Happy… Birth Day?

i don’t normally celebrate birthdays, as to me, every day is a birth day. When you wake up to a new day, it’s a whole set of new experiences, and ruminations on older ones. We are never the same person we were the day before.

That said, today is a day where my life undoubtedly was altered, physically and mentally. Two years ago the body i now live in was born on March 1, but the contractions began on February 12.

i was hit and ragdolled by an 18 wheeler semi truck.

While i immediately accepted that nothing would ever be the same about the way i moved in the world; it may sound strange to say but there was something comforting about those two months and six days in the hospital, plus whatever time i spent in the rehab clinic. While i always welcomed spontaneity in my life, prior to the accident i had particular patterns i followed. A certain predictability was comforting. My life was extremely simple- as simple as one’s life could be. i was wholly independent. i had little attachment to things; i rode my bicycle everywhere, i got what i needed from the store, whenever i needed something.

After the accident i had to depend on others to do things i suppose i took for granted- riding my bicycle to the store, picking up larger, bulkier/heavier packages, reaching items at a particular height… Even multi-tasking has been harder to do. i know it was difficult for me to form a coherent sentence (both in writing and verbally) when i first got to the hospital; given that i was able to easily respond to questions with no memory lapses though, i thought i was generally okay. The concussion i got (resulting in 6 or 7 staples in my head) seems to have latent effects, because these days, my brain gets overloaded in ways i’d never experienced before. i’m distracted at a much easier rate, and sitting and doing particular tasks for long periods of time has not been as easy.

Yes- while i have come to terms with everything that happened (and am still learning to appreciate my body in its new form- not an easy thing to do), one of the things i struggle with the most is the unpredictability of this new life. This new life is a lot lonelier. The connections i once experienced have lessened greatly. i’m not able to travel outside in the ways i once was. i am dependent on others in one way or another, if i want to leave the house and do anything significant… which means that sometimes, things are not going to get done at the time (or in the amount of time) i’d like them done. Sometimes, just getting around is painful. Some days i have happy days, where i can laugh at myself. Other days i ask myself why i even survived. Some days i feel okay with doing nice things for myself after such a traumatic event; other days i feel guilty.

When everything happened i assured myself that i wasn’t experiencing PTSD, despite this ginormous life-altering event that happened to me. i disagreed with everyone who guaranteed that this struggle would be something i’d be battling.

i suppose i had a certain image in my mind as to how living with PTSD from such a major accident would occur; like everything else major in life though, none of this comes with a handbook.

i want to apologize to everyone, and say that i was wrong.

This book will continue to be written…


the final stages of inevitability: kittylumbia’s last moments on earth

i woke up today, feeling extremely heavy; this weight of doubt, guilt, acceptance have all combined. i sprung right up, wondering if i’m doing the right thing. i sat up wondering if she is okay with all of this- how much pain is she in? i look over and see her, and a wave of sadness takes over. the muppet song ‘saying goodbye’ plays repeatedly in my head, and i begin to cry.

right before the alarm goes off i have a dream. i was in what appeared to be a basement/laundry room environment, with ants running near me, performing their colony duties. they were moving back and forth near a tree (which was the connection between the room and the outside). suddenly i see a drop of what is clearly cat poop by my feet. it looked like it came from a kitten though. before i could look down again, the ants have pulled it away, over by this tree. i look over to the tree, and there are very tiny kittens and cats, resting. they were all the same tiny size (of a cat paw), no matter their age. the mama cats were protecting the kittens, who were in a state of rest. one of the kittens was getting ready to fall into the ‘present’ the ants brought over, and i lightly screamed, ‘NO!’, when the mother ran to move the kittens. the ants started going crazy, and a fight was getting ready to break out, right as the alarm went off.

the day has been filled with procrastination… i know in my heart this is the best thing to do, but my head keeps asking if it is. it’s very clear lumbia’s health has deteriorated, to the point where she’d regularly stopped eating much. at 12 years old, she weighed five pounds. she stops to eat for a few moments, then goes back in her space to curl up. she had stopped grooming herself essentially, and her energy’s just extremely low. her eyes no longer have the same life in them. i would look over to see if she was still breathing.

the closer we got to that moment of inevitability, i began to waver between nausea, butterflies, weakness and tears. that ride/walk to the veterinarian’s was one of the longest we ever had. i wanted to prolong those last moments with her. when we got there i didn’t even announce myself; i just sat down, took her out of the carrier and comforted her. there was a dog who came in around the same time, and his loud bark scared her. i have never seen her so calm at the vet before. she usually darts out of the carrier and out of my arms. like many other cats she disliked the fact that vet experience was out of her ‘comfort zone’. this was a huge sign to me, that she was telling me this was the end. she was just tired.

the receptionist finally asked if i had an appointment; i told her i did, and my name. she just walked towards me, grabbed the carrier and we walked to a part of the clinic i had never been to before, while i carried lumbia. her silence implied that she felt sorry for the both of us. it was very clear to lumbia that something big was going to happen, because the room we entered looked entirely different than the ones we normally go to when she’s gotten a check-up.  the room, despite being slightly bigger than the majority of the rooms, looked and felt ominous, fort obvious reasons.  i sit down, and lumbia proceeds to give me a big, long hug; with lots of nose kisses.  i can only figure this is her way of saying goodbye.  the nurse/assistant comes in and we deal with all the finances/logistics/signatures so i won’t have to do it before i leave.  after a few more minutes with her, the assistant takes lumbia to get an IV attached to her front right leg.

he brings her back, and makes a lighthearted joke.  he’s been making them consistently since the day before, when i brought her in to get weighed, and to make the final appointment.  i don’t envy his position, where one needs to keep it light in order to not go crazy… surrounded by sickness and transition.  he asks me if, in her final moments, i would like her on my lap, or on the table.  i opted for her to be on my lap.

the doctor comes in after what seems like forever, with two needles.  she walks in as i have tears streaming down my face.  she has a sorrowful look on hers.  i don’t envy her job either.  she comments on how lumby looks tired.  the first needle goes into the IV that is bandaged to her arm; she moves slightly as a natural reaction, but barely.  she became so weak that she wasn’t even responding to needles.  i could tell that she stopped breathing before the full contents of the needle entered her body.  the doctor then put a needle with saline solution in the IV.  it happened extremely quickly, and she left quietly.  she did not have a seizure; no fluids or solids left her body.

it was approximately 4:35 pm.

the doctor moved her right front leg and her tail, so that her whole body ended up facing my right side.  it looked as if she was just taking a nap.  the leg that was still bandaged was covering her right eye; both of which were still slightly open, glossed over.  i cried throughout this experience, but when she placed the stethoscope over lumby’s heart and declared that she was gone, i wailed.  it does not matter how much you’re aware of the inevitable; when reality sets in, you’re still affected.  i spent about 15 more minutes with her after she left, just crying and trying to make sense of how unreal this experience is, despite having experienced it before (back in 2004 with holly, who had pulmonary carcinoma).  as she lay there lifeless, it was a lot easier to see how much lumby wasted away.  lumby’s looks were deceptive, because she was a burmese kitty.  her build was really stocky, even when she was wasting away.  you could feel her ribs, you could feel her breastbone.  i ended up feeling what felt like a lump in her belly, which led me to think even more that she was suffering from cancer.  nine months ago, it was discovered she had kidney failure; however, one is able to usually stabilize (if not cure) said kidney failure.  her health deteriorated to a point where she lost half her body weight.  she stopped eating at regular rates.  she began to vomit regularly.

my friend.

my companion.

my love face…  is gone.
i keep replaying these moments in my life, to make some sort of sense of it all.
david was so kind to dig a hole.  we surrounded the box lumby was placed in, said our kind words, and thanked lumbia.  i took the shovel and was the first to put dirt over her.  it felt like i was burying my child, or best friend.
i am at the point where i cannot slow down, or i will break down.  i am really tired, but i don’t want to go to bed.  for hours, i have still seen her silhouette, brushing past the chair i am sitting in.  when taking a shower, i heard her voice.  her transition is still fresh, so connecting with something or someone close to earth makes sense.
my hope is that she knows she was loved.