Of life, love, cats, dogs (and everything else in between).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sophie the Burmese

It's been a roller-coaster of emotions for me lately and my spirits have been up and down like the temperamental weather these days! I still can't decide if i like the rain or not but i suspect the answer will be an affirmative one if i can just stay at home and snuggle up in bed and just enjoy being a couch potato. But no! The rain spells bad traffic, a restless Border Collie, endorphins/adrenaline deficiencies (no long walks, no training with the dog), a very uncomfortable cat whose arthritis is exacerbated and a generally emo mood.

I think a huge part of this recent emo-ness stems from Sophie's (my 19-year-old Burmese whom i love to bits) deteriorating health. I lost Cocoa 2 years ago, January 2005 to be exact, and i remembered that on the day she passed on, it was the rainy season and it was pouring non-stop too. I've never been able to talk about her much ever since she left and i still can't bring myself to do so even after so long.

(If i don't ever write this post about Sophie now, i don't think i ever will if she leaves me soon, so bear with me for abit, please.)

Sophie was diagnosed with kidney and heart disease about a year ago and she lost her vision (both her retinas were detached and i can still recall how i held the opthalmoscope near her eyes and after what i saw, just broke down uncontrollably) in January this year after a hypertension episode. I was very very very shattered then but never lost faith because i believed Sophie was put in my life for a reason - to teach me about love, strength and courage. And in turn, i was placed in her life to see her through her sunset years.

Anyway, if you've heard about Sophie, you'd know that she's an amazing cat and everyone takes to her because she is so gentle and affectionate. Mum was never really too fond of cats (not even Cocoa who lived with us for 10 years) but she grew to really love Sophie and even allowed her to sleep on the bed with her during her stay in Australia.

Sophie came to me when she was 15 years old. I happened to be working in an animal clinic in Perth that time and her owners brought her in to be put to sleep because they were moving away to another state and didn't want to bring her along. Moreover, she was already old (although she didn't behave like a cranky old cat) and it would be hard for her to find a new home. I remembered seeing Sophie for the first time, her eyes wide with fear and anxiety, as i placed her in a cat cage while she awaits death. I was tasked to act as the grim reaper and to give her the lethal injection. I've never ever ever been comfortable with putting any animal to sleep even though my job requires me to do so sometimes. If i had a choice, i'd want every animal to be held by their loved ones till their very last breath but i guess there are times when we have to be cruel to be kind, yeah i guess.

Anyway, i left Sophie in her cat cage the entire day and at the end of the day, i think i had already decided her fate in my heart. The next day, i was back at the clinic and was asked if Sophie had been put down. It was then that i made the final decision and told the head vet that i wanted to adopt her. I don't think they really cared but i called her ex-owners anyway and informed them that i was going to take Sophie in even though they had already paid for her to be put down. I don't think they really cared either and that was how Sophie became part of my life.

I've lots of good memories of me and her in our apartment at Kardinya together - how she'd sit by the bathtub and wait for me to finish my shower, how she'd jump on me every night to snuggle up during winter, how she jumped off my belcony and ended up waiting for me at my parking lot (she was on the roof unfortunately and i had to save her by climbing up a huge stack of chairs!!). It was all really hilarious but heart-warming at the same time. I knew i couldn't leave her in Aussie when it was time for me to head back to Singapore. I didn't know if someone else would abandon her again should her health fail or for any other reasons. Even though she was really quite a senior citizen and a flight would stress her immensely, the risk outweighed all the possible negative outcomes i could imagine.

So the story goes on and Sophie the Burmese survived the 5 hour flight (thank goodness) and migrated to Singapore from Down Under. Anyway, back to when her health started failing 1 year ago. Even though everyone thought her prognosis was poor and it was almost impossible for her to regain her vision because i wasn't even sure how long she had been blind (i was sent to US for a seminar and site visits for 2 freaking weeks), aggressive therapy was started to combat the hypertension and ease her failing heart AND kidneys. It has always been difficult to treat her problems because too much drugs are given, it stresses her kidneys out. It doesn't help that her heart drugs causes her to lose water when her kidneys are already diseased and she is mostly dehydrated. To supplement her with fluids can overload the heart and exacerbate her heart condition. It's like a vicious cycle of never-ending crises and any changes in the dynamics can upset the balance and push her over the edge. It's hard enough to manage her as a patient, and harder still because she is after all my beloved cat.

3 months after her initial episode, one of her retinas miraculously reattached itself. It has been described in textbooks that this usually only happens if therapy was commenced 24 hours following the loss in vision. I guess Sophie didn't read textbooks and she fought hard enough to recover. 10 months after that episode, both her retinas are back where they're supposed to and her vision is almost 80%, if not for other age-related vision problems. My ex-colleagues who just saw her recently remarked that her disease was rather well-controlled but the only thing was, because of the chronicity of her illness, other problems were arising. Sophie is now moderately anemic and requires alternate-day injections to stimulate her red cell production. Also, there are other deficiencies to correct and i'm trying to take this one step at a time and do whatever i can for her until i can do no more. I just really want to make sure she's comfortable till her last breath.

My folks and the husband, who have been very very very supportive of me, have been trying to tell me i've given her 4 good years already and i can only try my best and leave God to work out the rest. 1 week ago, i prayed to God for a miracle to happen, for Sophie to be well like she was when i first met her but now, i pray to God to give me the wisdom to do what's best for her and the courage, love and faith to help Sophie till my human hands can do no more.

2 days ago, Sophie looked much better than she was compared to a week ago. She walked around the room, stopping intermittently to rest her painful hips but she was alert and even came to me for a nuzzle - something which she has stopped to do for awhile. I gave her my ikea rat toy and she nuzzled it too, which made me smile and cry at the same time. She did one of her rare big stretches, gingerly though, and i still can see that scene vividly in my mind now.

Yesterday, i opened the glass cabinet in my room which i avoid if i can. In it lies the ashes of Bonnie and Cocoa and i still see Bonnie's bone and Cocoa's red collar there. I dunno when Sophie will join them but whatever it is, however little time she has, i hope i can make her as comfortable as possible.

When she fell ill in February, i thought she wouldn't make it pass chinese new year but she did. Then i thought she wouldn't make it pass my wedding but she did too. Now, i hope she makes it through this christmas and then my birthday and hopefully get to meet the little bub too. If not, then i can only hope that at the rainbow bridge, she'll be happily reunited with Cocoa whom i'm sure she misses.....


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