in some pain or discomfort. I called the vet to see if Dr. Yoo was in, she was the same vet who put Sam down back in January. She was and she would wait for me to come in with Sable. That’s when it got nuts.
I had sort of a small window to get comfortable with this decision even though I knew I really had no choice, watching Sable suffer was not right at all. It was 3pm, and the housecleaners were due any minute. I thought of waiting for them but decided instead to give my neighbor the key and the money for the girls and I would take the cat, the dog (she can’t stay when the cleaners are there, way too territorial) and myself to the vet. I’m now in pretty deep hysterics, the crying where you go “hup!.. hup!… hup!” My neighbor was so kind and helpful and was right there offering me whatever I needed emotionally to get through. She was lovely.
From the moment I picked Sable up from her spot in the living room to when I got her to the vet she barely moved except to breathe. I knew I was doing the right thing. In the car, of course, it’s the Bay Area so I hit traffic, finally get to the vet, they take me straight to my own room, cat in my arms. As I took her into the room she started this sad quiet and mournful moaning, and almost seemed to have the hiccups in her breathing, two normal breaths, one hiccup.. two normal, hiccup. Dr. Yoo comes in, gently looks her over and thinks that she’s so out of it that we don’t even need to give her a sedative before the heart stopping drug, but I want her to have the sedative anyway, I don’t want Sable to have any clue or any feeling of the heart drug. In the split second before she gets the sedative, she twitches up and seemed to stop breathing. I think she’s almost gone, so very close, no rising and falling that I can feel at all, but I can almost still feel her blood coursing, though her heartbeat is not there that I can sense. The sedative is good, it stops the moaning and the hiccuping and she’s clearly at peace. Dr. Yoo came back in and I told her I thought she was gone. Dr. Yoo listened for her heart and said, it’s very very faint, she’s gone. I asked her to give the heart stopping meds anyway. I didn’t want to risk Sable somehow waking up from the sedative at the vet, she was such a fighter, though improbable, it almost seemed possible.
Now she was really gone, free from pain. Release. It was the right thing.
But her spirit wasn’t done yet. I’ve decided she was determined to make me remember this day for eternity. As I left I had a lovely chat with the nursing staff, they were all so kind and sympathetic, and they barely knew Sable or Sam, but they know Freia and we are all like family to them. On my way home at my freeway exit I realize that I’m out of gas, and now my Low Voltage warning light is on. I change lanes to go to the gas station at the next corner, and now the ABS warning light is on. My car slips into “limp home” mode. I somehow get enough revs out of the engine to creep into the gas station, I pump in ten gallons hoping that somehow that will breathe enough life into the engine to take me the six blocks home. Nope. I don’t even make it out of the gas station. It won’t go forward, BUT, my car will go backwards.
I maneouvre the car into a side spot sort of out of the way, go grovelling to the attendant to ask if it’s ok to leave it for as short a time as possible and I’ll get a tow truck there ASAP and how sorry I am and how I just bought gas from them. He looks at me like I’m a little nuts (keep in mind, i’ve now been crying about the cat off and on for 36 hours so I’m sure my face looks well puffy and red-eyed – what a mess). I get the dog, get to the first traffic light at the corner and Freia snaps at some strange woman behind me who much to my horror is beginning to bend down to pet her. I look a the woman and coldly say “she’s not friendly and she has a broken leg”. Seriously. Don’t pet strange dogs, or at least ask the owner first.. geez. What with everything going on, Freia had figured out that this was Sable’s last road trip, the car breaking down she was just as much on edge as I was, and she wasn’t about to let anyone near me at that point.
We walk home, cleaners are still there, put dog in bathroom behind baby gate, ask cleaners to throw out litter boxes, litter, floor mats around litter box and to clean that whole area well, call the car repair for the number of the tow, explain to the car repair what wrong, tell them I’ll try to get the car to them before they close in an hour (ever tried to get a tow truck in under an hour during rush hour??). Tow company puts their guy on OT to pick up my car (love them). Scramble to straighten up the office for the cleaners, get dog, walk back to gas station, meet tow truck, walk dog home again. Cleaners still there, get on phone with car repair, dog in bathroom starts barking her head off cos now the cleaners are in the office with us – vacuuming – two neighbors come over so now there’s six people in the room, two vacuums, barking dog and me on the phone, and I’m a wreck from the cat.
Can you say “madness”?
A sense of sanity slowly returned as the vacuuming was done and the dog realised that barking wasn’t making anyone go away. My lovely neighbor brought me a beautiful bunch of flowers, the other neighbor stuck around a bit longer to give me some kind words and pet the dog on the head.
And now, calmness. I can hear the silence. The only sound is the tapping of the keyboard as I write and the dog snoozing next to me.
Sable is at peace and so are we.