Wednesday, April 14, 2004
This weekend was an extremely difficult one for me. It seemed like it was going to be just like any other one, but it quickly took a turn for the worst. On Friday evening, Mike and I fed Corny as we usually did, however we noticed that he had not eaten his food from the night before and his breathing appeared to be labored. We watched him carefully for about ten minutes, as it was not unusal for Corny to act quirky, however it became clear that this was not one of those instances. As Mike went downstairs to call the emergency vet, I remained with Corny at the top of our stairs, and I became visibly emotional. Corny looked at me with very wide eyes, rolled for me, then put his head forward to mine and began purring. I took his gestures to me as a sign that everything was going to be alright.

By 9:30 PM, after driving forty minutes, we arrived at the nearest emergency vet. They immediately examined Corny and believed that his labored breathing was not so severe and that perhaps it might be caused by asthma or nerves. We happily took this explanation, as Corny was indeed a nervous cat, and we sat in the waiting room and waiting nearly two hours for the full examination. The Vet ER was VERY busy that night -- lots of dogs coming in and needing immediate medical attention because they were bleeding and required stitches. While we were waiting, I read some of the "thank you" cards that were posted on one wall. I was a bit confused as to why so many cards were received, but I didn't pay it very much attention.

At 11:30 PM, we entered an exam room where both the doctor on site and the nurses could examine Corny more thoroughly. By this time, his breathing became a little more labored, yet still nothing to be alarmed about. The nurse took him and put him on oxygen to help calm his nerves. The doctor revealed to us that she would need to do some x-rays in order to determine the cause of his breathing problems.

After about an hour, which seemed like an eternity, the doctor came back with two sets of x-rays. First, she showed us the x-rays of a "normal" cat's lungs. Then, she showed us Corny's. His lungs had become so filled with fluid of some sort that the x-rays did not even show his heart. The doctor ran through a vast list of all the things that Corny could potentially have -- none of which could be considered "good". We hoped, at best, that he had feline leukemia, and believed that at worst, he had a cardiac disease. No one would know for sure until blood work and the examination of the fluid from his lungs was done. We agreed to leave him there overnight and to be back at 7 AM so the doctor could remove the fluid from his lungs and perform tests on him so we could have a better idea of what course of action we would need to take come morning. The nurse brought Corny back to us in the exam room, and I hugged him and told him that I loved him and that I would see him in the morning. He put his head on my wrist and just sat still. He seemed very weak, but he did his best to keep that brave face on. The doctors and nurses were shocked when they saw the x-rays because Corny's outward personality and appearance was no indication of how bad he was on the inside. As the doctor held him to take him to do tests, I told her that he gives hugs, and her faced warmed with a smile. She said that it is very special that he hugs because not many cats do. I knew he was in good hands.

When Mike and I arrived back home around a quarter after 2 in the morning, we called the vet to check on Corny. The nurse sounded like she was in good spirits and said that he was doing just fine. We confirmed that we would be back there at 7 AM, and decided that we needed to get some rest since we knew it was going to be a VERY long weekend.

At 5:45 AM, we received a phone call from the vet. She indicated that he was not doing so good and that after she removed the fluid from his lungs, he was difficulty breathing on his own. She asked permission to euthanize him because she was not sure that he would make it. We told her that we would be there in 40 minutes and not to do anything to him until we got there. She asked our permission to give him pain killers, and we agreed to that. She stated that she did not believe he would last for us to see him before he passed on.

We got to the ER Vet by 6:30 in the morning on Saturday, and we were immediately brought into an exam room. A minute later, they brought Corny to us, wrapped in a blue thermal blanket. The doctor explained that as soon as we got there, his breathing stopped, however his heart was still beathing so he could hear, see and feel us. I kissed his head several times and kept petting him and telling him that we loved him very much and I saw him looking at me. Then, I moved out of the way and pushed Mike into Corny's view. Mike did the same, and we pet corny until he died a few minutes later.

The doctor and nurses were very warm to us, and the doctor even hugged me. She explained that he was a very strong cat and that he waited over forty minutes for us to get there before we began to pass. She then explained to us what happened. Corny had a disease called FIP. The fluid in his lungs were white blood cells, which were trying to fight the disease that had taken over his lungs. FIP is very rare, is virtually undetectible until it is too late, and nothing can be done to prevent it. Cats who have FIP die, and there is no treatment for it. FIP comes on just as suddenly as we saw it, and there are often no signs that lead up to the full blow out. We did the best we could to try to help him, however it was his time to go, even if it was so soon.

Although I had only known Corny for three of the six years he was alive, I became VERY close to him. He and I shared a lot of quirks and I felt as though we had a lot in common, even if he was a cat. The loss of Corny in my life is a major one, and I don't feel quite like I used to anymore. I feel like I've lost my oldest soulmate. I do have two other cats, and although I love all three of them equally, the loss of Corny is virtually devastating for me because I felt the closest to him.

I am just now realizing over the past few days how much he was a part of my life, in everything I did. Its difficult to use the computer because that's where he would be. Its difficult to get ready in the guest bathroom where all my makeup and hair care products are, because we would "talk" to each other while I was in there. Its difficult to just be in the house by myself during the day because he was such a constant companion for me.

Words can't express how much I love him, and words can't express how much I'm already missing him.

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