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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder


Bonita named her Mademoiselle at first
because she wears a French maid's outfit.

Michael David Crawford, Baritone,

May 5, 2007

Copyright © 2007 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

I was in The Bahamas working on a contract back in 2002 when I called Bonita from my hotel.

"I got you a surprise!" she said.

"What is it?"

"I'm not telling."

"I bet it's a cat." I had recently lost my beloved cat Pishi to cancer.


My cat Maddy

The animal shelter had been putting cats in cages in local business as a way to encourage people to adopt them. Bonita was smitten by the way this cat was so affectionate.

They told us she was just one year old, but there was no real way to know.

Ours is a mixed marriage; I have always been a cat person while Bonita loves dogs. Her mother thought it was odd for a man to have a cat, but I have always had cats since I was given my first cat, Tiger, when I was an infant.

"There's not much cat there," said the vet. She weighed just six pounds when we adopted her, and never gained much weight despite our attempts to fatten her up.

Bonita named her Mademoiselle at first, because she wears a French maid's outfit: black with a white apron on the front. But we quickly shortened it to Maddy.

Many cats are crazy or playful, but Maddy has always been very low-key; she just likes to sit and purr.

The vet told us she must be a lot older than one, as most of her teeth were rotten and had to be pulled. Because she was left with only a few teeth, we had to put her on canned food.

In January of 2005, Maddy came down with epilepsy. She had been having micro-seizures for months before that, but we didn't realize what they were. Any kind of sharp noise, such as the clicking of a computer mouse, would make her twitch. At first I thought she was just afraid of my mouse!

The vet said Maddy's seizures could be caused by either epilepsy, liver failure (because it floods the blood with toxins) or a brain tumour. A blood test quickly rules out liver trouble. She didn't show any of the other signs of a brain tumour.

Her vet recommended against giving her epilepsy medicine, as the side effects could be worse than the seizures. She has since had a total of four grand mal seizures that we know about.

Last fall, while I was in Vancouver, Bonita found some sores on Maddy's back that wouldn't heal. She and I and Maddy's vet all suspected that she had diabetes, but a blood test found that she had kidney failure.

Maddy must be a lot older than we thought.

The vet's only recommendation was to feed her Hill's k/d Prescription Diet. It has reduced protein and salt so it's less stressful to the kidneys. Maddy's sores cleared up quickly and haven't returned.

My landlady didn't allow me to bring Maddy at first because she feared for the wild birds that she feeds. But she relented when I told her that Maddy was an indoor cat. I brought her back with me after my first visit to Bonita last November.

I boarded Maddy at a vet when I went to Newfoundland for Christmas. When I told him that Maddy had kidney disease, he wanted to do a whole bunch of tests. I didn't really know what to say, and agreed to it. The boarding and tests together costs as much as I pay for a month's rent.

"You got robbed," Bonita told me. The vet in Truro had told her that there really was nothing they could do besides change her diet. He said there was no point to further testing.

Maddy had been doing well on the Hill's diet. But a few days ago she took a turn for the worse: she stopped eating. When I put fresh food down, she would come to her bowl but then would just stand there looking at it without eating any.

I called the vet yesterday to ask if they could give Maddy subcutaneous fluids. Bonita's dog Pokey had kidney failure but survived for quite a long time because the vet gave her fluids every couple of days.

"Let me ask the doctor" said the woman on the phone.

"He says it wouldn't work. He recommends that we test her blood and urine and put her on intravenous fluids over the weekend."

"How much will all that cost?" I asked, with a sick feeling.

She put me on hold for a long time then said it would be a thousand dollars. "WHAT?!?" I said, then hung up on her.

It shouldn't cost more than twenty bucks to give a cat a bag of fluids. Our experience with Pokey that it made a huge difference.

Monday I'm going to find a new vet.

Last night I was very concerned. Maddy really took a turn for the worse. She was very unsteady on her feet and could hardly walk. I offered her a little bit of ice cream - not enough to be bad for her, just a small spoonfull - but she just turned away. Usually Maddy comes running when she sees I have ice cream.

Most worrisome of all was that she suddenly reared up with a terrified look on her face and started pawing at the air in front of her. "I think Maddy was hallucinating," I said to Bonita.

I don't think Maddy is long for this world. Bonita told me to spend as much quality time with her as I can.

Maddy's favorite thing is for me to lie on my back on the couch while she lies on my chest. She always purred when doing so - Maddy purrs all the time, even when asleep - but for the last few days she hadn't purred.

I feel much more hopeful today though. When I put Maddy's food down she ran to her bowl and actually ate some. Not a lot, just a little, but that's more than she had been eating.

And when we lay together on the couch today, she purred.

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