Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just Needed a Little Help

During Orbit's last few weeks and, especially, his last couple of days with us my wife worked tirelessly to help him eat.  She tried countless brands and consistencies of canned food, held his food and water dishes to his mouth to make it easier for him to eat and drink, and helped him along when he showed signs of wanting to walk toward his dishes.

     The first sign weeks ago that he was struggling was when he tried to get up on the futon, and he'd slip, unable to get his claws into the cushion.  When he came toward us we knew to help him up, and once on our laps he'd settle right in as always.
     During his last few days, especially, he was able to walk to his dishes, but then he'd just lay down in front of them, too tired or weak to stand and eat.

     On his last day here with us I came home for lunch and knew he just wasn't doing well, and I sat with him on my lap until I had to return to work.  Looking back now I wish I'd stayed home with him for the rest of the day.  Had I known that would be his last day with us I would have held onto him as long as I could so we could reminisce about our long life together.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Rest in Peace, Little Buddy

Losing a beloved pet is likely most difficult when you have to face it alone.  I lost my dear old Isaac (see posts from summer/fall of 2011) at a time when I lived alone and kept to myself for the most part.
     The sadness I struggled with then was overwhelming.  Though losing Orbit was no less painful it has helped tremendously to have someone to share that grief with.  
     Enter "mom".  Call it selfish, but sharing the sadness of this past week has made the burden slightly easier to bear.  When we first brought Orbit into our home after not having him living with me for a short time I was concerned he and my wife wouldn't take to each other.
     I was wrong in my thinking, and at times I think she's taken his passing harder than I.  Sure, I've known him three times longer than she has, but they hit it off pretty well from the get-go, and the two of them have been together every single day since we moved south about four years ago.

     My wife and I also find comfort in knowing that Orbit was in the best hands he could've ever been in when he needed medical care.  Since moving to Wilmington we'd been taking him to Atlantic Animal Hospital, and we can't thank them enough for their excellent care and compassion they've shown, especially during this past week.
     The day after Orbit passed away they sent us this beautiful arrangement.
     And then just the other day we received this very thoughtful sympathy card from them, signed by the hospital staff.

     We wanted a private cremation for Orbit, and we picked up his ashes this past Saturday.  They gave him a beautiful polished urn for his final resting place, along with his paw print in clay and a sprig of rosemary, the herb of remembrance. 
     My co-workers also gave us a colorful arrangement, hand-delivered by my supervisor.  Together they make a beautiful, thoughtful tribute to Orbit.

     Though I'd previously taken it down since he was no longer able to manage the steps, we've since re-attached Orbit's perch, and we've placed this sweet memento on the upper step and top platform in his memory.
     The urn, which is in my lap as I write (where Orbit spent nearly every morning in life) came with a brass plate, which we'll have engraved.

     Although we've begun the process of dealing with all things Orbit, which has been a difficult task for my wife, especially, we've set aside some of his things.  We're not in any rush to get rid of everything, we're just not ready to part with it.  This past weekend my wife washed out his litter box, and rolled up the extra piece of carpet we kept under it.  
     She'd already washed out his dishes and put them away, and in time we'll decide what to do with the rest.  There's no rush.

     My wife and I are deeply moved by the outpouring of sympathy, kindness and understanding everyone here has shown during this very difficult time, and I wish I had the time to thank each and every one of you individually.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Always in Our Hearts and Minds, and Impossible to Let Go

I have to go back to work today for the first time since Orbit passed away.  Today will be the first day my wife will be home alone- truly alone.
     She reminded me this morning that every time I've been away- at work, traveling to see the grandchildren, work conferences- Orbit was always here to keep her company.  Our apartment is very small, but Orbit filled the place with, well, Orbit.
     There are still reminders everywhere.  I don't know which is worse, keeping those reminders around, or removing everything  in an attempt to ease the pain of missing him.
     We are overwhelmed with the number of kind words, purrs and prayers and sweet remembrances we've received for Orbit.
     I'm not quite ready to retire Orbit's blog.  I've had a few posts queued up, and want to share just a few more things, and I know he'd want me to. I can't keep it going forever without his input and direction, so I realize it's only a matter of time.
     I will try my hardest not to beat this into the ground.
     We miss him more than we'll ever be able to express.  It's crazy how much of an impact such a small creature can have on two very sad people.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The End of a Long, Valiant Effort

Orbit passed away last night.  My wife and I are heartbroken, and this place just isn't the same without him here.  We held him in our arms until the very end, and it's hard to keep the tears back.
     We miss him terribly, and will always remember him for the sweet, loving, entertaining cranky old fart that he was.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I'm Tired

Just keeping me comfortable for now.  Thank you all many times over for your purrs, prayers and kind words.

This weekend was a little iffy, and I need help getting back and forth now, but the baby food was a great idea.  Thanks guys.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hell, Old, blah blah blah Continued...

Well, the perch came down.  Dad got home yesterday and mom told him I'd tried several times to climb it, even though they'd blocked off the bottom step.  I managed to get up it at one point, and ended up falling off the perch, which pretty much put an end to that.
     I don't do so well as far as landing on all fours anymore.  The perch steps are laying over in the corner right now, and dad decided to use the actual perch for a raised step in front of my litter box since I've been having difficulty getting into it and back out.
     They slept on the futon mattress on the floor again, and, though dad slept a little better I must've kept mom up because when dad woke up around four she had gone back into the bedroom.

     Dad called the doctor yesterday, and they said sure, they could do the whole admitting/IV/meds thing all over again, but they could not promise any better or different results.  This is how it goes with wrinkly old unreliable kidneys.  My labs weren't all too positive when they released me last time, though I think everyone was hopeful. 
      They said we could continue the subcutaneous fluids three times a week and maybe even up it to every other day, and at this point anything I'll eat is fine (I got to enjoy real tuna last night!).
     I swear, between the sudden sadness and sniffling around here and all this "just make him comfortable" talk- where the hell do they think I'm going?!

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's Hell Getting Old

A roller coaster ride, that's what it's been latelyOne night the poor guy's nearly lifeless, like a rag doll, the next he's standing on my sleeping wife's chest, trying to step on her head for some reason.
     Most days he just sleeps as usual, but this morning, and I mean like 1:00- 1:30, I woke to find him trying and failing to climb his perch steps.  He walks towards a storm door window my wife has propped against the living room wall, adorned with this year's partially finished Christmas painting.  He sits there, looking into it like he's watching something.
     We now have to either cut down the edge of his litter box or find him a new, shallow one because he can no longer easily step into or out of this one.  He wobbles a bit more each day, like a little black furry drunken man.
     We've been up off and on since I first woke around 1:30-ish watching him wander, watching him stoop over his three dishes of food and water, stare at them, then walk away.
     Right now he's crying and staring up at his perch, and, though I have the bottom step blocked I'm ready to run over to either help him climb or stop him.  As I wrote this last paragraph I watched him trip absentmindedly over his water dish, and he's now pacing a loop around the base of his perch and his dishes, which we've moved into the living room so they're near where we slept on the futon mattress on the floor since he's not capable of pulling himself up onto the futon any more without slipping off.
     No longer able to groom (or, knowing him, just not giving a shit) he wears a permanent smear of slime/crust on his chin, down his chest and over the front of his paws.  Sure, we try to help keep him cleaned up, but...  No new pictures these days- I'll spare him that.
     Call the Vet?  Pay another hefty sum just to walk through the door, get a consult, and more meds/treatments/therapies that seem less and less effective lately?  Risk a scolding for giving up on this "special" diet stuff he just won't eat and feeding him anything he'll eat at this point? 
     Can we rely on them to just be honest with us about what we really need to start thinking about?  We're up to three times a week on his fluid therapy now, and the last few doses of appetite stimulant have had progressively less effect.
     His weight's been bouncing between 4.8 lbs and 5.4 or so, and last night he was right at five.  We just want the poor guy to be comfortable, but so far it seems we're not doing so hot.
     He just climbed up onto my lap, and he hates to have to fight the laptop for space, so I'll sign off with his trademark "Bye".

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Holiday Cheer

Now before anyone goes getting their undies in a bunch let me say that everyone is entitled to an opinion.
I side with those who feel that it is Christmas, and as such, one should still be able to say "Merry Christmas".
     Political correctness should not be force-fed and, though times have changed and we should all be a little more considerate, tolerant and open-minded, Christmas is coming, dammit.
     Mom and dad were grocery shopping yesterday when mom spotted this snowman propped in front of a jewelry counter in Walmart.  She thought it looked odd with the homemade "Merry Christmas" sign in its mittens, until she took a closer look at it.  
     We're not sure how long the homemade sign will hang there or who made it, or if anyone even cares.
     Yes, the word "holidays" is a useful, generic term that safely covers everything for everyone, but come on, Christmas time is a season to celebrate and spread good cheer (God knows we need as much of that as we can get these days). If I want to say "Merry Christmas" as I have for who the hell knows exactly how many years, then I'm gonna say "Merry Christmas"!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Back to Me

Well, they made it back, and found me almost a pound heavier than when they left!  I guess I was pretty well cared for while mom and dad were gone, and I think they're officially onto me.
     You see, they've had this sneaking suspicion that they've gone overboard, spoiling me once they get a hint that I may not like a particular food.
I'm supposed to eat only a specific kind, because of my kidney issues, and I usually take a bite or two and that's it.
     The stuff I ate while at the hospital did me just fine for those three days, but I won't eat it at home.  They've been going out of their way to try different brands/flavors/textures, which I've learned to take advantage of, but they realized that the stuff they left for the guy who took care of me to feed me was more than sufficient, and I even gained weight!
     Anyway, I'm still kicking, but I tend to wobble more lately, and I'm not doing such a great job cleaning myself up after eating.  
     Mom and dad had a few days of fun and relaxation while down in Myrtle Beach, but this post is about me, not them.
     I was happy when they walked in the door Saturday afternoon, and I couldn't wait to curl up on someone's lap once they got settled.  I'd kind of made a mess with my food, especially  the dry crap they make me eat, but once they got unpacked and cleaned up after me they focused on my comfort.

Mom had some organizational stuff to do (she's the brains that keep us running), and I just couldn't wait for her to finish, so she let me do my thing while she was working.  
     I got in my lap time with dad as well, but God knows you've already seen enough pictures of that.