I've written you all a book. If you're not big on reading you may want to stop now.
Only 36 hours ago I had Flo put to sleep. She was young, only 4, and we only had 3-1/2 years together. I'm devastated. Although I know it's not the case, I feel like I'm the only person that's ever gone through this. A part of me died yesterday and I'm at a loss to cope. I'm hoping kind words and advice from non-friends / family members may help.
Some history: Somehow I made it to 40 without ever experiencing death, the loss of a person or pet with whom I was close and responsible for. Yes, I've had grandparents and extended family die, and family pets... but no relationships were close and the losses didn't have the same hurt or effect on my life and world.
To make things even harder I live alone. No children, currently single (and TOTALLY okay with that thanks to my last girlfriend), no roommates or other pets. This has been the case the entire 3-1/2 years Flo and I were together.
I thought my life was full before I had Flo. I was wrong. The honest truth is I didn't even want a pet... I took Flo in as a stray because my parents found her when she was 6 months old and they wouldn't have been able to keep her. That said, I was reluctant. That changed, and I'm a better person for having known Flo.
Fast forward to 3 months ago. She started stepping lightly (limping) on a rear leg for short random spells. Nothing in her paws, no tender spots, and she was still happy and playful during the episodes. Vet visits yielded nothing. A vet neurologist told me she may be having seizures. I was dismissed and told to put her on a seizure med. I didn't do it, I wanted another opinion.
Fast forward 5 days. We went to bed business as usual and I woke up to 15-20 vomit spots around the house. We took it easy that day but by the next day she was no better. Unable to keep even water down. Off to the vet we went. They gave her a hydrating pouch and some anti-nausea meds. Two days later she was keeping some food and water down, but just as much would come back up. We headed to the vet again. They told me she likely had a blockage although x-rays showed nothing. They said a CT scan may, but the remedy would be surgery. At this point I was already $1500 into it. They gave her anti-nausea pills and told me to take her home... that I'd know "when it was time". I couldn't accept that.
Over four days I fed her teaspoonfuls of food at a time and waited patiently just hoping she would start having the urge to use her box... that'd I'd have proof her systems were functioning. It worked. Unfortunately she had started to develop sores on the outside of her mouth during all this. The vet and I initially thought it was irritation from vomiting.
Fast forward another few days. The sores had moved to her chin and it was becoming raw. We headed to the vet again and got her on an antibiotic and a long-acting steroid shot. Over the course of days she began to heal a bit. Didn't last though. As the rawness began to spread I took her back and was given a steroid cream. She itched it less, but it wasn't healing and it was growing in size and looking worse.
Fast forward 10 days (just over a week ago). We went to a new vet. I got her on another round of antibiotics and continued the steroid use. They started her on a new diet as well. I held out hope. Unfortunately my hope didn't make a lick of difference. The sores worsened. Her entire neck down to her chest was raw, open and oozing, or scabbed.
Three days ago it got worse still. While I knew it was an irritant for her this whole time, now I could see it was truly painful. There were tiny blood droplets and bits of scab everywhere. She couldn't get enough of me... being around me. She didn't want to be touched though which made it heart-wrenching. That night I made the decision. Flo had gone through enough and was getting worse. $2500 had yielded no answers and I thought I owed it to her to permanently ease her pain.
Yesterday I fed her whatever the hell she wanted. I hugged her when I could. We looked at birds and squirrels out the windows. Then I loaded her into the carrier for our final trip.
I don't know what I was expecting. If I thought I'd have sense of relief afterwards or what. Whatever I was hoping for didn't come. I'm ill-equipped for this. Strangely, the permanence of death didn't occur to me right away. But as I watched her eyes turn from fear of the vet into wide-eyed emptiness and lifelessness... a part of me died with her.
I've never seen the life drain out of a being. To see life cease. Knowing that I'm responsible for this, that she trusted me on our last day and I betrayed her with a vet trip ending with her death is unbearable. I can't forget her eyes. Wide open. The animal I knew and loved was gone and it was I who allowed this to happen to her.
The man I thought I was, is apparently just a boy. I've cried so much the last 36 hours. I'm spent. Yet I still cry. I cry because I miss her. I cry because I feel bad for myself. I cry because I feel guilty that giving my signature on two pages allowed this to happen to her. I cry because at 40 I'm unable to grasp the permanence of death. I cry because I can't forget her eyes as she died. I don't know how to move on.
As I said 17 pages ago, I live alone with no spouse, girlfriend, roommates, children or other pets. In that environment a pet takes on a different role. For a man that didn't even want a cat, I spent my home time focusing on her and began to love it. Giving her constant attention and affection. Singing nonsense songs and rhymes as she stared at the idiot in front of her. We were always in one another's face. Always a conversation of sorts. It was Flo and I against the world. I realize saying that makes me sound somewhere between lonely and insane, but truth be told I was neither. I had a full life at home and a full life (with actual people) outside of home. Two days later I'm lonely and I question my sanity as it relates to guilt and inconsolable grief. How do I move on someday? Everything in this house and all of my daily rituals included Flo to some degree. She was in my face and I in hers.
I can't handle being in this home. I've spent as much time doing projects outdoors as I can. Her food is still in the fridge and bowls. Her litter box still as she left it. Her scabs and bits of fur and blood are still in my master bath sink where she laid that last morning and I haven't cleaned it... I've resorted to using the main bath instead. I feel as if I'm cleaning her out of my life by cleaning up. Am I a hoarder or a slob? No, if anything I'm clean and organized to a fault.
Friends and family said just before this, as I spoke of euthanizing her, that someday I'd be ready to open up to another cat. I couldn't imagine doing that. 36 hours into it they see how my world has been turned upside down in this household and they suggest I get another cat much sooner than later. How? How do I do that? Is it not betrayal to Flo's memory that people are talking about a new cat before I even have her ashes returned? How do you open your heart to another animal when I piece of me died with the last one?