Thursday, February 13, 2014

Losing Kona ...

When you lose a beloved pet you heart breaks in a special way. I don't think it matters if you lose your pet tragically in an unexpected way or slowly as was the case for me and my family. For me, even as I struggle to find words to write at this moment, I know my heart will heal from this loss but it will take time, and probably a new cat, to help it along. I've kind of always believed that the best way to help getting over the loss of a pet is to fill that void rather quickly, certainly if that was the only pet in the house. This post is dedicated to my beloved Kona. He was so special to me its hard to believe his life with me was so short and is now over. He had only lived with me for three short years. Three wonderful, fun filled, laughter and snuggle filled years. Let me tell you about my beloved Selkirk Rex, Kona...


I adopted him from a dear friend of mine who was moving and unable to take him with her. She was heartbroken. When she adopted him from the shelter she had been told that he had been returned several times. She cried when we left and several times after that as she wondered if she had done the right thing. I can't imagine what it must've been like on her side of the fence but I know what it was like on mine. It was as if he had been with us forever, since he was a kitten. None of us could conceive how this wonderful, loving, personality filled cat could've eve been returned to the shelter. We didn't know much about his past other than that. I have always believed that pets who have been adopted and saved and given a forever home know this and they repay you with love and devotion. They give back to us more than we could ever give them. I know this was the case with Kona. From the moment I brought him home, he knew I was his Momma. He followed me everywhere. 


 When I moved back in with my folks last spring we kept Kona in my room for a period of time to acclimate him with the house and new smells....like my parents cat Abercrombie. Kona was so happy to just be with me....

In his bed on my bed in my bedroom...

Excited to be looking out the window in my new room. 

Soon it was time to let him out of my bedroom and let him roam free and meet Aber. Their meeting went surprisingly well and they soon became best buddies...washing each others eyes and ears. It then became time for Aber to go to the Rainbow Bridge. He was 20 years old and it was just his time. After Aber was gone I think Kona went through a time of depression about being alone and on his own again. He soon pulled out of it and was his old self again though I believe he always missed Aber. 


This was one of the last times that he used this bed. He discovered being able to sleep around wherever he wanted! He had free roam of the house and he liked that. Though at night I had to keep my bathroom door closed; he liked to open and close the doors in the bathroom and kitchen, especially at night. Silliest thing. He liked to just stand there and open the door slightly and let it close...SLAM! When my ex-husband and I were together it was so bad that I had to tape all the kitchen cabinet doors closed...the ones closest to the ground. He was mischievous that way! 

He certainly liked to pose for pictures and this was one of my favorites with his feet on the post of my bed!

Last August we took him to the vet for a dental and he weighed in at a little over 16 lbs at that time. The vet put him on a prescription Overweight Management food. Over the course of the rest of the summer and into the Holidays we all noticed how slim he had become. Before we bought anymore of the OM food we thought a trip to the vet was in order.

Curled up on the table next to me as I was doing my Christmas cards...

Kona really loved sleeping underneath the Christmas tree...

He always cracked me up when he did this. He would lay will he feet out in both directions! So funny and so cute!

About a month and a half ago we took him back to the vet to make sure he was okay. He weighed in at a little over 8 lbs and he had developed diabetes. He was now an insulin dependent diabetic and I was giving him insulin injections twice a day. He didn't seem to mind much as we coordinated the event with treats. He knew he would get treats so he was okay with the injections. About 3 weeks ago he went back to the vet to have his blood sugar levels evaluated in what was called a Glucose Curve Test. This was an all day test so we dropped him off in the morning and picked him up in the afternoon. The testing showed that we needed to increase his insulin by a 1/4 unit.

 
He would sometimes sleep underneath my coffee table by my knitting to be close to me...

He LOVED this blanket and every time my Mom would use it he was right there to curl up on it next to her feet!

Kona loved to be close to us as we ate. He LOVED getting pieces of meat and cheeses. One of his favorites was the pepperoni off our pizza!

We increased his insulin per doctors orders and everything was okay for a couple of weeks. At the beginning of the third we started to notice that his breathing was very labored and his heart was beating very fast. Within 2 days of this he behavior had completely changed. He was only laying around and all the time. I had to pick him up to give him his insulin injections. And he didn't even twitch anymore when the needle broke his skin. We called the vet and told them about this recent change in behavior and we were very concerned. We were told to decrease the amount of insulin back down to just 1 unit and see if his helped. It didn't. The next day we were extraordinarily concerned and called the vet and insisted that he be seen right away, he was very sick but with what we had no idea. We were told to come immediately. As we arrived and were put into the room, Dr. Apodaca came to listen to him right away. He needed chest x-rays to get a better idea of what we were dealing with. When the images were ready she brought us into the back, passed where Kona was being cared for, to review them. She said that there was fluid in and around his lungs and in his chest cavity. I immediately began to cry. I knew what this meant and it was not good. She started to talk about the possibilities of what we could be dealing with, etc. She looked up at me and said "Why are you crying, its okay..." I knew in my heart it wasn't okay and that he was very sick and would likely not survive whatever was causing this. She suggested that we go to the Emergency 24 hour Vet Specialty Clinic where he could not only be fully evaluated but treated as well. Dr. Apodaca could do a chest tap and find out where this was stemming from but he would likely end up at the specialty clinic anyway. As we were discussing this and waiting, I took Kona's last picture...


They faxed his records and we headed over there right away. As we arrived at the Specialty Clinic they had all his records and Kona was taken directly to the Internal Medicine Specialist they had on staff there. Kona was very stressed from the rides to and fro and because of his breathing he was put into an oxygenated incubator/cage. The specialist, Dr. Anne Hale, then came to talk to us. The plan was to do a chest tap and examine the cells to see if they could tell what was causing the build up of fluid in and around Kona's chest and lungs. This would also help to relieve some of the pressure for Kona and hopefully help him breathe easier. It would also determine what, if any, they could do to treat Kona. They would also do an ultrasound and look more closely at his heart. The doctor would call me later in the afternoon and let me know the results. We headed home and I headed to bed. I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, I kept getting up to check on Kona. I was awakened by my phone ringing and I missed the initial call so I called back. It was the Clinic calling about Kona. I talked to Dr. Hale at 2:17, and if anyone who knows me knows the importance of 2:17 in my life knows what this meant, and the news was not good. Kona was in heart failure. He had the human equivalent of cardiomyopathy. The removed 100 mls of fluid from around his lungs and hopefully this was helping him feel a little better. I asked Dr. Hale if Kona was in pain and she told me that she believed that he had also had a small stroke and that he was not terribly aware of his surroundings. She also explained that she believed the diabetes that Kona developed was a secondary condition to the heart failure rather than a primary condition. Kona's heart had begun to fail about 6 weeks ago. With this particular type of heart disease there would not have been anything anyone could've done to improve the situation or prevent it from progressing to where we were now at. My heart was broken and I knew what was to come next. I asked her if it would be bad to let him go and she said not at all. He could not get better and he could not improve from this. I came out of my bedroom crying and broke the news to my folks. We called Aunt Betty who would meet us back down at the clinic.


Betty met Mom and I at the clinic around 3:00pm yesterday afternoon. We were ushered into the back of the facility to see Kona in the oxygenated cage he was in. When he saw me and heard my voice he perked up, came over to the edge of the cage and started to purr and rub his head against my hand. I leaned down and gently kissed his forehead and told him how much I loved him and that he soon wouldn't have to hurt anymore. Betty took her time as did Mom, each of us purring to him and talking to him gently to ease him. When we were done we went into one of the rooms and waited for them to place the catheter in Kona's arm. About 5 minutes later they brought him to us. He was purring so loudly as he was laying down on his side. He knew we were there and he knew we were the ones who have loved him so much throughout his time with us. The three of us petted and talked to him and gently caressed his head and belly assuring him that he would soon be set free. Dr. Hale came in and gave the first injection which was to just sedate him so he was in no pain. We continued to pet and purr to him as the tears rolled down the cheeks of all three of us. Then the doctor gave the last injection which would gently stop his heart from beating. She reached for her stethoscope to listen to Kona's chest. She looked at us and nodded her head ever so slightly. He was now gone. He was now at the Rainbow Bridge, greeted by many other furr babies who have gone before him. He was just over 14 yrs old. 

As I write this my heart continues to hurt and tears flow down my cheeks. There will never be another Kona. He was so wonderful in every way. I believed that even though he was with us for three short years, he was placed in my life for a reason. Perhaps more for him than me, I don't know. I have absolutely no understanding of how this sweet animal could've ever been returned to the shelter over and over again. Whatever those reasons may be...that path lead to him becoming a part of our lives. For that I am thankful. Everyone who has animals knows, they are family members. I am especially tied to my animals as I have no children. My cats have been my babies and when I lose one my heart breaks for the loss. I know there are many people who understand this and it brings me comfort to know that I am not alone in this. Treasure your children, whether they have 2 or 4 legs! When they leave us they take a piece of our heart with them. 

Thank you to everyone who has offered their condolences, I appreciate it tremendously. Hold your furr babies just a little closer today. You never know when it will be their time to go to the Rainbow Bridge. For those of you unaware of what the Rainbow Bridge is, you can go here to learn about it. For those of you who have never read the Rainbow Bridge Poem, I will honor Kona and close this post with the poem for him...

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. 

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. 

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
 
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....  
 
Author unknown...


2 comments:

  1. Sorry for your loss, Claudia... he was a sweet boy. Glad to have been able to pet his curly fur!

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    1. Thanks Melanie, I appreciate it. He was certainly an extra special sweet boy. I just didn't expect to have to lose him so quickly....thats whats been the toughest part of all of this. He was fine, then not so fine, then very sick and all so fast. He definitely took a piece of my heart with him when he left. Thanks again :-)

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