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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

| ben |

Three years ago in December, Ken and I inherited (thanks, parents) a cat. His name is Ben and he purred his way into our apartment weighing 20+ pounds and sporting a red bow as a collar. Merry Christmas to us, meowed the handsome feline.

ben as a babe when my parent's adopted him ~8 years ago
On Saturday, Ben became visibly sick -- crouching close to the floor, abnormally vocal, in and out of his litter box, and restless. His eyes looked sad and he had no interest in showering (not typical). We thought maybe he had the flu or a bad cold. It wasn't until he started hiding underneath the bed that we pulled out the cat carrier and drove him to the emergency animal hospital. Then began the whirlwind of emotion, sometimes misleading and often terrifying diagnoses, endless waiting games, visits to sterile vet hospitals, little sleep, and even less food.

It turns out Ben had a stone stuck in his bladder or his urethra. It's hard to pinpoint where the obstruction was. I'll spare you the details, but after multiple catheters, fluid flushing, IVs, ultrasounds,  anesthesia and contrast agent administrations, the stone was dislodged. He stayed at the hospital for 24+ more hours so the veterinarians could monitor his activity (and fall in love with him).

After 3.5 days spent in various animal hospital facilities, here is Ben's best vet on the day they sent him home with us:

dr. roberts. thank god for dr. roberts.

On his first night home, he slept in between my shoulder and neck with his paws wrapped around my arm. Picture me that! I woke up exhausted, but he snored happily through the night and right now, that's all that matters.


Being a pet parent is hard. Life is hard. I will undoubtedly have to make difficult, expensive and emotional decisions again. This time around, I learned a lot. I learned how to ask smart questions, how to have extremely tough conversations with my parents, siblings, and Ken about sensitive topics, and how important it is to maintain a savings account.

This past weekend, I felt depressed and I was sure the world was ending. It sounds silly, but that's how I felt. I didn't want to adopt a new cat or pick out a kitten from the pound. I wanted my Ben back. As humans, we form these crazy wonderful bonds with animals and the thought of not coming home to that bond every night was gut-wrenching. Our pets love us unconditionally and our only job is to care for them. So, Ken and I did just that. Also, we signed up for pet insurance.

Most of all, I learned about Ken and I's shared values. Together we set a budget and we talked realistically about what we felt was the right thing to do and how we would proceed pending the test results and advice from the vets, our family, and friends. This was not easy, but our decisions were always matched. We also had to be flexible, because, with every call from the vet the circumstances could change. Ken was wildly amazing throughout every single minute of Ben's episode. When we thought we might have to put Ben to sleep (I feel sick writing that), I cried hysterically and lost control of my breath, but Ken held my hand and hugged my shaking body and promised me things would be OK. I believed him and together we cried. When thousand dollar estimates were presented to us, he was mathematical and practical. I remember one night trying to fall asleep with my phone inches from my ear and on the loudest ring setting, my jaw sore from crying, and Ken reaching over to grab my arm and say in the most convincing tone, "I love you." He said it so slow that it calmed me and I eventually fell asleep.

To Ben, you're the world's greatest trooper. I love being your mom.

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