A long time coming….

This blog post is LOOOOONNNNGGGG overdue and for that I’m truly sorry.  I suppose when one builds some sort of following via social media and through blogging and podcasting and then just vanishes the concern may arise.  Please allow me to take a moment to provide some explanation.

As many of you know I was actively pursuing a QSO a day in 2014 and having an absolute blast operating in the ARRL Centennial QSO Party.  While my podcast had suffered a few months of neglect, I was active on Twitter and actively blogging about my progress with the QSO a Day and the ARRL Centennial operations.  All was going well until mid August then everything changed.  The life (and world) my wife and I had created just simply crashed around us in a devastating manner.

My wife and I do not have any children.  She and I were both raised around animals and grew up with dogs and cats in our lives.  While I had spent much of my adult life without animals, this all changed when I met my wife and she moved to the US.  I became the daddy of two cats (Socks and Moustey).  Socks and Moustey traveled to the US (Denver) on a British Airways Boeing 777 and in their long life had managed to live in three different countries (Belgium, England and US). 

We lost Socks in the fall of 2008.  At the time he was 15-16 years old and had lived a good life.  My wife had given him the very best life a pussy cat could ever want.  At the time of Socks’ passing, Moustey was also 15-16 years old and we were concerned if she remained the only cat in our house that she might suffer.  So we adopted a kitten and named him Skye.

Now, after about two years we realized that Moustey really wanted a more relaxed and less stressful life from what Skye (being 2 years old) wanted.  So we adopted another kitten (Mickey) in 2010.  Mickey and Skye were best friends and Moustey was allowed to gracefully retire for the most part and our little family was happy and content.

Moustey passed away on August 8 of 2013 at the age of 23 years old.  About 30 minutes after Moustey left us to go to the Rainbow Bridge, I received a call from my mom that my grandmother had passed away.  This all happened the week before my wife and I were scheduled to fly to Belgium to visit her family.  August 2013 was not a great month.  But as we would soon discover, August 2014 was going to be even worse.

Mickey began throwing up.  Now this is just something cats do and if you are a cat person….you know this.  So after the second day we decided to take Mickey to the vet.  We took him to our local vet and he was examined.  The vet could find nothing wrong.  He performed an x-ray and scan.  No blockages detected…basically nothing detected to give any cause of alarm.  We were sent home with some medicine and told all should be fine in 24 hours.

24 hours later Mickey was not improving.  He was not eating and he was not drinking.  My wife and I decided to take him to the 24 hour animal hospital. After about 30 minutes, we were told what they thought might be the cause and for the first time in my life I heard the term dysautonomia. 

Dysautonomia is a disease which attacks the central nervous system and causes it to malfunction.  Additional scans and x-rays were performed of Mickey’s esophagus and stomach.  Basically the disease prevents the esophagus from delivering food into the stomach and also fails to prevent the stomach acids from flowing up the esophagus.  Basically causing an extremely bad case of acid refux.

There are many other symptoms which Mickey exhibited.  Sort of the final test to determine if he had Dysautonomia was  his heart rate.  His heart rate was very low and when given a dose of atropine (which normally causes the heart rate to increase) his stayed low. 

We were told Mickey only had a few days (at best) to live and we took him home with us and spent about four hours with him before we had a service come to our home to help him pass away peacefully.

While I dearly loved both Mickey and Skye very much, Mickey was my little buddy.  He would follow me all around the house.  I taught him to play fetch when he was just a kitten and we were very close.  Mickey was only 4 years old.

Of course, panic started to set in and we asked the hospital if it was possible for Skye to also have this disease.  They told us it was very rare and while we were very sad to have lost Mickey, we were both determined to show a brave front around Skye and knew he would also miss Mickey very much.

Just a few days after we said goodbye to Mickey, Skye began throwing up.  We called the hospital and they reassured us how rare it would be for Skye to also get this.  And we should understand that Skye is grieving as well and to relax.

Well….less than a week later we were saying our goodbyes to Skye.  He also developed this cruel disease.  Skye died one week after Mickey.  Skye was 6 years old.

We all face the certainty of death.  We are born and we will die.  The same applies to cats.  While we grieved for Socks and Moustey….we accepted the fact that it was their time.  They lived a long and good life.  But this just simply is not the case with Mickey and Skye.  They were taken from us far, far too early. 

Unfortunately, we do not know what caused Dysautonomia to come crashing into our lives.  Most vets still say it is rare for the disease to pass from one to another.  I guess we suspect food.  But as I said, we have no proof.

Anyway….my wife and I still struggle with this loss.  It may sound strange, but when I started to think about getting on the air, or doing anything amateur radio related….I thought about my cats and it made me sad.  Yes, I’m still sad and I know that ham radio isn’t the cause of anything and I know my interest will return.  But this is why I’ve been mostly silent.

Thank you for understanding and thank you for reading. 

73,

Jerry

KDØBIK

Jerry Taylor, KD0BIK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. He is the host of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast. Contact him at [email protected].

5 Responses to “A long time coming….”

  • Mike kf7vzz:

    What a sad chain of events! I wish you both the best, and the chance that another addition to the family will thrive.

  • Roger G3XBM:

    Jerry,

    I am not a cat person but losing pets is always sad and hard. My thoughts are with you.

  • Paul Griffith, KE5WMA:

    I’ve had cats and dogs, and understand.

  • Bill - WA8MEA:

    Nothing is harder than taking your dog or cat to get euthanized. They almost seem to be aware that something is about to happen.

    We had an Australian Shepard we had to put to sleep after being diagnosed with advanced cancer. A week later, the cat that graced our very first home died of kidney failure.

    The hardest part was going out in the back forty and burying “Sister”. (The five boys named her “Sister” since they had no sister and she was the only female in the house besides Mom…) It was cold, drizzling, foggy and miserable. Just as I am digging, the church up the street starts its morning hymn chimes. The first hymn? “Rock of Ages.” I cried like a baby during the entire burial process.

  • Harry K4BAD:

    I’m so sorry. The only way I’ve found to handle grief is to stay busy so that you go to bed at night utterly exhausted.

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