Ten years ago, give or take a week, I was getting ready for my sparkly new job one morning when my kitty, Sasha, wheezed. It was terrifying and unsettling and lasted about 15 seconds. Amanda insisted I take her to the vet, but I couldn't risk being late for a job I'd had for less than two weeks.
She got to the vet within the next 48 hours (details are hazy now), and began a 6-month ordeal that would end tragically with her death.
Sasha had a disease called 'lymphangiectasia'. It's not curable, but we didn't know that then. We also had no freaking clue what she had, and neither did the doctors.
Her first trip to the vet, she had an x-ray that revealed a massive pleural effusion (fluid on--not in--the lungs). They pumped one liter of fluid out of her, and she was right as rain for the next month. But you don't remove a liter of fluid from a 13lb cat without worrying.
The next month, they pulled another liter out of her chest, and sent us to a specialist. The specialist removed half a liter (only a week after the previous drain), and still no answers came. We did our own research, growing ever more disheartened and loving our girl as hard as we could.
Then one day the disease got its name. We were told she should never have lasted the first month, let alone the 5 she'd already had. They told us that the drains would eventually cease to be effective, that her lungs would harden and it would become increasingly difficult for her to draw breath, and that we would one day have to put her down.
And then she sprung a leak. Late one night, as we were lying in bed, Sasha jumped up on us, began lunging back and forth, and we both realized the bed was wet and smelled like chicken. She was soaked through with her own fluids. Her body could no longer hold it in.
All manner of emergency medicines and vets were employed, but two weeks later she was gone.
Not an hour after the vet ended Sasha's suffering, I tearily set about removing Sasha's food and water dish to find a pill that she'd rejected the previous day. Amanda completely lost it, convinced that missing that one pill had undone our beautiful, loving girl.
Looking back to 2001, I realize now that losing Sasha was pre-ordained. I had to learn those emotions in order to deal with the fusillade of self-doubt that would creep into my heart after Amanda died. Should she have gone to Texas? Couldn't she have survived indefinitely on blood transfusions? Did the treatments she received there kill her? What about the original doctor who never bothered with blood tests?
And then I remember Sasha. Sasha had an incurable disease. No amount of pills or doctors could prevent her death--they could only delay it.
This month marks 2 years since Amanda died. I cannot believe so much time has passed. I could not have imagined then how relatively normal my life is now, and yet sometimes those tendrils of doubt reach up from the darkness and attempt to consume me. Amanda had an incurable disease. Amanda had an incurable disease. Amanda had an incurable disease.