Goodbye, Sweet George


(Photo Courtesy of Jane Corbett)

On Friday, October 17, at approximately 10:30 pm, Mark and I learned that our sweet boy, George, had made his way to heaven.  This was not the outcome we’d hoped for, and almost a week later, I find myself in disbelief that our Georger, Lord Fuzzybuckets, the Marquis de Fuzz, is no longer lounging in the window at our house.

I found George wandering around a gas station in June 2007 as I stopped with a group for a treat as we started our trip to the Woolley Fox that year.  It was early on a Sunday morning, and he was going from car to car.  We noticed him and checked with the attendant to see if he belonged there.  Nobody knew him, so we scooped him up and took him to Mark to watch while we were gone.  He was supposed to be a short-term visitor because he was going to live with my friend, Denise, when we got home from Pennsylvania, but Patrick had decided by the time I got home that George was a part of our family.  That was an awkward phone call to Denise…

When I opened Starstruck Cat Studio, I got lots of questions about whether there would be an actual CAT in the studio.  I took him on trial car rides to see how he did, and he LOVED going in the car.  I started taking him with me to the shop a couple of days a week, and before too long, people were asking about him so much that I decided he better start working everyday.  He was the only employee I ever had that worked for bacon.

When I sold my interest in the shop, George retired, too.  I’d still take him with me to run errands, and one of his favorite trips was going to get donuts.  He also still got to check out my hooking projects and very much enjoyed laying on and in wool.  And he was definitely king of our cat clowder.

In mid-June, we noticed an uptick in the cat barfs in our house.  Sophie has hyperthyroidism, so I think we may have missed some early signs that George was sick.  We took him to see Dr. Joy Ritz at Angel Animal Hospital, and over the course of about a week, we eventually discovered that George had an intussusception (intestinal telescoping) that had caused a blockage in his intestine.  We were referred to Circle City Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital where Dr. Rebecca Ball performed surgery to remove the intussusception.  Over the July 4 weekend, Dr. Ball and her team took great care of George, and we were thrilled when we got to bring him home.

The tissue was sent for analysis, and we learned that George had small cell gastrointestinal lymphoma.  His prognosis was good with treatment, so in a couple of weeks, I took him to see Dr. Scott Owens, an internist, at Circle City, and he started him on a chemotherapy regimen of chlorambucil, prednisalone, and Vitamin B12.  Everything looked good at his last check up two weeks ago.

Then we found George limping down the hallway last Wednesday.  He was dragging his left front leg as if he didn’t know what to do with it.  Had he had a stroke?  Did he jump off of something and injure himself?  Was it something else?  We rushed him to see Dr. Piper at Angel, and she called Dr. Owens to consult.  She took his blood pressure and some x-rays.  Nothing was obvious, so we took George home and waited for a phone call on Thursday morning.

By Thursday afternoon, George had lost the use of his left back leg as well.  We were referred to Dr. Johnny Cross, a neurologist at VCA Advanced Veterinary Care Center.  Dr. Cross examined George and said he thought the issue was somewhere in his neck.  After discussing options, we decided that George should undergo a MRI so that Dr. Cross could have more information.  That MRI revealed a tumor that was taking up about 75% of the diameter of George’s spinal cord.  This was not the news we wanted to hear.

Dr. Cross consulted with Drs. Ball, Owens, and Piper and gave us several options.  After lengthy discussion and consultation, Mark and I decided that we wanted Dr. Cross to operate on George and try to remove the tumor.  The surgery was scheduled for Friday.

We both went to work on Friday morning, and at lunch time, we went up to see George.  Mom and Dad came, too.  George had been on steroids and other medicine to get him ready for surgery.  We were glad to get to spend time with our sweet boy.  He was full of purrs and seemed genuinely glad to see his people.  Dr. Cross came in and showed us the video from the MRI, and we could see for ourselves how large the tumor was.  We discussed the surgery, and George had his gameface on.  We told him we’d see him after the surgery.

Several emergencies came into the hospital that day, so it was about 7:30 pm when Jen, the vet tech, called and said that George was prepped for surgery, and they were about to get started.  At about 9:30 pm, Dr. Cross called and said that things had changed a little bit.  The tumor was actually grown into the wall of the spinal cord.  It didn’t mean he couldn’t get it out, but it did mean that it was more complicated.  He gave us options, and we decided for him to try to get the tumor out.  He told us if it went poorly, George would be in a lot of pain, so there wouldn’t be time for us to say goodbye.  We authorized him to euthanize if that was the case.

In a little while, the phone rang again, and we learned that George was gone.  Dr. Cross said he got the tumor, but within a couple of minutes, the spinal cord had started to swell and turn splotchy.  It also had prolapsed and lost the fluid.  His little body just couldn’t take anymore.

I write all of this so that anybody who knew George who wonders about him knows that he was a sweetheart who fought until the very end.  He loved all of us, and we loved him right back.  We’re trying desperately to move past being sad that he’s gone to being thankful and happy that we knew him and had him in our lives for seven wonderful years.

We are so thankful for the excellent veterinary care that George received from all of the veterinarians and their teams at Angel, Circle City, and Advanced Veterinary Care.  We are very fortunate to live in a community where there are so many resources for our animals.

Finally, you may have noticed that George’s left ear is tipped, which is a sign that he may have once been a community cat.  We don’t know anything about him from before that fateful day in 2007 at the BP station at I-70 and State Road 267 in Plainfield, but we’ve always thought that he may have gone through the IndyFeral program, which is now a program of the FACE Clinic.  The FACE Clinic is currently participating in a fundraising challenge and could win $50,000 for the work they do.  If you’re looking for a way to make a donation in honor of our George, I hope you’ll consider making a contribution today.  The contest ends on October 30, so time is of the essence.

Thank you to everyone who knew and loved our sweet kitty boy.

Remembering May 20, 2005

On May 20, 2005, I married Mark Carnell in what is possibly one of the shortest ceremonies of all time.  Our friends, Julie and Gil (also members of the IU-Indianapolis School of Law Class of 2005), were our witnesses, and The Honorable Jeff Boles presided.  Mom, Dad, Kyle, Lexa, and our good friend Sally also attended.  It’s one of my favorite memories (and a great story to tell), and as I write about it today, five years later, I am glad we went full speed ahead with our decision to start our life together a little sooner than we had previously planned.  (Although I’m still glad I got to put on the pretty dress and celebrate with our friends on August 27, 2005, which also means I get to celebrate TWO anniversaries!)

Mom and Dad made sure I had beautiful flowers to carry because no bride should be without flowers.

And Gil and his lovely wife, Beth, made sure that we had a really lovely wedding dinner to celebrate.

I have had so much fun with Mark and Patrick over the past five years, and I’m looking forward to many more!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

For most people in the US, April 15 means tax day.  But for me, April 15 means it’s time to celebrate my dad’s birthday.  Last year, he turned 65 and celebrated by attending a baseball game at Victory Field, home to the Indianapolis Indians.  Rowdie, the Indians mascot, even stopped by to wish Dad a happy birthday.

My parents have been a couple since they were juniors in high school, and if my math’s correct, that’s right at 50 years.  So no birthday post would be complete without including my mom.  They are a great team and enjoy doing lots of stuff together.  On many weekends in the summer, they are out and about in their motorhome.  You might also spot them riding around on Betty Blue, his Harley-Davidson Road King.  If you happen to be at my house on most Thursday evenings, you’ll find them enjoying family dinner and their roles as Pappy and Grammy of Pman.

My dad has filled countless prescriptions and dispensed books full of advice to people who are feeling under the weather in his 43 years as a retail pharmacist.  There are several generations of southside Indianapolis families who know him as “Wayne-the-pharmacist” and consider him part of their extended family.  He has the unique gift of making you feel like you are his most important priority when he’s talking to you, and he taught me to ALWAYS treat people like you want to be treated and to work hard at whatever I do.

Happy 66th Birthday, Dad!  I hope this year is filled with more adventures and fun!