Losing Memo was very difficult, but one thing I had learned was that the only way to heal my heart from grief was to save another life. Enter Smokey, renamed to Simon. Yet again, Facebook connected me to a super senior cat (20 years old) that was languishing in a shelter while in horrendous condition, both physically and emotionally. As bad as I knew his condition was from his photos and the blood work results that were posted online (the shelter had confirmed he was diabetic and started him on insulin as a start), I wasn't exactly prepared...Simon would have the shortest stay at my home and challenge my views of my own strength and resilience.
Although I had requested that the shelter provide me with his insulin so that I could continue giving him the medication that he needed, I was told that they were unable to do that. That meant that Simon was without insulin for a day while we waited for his vet appointment. He was mostly motionless while at my home...unsteady on his paws, overgrown nails, unkempt fur with matting and dandruff, and ear mites. He hissed at me whenever I was near, so I gave him space that first day and he mostly rested in the new cat bed that I had bought him.
At his vet appointment the next day, my (former) vet stated that he needed to stay overnight so that they could monitor his glucose after giving him insulin (i.e., do a "glucose curve"). Knowing that the office did not have staff working overnight, I refused to leave him there and the vet did not give him insulin until we returned the next morning for a full day stay. Before work the next day, I dropped Simon off at this vet and reinforced that he was on one unit of insulin at the shelter so please do not give him more than one unit and please call me to update me on how he was doing. I never got a call. I called several times and they told me he was doing well. When I arrived after work to take him home, it was very clear that he was not doing well. I rushed Simon to our local ER vet and had to admit him...he was in grave condition after my vet gave him two units of insulin...not one, as I had requested. Simon went into heart failure and passed away the next day in the very early hours of morning. The ER had called me at around 2 or 3 AM to come as he was declining, but he passed before I could get there. Getting that call while en route was difficult to process.
I share Simon's story not because I want you to believe that diabetes is a death sentence - it most certainly is not and can be very manageable to treat. I share it to illustrate how important it is to be involved in your cat's healthcare and to specifically authorize all care provided to your cat by your vet. I honestly don't know that giving just the one unit of insulin would have "bought" Simon much more time. The truth is, his blood work was a mess and even the ER vet wasn't certain what was going on with him. Nonetheless, I blamed myself and questioned my abilities as a caregiver. Time has told me that, despite only two days together, Simon had to have known that I loved him and wanted the best for him. I pray he knew that.
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