Lester's appointment with the grim reaper
Thursday, April 20 2023
This afternoon Gretchen had arranged for an appointment for Lester the cat at the discount old-school veterinarian she's recently began using. Last time she'd taken Lester there, he'd diagnosed the problem on his left wrist as a fast-growing cancer, which seemed like it would probably kill him within weeks (based on the size of the lymph node in his armpit). So, despite Lester's continued happiness, we were pretty sure we'd be euthanizing him today. I felt a little like a monster as I grabbed him and put him in his carrier. (It's not a place he likes to be, but it accepts it better than most cats.) Gretchen has been emotionally fragile of late, what with the ongoing things happening with her brother, the unexpected death-by-overdose of Anna's wife, and unexpectedly difficulty renting unit #1R at Downs Street (which would be available on May 1st). So she definitely needed me to come with her on a possible euthanasia run. Gretchen did the driving as I rode with Lester in the vintage cat carrier in my lap, reminding me very much of the day we first got him as a tiny kitten from some place down in Kerhonkson (back when we thought he was a she and his name was Celeste). I kept sticking my fingers in the air holes at either end of the carrier so I could stroke his head or give him something familiar to smell. It was hard looking him in the eye knowing what we were up to.
The vet was on Route 32 just a little north of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. At the entrance, people with dogs are asked to go to the right and people with cats to the left, where they wait in separate wood-paneled waiting rooms that probably haven't been updated since the 1970s. There were two plump young women working as receptionists, and when one of them confirmed we were there possibly for euthanasia, Gretchen started losing it. She was a little surprised how much this was affecting her because, as she put it, she doesn't particularly like Lester. Maybe, she thought, he's like the straw on the back of the camel weighed down by all the other trauma and tragedy in her life of late.
Gretchen had mostly recovered by the time we went back in the examination room. The vet at this place is an old man shaped like a refrigerator, and he moves a little like one too, as if carried around on tiny wheels. It's been many years since he graduated from veterinary school, so if he ever had student loans, they've long been paid off. This means his overhead is much less than other local vets.
After looking at Lester's wrist and feeling for his lymph nodes, he seemed to think that, if anything, Lester was doing better. The cancer, if that's what it was, hadn't grown. And the lymph nodes were no longer swollen. Now he was wondering if perhaps Lester had allergies. Most vets, of course, would've long ago ordered a $500 biopsy, but that's not how this guy rolls. And that's absolutely appropriate; it's much better to fear the worst and then discover the problem is something benign when it doesn't get worse. The vet suggested keeping Lester indoors and away from fish-based cat foods. He also suggested we get a cone for his neck to keep him from aggravating whatever the hell is wrong with his wrist.
It was pretty clear we wouldn't be euthanizing Lester, at least not today, and the darkness quickly lifted from the room. The vet's assistant face completely changed from one of sympathetic compassion to light-hearted joy, and I'm sure our faces made a similar transformation. I found myself aggressively massaging the inside of Lester's most problematic ear, which filled the air around me with fishy smell of infection.
On the drive back home, we stopped at Petco to get a cat cone-collar, though it's unlikely we're actually going to be doing much of what the vet recommended. It doesn't seem like whatever gained by curtailing Lester's freedom are worth the misery he would experience.
Back at the house, I tried to figure out why the hot water solar system had suddenly started acting erratically. I tinkered with it for awhile, swapping out a ULN2003 darlington array. But maybe it was just a bad connection to the 24v transformer.
Meanwhile Gretchen went to show the 1R apartment to a young woman who turned out to be lovely, and she wanted it. So, between that and Lester's reprieve, that was two heavy stones removed from Gretchen's emotional backpack.
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