Friday, April 02, 2010


Life's been hectic for me over the last several weeks, so my apologies for not being an active poster!

This time of year is pretty hellish for me with regard to my job. It's when everything happens at once, you know? Then there are the students...oy. Plus I was sick all last week with what seemed like the flu, but I know it wasn't actually the flu. Since moving to Delaware, I've developed painfully severe allergies and they flair up big time in the fall and spring.

I haven't really been doing much knitting lately, only enough to finish one generic sock of a pair that I'm using the Deborah Norville yarn to knit. And I'm almost finished one sock of that houndstooth pair (Talbot pattern). I just haven't had the energy to cast on either of complementary socks to finish either pair. Sigh. Maybe this weekend.

Now, I must try to muster the emotional energy to post about my deep sadness. The short story is that Todd and I had to have our lovely, sweet Sophie euthanized on Monday, 3/29. Painful as the decision was, I know deep down that it was the right thing to do for her. I just could not bear the thought of her in pain, suffering, and wasting away.

The long story is:

Sophie had been ailing with hyperthyroidism for the last few years. She was once a 22-pound cat, which I know is appallingly overweight for a house cat. We noticed right around the time we moved to DE that she looked, well, good! We took her in for her annual check-up and she was down to about 18 pounds. On another vet visit several months later she was down another 1.5 pounds. (She was prone to respiratory infections because as a stray in the years before we got her, she had a horrible case of pneumonia, which left her with a chronic respiratory issue.) Then she needed to have several of her teeth removed because they were so bad, 8 or so. Down another 1/2 pound or so. Blood work indicated that she had hyperthyroidism, so we began giving her medication to get that under control. Over the last 2-3 years, she'd been on a steady decline of weight loss, infections, UTIs, cataracts, dehydration, etc. It's hard to imagine any human being, let alone a cat, dealing with all of these problems without any complaint at all. Yet that is just what Sophie did. She was exceptionally smart and often a solitary animal, despite the other 5 beasts that she ended up sharing her home with. Sophie had a gentle and charming disposition; she was a lady, though certainly not aloof or haughty.

Because of her thyroid condition, she required quarterly blood work to check her T4 levels. Every time we did this, she weighed less and less. We never seemed to be able get the dosage right, despite tweaking is several times, as recommended by the vet. She had another series of blood tests done in February (by a vet that we don't usually see, and never will again if I have anything to say about it) and, for the first time ever, all seemed normal with regard to T4 levels. A minor victory, though, as she was now down to 10 pounds, 15 ounces. March 15th was her "birthday," as we celebrated it. We also had to take Sophie and all her siblings into the vet that day for their annual check-up and shots. Sophie was down to 10 pounds 3 ounces. "Is she eating," our vet asked? Most certainly. Sophie had a voracious appetite and ate pretty much whatever you put in front of her, unless you tried to conceal medication in the food. She could sense it there and would not eat it. Smart cookie, my Sophie. But even lately, when we powdered up her tiny thyroid pill and put it in her food, she ate it. I don't know why this didn't set off any alarms in my head. In retrospect, it should have (as you will see).

At this time Todd noticed rather curious lump in her neck. It didn't feel like a tumor or growth of any kind. It was sort of soft and could easily be shifted around. Our vet aspirated the contents and it reduced its size by 75%. What the hell was it?? All blood. Our vet asked, "Did she have an injury to her jugular? Because this is a large hematoma." We couldn't for the life of us figure out what happened to her to cause that. Then our vet asked, "When she had blood work a month ago, did Dr. ^&$*%)@ (not mentioning the name here) take it from her neck?" And after thinking on it a little I realized that the other vet DID take it from her neck! So, that other vet DAMAGED MY SOPHIE'S JUGULAR VEIN. I can't tell you how infuriated I was, and still am, about this.

In the two weeks between her annual vet visit and her last day, she seemed completely normal, by Sophie standards. The night before, she crawled up on top of me while I was asleep and sat with me for a while. I was only vaguely aware that a cat was on me, Todd was awake and confirmed that it was Sophie. She hadn't done this in quite a while. Maybe she was trying to tell me something? While getting ready for work in the morning, I happened to be in the hallway and noticed fresh, pink, wet spots on the carpet in a couple of places. I saw Sophie sitting up near the guest bathroom cleaning herself. Then I saw more pink droplets on her fur. She had been attempting to urinate and it was blood. She would walk a few steps, then stop and try to pee again, only to have a dime-sized amount of pink fluid released. She laid on her side at one point and I was petting her. She must have been in agony because she kept contracting up her back legs, almost like a spasm, and she was breathing heavily. I think I knew at that moment that she would be leaving me forever that day. I broke down and cried as Todd called the vet.

We went to the vet, and thankfully it was our usual vet who we like very much. First thing: the scale. Down to 9 pounds 11 ounces. She lost half a pound in 2 weeks. That is a disastrous amount of weight for a cat to lose in 2 weeks, especially one that eats very well. She had a fever. Her hematoma had filled up again, too. Our vet examined her and told us that Sophie's kidneys were failing, basically breaking down from the inside. They were hard, misshapen, and atrophied. This is what was causing her urination problems. There was little they could do to alleviate that situation, as no antibiotic or medication could improve failing kidneys. Then she took an x-ray.

After an agonizing wait for the results, the vet showed us the x-rays. She pointed out 2 masses in 2 different places in Sophie's stomach. Cancer. I felt like someone stabbed me in the neck. One mass was quite large (about the size of a mouse) and the other was smaller, like a large olive. It all became clear to me why she was hungry all the time and eating as much food as possible. Sophie was, essentially, starving all the while feeding her tumors. She was getting little to no nutrients from her food intake. This news hurt worst of all, I think. Sophie looked forward to feeding time and I always assumed that her healthy appetite meant that she was healthy in general. So not only was she having severe kidney problems that we were unaware of, but also she was eating and never feeling full for God only knows how long. :-(

Todd asked the vet about 1000 questions to see if there was any other viable option to help Sophie get better. There wasn’t. It was time to let her go. After her initial sedation Sophie became very relaxed and calm. It was as if I could feel her pain slipping away from her as she stretched out her front paws a little. Sophie’s loving, gentle heart stopped beating within seconds of the lethal injection and she was finally at peace.

I am only now just accepting that she’s gone from my life. We loved her like a child, especially since she was our "first-born," per se. We had Sophie for nearly 10 years. She was 14.

My beautiful Sophie, as I will always remember her:

Sophie in her younger, sillier days: