Copyright 2009-2013 Liz Sweibel

Friday, July 12, 2013

Glenwood Smudge Sweibel: June 1-ish 2009 to July 11, 2013

June 16, 2013
She died last night, at home, after a week-plus of swift decline.

It was a perfect storm:  her long history of infections, the stress of me being away for ten days (I returned July 6 to find her immobilized; we went straight to the ER), and - based on doctors' conjectures - possibly a brain tumor.  While she had about 24 hours of solid improvement once home from the hospital on July 8, she weakened again rapidly.

Yesterday we visited Dr. Ryan at One Love, and I came home armed with our last treatment plan to help her rebound.  When I opened her carrier, she was so weak that I couldn't bear to continue to try.  I told her over and over it was OK to let go.  I stroked her and held her front paws, and she pressed them against my hands until she had no more strength.  She was gone within an hour.

[It's several hours later, and I just realized Glenwood said good-bye to me.  In her carrier, there was a moment where I knew she was gone.  She was completely limp.  But then her ears twitched and her eyes opened and she lifted her head and looked right at me, and stayed with me a few seconds, kneading her paws into my hands.  I held her head, and then she was really gone.]

This is the last entry to this blog.  It is Glenwood's story, even as it intertwined with Timmy's and Grace's - and, energetically, Riley's.  Grace is only slightly registering the absence, but they had not lived together very long and had been separated in recent weeks to keep Glenwood as calm as possible.

As I drove home from One Love this morning, I passed the house where I found her almost four years ago - four months old, one pound, close to death.  Her will to live was extraordinary.  I never saved a life before, but with Dr. Ryan, I saved hers.  My heartfelt thanks to each of you who helped and cheered Glenwood on.  I loved her like crazy and always will.

I will be avoiding that block on Glenwood Road for awhile - and I hope tossing Q-Tips for Grace for a long time to come.

Her Fluffy Self, Missed
P.S. I just reread a post about Glenwood's first trip to the vet in 2009, and saw that Riley died July 10.  Since my grief for Riley is what had me find Glenwood, it seems curious that Glenwood would die one day after the fourth anniversary of Riley's death.

P.P.S.  My dear friend (and now sister-in-law!) Sherri was intimately involved from the second I brought Glenwood home, not to mention bestowed her middle name.  Today she wrote:  "I have SUCH clear memories of her from the very beginning when you called me from the front door..and watching this crusty, stinky, hairy toed little cat blossom into the sweet, lovable terrorist she became..yeah, I understand. You saved her life and gave her a great one, however short."  Thanks, Sherri, for all of it.

P.P.P.S.  My department chair wrote such a kind note that it must be shared:  "Oh, Liz ~  This was a creature with a survivor’s spirit: determined, single-minded, selective of her source for affection, fragile.  You both ‘found’ each other at a time when both were in need.  I’m glad you were able to release Glenwood so she was not required to fight back yet one more time.  Peace to this dear girl – and to you.  Keep a big supply of Q-tips! (and tissues ---)"

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Tad More Social

In the Good Company of Ellen's Book
Glenwood has been out a little more over the last 24 hours.  She is eating some, but tends to make respiratory noises. I'm combing and petting her a lot when she wants it; I don't want her to think I only come at her with Zymox and Q-Tips, though I know that is in her little fur head.  We're going to One Love Monday.  Don't tell her.  I'm monitoring her accounts closely.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It Has to Be Said

My fear and my growing belief are that Glenwood is starting her decline.  She is not regaining her energy or strength.  She is thin, moves slowly, bathes little, curls up in strange corners, pees in the bathtub, breathes noisily at times, and sleeps all the time.  She both wants and avoids me - wants for the combings and petting; avoids because of the ear cleanings.  I will call Dr. Ryan.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Trail of Toys

Feather, Deconstructed Sculpture, Resting Q-Tip, Resting Grace

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Glenwood lives a quiet life now.  She is better, but she is not fine.  I think she is still getting better, and so I let her be, comb her, feed her on demand, and tackle her daily to fill her ears with Zymox then dig out ... plenty.  If there's a positive side to all this, it's that Grace has discovered Q-Tips.  She self serves whenever I open the cat pantry:

My job is to throw the Q-Tip in one of two ways:  either an underhand toss across the apartment so she can retrieve it ...

... or a toss straight up so she can leap up to catch it.  I took about a million pictures trying to capture her mid-air, but uh no.  I'll keep trying.  Whichever version of the game we are playing (she chooses), she is 1000% focused, and my house is littered with Q-Tips in various states of well-being.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Road Is Rough Again

There Might Be Some Kangaroo in Grace
While Grace has endeared herself to this household - she has 21 toes! she fetches! - Glenwood has been struggling with infection, and we are in the midst of a second round.  A shot of a long-lasting antibiotic plus a run of Clavamox seemed to do the trick the first time, then last Sunday she retreated again.  I made an appointment at One Love, and she must have overheard because she went behind the TV, then under the bed, then under the dresser, and so on.  I could not get her.  So I cancelled the appointment, and having overheard that, she marched out for a scritch.  I grabbed her, remade the appointment, and showed up with cat hair all over me from crawling under the bed.  The kind receptionist handed me a lint roller.

Looks Like Taxidermy But Just Yawning
She got another shot last Sunday with an ear medication to give her twice daily for ten days.  But when I got home she went behind the TV for four days.

May 5 through May 9
She's out now so receiving her meds, but making strange respiratory noises when she eats.  At least she's eating, if not grooming much.  I have found her perched with my cat memorabilia, which is unnerving ...

Where Cats Rest
... while Grace does her thing nearby.

A New Best Friend

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Gs Go Paw to Paw

Glenwood Paw to Paw with Grace
Five things I've noticed:

  1. When Glenwood surprises me, my first reaction is that she got out of the bathroom.  It's an odd experience of past and present.
  2. Until Grace arrived, Glenwood still looked like a kitten to me.  Now I see she is a cat, albeit a tiny one (aspiring to seven pounds).
  3. I believe Grace is missing a rear toe.  There's a missing bit of fur where it was or should be.  The two extras in the front make the entire arrangement even odder.
  4. I gave Grace the orange bouncy ball, which was Dr. Ryan's gift to Glenwood on our first visit.  And, as with Glenwood, it is typically in the food or water bowl when I come in.
  5. I gave Grace access to the hall yesterday, with a screen between her and Glenwood.  This too brought the past forward, as it echoed the meeting of Glenwood and Timmy.  The Gs visited, but Grace was quick to return to the bathroom.
By the way, I have an entirely new bathroom since it was Glenwood's home. It's a little harder to have a kitten living in there than it was in the prewar version, but that's what Method is for.  I should buy stock.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Grace Under No Pressure At All

After a couple of months in a cage, however roomy and well cared for, my bathroom must seem like the Ritz.  Grace is perfectly content, though I don't expect it to last.  We're almost through the first week and she's now meowing a bit after I leave, though she resettles quickly.  She eats, she plays, she uses her box (quite neatly, I might add), she climbs me, she does somersaults.  She is a total love bug.  I crack open the door so she and Glenwood can look at each other and touch noses, which inevitably ends with Glenwood hissing and running away.  Grace is unfazed.

Resting comfortably under the sink.

This toy extends under the door, where Glenwood can play at the other end.

This is a new perch for Glenwood, atop a vintage photo album .

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Timmy Is Smiling on Us

I picked up Grace yesterday!  She is home and I love her.  She was cautious for the first hour then raced out of her shell and is now doing rolls.  She makes great eye contact.

Unfortunately, one of the One Love cat crowd had coccidia, so Grace is being treated preventatively and needs to stay in the bathroom for two weeks.  As the posts from October through December 2009 document in great detail, my bathroom was home to Glenwood for nine lo-o-o-o-o-ng weeks.  Timmy sat outside the door waiting for Glenwood to appear; now Glenwood will wait outside for Grace, as Timmy watches from the Big Window Sill in the Sky (which has a radiator beneath it).

Meet and Greet in the Foyer
Exiting the Carrier (See Her Thumb?)
Dining from Beneath the Sink

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meet Grace

I visited Grace yesterday at One Love and spent about half an hour with her.  Our relationship progressed from the first photo to the third (with 15 in between that I will spare you).  She is sweet and it's going to be a wonderful match.  I like that she looks like Timmy all colored in.  I love her big front paws.  (Her cagemate was also adopted, which is good news for him and for me, as he is a beauty and had haunted me a bit.)

Grace at First
Grace After About 20 Minutes
Grace Upon My (Reluctant) Departure

Saturday, January 5, 2013

One Love Needs Help

We miss Timmy.  For me, that's been two-plus months of missing his big, funny self at my feet, in my lap, on the bathmat, at the door, by my side as I slept.  For Glenwood, it's been two-plus months of looking for him, then adhering herself to me (Gluewood), then venturing into his special spots, and now wanting me to be her everything.  It's a lot of pressure, made worse by me not being nocturnal or good at banking off the couch to chase a toy.

Glenwood needs a pal.  Last weekend, an infection in her good ear brought us to One Love, which brought us our answer.  These wonderful people took in 45 cats from a hoarder in Coney Island during Hurricane Sandy, even emptying their offices out to add cages.  The cats needed care and weren't adoption-ready, but Dr. Ryan let me peek in the room.  I told her to sign us up.

I met everyone today at our follow-up appointment and, among all the beautiful kitties, found ours.  She is an older kitten with the beautiful deep-gray coat of a Russian Blue and double feet.  It was hard to have to choose, but in the end I didn't have to; she did.  Her One Love name is Samoa, but she is really Grace.  I will post a photo as soon as I have one, and will go get her as soon as she gets the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

If you or anyone you know is in need of a good cat, One Love needs good people to adopt.  Please spread the word and help if you can.  Their phone is 718.532.7410 and they are located at 317 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn (Boerum Hill).  Thanks.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Timmy Bidegain Sweibel: 10.9.2000-10.27.2012

Timmy went peacefully at 3.45 Saturday afternoon.  Dr. Ryan gave me all the time I needed before sedating him, and he actually snarfed some treats before the sedation took effect.  Below are some highlights of our seven-plus years together, starting in the loft, where he and Riley joined me in 2005 and it took four months for Timmy to jump in my lap.

King of the Hill
Braving the Pelican
A Rough Day with Riley
And Another
Catching the Rays
Trading Places
Upon Our Move to Brooklyn, Timmy Briefly Took Up Residence in a Rug
But He and Riley Adjusted
Then Came Glenwood
Timmy Was Endlessly Tolerant
And Soulful
He Meditated
And Read the Paper
And I adored him.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

He Is Ready; I Am Not

The decline has been swift.  It seems Timmy was waiting for events in my life to settle down, as cats do.  Even midterms.  Yesterday he was still getting around and sharing a blanket with Glenwood.  I could see in his face, though, that he is moving away.  This morning he gave a clear message.  I took the photo after I cleaned up.  When I tried to clean his front paw, he tried to move; it had become such a struggle for him overnight.  We have an appointment with Dr. Ryan at 1.00.  Now he is set up in the foyer with water and a litter box, sitting way, way under my big table.  I wish he was less alert, though I know he wants no other decision now (I was worried I wouldn't know); his body is not a good place to be.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aerial View

After returning from a trip to Memphis (for the installation of Parts to the Whole at the Medicine Factory), my emptied suitcase was immediately filled by Timmy.  The steroid has been doing its job of keeping him perky and buff.  The past few days have shown a slow-down, though, so I am watching carefully.

September 26, 2012

Aerial View of Big Timmy on Steroids

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Status Quo

We are doing well, all things considered.  Timmy started on a corticosteroid, and his energy level increased right away.  I didn't see that he had been lethargic, but still noticed a difference.  He continues to eat like I've never seen, and now seems to be putting on a little weight!  It's all stomach.  His fur is ... aging ... but he is leaving more of it intact.  He is in a good mood, and even allowing Glenwood to rough it up with him a little.  I'm protective.

This could continue for a long time, and I hope it does.  Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reading Material and a Little Stretch

We are all reading Thinking, Fast and Slow.  (Fabulous book.)  Glenwood then reclines in the summer heat.  A Timmy update follows.
Timmy began prednisone today.  He continues to be in good spirits and have a terrific appetite, but now I understand that he isn't gaining weight because the food isn't nourishing him.  It's feeding the cancer.  That was hard to hear.  But Dr. Ryan said to give him all he wants, so I am on deck as waitstaff pretty much all the time.

I also notice that he's a little less tolerant of Glenwood's antics, but then again so am I.  The difference is that he hisses and I screech.  He's been such a good sport with her for so long that he's earned a slightly shorter fuse for any number of reasons.

Monday, July 16, 2012

When Is Dinner?

Timmy Holding the Remote
As you could probably tell from my initial post about Timmy's illness, I thought the end was imminent.  I was wrong, thankfully, though I don't know how wrong.  Also, I don't want this blog to become a morbid accounting of Big Timmy's decline.  So I will post updates as I have them, since so many of you ask (thank you!), and share Timmy as the loving, hilarious (albeit thin and balding) beast he continues to be.

It is pretty definitive that Timmy has a cancerous mass in his throat.  There will be no biopsy, as it would be an awful procedure for him.  My last message from Dr. Ryan mentioned acupuncture and Chinese herbs to slow the growth of the cancer; she referred me to the One Love vet who practices Eastern medicine on Western pets.  I will get more information.  Based on how he treats my meditation area, he has no respect.

In the meantime, Timmy continues to eat an incredible amount.  He has a bit of trouble with dry food (though wetting it helps), so it's wet food all the way.  Here's the stash of kitty tuna I lugged home from TJs today.  I hope it lasts the week.  I must go now because he's jumped on the desk demanding more.

Glenwood and Timmy Taking Inventory

Timmy Double-Checking