The saddest post


If you didn’t know by now, I had my sweet baby fluff, MacGyver put to sleep on Thursday afternoon.

Her last afternoon at my apartment

I know its been almost a week now, but I’m realizing that I didn’t actually post here and put out the news and some people are out there still wondering. I told a few people on the phone, posted a twitter update, and posted a few lines at, but I just didn’t feel like writing it out. As though writing it here made it more real or something. *shrug*

It was her time and she went quickly and quietly while I held her in my arms. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I sat and sobbed and sobbed in the room at the vet. Then I drove her to Bussey one last time where my mom helped me bury her in our back yard, next to my other beloved pets that went before: Luv, Sunshine, Blizzard, Scamper, and Flutter (my parakeet, we buried him in a checkbox). My mom was such a great support through it all. She’d already dug the hole. That’s a good mom.

I then drove back to my place and just sat. I pretty much just sat around for the next four days. Had lunch with the Steele’s and Heather on Friday and that was good. But all I wanted to do was sit and knit and watch ‘The X-Files.’ I don’t know why I found that soothing, but I did. Actually, I still am.

Its actually harder to leave my apartment than to be in it because coming home to the place being empty is the worst part. I instinctively look for her the minute I get home, because that’s what I’ve done for the last eight years. Once I’m home and am over her not being there, I’m mostly ok.

I’m still sleeping on my side of my bed. I got the bigger bed like five or six years ago, but I’ve always just slept on the right side because the left side is Mac’s. I realized two nights ago that I’m still just sleeping on that side of the bed. I know I should move towards the middle, but I’m not there yet.

I realize that I’m lucky to have had her as long as I did, she didn’t quite make it to 20, but she was very close. And lucky that she was pretty darn healthy up until only about 6 months ago. I have so many great memories of her, all the way back to the day I picked her out of the box of kittens in Jackie and Don Vanderhorst’s garage in 1988.

Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and phone calls, cards, emails, etc. They mean more than you’ll ever know.

This may be it


It’s 3:20AM and I’m still awake post ‘Indy 4.’ The movie was fun and I enjoyed it a lot. It was kind of ridiculous at points, but still a great way to revist one of the best movie characters ever. Harrison Ford beats up a lot of people and that never ceases to amuse. I drank some pop at the show which got out almost an hour and a half ago which I think is partly the reason I’m still pretty wide awake.

The other reason is that I think this may be the last night I spend with MacGyver. I brought her home after work with a vast assortment of medications and instructions for monitoring and she’s just fading. She won’t eat at all, she drank once and then threw up the water. It was so sad. She’s stumbling when she tries to walk and basically is just laying on the floor quietly. I feel like she’s telling me it may be her time. 🙁 She sat on my lap for awhile and slept on her favorite chair. Now she’s just on the floor in front of my TV. I think she’s just worn out.

I’m going to stay up with her as long as I can with her tonight and then see if she’ll sleep on her pillow on my bed one last time. I’ll re-evaluate the situation in the morning but it might be time for her to go gently into that good night. I’ll never be ready, but I feel more at peace with it than I did two days ago.

Again, thanks for all the kind words and thoughts.

Mac Update : the roller coaster continues onward


There is bad news and good news since I last updated.

Yesterday morning when I called the clinic for an update, the news wasn’t promising. The vet techs said that she still wasn’t eating and that she didn’t seem to have the spunk she’d had before. I started slowly falling to pieces at this point. Dr. Brown called me back around 10am to say that things were not improving and we needed to make a decision about how to proceed; to do the biopsy or not. I drove over to the clinic, alternately crying and talking on the phone to my mom and Lisa as I went. Trying to figure out what I should do.

Upon arrival at the clinic, they brought Mac into an exam room so I could visit with her. I brought her favorite brush and gave her some good brushing. She seemed less lively than the previous evening.

Dr. Brown came in and talked to me about what my options were. As she was still not eating on her own, they did not want me to just take her home, as she would most likely just dehydrate and slowly starve to death and it would be painful. Not wanted. They had ruled out everything they could with blood work and the thought now was that it was probably either a lymphoma in her digestive track or irritable bowel disease, both would require a surgical biopsy to confirm. But I just didn’t want to put her through surgery, especially with her heart condition. I was a mess trying to make a decision. The vet did tell me there were still medical options for treatment, but they were more just a guess and a hope without the tests to confirm anything. Prednisone was the suggested treatment, for if it is irritable bowel disease, that would be the treatment, and if it is lymphoma, it would at least improve her condition for a few weeks before becoming ineffective. I had already decided I wasn’t going to treat a lymphoma. I’m not putting a 19 year old cat through chemo.

But I still wasn’t sure what to do. The rational part of me wanted to do the biopsy because I wanted to know I was choosing the correct course of treatment or that I knew there was nothing more to be done. Since my vet clinic has multiple vets who have all seen MacGyver before, I asked if I could get a second opinion, which was gladly given to me by Dr. Conant. I trust her a lot as she is very straight-forward. In the end she said she wouldn’t do the surgery if it was her cat and then asked who I was doing this for; me or Mac. Obviously, mostly for me at this point. But my main goal was for her not to suffer needlessly. I decided on the Prednisone treatment in the end. They let me stay and sit with her for as long as I wanted. I stayed another half an hour or so and then left.

I stopped into my office to check a couple of things, but I didn’t stay as I was really just distraught. I spent the afternoon at home furiously knitting. It seemed to occupy my mind the most easily. I was slowly beginning to come to terms with the fact that she probably wasn’t going to come home again.

I went back to the vet clinic last evening for another visit. She still wasn’t eating on her own, but we had another nice visit with brushing and some sunbathing.

After that visit, I thought I was slowly coming to terms with the fact that she really wasn’t coming home, because if she won’t eat on her own, that’s a sign that she is just done.

Of course, nothing is easy to come to terms with. The vet called me about a half an hour ago as I was starting this post to say that she has started eating some on her own now and that if I want, I can take her home today and continue treatment at home. I’m going to go over to the clinic on my lunch break to talk with the vet and see what the full details are. So its good news in the short term and I will enjoy her for as long as she’s able to be with me.

Thanks for all the encouragement and good wishes. I’ll continue to keep you all posted.

Update on my Macs


I twittered about it last week, but here’s what’s going on with MacGyver as of 5:20pm today:

On Thursday morning, I dropped her off at the vet clinic for observation. I am constantly amused when I walk in with my pet carrier and declare that I have MacGyver for a visit and all the people in the area all go, “Oooh, MacGyver” with various levels of trepidation and/or amusement in their voices. Her reputation (and the thickness of her medical chart) just continues to grow. She was at the clinic for the day and the vet found that she had a bladder infection and suspected that was most likely the cause of the “out of the box” urination and the loss of appetite. She prescribed some Clavamox and told me that Mac would most likely be hungry when she got home since she hadn’t eaten that day. I hoped for the best. When I got her home, she did go right for her dish and eat more than she’d eaten in days. Unfortunately, that pattern wasn’t to continue. I started her on the Clavamox (2x a day for a week), but she still wasn’t eating.

MacGyver resting on Thursday evening

My mom was a good kitty sitter and came to watch her and medicate her while I was in Chicago on Friday night. Mac wouldn’t eat for my mom either. When I got home on Saturday night, she was even more listless and fatigued than on Thursday night. She wasn’t eating at all. She was starting to stumble around, which I assumed was from lack of food. It was sad. But she was still drinking. I started attempting to syringe feed her to try to get her to perk up. I was up all night with her on Saturday. She would get off the bed every couple of hours to go out and drink these tiny amounts of water over a long period of time. She would wake me up (and woke up my mom the previous night the same way) because she was having such a hard time moving that she would basically fall off the bed. 🙁 So I would get up, watch her drink, and then carry her back to bed when she was done. We did this every two hours or so from 11pm until about 6:30am. Then we slept a little while longer, but really I was waking up about every 20 minutes to see if she was still alive. I really thought it was going to be the end. But every time, she’d be breathing and purring.

At around 11am, I finally really got out of bed and realized I needed to make a decision about Mac, unfortunately, very little sleep was not letting my rational mind process as I wanted, so I called the vet clinic and rambled on to some unsuspecting vet tech. I then rambled my way to the decision I should take her back to the clinic. Mac still had enough fight in her to make getting her into the cat carrier difficult. Got to the clinic around noon and met what had to be the last remaining clinic employee who hadn’t yet met MacGyver. Thankfully, the vet, Dr. Brown, was very familiar with the temperament of my cat and could recognize that she was lethargic. Upon examination, Mac had lost another half a pound since she had been weighed the previous Monday, so that wasn’t good. She was also dehydrated, so the doctor presented a two-step plan to me.

The first step is to admit her to the emergency clinic and start her on IV fluids for a day or two, along with giving her the antibiotics via IV to rule that out as a cause of stomach upset/loss of appetite. The second step is, once/if she stabilizes and starts eating again, to do a biopsy (but not surgically) of her lower intestinal tract to try and figure out why she continues to have diarrhea. The thinking behind that is there might be a condition that is treatable that is causing her to have the problems with eating and her digestion. Her heart sounded good, which was a good sign, since she has had the problems with that before. I haven’t decided on step two for sure yet, we’re still working on step one.

It was a lonely afternoon and evening without her, but the clinic is great about giving you an update anytime you call. I’m lucky to have a great 24-hour emergency clinic close at hand. I called this morning and they were still syringe feeding her every four hours, but she was taking the syringe food well, so that was positive news. Before lunch, another vet (who’s seen Mac many times) called after doing the morning evaluations, saying she had just eaten a tiny bit of food on her own, but that they were continuing to syringe feed her and thought it would be best to keep her for one more day. The clinic did need one of her meds that they don’t keep on hand (I have to have it compounded at a different pharmacy in town), so over lunch I went home and picked it up and then went to the clinic to visit her. They were really nice about bringing her to me in an exam room and letting me spend some time with her. She was less than amused most of the time, but she seemed a little better. She was still a little unstable, but I wasn’t sure if it was because she was still weak or because the exam table she was standing on was so slick under her overly furry feet.

Here she is today, her head isn’t that big, its just a weird angle

I just got off the phone with the clinic and the news stays the same. She’s still not eating on her own and they’re still feeding her and she’s letting them feed her ok, though there was a report of her giving some “attitude”, which sounds about right.

I’ll see what’s going on tomorrow. If she really just won’t eat anymore, then maybe it is her time, but she just had too much fight in her for me to not make sure there isn’t something treatable causing it.

As for the other “mac” mentioned in the title: I ordered a new 24″ iMac today. More on that later…

Mac Update


Mac snoozing a few moments ago

Over the past two weeks Mac’s appetite has really fallen off. She had a check-up at the vet eight days ago where the vet checked her for thyroid issues and other things. At that time the vet explained to me that studies have shown in very elderly cats that once they start really losing weight, the cat usually has at most two years left. Mac has lost nearly a pound in less than two months and when you only weighed eight pounds to start with, that’s a lot of weight. I really don’t think she has two years left in her, I’m hoping she makes it to her 20th birthday at the end of August, but after the past week, that might really be a stretch. She’s just skin and bones these days, though she still bathes regularly and her coat looks pretty good with my supplemental brushings. Every time I’ve taken her to the clinic, all the vets and vet techs have marveled at how good she looks for her age.

She’s just barely eating this past week. She still goes to her dish in the morning and in the evening, but if she eats anything, its just the tiniest amount. She’s not even getting half a pouch of food in her a day and I know that’s just not enough to sustain her. I’ve given a go of syringe feeding her like I did over the winter when she was ill, but it is such a battle, though it shows she still has fight in her. (My poor shredded fingers bear truth to that.) She’s definitely lethargic now. I really didn’t think she could get anymore inactive than she already was, but she has.

She’s stopped using her litter box and instead urinates on the underpads that I have always put down in front of her box to catch any messes. At least she’s only peeing there and not all over the place. I don’t know if she just can’t get in the box anymore or what. Unfortunately, I came home tonight to find blood in her urine. This happened last fall when she was so very sick so I’m worried. I had made the decision that I wasn’t going to take her back to the vet for the decrease in appetite and activity because I thought that was just her way of letting go. She doesn’t seem to be suffering and contentedly purrs away on my lap when I pick her up. But the blood concerns me, so I’m going to take her back tomorrow and drop her off for observation in the morning. Hopefully the clinic can get a urine sample and see if there is something that might account for the decrease in appetite, or just confirm for me that I’m doing the right thing in letting her be in the waning days.

I’m mostly calm about this, but yet ready to really lose it. I’m supposed to go to Chicago on Friday night to see Eddie Izzard with Scott, but I think I’m going to overnight the tickets to him just in case something happens and I don’t want to make the trip.

MacGyver's Perch


Mac\'s Perch

As a reward for her not biting anyone at the vet, and also because she’s old and spoiled, I got Mac a window perch for my office. I think she likes it.

Spring Game fun


Saturday was the 2008 Iowa Spring Game in Iowa City. A time for friends to gather, practice their tailgating skills, and cheer for football. It was a semi-warm and damp day. I joined the gathering in one of the lots behind the rec building around 10am. How lovely to be able to find a free parking spot in the nice lots and see how the big donors live for one day of the year. There were lots of friends with a lot of kids running/being carted about. Much cuteness ensued. The Iowa Hawk Shop also has a big clearance sale at Kinnick on this day, so I went with the Kollasch’s to see if one could have too much Iowa apparel. I am happy to report that the answer to that question remains a resounding NO.

There was grilling, there were beverages, and there was a cooler to be ridden. You’d be amazed at how fun it is to roll through the parking lots on a motorized cooler.

As for the practice/scrimmage/game itself, it was misty out. There is something cool (or possibly crazy) about sitting out with several thousand other fans in slightly unsavory weather just to watch your team practice. Jerry and I were cheering for football. It didn’t matter what was happening (do you cheer if the quarterback throws an interception because the defense did its job well?), it was just great to get back to the mindset of football season. The rain did pick up and become unpleasant just as most of us were heading for the car.

I posted many photos on Flickr that I’m sure the parents of the children in attendance will want to check out. Here are a few highlights:

Josh, Colleen, Doogie & Ben
Josh and the family Kollasch

Jenniffer & Muiread
Whitworth women!

Jerry & Taly ready for a ride
Jerry takes Taly for a spin

Colleen & Ben, Doogie, Josh, Jill, Sara, and Margaret
good times with good friends

Diane & Lindsey at Kinnick
Diane loves Lindsey

not a good sign


Its raining quite heavily here today (my umbrella suffered an unfortunate injury on the way in from the parking lot). But I wasn’t prepared for how hard it was raining until I went to walk out the door of my apartment building. There was a duck huddled next to the door looking in through the window like it was trying to escape the weather.

When the ducks are looking at you with a “please make it stop” look, it doesn’t bode well.

Good things for a Wednesday


Random things that made me happy so far today: