Bent Words

Bent Words

November 01, 2009

My cat, Pumpkin, had a stroke.

Or a seizure which is usually a stroke but I'm not altogether convinced she lost total consciousness.

She began spinning in tight circles, clockwise, if it matters, as though she were chasing her tail and when I attempted to allay the spinning by wrapping her in my arms, she merely continued this motion while still in my grasp. I put her back down and attempted to garner her attention but she was completely unresponsive to any outside influence, her eyes completely dilated.

Confused, if not completely panicked, I called the vet.

Now I understand that my state of emergency does not always equate to another person's sense of urgency but, when I'm speaking to a person who is employed at a veterinary's office, I do expect a modicum of comprehension while communicating in tones full of exigency. I expect this person to be able to understand the difference between a 'routine check up, let's make an appointment, voice' and a 'I need assistance now, voice.'

This girl was not able to grasp my desperation, let alone basic English.

After stating my name and my cat's name twice, she put me on hold and came back to ask if Bandit needed his yearly shots.


"Pumpkin. HER name is PUMPKIN and she's having some sort of episode which involves repetitive spinning in tight circles to the right. She's completely unresponsive."

"Well I don't see your record here."

*munch munch munch*

Is she seriously eating food while speaking to me?!

"I've been bringing her there for years now, since 2001, so she should be-- Listen, can I just bring her in?"

*munch munch munch*

"Hm. Let me check for you. One moment."

By this time I'm in tears. Pumpkin is my girl. She's my little cuddle buddy. Had her since she was tiny enough to fit in the palm of my hand. I nursed her back to health when she was suffering for her life with ear mites, a cold and infection. It seemed silly to me now that a representative at a vet's office would be so complacent after a heartfelt plea from an animal owner.

I mean, I expect my father to say things like, "It's just a cat" but I do not expect my vet's office to treat the situation so serenely.

"Okay, I have a 4:30 slot available -- how's that?"

It's 2pm.

"How about I bring her in right now," I said with obvious pungency. "See you in 15 minutes."

At the vet's office, I tried not to snarl. The two women at the front desk were completely content to avert their eyes when I told them who I was and so I, realizing that some people just cannot operate on a level of compassion equal to basic human empathy, apologized.

"Listen, I'm sorry if I snapped earlier on the phone -- I'm just worried and would like to have Pumpkin examined as she's acting very strange."

Finally I hit the ON button.

The women ogled and crooned over Pumpkin, escorted me to an examining room and, after having written down my name and information, found my records from the past eight years. One woman was rather old and the other was young and it was her first day -- I gave them the benefit of the doubt for being good people and thanked them for taking Pumpkin in over the other scheduled appointments. Besides, I'm sure I was rather difficult to talk to being so frantic on the phone.

The vet came in to see Pumpkin still circling on the floor of the examining room.

"She's having a seizure."

She went on to explain that it was a mild seizure, not a grand mal seizure, and that it was a neurological issue which we would have to keep an eye on. She did not want to give Pumpkin any drugs or run any tests as she was already going through a pretty massive experience and any poking or prodding might complicate the issue further.

"And, since she's had this first bout of seizures, she's likely to continue having them as her tolerance level has just been degraded."

I spouted tears as though she were dying but finally calmed down after the vet told me that it is possible for her to recover and live a long life.

"Feline strokes are not like human strokes -- a cat can recover more successfully than people do. We just need to monitor her actions and record how long the seizures last, for now. If she is seizure-free in two week's time, we'll be able to run a blood test to gain more information. Until then, just try to keep her calm. If she has a grand mal seizure, call us or the vet hospital immediately."

Poor little thing. She managed to straighten herself out while still in the examining room but she was terrified and so we made our exit as quickly as possible. In the car, she began to seize again. She foamed heavily at the mouth and was overwhelmed with the car ride but, once I got her home, she was able to calm down.

She experienced a series of five more seizures that evening.

That was Thursday and she hasn't, to my knowledge, had a seizure since (and I've been scrutinizing her quite intensely). However, she is extremely lethargic and very unlike herself. She has a tendency to stand and stare as though she cannot quite recall where she is or what she wants. She 'forgets' to eat and needs to be prompted -- even then she mostly just licks at her food as though swallowing were a travail. I have managed to get her to down some tuna but I'm rather worried that her appetite hasn't improved much. She seems to be favoring one front paw over the other and her balance has thus been affected.

But she's still here. And I'm quite confident that her situation will improve. Even if it doesn't, there's not much I can do since any drugs available would likely kill her liver. Just have to take it one day at a time and keep an eye on her, my little cuddle buddy.

Written at 8:57 a.m.