The Iris saga

I can’t remember what kept me from writing on Friday; it’s possible I was just tired. I go through these phases where I wake up 79 times a night, and it’s so irritating, and then I get bone tired and sleep like a LOG one night, and when the alarm goes off I hit snooze 407 times till it’s, like, 8:26. I have to be “at” work at 8:30. And I have 2,000 pets to slop first.

Anyway, that mighta been what happened—I can’t recall. Then yesterday I had my trainer and then Iris had her now-standing appointment to get her B12 shot at the vet. Her pancreatitis/IBD is allegedly going to be helped by said shots. Last time she got really sick, the vet sent me home with a bunch of medicine for her, and when I called him the other day due to a new bout of ill, he said, “How did the B12 pills go?”

…The B12 pills?

Sure enough, there they were in the pet medical cupboard, and, yes, I have a pet medical cupboard. I’d opened them, and when I looked inside, I remembered the shape of them, which is odd. Ah. Yes. The B12 pills.

“Those never entered her digestive tract,” I told him. I remember trying those. And trying to hide them in her food. And yeah. No.

No one will believe me that you can’t pill this animal. Only Ned believes me, as he has seen me try and was all, “Holy shit.” Who can take a nothing pet and suddenly make her seem unservile?

I hadn’t known those B12 pills were all that important. I’d given her the white liquid medicine during her last illness, and that went OK-ish, but who knew the B12s were really a thing?

So now I feel guilty.

“B12 can really help cats with pancreatitis,” said my vet, who is probably ready to report me to Animal Cruelty. Is there, like, a place called Animal Cruelty? What does the receptionist say there? “Good morning. Animal Cruelty.”

So that’s why I was driving Iris to get her shot Monday. Because (a) she wouldn’t take a pill and (b) when she wouldn’t, I said to myself, eh. B12. Hooo care?

She’ll get these shots every Monday for a few weeks.

So, normally what woulda happened is, since I had my trainer at 7:15, likely I’d have gotten up earlier and blogged, then trainer, then Iris to vet, then home to work. I would have packed a whole lotta livin’ into my day before work.

But what DID happen is Iris got sick in the night Sunday, which is part of this IBD/pancreatitis thing. She has flareups. Sometimes she even throws up blood. It’s during these lows, where she gets very lethargic or very whiny, that I say, What am I doing? I should put this cat down. And then she perks up and acts like Iris and it’s all very confusing.

The reason i am telling you all this, is I slept till the last possible second on Monday, before my trainer, because I’d been up with Iris and I was tired. So then when I was at the vet parking lot, I put a note on Facebook, checking in from the vet.

“Bad night with Iris. No blog today.”

Then they brought the cat back out and I drove home and commenced my workday, which began with urgent projects and had my annual review in the middle and ended with, oh look. Urgent projects.

By the time I checked Facebook again, I had like 29542038240-4 248937201304 messages under that post.

“I’m so sorry.”

“This is so difficult.”

“I’ve hired a bagpiper to play Amazing Grace, Jooooon.”

“Thousands of us are in the streets with candles, JOOOOOOOOOOnnnn.”

“Here in England, we’ve shoved Prince Philip mourners aside. Because Iris.”

Oh holy shit. Everyone thinks Iris is dead. Or lying on her deathbed, while I hold her paw. Meanwhile, over in real life, she was sleeping in her circle on the bed. Iris always sleeps tucked up in a circle.

I re-read my original post. Oh, hell, had I Dooced my situation? I hadn’t meant to. But I could see how my post, combined with checking in at the vet, looked like this was the end. My only friend, the end.

But in fact, it is not the end. I did look up the Got a sick pet? Kill ’em in your home! people. I left a message, they called me back, and I never called THEM back. This is the hardest part. How do you know when? I did finally Google it, and giving B12 to cats with Iris’s illness can work. So I guess we see if it works? But meanwhile, while you and I are talking, she’s out there howling. She never howled before she got sick. So then I feel guilty again about keeping her going.

I’ll never forget that time Ned and I were in one of our not-speaking bouts. This was a long one. We’d stopped speaking in early December, and he called me on February 1 or 2. He was at the vet with NedKitty, who, if you don’t know, he LIVED for. Oh my god he was obsessed with that cat. It was his first cat, left behind by a girlfriend who had had enough of Ned’s shenanigans.

So, I did a U-turn outside of work and dashed to the vet. For NedKitty was very ill and it was “time.”

I remember getting there and just feeling ill and also being glad I had on a cute ensemble. I was ill at seeing Ned after all that time, and ill at how bad NedKitty looked. She was just bones, and had that hunched thing that those of you who have cats know from. At this point I imagine the ONLY people still reading this post are people who have cats. Anyway, she was near death.

The vet popped in. “We’ve run some test and this and this and this and this and this are wrong with NedKitty,” She was like 15 or 16 at the time. The cat, not the vet. We can put her to sleep, or we can do aggressive treatments you’d have to keep up at home. She’d need an IV drop three times a day, and you have to hire a sherpa and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro daily, as there is an herb at the top you must cut fresh. Then you must ride on top of a train to dry it out, and that train will take you to a forest where a white witch will concoct a brew that NedKitty must drink upside-down while you chant the words to Hiawatha.”

“OK,” said Ned.

OK. That’s what he said. “OK.”

I looked at that hunched bag of bones on the table. OK???? That’s what my insides were screeching. OK???? You’re keeping this cat GOING???

And he did. For 10 more months. He now regrets it.

So I don’t want to be that guy. But Iris IS NOT a bag of bones. I don’t know, man. It’s torture.

Anyway, that’s why I didn’t post anything yesterday.

36 thoughts on “The Iris saga

  1. I don’t know why I didn’t notice before, but the howling got my attention today. Frances would howl near the end. I hope the B12 works. Aunt Kathy

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  2. I know I should comment and poor Iris. But I am still laughing at the Mary Tyler Moore theme song reference.

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  3. You’ll know, when you think “if I were her, that’s what I’d want right now.” That’s maybe close to home for me as my dad is in hospice and we decided to stop adding protein powder to the chocolate milk that’s the only thing he consumes. He can’t see, hear, eat, walk, or comprehend anymore, and I know he’s trying to stop eating and they just have to let him. Well. Not the comment I came to leave, but thank you for opening your heart on your blog, June, it helps enormously. Today it helped enormously.

    BeeBelle

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  4. B-12 shots! They are great for humans too! I hope they work. It is not easy to give pills. Sweet Iris…hang in.

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  5. I did the same thing Ned did to my Bandit girl, except I couldn’t afford to hire a sherpa, so I went by myself. I kept her alive way past her time. She was skin and bones and over 20 years old when I said enough is enough. It’s so hard to tell when they are ready to go, you know? They won’t tell you how they’re feeling and they send these really mixed messages. Damn cats.

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  6. Once again I am glad I rarely check Facebook. 🙂

    Your Vet will always give you the options because they don’t want to be the bad guy but ask them. They will be honest about the quality of life your pet will have and whatever trauma they will go through. (Source: sister is a vet) It will be one of the hardest decisions of your life but it is better to not regret like Ned.

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    1. When my Gracie Lou had her massive seizures and we rushed her to the 24 hour vet, where she continued to have seizures throughout the night, they told me they could do A, B and/or C but it would be very expensive and it *might* work. And the vet himself used the words “Quality of Life.” And that’s what made me decide to not prolong her suffering. And it was still the hardest decision I had to make because there was such a part of me saying “But what if?”

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  7. This just sucks. My sweet dog, Lady was given a week to live when she was diagnosed. She went on for nine more months and had a nice walk the day before she died. There are no good answers to that question of when is the right time. I’m sorry she’s unwell. Xoxo

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  8. I’ve never previously commented, but felt compelled due to extensive experience on the subject.

    We have rescued/fostered many cats . . . MANY. Quite a few came to us with pre-existing or genetic health issues that, sadly, shortened their lives. After having taken months too long to relieve our beloved lab of her suffering, we understood at what point a suffering pet should be relieved of their misery.

    Animals are basically toddlers. They have a limited (or no) capacity to understand the difference between suffering and fear due to illness and injury, as opposed to suffering and fear due to treatment of that illness and injury. They don’t know they’re being helped when they are being injected, pilled, etc. They know they are terrified. We found that if life for one of our beloved babies consisted mainly of suffering and fear due to illness or treatment (fear at the vet is sometimes worse than the illness), with the period in between consisting of days of trying to assuage the emotional trauma, then it’s time. There must be emotional quality of life for the pet (I hate using the term “pet”) as well as physical quality of life.

    This is our experience. Your caring heart is appreciated.

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  9. Yikes, sorry for your struggles. As I’ve mentioned, I’m allergic. I don’t think I could handle these decisions, so I suppose it’s a good thing that cats make my throat close.

    Best of luck. Hoping the B12 helps.

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  10. I had a cat live for about 6 years on IBD pills. She died at home suddenly one evening – I’ll call it a heart attack. But I really blame it on a cat we were boarding as a favor and he was an absolute terrorist and he hounded her. Two days after he left she passed. No time for vets or decisions.

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  11. I feel this post. My hang up is I start wondering if I’m being selfish? With our last cat, that we took in when she was 16 from a friend who couldn’t take her when they moved west.. And God bless her, at age 21 she puked all the time, and sometimes leaked pee, and weighed 4 pounds (so it seemed) but then she’d dart across the counter and try to steal meat the just came out of the oven, and my husband and my son would say “look at her go! She’s still got it!” Or she’d purr when you pet her and they were sure that was a good sign. But dear Lord that cat was a part time job cleaning up after and taking care of, so I thought it was me. Me being selfish.
    The day I took her to the vet to relieve her of this burden (and WHY do they have to ask you a million questions like you’re being shit? WHY?) when they gave her the shot (and this is not my first rodeo because I am never lucky enough to have pets peacefully pass in their sleep of old age) they weren’t even done pushing the needle plunger and she collapsed over my arm. That’s when I knew I took too long.
    I called the girl that was her first owner for 16 years to tell her and she seemed surprised. “My sister has her sister and she just turned 22 and is doing great!”
    FML.

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  12. So sorry to hear this about Iris. Hoping she perks up.
    I like how you made Dooce a verb. A colleague was treated very badly by the administration. I was going through a rough time with an interim dean and asked the assistant dean if I was being “Hvizda-ed?” Apparently, you can turn a proper noun into a verb.

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    1. At work we have a verb: Prateeked. It’s what happens when you don’t get fired, but they find you a good job at a client. It’s not the worst thing. But Prateek was the first, so the name stuck.

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  13. I’m glad Iris is okay-ish. I hate that howl thing, it freaks me right out when my cats do it. I hope that the B12 shots are the answer, and that they don’t break the bank.

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  14. I’m so happy that you still have sweet Iris to hang around with for a while longer. Thank God for B-12!

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  15. Well Praise the Lordt. I really did think something was bad wrong with Iris. I don’t know what I’ll do if anything ever happens to my cat. I imagine she’d take pills something like Iris. Or won’t, as you said. Oof.

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  16. I feel bad for Ned on this one. I know that regret. Our vet told us (after being asked) that in her experience, most people wait too long before they make the decision. She said that it’s just too difficult to see accurately and then be the one making the final decision. The combination tends to keep pets alive longer and a lot of people have regret. I took comfort in her comments. They gave me encouragement that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t being cruel or selfish. I took it to mean that it is truly difficult to see what’s going on with your beloved pet. And that’s not a crime. We do our best for them.

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  17. I’m sorry. I have no words of wisdom about knowing the right time.
    When my pup went it was very quick from playing to fetch on Sunday, to being very sick and having no use of her legs on Tuesday. There was no in between hemming and hawing.
    How do you find that balance of “they still have life to live” and “I’ve waited too long and now they’re in pain?”

    Vets need a pet sphygmomanometer that just measures quality of life, and, as you pump the little balloon, has a dial that reads “not yet….not yet….not yet….” until you get to “now” That would help enormously.

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  18. I’m going through the exact same thing right now with my kitty. For several days, he would not eat or move so we figured it was his time. We were going to help him over Rainbow Bridge on Monday. He suddenly perked up and started eating and walking around and for the past two weeks he has been completely normal! So we know it’s only temporary but have been loving the hell out of him, trying not to think about losing him. Hope Iris gets better.

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  19. I know people say “you’ll know” but I haven’t known. Maybe my pets have just had something come on suddenly, or maybe I’m not great at seeing the signs. But I just feel like they get better and then worse and I just don’t know if another “better” time is coming or if this most recent bad one is going to go on forever.

    I’m sorry for you and Iris.

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  20. Sweet Iris has top priority. I’m so sorry she’s been through so much. It’s hard when our pets start to decline, if only they could talk. Hopefully the B-12 will give her some much needed relief.
    Tee

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  21. Being the commander of the pet cruise ship is no easy task. You know Iris best and you can trust that you are not Ned. Overall she seems like a happy cat. Enjoy her happy. You’ll know what to do.

    I’m not on Facebook so I didn’t see the doomsday post. I just assumed you were busy having a life or having lots of work. I always feel like I’ll know when I’m supposed to be worried about something, and otherwise I assume the best. I hear that’s really annoying trait from some of my friends. I’m Pollyanna.

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  22. And for those who say “you’ll know”… I don’t know about that. Every time I’ve faced this, it was a struggle. Yes, I “knew” it was coming. I “knew” it was inevitable. But is it today? Tomorrow? Next month? Scheduling a death date is just WEIRDLY uncomfortable. I second, third, and 26th guessed myself each time. It was like standing on the ledge and knowing I was going to jump… but now? Now? NOW?

    Weird is what it is.

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  23. It is indeed terrible. Such was the struggle when my last little dog was on her way out. I could see the decision was on the horizon, but wasn’t quite ready yet. She wasn’t suffering so much as just declining… not herself. And then she curled up in her bed one evening and died. What a tender mercy that was. Even the vet said “do you have any idea how LUCKY you are?”

    For the record, I read your FB post and knew that Iris wasn’t yet dead. The Skimmers always out themselves.

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    1. I don’t mind if people skim as long as they don’t then expect me to do the work. Like, don’t ask a question that can be answered if you (a) read all the comments or (2) read my effing blog.

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  24. My worry is the way she’ll let me know is by being absolutely miserable. Not eating, not moving, that sort of thing. I really don’t want her to get that bad.

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  25. I think we’re all worried about sweet Iris. She’s such a gem. You’ll know when it is the right time, she’ll let you know.

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  26. oof. as you well know, only you will know when it’s the right time. She’ll tell you.

    But – I am still thinking of you, and her.

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    1. Lovely post Coot.

      Iris has a good pet mom. It is hard to know when it is time. Glad it isn’t yet.
      Gonna have to admit I love that you used Dooce as a verb.

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