Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's the lesson here?

I'm in tears. I had a good day up until about one hour ago. It's a gorgeous day here. I slept late. I mowed my lawn. I did my strength circuit followed by a 40 minute swim at the gym. I went to McDonald's for my iced caramel latte, and then I was off to Best Buy to purchase a new computer router. Things were going good.

As I was heading north toward Best Buy, I spotted a dead (or so I thought) animal in the right hand shoulder of the 6 lane divided freeway on which I was driving. Just as I approached the animal, going 65 miles per hour, it lifted it's head and weakly crawled toward the road. It was a bloodied cat, and it was alive and clearly in pain. I covered my mouth in horror, as I cursed the owner for letting a cat freely wander so close to a major thoroughfare. Tears came to my eyes as I exited the freeway. Could I leave that cat there to suffer and die? I pulled into the Best Buy parking lot, took a deep breath, and headed back toward the freeway.

It took about ten minutes to get to the cat. He was still shallowly breathing, but as I scooped him up in one of Puck's dog towels, he did lift his head. I placed him on the floor of my car and talked to him the whole way to the emergency vet hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital doesn't open until 5 PM, and it was only 3:30. A kind woman directed me to the nearest vet office, and we were off. I couldn't find the office, so I phoned for directions. I told the receptionist I was coming in with an injured cat, which I had just rescued, and she said, "Okay, but you'll have to stay if you bring him in." Weird.

By the time I arrived at the large vet clinic, at least one half hour had passed, and who knows how long the cat laid there before I came along. The receptionist quickly put all of my contact information into the computer while two vet assistants rushed off with the cat. At this point it was becoming clear that they were expecting me to pay for any services rendered. The receptionist confirmed this when she told me, "Anyone who brings an animal in is responsible for payment." I said, "Look, I just wanted to bring the cat to someone who might be able to save him or at least put him out of his misery. I'm not prepared to pay a large bill. I love animals," I said, "but I'm not rich." She said she understood, ushered me into a treatment room, and excused herself to go talk to the vet.

At this point, I was crying. The trauma of rescuing the cat caught up with me. I could hardly speak when the receptionist came back and told me they would wave 80 dollars of the $122 cremation fee. Would I be willing to pay the remaining $42? I said, "I guess." I couldn't comprehend what was happening. Were they going to try to save the cat? Would they only try to save it if someone was willing to pay for saving it? What would they do if I refused to pay--throw it back into the street? It was really surreal, and I became angry through my tears.

I couldn't believe what was happening. Aren't vets supposed to care about animals? Do all of their decisions revolve around money? I realized they were running a business, but how often did a rescued, wounded animal come through their doors? The trauma of rescuing this cat was quite enough. I didn't need their money-hungry brow-beating on top of it!

In the end, I walked out while saying something about trying to be a good citizen, and that they could send me to collections if that's what they needed to do. I have no idea what they're planning to do with the cat. I expect I will get a bill for whatever it is they decide. I don't know yet whether or not I will choose to pay it. I think I probably sealed the poor guy's fate by walking out the door. I'll never know whether or not he could have been saved. I left with a really bad taste in my mouth.

Crying and angry, I drove home and wondered if there was a lesson in this situation. Unfortunately, the only lessons I thought of were negative ones. Don't get involved. Don't try to help. Ignore suffering. Money is more important than life. Did they think this was really my cat, and I was just trying to get free care? Are we that suspicious and mistrusting these days? And what about the hundreds of other cars who drove by this suffering animal without a thought? Maybe, in the end, they were smarter than I. I don't know. I don't know.

Right now, I wish I hadn't stopped. Actually, that's not true. I wish I hadn't seen the cat move. Once I saw that, I couldn't have lived with myself if I had ignored it. But what price (and I mean emotional price) will I pay for my actions? I've stopped crying...but I'm still angry and confused. What's the lesson here?


p2sam said...

You had the courage and integrity to do what you thought was right. You should be proud.

On the other hand, a severely injured animal without an owner to pay for the very expensive care it needs will be euthanized. You should not feel bad for declining to take on that financial responsibility.

The Rainbow Dreaming said...

The lesson is true compassion and unconditional love, and what you did reflects on the person you are. I hope the vet oversees the money factor, and its sounds like the cat was put down. I wouldn't pay for the cat either, its the principle that I'd be standing by and I commend you for walking out and not paying which is what I would've done too. As for the other bystanders: maybe they didn't see the cat move and drove on by. Maybe they did see the cat move, in which case it'll play on their conscience and be forever in their memory bank.

Maggie Beth said...

Oh, Etta, I am so sorry. I am a huge animal lover ~ I am crying just reading what you wrote. I can not imagine your pain. I can not bear to see anyone or anything in pain.

I don't know the life lesson....
maybe you were sent to that particular vet to remind THEM that life ~ even an animal's is not black and white.

On a small positive -- I do know (personally) 3 local vets who have animals either in their homes or their offices who were injuries that were brought in and left. They healded them and now they 'hang out'. Maybe someone, with the knowledge to do so, fought hard and saved the can hope.

We will be saying "puppy prayers" for you at my house tonight. I have discovered that "puppy prayers" are more powerful than the 'regular ones' ~ HUGE HUG Sweet Etta!!! You are a good soul.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that is tough. It would haunt me as well. At a place I volunteer for in the country, one half of a cat was run over. It was a tough job to explain to people why farmers just put the animals out of their misery instead of taking to the vet.

I'm not sure if calling animal control would be any better, as the poor cat probably would have been dead by the time they got to it.

People should keep cats indoors. They don't know that cars can smoosh them.

I hope you are feeling better today. You did a good thing.


Still Here said...

Hi Etta,

I'm so sorry you went through such a painful episode. But you know you did the right thing each step of the way.

Though I've owned only dogs and horses most of life, I inexplicably brought a cat home last fall who needed a home. She has been my gift to me (though my son is under the impression she's his :)).

If some angel on my shoulder recognized the swift and terrible onset of clinical depression I would suffer a few months later, I'm guessing it was that winged lady that whispered to me to bring the cat home. Cali's calming presence and uncanny willingness to cuddle at the right time is a saving wonder for me.

We're here to save each other, Etta. You saved the cat, provided her comfort when she depeartely needed it. Thank you.

Still Here