Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fading Carol

I am amazed that of all of the people I've searched for online, I'm amazed that I've never come across Carol Maakestad. Of course, she could be married by now, and as a teacher she's got good reason not to make herself available too much online. Many of my teacher friends have worked hard to make themselves scarce online. And I have to admit that I stopped looking online for people for awhile after finding the obituary for one of the people I was looking for.

But I again tonight find myself looking for her. I last saw Carol in the parking lot of a school in the spring of 1996. It was my farewell tour. I had gone to my parent's house earlier that day and packed up the rest of my stuff. I had stopped and seen Patty Hoem Armstrong to say goodbye and then I stopped and saw Carol before heading back to school. School was almost out. I can't remember the timing exactly but I think I already knew that I was California-bound.

Carol was a really big influence on my life during my high school years as the leader of our youth group at Silverdale Lutheran Church. Until tonight, my search was further hindered by the fact that I couldn't perfectly remember her name. I knew there was two a's in her name, but I couldn't remember the exact placement. Tonight I was able to find enough details to know where she probably lives now, city-wise, but that was just one of those pay-for-details things and that's not what I'm looking for. I don't want to be stalker-like. My philosophy has always been to post a list of the people I'm looking for and let them contact me if they want to. I've had some cool successes over the years with this method.

Anyhow, yeah, I'm thinking of Carol tonight because my cat of the same name is dying. I got Carol as a kitten in May 1997. I'd been in California for a year and feeling a little bit lonely and thought I'd get a cat. I tried to think of non-people names for the cat, but never could come up with one, so I decided to name her Carol as an homage. I realize that's possibly silly or weird, but well, it is what it is.

Anyhow, so after four apartments and two homes, having to share me with a wonderful woman and then two children, having welcomed three other cats (and seen two of them die), a puppy who became a dog and lived with us for a few years, it looks like Carol may not have much life left in her. (Mom and dad, I know you've agreed to watch her later this month. Please don't let this post scare you.)

Anyhow, in recent years the cat has developed hyperthyroidism which has resulted in twice-daily pills shoved down her throat and now something else that I can't recall the name of which has resulted in a low protein diet. Of course, that has meant needing to separate the two cats for feeding. This has allowed us to monitor Carol's eating. And in the past few days, she's barely eaten, and even then, only if it's if out of my hand. We'd been occasionally weighing Carol on the Wii Fit and I did it yesterday and she'd dropped 1.8 pounds to just under 5 pounds. She just wants to sit near us but doesn't want to eat.

It's hard to watch. I haven't heard her stomach growling the way Tinsel's did at the end (Yes, we ended up with cats named Carol and Tinsel. Slightly intentional.) Anyhow, Tinsel also had hyperthyroidism but not the protein thing, but in the end, we think she stopped eating as well. So it's hard to know if I should continue to encourage her to eat, even forcibly, or just let her waste away and hope it's more peaceful than ravaging? Because I'm certainly not going to actively help her end her life. I've killed bugs and even the world's slowest hummingbird (had managed to get caught and chewed on by Barkley the dog and the humane thing was to end its life) but I'm not going to take my cat's life.

She doesn't show any outward signs of pain other than stiffness with her walking.

The one thing that I did read is that if a cat (or a person) stops eating that acid will build up in their stomach and that will make them less interested in eating (anorexia) and that will eventually kill them. In the olden days, a cat would just go off somewhere and die but Carol's an indoor cat and there are coyotes here so that's not a circle of life thing I can get behind.

I may have to end up taking her to a vet to ask them to assist her, but I hate that idea, too. Tinsel had the hyperthyroidism much longer and seemed healthy right up until the end. The night before we could tell it wasn't good and the next morning we found her sleeping in the cat box. We took her upstairs and it was clear she'd had a stroke and she just lay there unable to move. We took her in and they explained that there would be two shots, but they had barely injected the first one and she gracefully passed on while Rachel and Lori and I stood there. I watched her for a long time willing her to start breathing again.

Morticia was getting old, but also not necessarily showing any signs of sickness. Lori had taken her in on a Thursday because of really foul breath and what looked like a bloody tooth. They called the next day and said that she had experienced massive liver failure and that they said it could be a matter of days or weeks before she died and that it would be incredibly painful and they really recommended putting her to sleep. And that night before I could even get home from work and say goodbye, she was gone.

So it's really hard to know if Carol is silently suffering. I kind of think she is, but I wish she would give us more of a sign.

I told Rachel tonight and she got a really sad look on her face and I told her that we just need to be nice and loving to her as long as she's with us.