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The Choices We Make: Not Everything Is a Choice

I made one of the most difficult and heartbreaking decisions in my life: I euthanized my cat of almost 17 years. She had a fairly serious infection in her eye, but her body temperature indicated that she was already headed to the rainbow bridge on her own.

In addition to her eye, fluid had built up in her abdomen which meant she would soon be in agony from these failing body parts. It was very hard, but I knew that my trip to the vet was an almost certain final prognosis.

Saying goodbye to my beloved cat

Pets don’t have hospice care or anything that could be considered such equivalent for animals. We can make them somewhat comfortable if you have the time and energy to maintain them yourself. But you reach a point where the most humane thing to do is to let them gently go to sleep.

I prayed for the past 2 years that my cat would die happily at home, eating or sleeping in her favorite place. I prayed because I put my first cat down 3 years previously and never wanted to do it again. I almost hoped she would tell me it was time so I could hold her on the way to a natural death.

I got to hold her, but it was bittersweet because I knew that it was not in the way I wanted it to happen.

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Narcolepsy was not a choice

Through this grieving process, I have been going through why I had to do what I did. Even though it was a choice, her death was not a choice in the long run. We all die, especially as we age, but sometimes we choose to help our pets on their way.

In the same line of thinking, as I watched a friend with narcolepsy's YouTube video, the initial thought presented was that people with narcolepsy choose to be tired and could sleep through a movie voluntarily.

We don’t choose to have a rare medical condition. We don’t choose to be tired all the time. We don’t choose to have our bodies weaken when we laugh, cry, or get angry. Narcolepsy was not a choice I would wish upon anyone. Even if someone wanted an excuse to sleep – just choose to take a nap, don’t wish for a medical reason to do so.

No one choose illness

It seems hard to grasp for people that have not been through any form of significant illness, but no one chooses this path. We need to acknowledge that even as we sit in a global pandemic, where so many people have died, not one case of sickness can be consciously contracted.

We can choose to protect ourselves and others by wearing a mask, washing our hands, sanitizing surfaces, etc. The end result of our efforts can possibly still be fruitless if we get sick and experience that which comes with said sickness.

How I deal with my conditions is my choice

It has saddened me to watch the state of the world with so much loss and I know many are grieving. I grieve as well regardless of person or pet. I care very much.

Yet, I want everyone to know that we have choices in life and we have what happens regardless of choices. My narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and other medical conditions were not a choice. However, how I deal with what has happened to me is very much my choice.

Loss leaves a void

I will grieve my sweet baby girl cat. She was my pregnancy cat that I got the day I found out I was pregnant with my first son. She was the symbol of this new life and experience, but more importantly, my second girl child (my first was my other girl cat, who died 3 years ago) and this loss hits a different spot in my heart as the next children in line of succession leaves my 2 biological children.

With each loss, I find a new empty space where my cats fit into my life before. No one wishes their children to precede them in death so I pray I never experience that given they are human boys.

Moving forward

I am managing well considering the connection between this cat and my first child. My youngest son chose to bury her in the orchard where we could see her and be with her regularly. We will plant flowers in the spring when the weather is better.

Despite my losses this year, I chose to move on and forward. Even through the extreme exhaustion and random face flushing (which occurs before my cataplexy), I am determined to keep myself in good spirits.

The tears fall sometimes without me choosing, but I remember that I still have my 2 boy cats that purr and keep good company as I watch my shows. I still have pets and people that love me and that is enough for me today.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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