There is a favorite among the witticisms I have collected in my life. It says, quite simply:
I try to take life one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once!
The last four weeks have been a roller coaster ride in my house. Not the screaming-in-glee-buy-the-obscenely-priced-photo-at-the-end kind of ride, but the stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off kind.
One of the barn cats that came with the property in the country we bought 5 years ago (and are currently trying to sell) showed up in February looking abnormally thin–skin and bones, to be exact. Mom and Dad took her to the vet there, who said she was dehydrated and had a kidney infection. Lavender (the calico cat) received some pills to clear up the infection, and we brought her up here to the city to nurse her back to health.
For about 3 weeks, Lavy seemed to improve. Then, one day, she couldn’t walk straight and, in fact, could barely stand. When I got home from work that day, I took her to the nearby Tech Ridge Pet Hospital. Even though it was only 10 minutes before closing time, Dr. William Watson and his staff bent over backwards to help us. A blood test confirmed that Lavy was still dehydrated, and had a red blood cell count of only 18%–marginal for sustaining life. They spent an hour stabilizing her, then directed me to the 24-hour vet clinic a few miles south.
There, I had an agonizing choice to make. Money is tight now, and the recommended course of treatment would be far beyond our means with no guarantee of success. I was tearfully honest with both Dr. Watson and the 24-hour clinic. Both were understanding and accommodating, none of us wanting to give up if she still had a chance. We worked out an alternative plan of treatment that had about the same chance of success, but was much more affordable. It did require someone at home to provide round-the-clock care, but fortunately I did have that available.
I faithfully followed up with Dr. Watson at Tech Ridge Pet Hospital, stopping by to refill medications or to purchase Science Diet A/D food and Barleygreen in efforts to increase Lavy’s weight and appetite. Her numbers, though, were not improving. I was told to expect Lavy’s red blood count to decrease as she re-hydrated, but at her follow-up visit a week later, her count was at 10%–the absolute minimum to sustain life. Knowing that chances were not good but that she seemed to be rallying in response to treatment, we took her back home. The whole time, Dr. Watson (himself!) called every few days to check on her progress and to see if we needed any advice. We were very impressed with his far-above-professional interest in our little love.
For almost another week, she seemed to improve–two Saturdays ago, it was all we could do to keep her from jumping out of the box in which we were keeping her (Dr. Watson had urged us not to allow Lavy to jump or even to walk on her own–with so few cells to carry oxygen, any exhertion could kill her). The next day, Sunday, she wasn’t even able to stand. Still, she had recovered before from “bad days,” so we weren’t losing all hope yet.
This time, though, there was no rally. Lavy stayed the same until Wednesday night. Hubby and I were giving Lavy her medicine (mixed with A/D), but this time instead of fighting us with wriggling and paw escape attempts, she clamped her jaw shut tight. I got a little more of 3/4 of the mixture down her using a food syringe, but when I tried to administer the rest, Lavy looked at the two of us and plaintively meowed. Lavy NEVER meows. I looked at Hubby and said “I think she’s asking us to let her go.” He agreed.
Thursday morning, Lavy was too weak for any medicine and had no interest in food or water. She was held and loved all day. At 5:35 last Thursday, Lavy breathed her last. I called the clinic to say I was coming by with the body (as we have no where here to properly return her to the earth). How appropriate–again, we arrived 10 minutes before closing. Lavy was in a cloth-lined wicker basket that Hubby and I had bought several weeks ago in case she didn’t make it. Inside the basket, Lavy looked like one of those kitties sleeping in the smallest space into which they could fit–complete with tail across her face. It was a sweet-looking image.
I thought that would wrap things up until next year, when Baby Sally Semi-Meezer is due for her next annual shots and check-up. I was amazingly wrong. Today, in my mailbox was a card addressed to the family from Tech Ridge Pet Hospital.
“How sweet,” I thought, expecting a generic condolence card with the name of the practice neatly laser-jetted beneath the printed sentiment.
How incredibly wrong I was–fantastically, overwhelmingly wrong. Inside the card with the beautifully-silhouetted black-and-white photo of a cat, were HANDWRITTEN condolences from EVERY member of the staff, and an entire paragraph written by Dr. Watson himself to comfort us on our loss. Also enclosed was a card with Lavender’s name written in a gorgeous calligraphy and her two dainty pawprints. I have promised my daughter that I will frame the pawprints for her to keep always.
Every consumer expects customer service. Every business is exhorted (especially in these tough times) to give the customers more than they expect. The attention that Dr. Watson gave us, whom he didn’t know from Adam a month ago, goes indescribably above and beyond any definition of customer service and attention to detail.
This is beyond being a good businessman–this is being a wonderful human being. All I can do is tell everyone I can what a jewel is found at Tech Ridge Pet Hospital. This, Dr. Watson and staff, is for you. God bless each and every one of you–pressed down and running over.