When an e-mail starts out, "Not to alarm you, but. . .", you can be sure what follows will be alarming.
Wayne and Pam had been taking care of Figaro last week while I was first in Orlando speaking at a conference, and then in Boston for Akemi's recital. Easter Sunday morning, as I was getting ready to fly out, I saw Pam's Saturday night e-mail in which she reported Figaro's head was "twisted" and his walking stilted. She described seeing him as “startling” and later told me Fig looked like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist."
The entire flight home I worried about the condition in which I would find him. A stray we took in (or rather, who insisted we take him in), we’re not really sure how old he is, but figure he must be at least 13 or 14 by now. Although he has gotten clean bills of health in recent check-ups, we’ve noticed he’s definitely slowed down and has shown signs of being a “mature citizen.”
As I walked in the door, I was relieved when he came trotting up to greet me. Thanks to Pam’s alert, I was prepared to be clinical. Although it was nearly 1 am east coast time, I started Googling his symptoms.
“Head tilt,” I learned, is not an uncommon phenomenon in older cats, but not without its underlying causes. The good news scenario would be an ear infection; the not-so-good scenarios ranged from various metabolic, neurological, or immunological diseases. I was hoping for an ear infection, but the way this household’s medical odds go, I was bracing for worse. That night, it seemed we were both glad that he was curled up next to me under the covers.
He already was better by the time I got him to the vet, and she was able to quickly assess that he in fact has a bad ear infection. After his battery of tests, the vet said I could take “my kid” home now. A week later with some feline antibiotics and low-dose steroids in his system, he is acting much better, if not downright fine. I’ve gotten quicker and neater at squirting the syringe of liquid amoxicillin into his mouth, and he seems none the wiser eating his tiny prednisone pill tucked into some kitty treats.
Besides worrying about Figaro, I came home to the guest bathroom renovation underway and Herculean projects at the office to push forward. This past week, I hardly had the chance to savor Akemi’s triumphal recital and being in springtime Boston.
How like life, that the adrenaline of the current emergency pushes aside the good feelings to treasure. Today, on a quiet, restful Sunday, I’m grateful that both of my “kids” have come through their gauntlets, and hope to get through this next week without any further alarming news.