Requiem

The picture above is the last one I took of my dear little friend, Spider. She was in the Intensive Care Unit at the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals of the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University. Spider moved on to her “Journey to the Heaviside Layer” a bit before 9 PM on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Her current doctor, Dr. Lesli Kibler, was with her when she passed.

Spider’s health began to fail on February 4, 2016. She was under the care of Dr. Yoko Ambrosini from that time until the beginning of her final decline on Monday, June 20th. Yoko’s skill, determination, and caring gave Spider and me four and a half months together. We were both grateful for that extra time. I learned just how much Spider loved me. I hope she learned the same from me. I think she did.

On the evening June 20th, Spider had another attack like the one she had on February 4th. This one was worse than the first. I thought that she had died on the bed next to me. Her eyes were open and unblinking. I couldn’t detect any breathing. She seemed to be getting stiff. I looked for a box to serve as a coffin.

When I began to pick her up to place in the box I’d found, she cried and moved. By the time we got to the hospital, her blood sugar was so low that it was unmeasurable. The night-duty doctor and the technicians in the ICU put her on a fluid drip and oxygen. Yoko was not available for the ICU on the day after Spider’s readmission. Lesli took charge of her care. Once again, Spider found a wonderful doctor.

Spider spent Tuesday, June 21st coming back from the brink of death with glucose to deal with her low blood sugar and a transfusion to deal with anemia. When Loretta and I went to visit her on Wednesday, we found Spider huddled under a blanket warmed by a heating pad. She was connected to tubes and looked very frail, but … once again … she had faced the Grim Reaper and spit in his eye.

Spider was in an open, floor-level “room” (cage is such a tacky word). Her door was open. Water and food sat on the floor outside her room. After visiting with Spider for a while, we followed Lesli to a room outside the ICU to discuss a course of treatment. When we returned, Spider’s technician (nurse) said that she had “tried to escape” … and showed us a picture. Spider had decided that she wanted a drink, shook off her lethargy, and walked out of her “room” for a drink. I was happy, but not too surprised. Spider always did have an “I want to do it myself” attitude.

During the next week, Spider pulled several more of her little tricks.

  • After being moved to the “second floor” of the patient “rooms” in the ICU, Spider’s heating pad was replaced by a device that warmed an airbag using a 3-4 inch tube … like an oversized vacuum cleaner tube. One day, Lesli and Spider’s technician were discussing Spider’s will to live. One of the other technicians … not assigned to Spider’s care … questioned this. While her caregivers were defending their opinion, Spider “took it into her own paws”. She got up from her nap and started to crawl out where the heating tube held her door ajar.
  • On two occasions, Loretta and I had to wait 10-15 minutes until someone became available to escort us to the ICU. Both times, Lesli told us that Spider became active at about the time we had arrived at the Reception Area. Somehow, she knew we were “in the building”.
  • On Sunday, June 26th, Spider joined us in the conference room. Three times, she walked a few steps to get water, find a better spot to lie, or just look around. She had become tiny, shaky, and frail, but she was still determined to do what she wanted.

After getting Spider’s blood sugar, anemia, and heart rate under control, Lesli determined that Spider had cancer. We had two choices. If we treated the cancer, Spider might die. If we didn’t treat the cancer, Spider would die. We chose to treat the cancer.

By the Sunday mentioned above, Spider seemed to be determined to go on, but was not eating. Again, we were faced with Hobson’s Choice. Lesli would have to give Spider a tube through which she could be fed. Spider got her “feeding tube” on Monday, June 27th.

Loretta and I went to visit Spider on Tuesday, June 28th. Again, Spider joined us in an appointment room. This time, she didn’t get up and walk around. She had a third critical event like the ones on February 4th and June 20th. Lesli rushed Spider back to the ICU, then came back for us. Once again, Spider was getting fluids and oxygen. I sensed that she might be ready to move on. I told her I loved her and would miss her, but she could go if she thought it was time.  At 8:59 PM, Lesli called to let me know that Spider had decided to cross the “Rainbow Bridge“.

Today, Lesli did what she called a “mini-biopsy” to better understand the complexities of Spider’s disease. I told her that, if it might help future patients, she should do whatever was needed for her to learn. I’d want the same done with my own remains. I’m sure Spider would want this too. Tomorrow, Loretta and I will go to get Spider’s body.

During the past few years and especially since February, I’d often sing to Spider. To paraphrase “Turn Around” by Malvina Reynolds, this is my last song to her for a while.

Where are you going my little one, little one?
Where are you going my baby my own?
Turn around and you’re two. Turn around and you’re four.
Turn around and you’re a young cat going out of the door.

Where are you going my little one, little one?
Where are you going my baby my own?
Turn around and you’re tiny. Turn around and you’re grown.
Turn around and you’re an old cat who’s going back home.

Goodnight, Beloved. I’ll see you again when I awake into Eternity.

Spider 20160411_093646_001 C

Update – July 14, 2016

Yesterday, Loretta and I went back to the hospital to meet with Lesli. Lesli had a gift for me. She had made a clay remembrance medallion from Spider’s paw prints. It is a lovely gift. I shall treasure it always. I wanted to share a picture of it with you.

Spider Paws 3 a

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3 thoughts on “Requiem

  1. We are so sorry to hear about Spider’s passing. I know that you loved Spider very much and she loved you back. I am sure Mom and Daddy will take good care of her along with all our other pets that are with them.
    Love, Bets and Mike

    Like

  2. Terry, Please accept my condolences. Spider was special and very lucky to have shared your life. I am holding Hoppy a little closer as I read your blog. Many people never open their hearts to any other living creature – 2 or 4 legged. The love is worth the risk, but I am sorry for the price you are paying. I won’t insult you with “Hallmark” cheer. In my life,
    tincture of time has helped. I hope it will useful for you. Judy and Hoppy

    Like

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