You wanna piece of me? Huh? Well, get in line. I pity my new dermatologist I see at noon today because he’s the most recent in line to scrutinize this old model and I’ve reached the point where I’m ready to swat the next non-spouse person who so much as touches me. I’ve managed to stay away from the doctor’s office most of my life through a combination of good fortune and good sense so this recent round of high maintenance is taking a toll.
Yesterday I had an appointment with my new gynecologist, another specialty I’ve avoided since I finished having children; my internist was a wonderful all purpose woman who took care of everything. It was sort of like, once your new car goes out of warranty you switch from the dealership to Jiffy Lube and get the quick oil change. Until you need a valve job. Anyway, the gynecologist came on the heels of two visits to the new internist and visits to two specialty ultrasound clinics (one did suspension, the other under-the-hood). I assumed it was merely to discuss a master plan of attack based on everyone else’s findings. Hah! Life should be so simple. He wanted a punch biopsy of some hinterland place and I wasn’t expecting that, especially as the streets of downtown Chicago were flooding with a great storm, cab drivers were disappearing into the twilight zone and I had plans to meet a new friend (a local blogging buddy!) for a drink after.
I’m know I’m fine, he assured me I’m fine and this was just precautionary and the last little thing that needs checking before they begin repairs. I thought to myself that THIS is why I have the life philosophy that you try to start with a decent model and handle the mechanics yourself the best you can, drive that sucker into the ground and call Mother Waddle’s Charities to come drag it out of the driveway when it dies.
Meanwhile, back in the land of Oz,
the Hummer McCloud had been unceremoniously dumped at Compassionate Animal Care veterinary services. While this is primarily a hospice for cats they also do your basic cat medical services and it dawned on me two hours before my own appointment downtown that McCloud was in need of services. He had stopped using the box the day before, preferring instead the fine wool dining room rug. (Why use the fine wool living room rug when it had already suffered water damage in the great broken pipe fiasco? If you’re going to befoul something, go for the gold. That’s how cats think, as opposed to dogs, who roll in dead skunk.) I gave him a stern talking to, reminding him that there was a nice end-of-life service center for cats not 500 feet down the alley but later I felt guilty when I saw him straining in pain to no good end in the box. ( killing myself with puns here.)
It was only 94 degrees and about to storm and the cat only weighs 22# and has very powerful sharp claws and is a veritable sumo wrestler when necessary and the vet was only 500 feet down the alley and I had a full twenty minutes to get smelling like a daisy and be downtown. Why not choose that moment to go to the vet? But these things, like trips to the pediatrician, never do come at opportune moments and your worst nightmare is that it might not be anything but if it is and you don’t go it will erupt into the Mt. Vesuvius of medical emergencies about 2 am. I did not want to be dealing with a feline bowel obstruction in the middle of the night in Chicago.
There is no cat carrier large enough, so I unceremoniously dumped Cloudy into a cardboard packing box, duct taped it closed, dragged it to the car and drove 500 feet down the alley. I left the car running while I hauled him in and hoisted the box to the counter. I don’t know what’s wrong with a vet when you can’t just say, "Here! He can’t poop but he keeps eating- you understand how that’s a problem?- and I think he’s also been licking too much yarn. And his claws need clipping. I’ll be back in a day or two."
But no. They want a complete medical history, a credit check and a signed estimate that you’ll pay up to 1000.00 plus promise to come get your animal back and then they would like to have a little heart-to-heart about the animal’s psychological well-being. How do you think he’s adjusting to city life? How does he feel about going up two floors as opposed to down one to use the litter box? What do you think it means that he has started carrying around balls of yarn in the middle of the night?
I said: Look. The cat is loved and cared for. He’s too damn big for his own good and he doesn’t get enough exercise indoors, he preferred live mice to wool and I have a doctors appointment. If he uses the rug once more I’m going to tie him to a car bumper and let someone drag him home to Winnetka so he can live out his life in the suburbs and yes, we’ll pay the bill and no, we won’t abandon him here. Bye, Cloudy!
When I left, McCloud had, predictably, busted through the duct tape and was sitting purring contentedly on an exam table. He’s strong but good tempered. Choking on cat fur, I tried Rich at three different numbers while in the cab downtown and finally did something I never do: I called the company receptionist and left a message. "Could you please tell Rich that HIS cat is at the corner vet and if he isn’t picked up and paid for by 6pm they’ll euthanize him? Thank you!"
I stepped out of the cab into 8 inches of water and sheets of rain and walked into the doctor’s office looking like a drowned rat where I was met with the news that he would, yes, like a piece of me. That brings you mostly up to date on my day yesterday. Final bits: I did not get to meet up with my online friend, I didn’t feel much like walking home so I waited a half hour for a cab and McCloud was salvaged from Compassionate Care for a mere 448.00. Which is probably money well spent considering my hunch was correct in terms of the needed intervention. He also got xrays and a manicure and immunizations and blood work and the vet seemed like a very nice and competent person.
McCloud has a condition called Mega Colon which only makes sense given that he is a mega cat with a mega appetite. We (read I) will be treating it with a couple of medications and now poor Sophie has to eat on top of the refrigerator rather than the counter because we really have to make sure her food is out of his reach. Several times a day he’s been taking a running start, trying to pronk up to her dish. Even though three times out of four he slams his head into the cabinet below, that one successful leap provides strong reinforcement to keep trying. Sophie can spring to the top of the frig with ease but she’s looking quite miffed at having to eat up there.
The good news is that the ongoing argument between us is resolved in my favor. Rich has been declaring that McCloud is merely "big boned" since I gasped at our first meeting. The vet said, no, the cat is obese. He’s about 8 pounds over weight, which is the sum total of Sophie. Last night I heard Rich on the phone with our daughter saying, "Yes, the vet said he was a little overweight. About 8 ounces. He’s such a great cat…"
At the end of the day, recovering from cat hauling, doctors and cranky cabbies, I received a wonderful e-mail from my friend Michelle. It showed up like a needed gift. It was this poem by Galway Kinnell:
When we were out at dinner
last night and a dim mood
from the day hung on in me
that neither the quenelles
de brochet nor the Pignan
2000 could quite lift,
she disappeared and plucked
out of the air somewhere
some amusement or comfort
and, quickly back again,
laid it in our dinner talk.
When it was time to leave
and she scanned the restaurant
for the restroom, she went up
on her toes, like the upland plover,
and in the taxi home we kissed
a mint from the maitre d’s desk
from my mouth to hers,
like cedar waxwings.
When I squished in bare feet
up to the bedroom, I found her
already dropped off, bedside lamp still on,
Theodore Xeonphon Barber’s
The Human Nature of Birds
lying open face-down under her chin.
Gazing at her I saw
that she was gazing back,
having been sleeping awake
as the tree swallow does.
I went around the foot
of the bed and climbed in
and slid toward the side lined
with the warmth and softness
of herself, and we clasped each other
like no birds I know of.
Our cries that night were wild,
unhinged, not from here,
like the common loon’s.