Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Listen...that's the sound of peace shattering

It's really quite amazing what can shake your fragile peace and bring you to your knees.

I took the cat to the vet yesterday to have him take a look at her teeth. Her left front fang just didn't look right to me, not to mention that any time I touched it she'd wince and pull her head away. Vets had been telling me for years that she needed to have her teeth cleaned, but I was too afraid to do it.

When I had my D&C after my first miscarriage I was convinced I was going to die while under anesthetic - I even told the anesthesiologist my fears. Thankfully he reassured me enough to keep me from bolting from the operating room, bare-assed and gown flapping wildly in the wake of my terror.

I don't know anyone who has died while under anesthetic and I know it's an impossibly rare occurrence, but it still scares the hell out of me, and so I've always worried about Lucy, the cat, too. The fact that I was told she has asthma worsened my fears about her going under and so I've just never had her teeth cleaned.

And now, because I neglected her dental care, she's going to lose most of her teeth. Not only is she going to have to go under anesthetic for cleaning, she's going to have a number of extractions including BOTH her fangs.

I stood in the tiny exam room holding onto her rump and willing myself not to cry while the vet poked and prodded her mouth and calmly explained that her teeth were too far gone to save. Apparently she'll be better off without them and won't miss them a bit, so says the man with all his teeth.

When they took her away to draw blood for her pre-surgery work-up I kept my mind occupied by reading a chart on canine and feline periodontal disease. It kept the tears, fueled by an enormous well of guilt, at bay.

I made it all the way home before I started to cry while I watched Lucy devour a bowl of food and settle into the task of washing away the vet visit from her fur.

The first thing that went through my mind when I was told about the severity of her tooth problem was, "What kind of a mother would I have been to Thomas if I can't even look after my cat properly?"

Oh the guilt. The horrible, gut-grinding guilt. I couldn't save Thomas and my negligence may kill my cat.

See? Fragile peace smashed to smithereens.

I'm feeling better today because Lucy's blood work came back perfectly normal and the vet said he's not at all worried about her not doing well during the surgery, but the fact that she has to endure what she's going to just because I was too afraid to have her teeth cleaned years ago when it was first recommended kills me.

Needless to say there's a very spoiled kitty in our house right now. And one very guilty cat-owner.


Denise said...

(((hugs))) - Don't feel bad...I'm married to a vet and we put off having a dental done on our cat while my DH was in vet school because I was such a chicken about the whole thing. Our cat was fine by the way...P.O'd more about the car ride than the dental. Go figure!

Shannon said...

I have never in my life taken an animal for a dental cleaning, and I'm a pretty nice person. So really don't worry about it...

kate said...

(((((((hugs)))))))) I (and also my mother) have never in our lives taken our pets to have the teeth i think it is pretty common. You would be -- and ARE -- a wonderful mother to Thomas. I understand the parallel you are feeling though -- some day i will share the sad story of our goldfish Avarice...