Saturday, 9 August 2008

9th August 2008: Farewell, dear Shasta :’o(

I haven’t much progress to report on the issues of my clinical depression and Project Second Chance, except that I am off Xanax because it makes me sleep. With a workload like mine, I need something that could help me stay awake and survive on 3 hours of sleep a day, not something that would help me sleep. I could sleep at the drop of a hat because I am always so tired and unwell.

I took my skateboard out to Mayang Plaza, about 200 metres away from the Bachelor Officer’s Quarters, on Friday night, to skate for 15 minutes in the hope that it would help me relax. I quit after a while because I found that my mind kept drifting back to Keisha and her kittens, who were still at the SPCA awaiting adoption.

I was at the SPCA very early on Saturday morning as I was anxious to see the cats. The rest of the kitties looked fine, but Shasta was doing quite poorly and looked really thin and gaunt compared to his siblings. His left eye, which had been swollen and rheumy even when he was still living with me, did not seem to be any better, even after all the medicine we had applied. It was worrying me but it looked as though he was losing his eyesight.

Rose arrived and we discussed the shelter animals’ chances of getting adopted. I got the tickwash and bath things ready and proceeded to bathe and medicate the dogs from Kennels G and H and the Pounds. Rose went off for a bit and I continued working solo until interrupted by Erica, a volunteer with a reputation for being pushy, needy and somewhat eccentric. I thought that she had wanted me to do her a favour again, but 4 years of working with legally insane clients have taught me patience and diplomacy, if nothing else.

“Yes, Erica, what can I do for you?” I inquired, keeping my tone pleasant. It was a good thing I did not sound irritable and unwelcome, because it turned out that Erica had seen me working through lunch and had doggie bagged some lunch for me. I was touched and grateful, and it renewed my resolve never to jump to conclusions or be gratuitously rude or impatient. I ate my lunch gratefully in the vets’ office, as the vets let me use their room whenever they are around.

Mazni, who is the shelter caretaker, called me away after lunch with the news that Shasta was having an epileptic fit. My heart sank with the news. I had suspected, after witnessing Shasta having a seizure in my home, that he has epilepsy on top of cerebellar hypoplasia, but I had hoped that it was an isolated incident. It wasn’t. The little one was in pain and bit himself, trembled violently and hurled himself against the bars of the cage, while his fearful siblings watched, uncomprehending. He soiled himself after the fit, and looked weaker and frailer than ever. My heart went out to my little fighter and I held him and tried to help him feel more comfortable.

I made up my mind to bring all the cats home with me, and after having informed Mazni of the same, I got to work cleaning the shelter. I soaped and disinfected the Cattery, the Maternity Kennels, the cooking area, the central area, the puppy cages and the front Recep/Admin area.

Around 1800 hours, I collected the cats from the Cattery at the back and got ready to bring them home. Reve persuaded me to leave Snowy, Mini-Me and Shadow in a big cage in the front area in the hopes of increasing their chances of being adopted. I agreed, on condition that the shelter staff hold on to my cats for me until I come back for them next Saturday. I told Reve of Shasta’s epilepsy and asked if she had any suggestions as to whether and how his health could improve.

Reve told me that as Shasta had multiple disabilities (progressive blindness being the latest one), it would be impossible for us to heal or help him or even give him a significantly higher quality of life. Shasta was, as I suspected, in frequent pain, especially after his epileptic fits, and would never be able to live a normal life like his siblings. I sensed as much, because he had stopped playing in the last few days. Reve asked me to consent to Shasta being put to sleep. I was overwhelmed with grief but I realized that Shasta has a very low chance of survival even if kept alive with medications. I cried and held Shasta, and Reve grieved along with me, but I finally signed the consent letter to let Shasta be put to sleep.

As I brought Keisha home, I prayed that Shasta’s soul would find peace and that I could do better by him in another lifetime. I felt so inconsolably sad and guilty that I wondered if I could ever find happiness again.

I’ve been despondent for so long that I believe there will never again be a day when I will not be sad.

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