by JIM KNIPFEL
January 19, 2020
Then Everything Went to Hell (Again), Part III
If youíll kindly indulge me, Iím just trying to keep a semi-detailed record of the events beginning September 20th. With luck, this should be it. In Part III, we pick up around the beginning of December. In short, hereís what happened during my brief hiatus to work on the obits column.
†† *†† I went to the drug store to pick up a much needed refill of my seizure meds. The pharmacist told me theyíd been trying to reach the doctor for a week to get his approval, but hadnít heard back. Weird thing was, last time I saw that doctor in October, he told me he had already submitted approval for three refills. I mentioned this to the pharmacist, but he said theyíd never received any such thing.
†† *†† My mom was in a car accident. She came out of it without a scratch, which canít be said for the car.
†† *†† The landlord still couldnít sell the house at the insane price he was asking, and adamantly ignored the perfectly reasonable offer Morgan and I made months ago, so open houses came to dominate every weekend, with the poltroons and dullards who came tromping through growing more loathsome all the time.
†† *†† I tried the pharmacy again a couple of days later, but again they hadnít heard from the doctor, so I couldnít get my pills. My remaining supply at home was dwindling fast. When I got home I called the doctorís office and patiently explained the situation. I was shunted off to voicemail, presumably the doctorís assistantís, and left a detailed message. I knew it would accomplish nothing.
†† *†† Bert finished his antibiotics regimen, but his respiratory infection continued to linger. The vet had told us if this was the case, we should cancel his consultation with the veterinary oncologist until it was cleared up, so we did.
†† *†† When we called the vet about Bertís condition, we were told that a reddish brown discharge from the eyes was perfectly normal, and a sign the infection had cleared up. Neither Morgan nor I, both of us having owned several cats over the decades, had ever heard of any such nonsense. We were then chastised for cancelling that oncologist appointment.
†† *†† Three days later the doctor still had not phoned in the prescription despite the pharmacistís repeated attempts to contact him. I was starting to get a little nervous. Ever since my regular hospital had been bought out by a larger corporate hospital, trying to get a fucking prescription refilled had become an exhausting pain in the ass. I started rationing out my remaining pills, which, with seizure meds, is never a good idea.
†† *†† The packing was getting underway, and I was coming to learn just how expensive boxes and tape can beóand how much of both we would need.
†† *†† The real estate weasel, after promising to give us twenty-four hours notice before any visits by would-be buyers, was getting into the habit of only giving an hour or two heads-up. This put a crimp in the packing, as it meant every time he showed up with a client, we had to lock the doors, turn off the lights, and crouch silently in the darkness until we were sure he was gone.
†† *†† Daisy had a mild case of constipation, which quickly evolved into another urinary tract infection. Given the same thing had happened three weeks earlier, we called the vet to see if they could just give us some antibiotics. They wouldnít, and insisted we bring her in for an X-ray. Bert too, while we were at it. The appointment was scheduled for the next morning at nine.
†† *†† I called my doctorís office again, two weeks now after first trying to pick up my refill, and actually spoke to something resembling a human being. I was assured things would be taken care of. Somehow I doubted it.
†† *†† A grim but honest thought occurred to me as I was packing up the books, movies and records. Over the years they had been very carefully, even compulsively organized by artist or genre, then chronologically within each subsection. The idea was if they were arranged that carefully and I knew exactly what I was looking for, Iíd still be able to find a specific movie or album by touch alone. It was a clever system that unfortunately no longer worked. If something had a unique shape or texture or size, then maybe I could find it, otherwise I needed to ask for help. Now that I was throwing them all into boxes and things were getting horribly jumbled, I knew Iíd never have them organized that way again, and in fact would have no idea what I was pulling out of the boxes at the new place. There was, I realized, no longer much point in unpacking them at all. And if that was the case, why was I even packing them in the first place? They were all dead to me.
†† *†† Two old friends of the family died on consecutive days.
†† *†† We were running about ten minutes late for the vet appointment. I sent them a note to let them know. But with the car waiting out front honking its horn and both cats at last in their carriers, the vet called and cancelled, saying we should get an earlier start next time.
†† *†† When I called back to see if I could get some antibiotics for Daisy to ease her suffering until the rescheduled appointment, I was refused again. And the vet herself got on the line to tell me the results of Bertís third biopsy finally revealed he had lymphoma on top of his mass cell cancer. So weíd better reschedule that oncologist appointment toot sweet, essentially saying it was our fault that Bert was now going to die much sooner than he would have.
†† *†† There was a gas leak in the house, but the fucking place didnít explode. Figures.
†† *†† Although we followed the vetís (non-antibiotic) advice to the tee, Daisyís urinary tract problems did not go away. And Bert started puking daily again, which was not supposed to happen.
†† *†† I was beginning to take a serious dislike to this vet. She reminded me of a storefront fortune teller. Every time we spoke to her, she had some dire news and insisted we buy some Ju-Ju powder to ward off the latest demons who had targeted us.
†† *†† I called to reschedule that appointment with the oncologist, but given the holidays, the earliest one we could get was two weeks away.
†† *†† Along with the renewed puking (which meant he was puking up his pills as well), Bertís appetite was fading. Heíd always been voracious, which made this more troubling.
†† *†† Morgan and I had been wanting to get over to the new apartment to make sure the lock on the front door had been fixed, and all the crap that had been left in the apartment (tarps, kidís bicycles, panes of glass) had been cleared out as promised. We also wanted to start bringing a few things over to ease the move itself, but we simply couldnít find the time.
†† *†† I called the vet and explained what was happening with Bert. She said I had two optionsóI could either bundle him up and bring him over to the† vetís office immediately, or wait until Morgan got home and rush him to the emergency room. The latter sounded nightmarish, or at least slightly more so than the former, so I packed him up in a carrier and took him over to the vet. The idea, as I had been led to believe, was that he was going to get a shot of anti-nausea drugs and a blood test to check his thyroid levels. Well, after they took Bert from me and whisked him into the back room, I sat there for three hours with no one saying a word to me. Finally the doc came out and told me that not only was his thyroid out of control, his kidneys were fading too. So she sent me home with a bag of fluids and yet another supplement (the fourth) to mix in with his food, and another pill to control the vomiting. So that makes five pills a day to get in him, along with holding him down to give him an infusion of fluids every day.
†† *†† Considering his prospects at that point, Morgan and I decided it would be too awful to put him through weekly chemo treatments on top of it. We just wanted to give him the best palliative care until the end. But when we called the vet to explain this, the receptionist barked, ďYou donít do the chemo, heís going to DIE!Ē I reminded her that so is she, so am I, and so is everyone who walks past their office. We just wanted to keep him comfortable the best way we could. Instead of offering anything, she insisted that I come in and talk to the vet, so I did. After I waited for two hours, the vet came out and, not listening to a thing I said, insisted that we go through with the chemo, that if we did anything else, his death would be our responsibility.
†† *†† I no longer wanted to hear anything this vet had to say, but we went to the downtown Brooklyn hospital two days later for his first treatment. It went shockingly well.
†† *†† Still, the home care in and amongst all the moving nonsense was becoming a bit overwhelming. After two weeks of the daily and increasingly difficult regimen of coaxing five pills into him and trying to hold him still for the subcutaneous fluids (the responsibility for both falling on Morgan), I called the vet, explained the situation, and asked if I might bring him in there to get his pills and fluids administered by trained professionals. Just one dayís worth is all I asked. They said no, that we should just try to give them to him ourselves the next day. Maybe it would be easier then.
†† *†† After a run to the veterinary emergency room the next day to get his pills and fluids in him, we made arrangements for vet house calls twice a week. During his first visit, the very nice and blunt vet hinted it was all a waste of time and money, and I agreed.
†† *†† We had to move in two weeks and had barely started packing.
†† *†† Considering how many pedestrians were killed by hit-and-run drivers in New York every weekópretty much one a dayóand considering how much Iíd been walking into traffic, just daring drivers to hit me, the fact I was still alive was nothing short of depressing.
You can contact Jim Knipfel at this address:
With occasional exceptions Slackjaw generally appears weekly. For email notification of other Jim Knipfel publications (books, etc.) and events please join the Slackjaw email list here.