“C’mon Mabbers, It’s Time”

(Finished typing this up 1 month later…it was too heartbreaking to relive so soon, so it took me a while.)

Yesterday was one of the hardest experiences of my adult life; the heartache is right up there along with losing my dad and Gramma Elia and fighting for my kids during my divorce. My Little Old Lady, my kitty Mabbers, passed away around 11:30pm.

She was with us for about 4 years. We “rescued” her when she was 8-years-old from Briana’s friend, Mercy. She was the sweetest, softest, cuddliest kitty.

Her “Got You” Day

She was our “couch kitty”. We have Ruffles and Kika, too, but neither is the cuddly type. They’re the “fine, pet me for 1 minute and then I’ll go destroy my cat scratcher because I’m taking out my frustrations of being touched” type of kitties.

What I looked forward to all day (especially when work was stressful and hectic) was sitting on the couch, with Mabs and Jorge, covered in my blanket and watching a show, after a full day of work, running errands, making dinner and putting the girls to bed. As soon as 9pm came around I’d plop myself on the sofa and pat the seat next to me and yell, “Mabbers, it’s time!”. From wherever she was, Mabs would pop her little head around the corner and slowly trot towards the couch. She’d pause and stare at me and again I’d say, “C’mon Mabbers, it’s time, come sit with Mama!” And she’d jump on the ottoman, then leap on the couch, usually between me and Jorge, or between me and one of the girls, and she’d do a little circle about 3 times before she found the perfect spot to sit. And then the kneading would start. Oh, how I loved that. The kneading and the purring. It was my favorite. She would relax me so much I would immediately fall asleep, much to Jorge’s chagrin because it was usually during a show LOL.

It sucks that we still don’t know what the culprit was: cancer, an infection, old age, an obstruction? And that’s what’s the most frustrating and makes me sick to my stomach when I think about it. Add to that, that I feel like I should have done MORE, QUICKER, but Jorge says I did so much. It just doesn’t feel like it because now she isn’t here 🙁 .

I messaged my wonderful friend, Juan V., on December 28th to get some advice about her condition: she wasn’t eating very well and had lost lots of weight in a short period of time. It was shocking to notice what seemed like from one day to the next that she was bonier than usual. And she was still urinating on surfaces. From searching Google for her symptoms, it seemed she had a UTI or a lodged hairball. Juan suggested we take her in to the vet, so we went the next morning on December 29th. Thank goodness I was out on vacation. She was such a good girl; so well behaved and just curiously taking everything in.

Lab work came back: she had an infection, but urinalysis came back normal. Her platelets (or something like that) was just slightly high, which would mean cancer or that she had a parasite, but it wasn’t so high that there was cause for concern. I asked about the possibility of a lodged hairball and the vet said we’d see how the antibiotic worked; to give it to her for 2 weeks.

In the next week she still wasn’t eating too much more so we switched her to soft food (Sheba) and she ate it all! So we went out to get more. I also went to Juan’s work, where we caught up briefly and he gave me tons of kitty food and treats and I bought a HomeoPet liquid to make Mabby get rid of her lodged hairball (I was convinced that’s what it was).

Juan’s been one of my best friends since kinder or 1st grade, until he left me after 6th grade lol. Later I found him on MySpace 😆 .

Anyway, a few days later she finally pooped! A tiny dollop, but it was something, thank goodness. I still got another hairball relief tube by Hertz, but she’d turn her nose at it.

I spent everyday stressed out thinking about her health. I had this feeling of dread all the time. We made it a point to sit with her every evening, no longer needing to say, “It’s time, Mabbers!” because she was already laying there. The show we were watching was “This is Us”–and I’m sure that didn’t help with my melancholy feelings.

We ended up having to put puppy training pads on all the couch surfaces–she wasn’t bothering going to the litter box anymore, so we accommodated her. I keep going back to that week in my head. That’s when I should have taken her back to the vet and told them the antibiotics weren’t working!

We had an insane and stressful week last week. I worked half a day on Monday because the girls and I had dentist appointments. Alaethia was getting sealants on her molars, Emily had a re-filling and a new filling and I had a re-filling and a new filling. I felt miserable afterwards but I still needed to get an oil change in the truck so we rushed, only to get lost in Mission. When we finally get there it doesn’t take long, but they used a different oil than the one I bought the Groupon for. Great. Had to get an exchange that took forever. Finally, we’re done and the girls want Taco Bell. Better for me.

They eat (I only have a diet Pepsi cause there’s nothing I can think of that’s Keto to eat) and we chat.

They hurry and we get home and spend time with Mabby. She just looks gloomy and barely eats. Not even tuna.

I ran errands late on Tuesday after work, and by the time dinner was ready and we all ate it was time to shower and go to bed. I only got to pet Mabbers a little bit while she laid on the bathmat in the hall bathroom. She never laid in there and we couldn’t think of an idea as to why it suddenly seemed like a more comfortable spot than her usual on the sofa. I walked away that evening feeling hollow and afraid for her.

The girls text me the next afternoon when they got home from school. Alaethia is concerned for Mabbers, because she seems “off”: her balance, her eyes; she just doesn’t look like herself. Then she sends me a panicked video, showing me how she can hardly hold her head up. This is around the time that I’m kicking myself in the ass for not hurrying and taking her in to the vet again the week before, or even the DAY before. I feel guilty and upset and rush home. We put a pee pad in her pet carrier and Emily grabs her red blanket and we’re off to the vet as quickly as possible.

She’s lucid, but quiet. I’m fearing the worst, but the girls seem like they’re okay. We get to the vet’s office and it’s a long wait, as everyone that was already present with their pets when we arrived are still sitting around, waiting. Then Mabs takes a turn for the worse and her breathing seems terribly labored. I panic and jump up asking the receptionists to please do something, she needs oxygen, ANYTHING, just please help. So they take her to the back and put her in an oxygen chamber. By then I’m a bawling mess, even though the girls are calm. It’s about another 30 minutes that they take us to the back and the doctor says, “Kitty doesn’t look good.” At this point, the girls chime in with the tears. He says that they aren’t ruling out cancer, since this was a rather quick progression. He asks if we want to keep her at the hospital, but says that no matter what the treatment he can’t guarantee that she’ll “make it.” I ask them to give me an estimate of what they think she needs, and to run all the tests they need to. So they bring me 2 quotes; both incredibly expensive. Again, I’m kicking myself in the ass, asking myself why the HELL I didn’t ask them to give her an X-ray or MRI or whatever she would have needed to help her the first time we took her in. I tell them to go ahead with the 2-day hospital stay with all the labs, etc. They say ok. We want to see her before we leave and they tell us to wait, but then the nurse comes back and says there’s a surgery going on and that the back is packed with animals at the moment. We’d have to come back at 10pm. I say aloud, “The girls will be in bed by then…” and Emily almost loses it and says, “You HAVE to bring us! What if she dies and we don’t get to see her!” I tell them ok, we’ll see what happens. It’s at this time that I sign a form giving them permission to perform CPR on her just in case she needs it.

We cry all the way home. We pick up Taco Bell, because it’s the nearest thing the girls are okay with eating. We get home and eat quietly, and then we give each other kisses before they head over to the bathroom to brush their teeth and get in bed. Both girls say they aren’t going to be able to sleep, but I tell them they have to try, just in case they call us from the hospital, they have to get SOME rest.

It’s 10:15pm when they call to let me know that she had crashed and they did CPR on her like we asked, but her labs are bad. The infection she had has gotten so much worse, and she’s going into liver failure. I ask if I can go in and see her right then, and they say yes. Jorge had just gotten home from work, so I wasn’t going to force him to go and I stand there not knowing what to do, and contemplated leaving without the girls, but they would hate me if something happens to Mabs and they aren’t there. So I wake them up and they get dressed quickly.

Alaethia is positive, saying, “Mabs is a fighter, she’s strong! She’s got this!” and I burst into tears again, quietly. I don’t want to tell them that she isn’t doing good, but I do. I tell them, “Girls, the reason they called is because she isn’t doing very well. She’s very sick. We’re going right now just in case she doesn’t make it.”

Cue the tears. I can’t believe this is happening and I feel like I’m the worst person for not taking her in sooner. And now it’s too late.

They let us see her about 15 minutes after we arrive. She doesn’t even look like herself at this point. We’re keeping the boys updated on our group chat about her. It seems now like it all happened so quickly, but we were there for about an hour, standing with her, letting her see us as she’s got all these tubes sticking out of her. She looks jaundiced and although she’s warm from the heating pad they’ve wrapped her with in a towel, her little paw pads are cold. At this point I just want to take her home. The nurse tells me that if we take her home, then she’ll surely die and we won’t give her a chance, but I’m looking at her and she’s suffering. The nurse even says that the reason she’s alive is probably because of the medication they gave her when they did CPR, because even me, not being a veterinarian, could see that she wasn’t really there anymore 🙁 . I call Jorge and ask him what to do. I don’t know. I feel guilty leaving her there, suffering, I don’t want to take her home if she’s going to be suffering, but I feel guilty if I ask them to euthanize her as well. We finally, after what seems like forever, talk with the girls and decide to euthanize. The girls didn’t object at all, since they could clearly see that she was suffering. They take us to a room to be with her and we carry her and speak to her and tell her how much we love her and are going to miss her. We can’t help but smooth out her little foot tufts that we love so much.

The doctor on duty takes forever, since she’s in another surgery. We can feel Mabby slowly leaving us and she hardly has a pulse. The doctor finally comes in, addresses the girls about how happy Mabs must be that we were with her and injects her line. Not 2 seconds later, she’s left us.

I sign the form to bring her home, and the receptionist tells the girls and I we all look so much alike. It makes us crack a smile and we say ‘thank you’. I make our payment and start our last drive home with Mabbers. We’re sad and crying silently; the girls holding Mabbers safely in her box.

Emily started bawling as soon as the alarm went off the next morning and was too distraught to go to school, so we let her stay home.

Alaethia had a test, so she said she’d be strong and go, but I texted her teacher to let her know she’d be an hour late. She held up pretty well, thank goodness.

I had texted my boss that I would be in late due to my girls not sleeping much because our kitty died. He sent his condolences and even let me skip a photo shoot when I did arrive at work to mourn, and probably because my face was puffy. Everyone I told saw me bawl my eyes out–so embarrassing. But I was so devastated 😥 .

We wait till the boys are home the next evening, and when Jorge gets home from work we give her her proper burial.

I’m not even sure where the kids found that metal thing, but it works. We have plans to add a little fence and flowers, of course.

I’ll miss patting the couch and yelling, “Mabbers, it’s time!”. I’ll miss having those big beautiful eyes looking softly at me, right before she would knead on my tummy. I’ll miss her so much. We all will. But it was actually Mabbers’ time, this time 😥 .

Queen Mab

“Fairy God-Mabby,” When Eenan Got His Wisdom-Teeth Out
“Who-hands and Pillow Paws”

Always So Patient With Us

12:16 – When Gramma Left Us

You never know when your life is going to change forever. I never thought, when I woke up on November 17, 2017 that it would be the day I said goodbye to my lovely Gramma. My Grimmy. My Grimmy-Grim.

My poor Gramma had a hard life, but she was a trooper. I think that’s what saddened me the most: that she never had it easy. She was always in a good mood and was the sweetest little old lady. I don’t remember the facts perfectly, but she got Polio when she was 26-years-old, when Mom was only 6. She had surgery, and she literally died and was brought back to life. That’s where the large scar on her back came from and the reason she lost some mobility in her hands, the reason her speech changed forever and the reason she would be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. Mom became responsible for Gramma when she was 18 or so, making it hard for Mom to have any type of career, but that was their life and Mom and Gramma would be together till 2004 when Gramma would become sick and move into a nursing home. We thought back then that she wouldn’t make it because she was so sick, but she overcame that obstacle, like all the others in her life.

I can’t for the life of me remember exactly when they found tumors on Gramma’s thyroid and then her lungs, but it couldn’t be over a year. Gramma’s never been one for surgeries–in fact, she hated to have to go to the hospital for anything at all–so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone when, at 86-years-old, she refused a biopsy. So we would never know how serious the potential cancer was. The doctors also told Aunt Nora that starting chemo on her, or any other type of cancer medication, would probably kill her before the disease would, so nobody pressed the issue. We would just let her be, and that’s how she wanted it.

The last few months were hard on her. She went from having hallucinations due to UTI’s, to a Bell’s Palsy episode (that was grossly ignored by the nursing home until I went in and had a fit), to just being uncomfortable all the time.

Aunt Nora, Linda and I had a meeting with hospice a few months ago–which I NEEDED to have, because Aunt Nora had already brought it up to me and I just felt like the nursing home was trying to “free up a bed”. I’m incredibly cynical, especially when it came to my grandmother’s health. I felt a little better when the social worker told us that this was just to make her comfortable, and it could be 2 weeks or 2 years or more, but it was just extra help for her. So they stepped in.

She recently stopped listening to her music, I noticed, and she always loved her music. The last few months I tried visiting her as often as possible after work, because I knew I needed to spend that extra time with her. The last few weeks I saw her less, because of work, or because the kids had something going on. I had the Mexican Artisan Expo going on last weekend, so I missed seeing her from Thursday to Monday, and Monday only because I had to pay bills and do everything I didn’t get to do over the weekend. When I went in to see her on Tuesday after work, she seemed confused and uncomfortable. She kept saying she was hot and I tried pointing her fan at her from all angles and it just wasn’t helping. She was confused about eating, telling me that she hadn’t eaten dinner and kept bringing up her postre (dessert) telling me that they hadn’t given her one at all. So naturally, I started fuming that they would ignore my Gramma, and called the CNA in. She swore up and down she’d fed her and that Gramma said she wasn’t hungry, and didn’t like her dessert. I said that was odd, because she ALWAYS eats her food and most definitely her dessert. I tried making her as comfortable as possible: fluffing her pillows, fixing her fan, moving her oxygen wires and call button wires around and finally lowering her bed more and turning her light off like she asked. I left feeling uneasy. I wanted to text Aunt Nora, but I had seen photos of her at Disney and didn’t want to bother her yet.

Mom told me that night that when she and Linda had visited Gramma during lunch that she also didn’t want to eat and kept nodding off. I was about to text Aunt Nora when she texted me about hospice wanting to start Gramma on a morphine drip because she was uncomfortable. I hated the thought of it, but I didn’t want her to feel terrible.

I visited Gramma Wednesday evening after work. Again she was uncomfortable and confused about eating. I asked the CNA if she’d eaten and she said, “Very little.” Very, very unlike Gramma. I was having trouble understanding her more-so that day, but tried my hardest to answer her questions. She kept grabbing onto the bed rails to shift herself and when she would, she would cringe or moan from pain. I think the cancer in her lungs was bothering her 🙁 . She even grabbed her side once. I panicked and texted Aunt Nora and she told me to go to the nurse’s station before I left to ask them to give her something for the pain. One of the dad’s of one of Emily’s little classmates, Mark, was the nurse on duty and told me he would take care of it. I believe this is the night they started her on anxiety medication. Linda spent the night with Gramma.

They moved Gramma to a new room the next afternoon where there was a chair-bed to accommodate Aunt Nora and Linda when they’d stay the night. When I picked the boys up Thursday evening I told them we’d stop by to visit Gramma. Linda was just about to leave when we’d arrived into the room because Aunt Nora was going to relieve her. She told me that Gramma had been knocked out for hours after they gave her the morphine and anxiety meds, because she’d been hysterical the night before. Linda said, “If you’d seen her, you’d ask them to give it to her, she was bad.” It was heartbreaking to see her in the state she was in: pale, labored breathing, so frail 🙁 . Linda said the nurse told her that she was doing a “death gurgle” when she would breathe. I couldn’t believe they had a name for it. I knew I was being selfish, but I was hoping this was temporary; that–like all the other times–she would defy the odds and make a complete recovery. Poor Eenan was distraught and Jaylen was holding it in. So was I; I had to be strong for Eenan. We stayed with her for a little over an hour and left at 8pm, only because the other kids were at home and needed to eat dinner.

The next morning we woke up super early since Jaylen needed to be dropped off at Mario’s, like usual on Fridays, and I needed to get cash for the girls’ “Snack Shack” at school. Mario gave Alaethia some cash since we wouldn’t make it on time to the school if I’d stopped at Walgreens, and Emily already had hers. Alaethia had been having pains in her tummy all week, and when she got them again that morning I told her she needed to see the doctor, as it had already been 4 days of the stomach pains. I really wanted to text Aunt Nora, but I was afraid I’d wake her, so I texted Linda instead. She said there wasn’t much change, but that the nurse told Aunt Nora it was “the beginning of the end” and that she was showing more signs of it. I hated to hear that, but I needed to stop being selfish, and I knew it. After running around with Alaethia all morning and trying to find the prescription they gave her, we gave up and went to HEB to get her some broth and yogurts with probiotics, per the doctor’s recommendation. I dropped her off at home, since it was past 10am and she’d be counted absent anyway.

I got to work and answered a few e-mails. I had just gone into my boss’s office to ask him if I could skip out on working Unplugged that night since I needed to spent time with my grandmother and explained what was going on. He said, yes, of course I could have the night off. I went to my desk to finish up some bills and help my co-worker, Lee, translate a letter when I got two texts: one from Aunt Nora saying, “Linda said Mom just stopped breathing” and one from Linda that said “Call me”. So I did. Linda was crying that she and Mom had arrived and not 10 minutes later Gramma stopped breathing and she hadn’t breathed since. I couldn’t believe it. It was too fast. I grabbed all my things with tears stinging at my eyes and just started bawling when Lee asked what was wrong. I told him, and then told my boss that I had to leave, then I ran into Gerry and Michelle and then Rosie. Rosie told me to calm down and breath since I had to drive, so I did. I called John and Jorge on the way to the nursing home. John felt awful because he was planning to visit her on Saturday, but he never got the chance to. I immediately stopped crying to be strong for him and told him she knew he loved her. I arrived at the same time Aunt Nora and Tio Arturo did. I couldn’t believe how much Gramma changed from the night before. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t with us anymore. We all hugged and cried and collected her things. They called the official time of death at 12:16pm. They let us stay with her about an hour before the funeral home came for her.

I had the task of telling the kids when I picked them up from Mario’s at 5pm. Emily and Alaethia broke down. Eenan, who had already broken down the night before, took it well, but weeped a little. Mario told Jaylen not to hold it in and he broke down, too. Even Mario got teary when he gave his condolences to Mom. It took a bit to compose ourselves, but we told the kids the important thing was she knew they loved her and she was in a much better place now.

Mom was devastated, but she did so much better than I thought. Linda was taking it really hard; I know how much Gramma meant to her. She meant the world to all of us. She isn’t suffering anymore, and that’s the thought I’ve had that has helped me cope. I really do hope she knows how much I loved her, how much we all did. She’s finally free of any pain; walking, talking and together again with my great-grandparents and her siblings. I love you Grandma.