A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rest In Peace Ozzie


Last Monday, the 18th, I brought Ozzie in to the vet because his mouth was hurting him.  The vet said he had a serious infection, but that it could be treated with antibiotics twice a day for the next 10 days; he gave the medicine to me in liquid form.  After I got home I tasted a little bit of it to see how bad tasting it was, and it was horrible.  Nonetheless, I had to give it to him and give it to him I did.  I wrapped him up in a towel and squirted the dropper full into his mouth.  I didn't get all of it into him on first try, so I would have to hold him down and try again.  Afterwards I would give him a portion of wet food which he would eat up.  This went on several times a day until Saturday morning when he stopped eating and drinking.  On Sunday he disappeared for hours and I couldn't find him.  When he did show up, he was still not eating or drinking.  Mostly he rested and slept; he was obviously weak.  Early this Monday morning I called the vet and was told to bring him right in, which I did.  They were  going to give him fluids and test his blood.  A couple of hours later I get a call from the vet's sister, who is the receptionist/nurse.  She tells me that Ozzie is very ill, that he has diabetes and several other things wrong with him and that she would like to keep him over night so that the doctor can give him some insulin to see if he responds, but that if he doesn't they will recommend that Ozzie be euthanized.  This morning I called and was told that there was no change.  I went in to the vet's office at noon and then visited with Ozzie for 25 minutes.  He cried out when he saw me.  I calmed him down by petting and kissing him and talking to him gently.  The vet's sister stayed with me for part of the time and we talked sympathetically to each other which I think also soothed Ozzie.  He drank a lot of water, but had not touched the food.  I asked the vet's sister if they would give Ozzie a pain killer first before they euthanized him.  She said that was their policy.  They would give him a mild sedative, leave him alone for 5-10 minutes and then give him his lethal injection.  I had asked before if I could bring him home to die, but was told that there was a distinct possibility that Ozzie might go through seizures because of his condition.  And so I was strongly urged to let them take over.  And so I made the decision, as I have with other cats, to follow their advice.

I had been forewarned by Ozzie himself that he would not live as long as I wanted him to because last year, after I took in 6 kittens, he lost about 4 pounds.  Then he stopped doing a good job of grooming himself and with the weight loss he was not as strong or as confident as he had been before.  I thought he was having a bad reaction to the kittens, but it appears that in actuality diabetes was the culprit.  There were several times in the last 6 months where I could have sworn that he was going to die, but miraculously he would perk up and I would feel a rush of gratitude.

I got Ozzie as a kitten in 1999 from someone I had met and befriended in a domestic violence support group.  This friend and her family were avid animal lovers and had several dogs, a bunch of cats and a cockatoo.  I was distinctly psychotic at the time, paranoid, delusional and hearing lots of voices, but I managed to hide my symptoms somewhat from the women I met at the group.  Eventually I would get another partially grown kitten to be Ozzie's playmate.  That cat, Moocher, I still have and he's in good health, knock wood.  I had other cats too from when I was with my ex-boyfriend, but gradually, one by one, they died or were euthanized.  I hoped that I would have Ozzie till he turned 14 because that's usually the age my cats have been when they've started to fail.

I have been generally fortunate with my cats healthwise, no drawn out cancers, no diabetes till now, not much in the way of having to give them medicines.  They have been a pleasure to be around and a comfort in my darkest hours.  Ozzie, in particular, was a very patient and sweet natured cat.  I felt connected to him because he was my oldest cat, besides Moocher, in a house full of youngsters.  I would make sure to pay special attention to him to let him know that he was particularly loved and he responded to my attention and caresses.

The closest I've been to the visceral quality of death has been through my cats.  I have had them die in my arms.  They are great teachers of what Buddhists call Impermanence, the fluid changing quality of life that also includes death and maybe rebirth.  The love of my pets and my love for them has been a reliable joy in my life.  So now I have seven to care for instead of eight.  Despite my deep sadness at losing Ozzie and at losing all my many cats over the years, it's been worth it all.  So farewell, sweet Ozzie, till I join you, and all the others who have gone before you, on the other side.
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