Something’s wrong with Charlotte


Fear of the unknown


I was in an absolute panic, running into the Veterinary ER at 8:45 pm on a Saturday night. There was a small line of people at the check-in desk, and thankfully several receptionists were working. One young lady was just finishing up a phone call when I desperately caught her eye and approached the desk.


“Hi, sorry, I’m still shaking” I said. “I think my cat's having a seizure or stroke or something.”


The receptionist hopped up from her chair, looking at my empty hands.


“Where is your cat, I need to rush it back.”

“I left her in the car,” I said, turning to head back out to the parking lot, feeling a fresh wave of panic rise in my chest.

She followed me out into the night air. I opened the car door and retrieved the plastic cat carrier containing my very stressed 8-year-old silver tiger cat named Charlotte. She was drooling like a faucet.

Hurrying back towards the building the receptionist asked me a few questions which I don’t remember, as well as if I wanted Charlotte to be resuscitated if necessary as she headed towards the emergency doors. She disappeared inside bringing the carrier to the back, telling me to head to main entrance to fill out some paperwork.


There was a clipboard at the desk with both blue and white pieces of paper attached to it.


Wait, what do they need from me?

What was the date?

How old was Charlotte?

Was she going to make it?

What was wrong with her?

How much are emergency room visits for cats?


Questions flooded my mind as I struggled to focus on the task at hand. She was my responsibility. Had she eaten something she shouldn’t have? My neighbor had given me a clipping of a new plant and I wasn’t sure it was safe for cats yet. While I had placed it out of her reach, had it fallen to the floor, and did she eat it? Did she get into the closet with the weed killer? What had I done? It was my job to keep her safe and healthy as she was a house cat and had no predators.


45 minutes prior to me arriving at the ER, I had been at home talking with some friends on Zoom in my office when in the hallway I saw Charlotte taking wobbly, tentative steps, her head shaking back and forth. I thought she was chasing a bug, following its zig zag movements with her head as cats do.

But I didn’t see a bug, and when I got down on her level to investigate what she was following, I saw her eyes were darting back and forth uncontrollably as well.

Something's wrong with Charlotte. Panic set in.

In a blur I scooped her up and put her in the bathroom while I raced around shutting windows, turning off lights, grabbing my keys and the cat carrier.


She had gotten sick a few times while waiting in the bathroom. She put up no fight getting into the dreaded cat carrier and her body felt limp.


The ER was 25 minutes away.

Hold on baby girl.

The full moon lit up the highway as I called my mom on my way to the ER, desperately trying to talk out what possibly could have happened to her.

A full moon. I knew the emergency room would be busy.

Charlotte howled from time to time from her carrier on the passenger side floor on the way to the hospital which I was grateful for. If I could hear her, she was still with us.

When the receptionist who ran her back returned to the check-in desk, she explained the doctor said it was more than likely not a stroke, but something they called vestibular disease. The cause could be from an inner ear infection, lesions on the brain, a tumor or something else. More common in dogs, cats have a really hard time with it. I relaxed a little after hearing it wasn't a seizure or stroke.


After I filled out the paperwork, they brought me to a room where I spent the next 4 hours pacing the hallway, waiting for answers. I was antsy, eager to be reunited with Charlotte so I could take her home, knowing that in addition to being sick, she was very anxious to be out of the house. When they admitted her, in addition to the wonky eyes, shaking head and drooling she was in respiratory distress, and they had put her in an oxygen chamber.


Finally in the early hours of Sunday morning I got to take her home with the diagnosis of vestibular disease with unknown cause, and some nausea and motion sickness medication. The instructions were if she wasn't better in 72 hours, I would need to bring her to my vet for more testing. Options for treatment were limited if it was something beyond an inner ear infection.


At home I set her up in a bathroom so she wouldn't hurt herself because she couldn't walk without falling over and was still drooling profusely.


I tried to get some sleep.


Lessons


On Sunday I contacted my friend Candice to seek help for Charlotte. Candice is a certified practitioner of Emotion Code and Body Code Therapy, and the founder and owner of Indiglow Soul. Emotion Code and Body Code Therapy is an energy modality that frees imbalances and trapped emotions within the body that are causing physical and emotional symptoms in both humans and animals.


Candice tuned into Charlottes' energy remotely, located and cleared a misalignment in her left side middle ear bone. Charlotte's current condition was actually causing her to lean to the left.


When Candice was done, she said "I'm thinking there is a lesson in this for you too".


Yes. If there is one thing I have learned from my spiritual education, is that there always is a lesson if I allow myself to relax and think beyond the current circumstances. It is not always immediately apparent in the thick of emotion and uncertainty. I kept Candice's words in the back of my mind.


I wasn't sure just how it was going to go or what this disease was all about, and the vet had "that talk" with me in case she wasn't showing signs of improvement which could take days to weeks. Over the next few days, I limited my busy schedule so I could take care of her and bring her to the vets for fluids and antibiotics. Mostly I sat on the floor of my spare bedroom while she lay in my lap for hours drooling, body floppy, just purring away like I rarely hear her purr. This was rare.


I have two cats. Charlotte is the queen of the house. Fiercely independent with strong boundaries and a limited need for affection. She is always nearby, under the bed, on the bed, in a nearby chair or perched on an armrest. I can go for days just dropping food in her bowl and letting her in and out onto the back patio without her approaching me for any other attention. She is not a fan of the unsolicited attention either, preferring you not touch her unless she instigates. Then there is her younger sister DaisyMae, a very affectionate, playful, yet nervous calico who's a purring machine of a lap cat whenever she finds me sitting down. DaisyMae's second favorite thing after eating is jumping on Charlotte's head. Which, as you would guess, Charlotte is not a fan of either.


But here Charlotte was, melted like a pat of butter on my lap, soaking up all the affection she could. The vestibular disease caused her to stumble after walking a few steps and shaking her head as cats often do would drop her to the floor. I suppose this was very disconcerting for her.


Slow down and let somebody love you


After that weekend I worked some half days and spent a lot of time on the floor of a spare bedroom playing nurse to Charlotte. I had to keep her isolated so she couldn't hurt herself, and somehow, I knew part of her healing was to be loved on, and she was allllll for it this time (well, after I wrangled her into the sink and used a pill gun I overnighted from Amazon to shoot medication down her throat while we both stressed out).


When pill time was over, she would eat and eventually wobble into my lap. While listening to her soft purrs I would let my mind wander. Even though I had just gotten back from a vacation, I began to realize I had some recent stressful situations I hadn't allowed myself to process at all.

Instead of allowing myself to experience the disappointment, frustration, sadness or any other emotion that came up before shifting into what was possible moving forward, I went straight into "well, gotta do what I gotta do" mode. Old habits had surfaced. I had been busy so I was back to burying and ignoring my emotions, letting fear, uncertainty and anxiety hang out a bit and wear at my edges.


Being at the ER in a new stress inducing situation that Saturday night was a tipping point.


Remember who you are


I love mindset work. When I truly understood that we could change our thoughts and not let them control us, I couldn't wait to share this with everybody I knew! I even started Rise With Me for that reason. We all have the ability to ascend into higher states of consciousness, to observe our thoughts as transient and not make them the end all and be all. To allow ourselves to self soothe and reprogram our subconscious to work for us and not against us. To find a deep love within ourselves for who we are at our core and not who we think we need to be and then extend that to others.


I also had to realize I had 41 years of thinking and behaving in certain patterns and loops, and only 5 years of rewiring those. Old habits can be sticky, and sometimes I fall into them without even realizing I am there, as was the case this summer.


It took shutting myself in a bedroom with a sick cat, wise words from Candice and no other distractions to realize I had been slipping in my self-care.


I sat and thought about the summer's events, and I allowed myself time to process. I felt the "ugh" of all of it, and then felt into where I was actually grateful. Yes, it sucked I had to put over $1000 into my car in August, only to find out they didn't fix the real problem and it was actually worse, but it still runs. Yes, I have been burning the candle at both ends, working, building my business, taking classes and having little free time for social events, but I love what I am creating. Yes, inflation has been affecting me like everyone else, but I have learned to get creative.


For me it matters most not what happens in my life, but what I do with what happens and I always have a choice on how I perceive it. I get to experience my emotions first however instead of running from them like I had most of my life. I am a Pisces, an intuitive empath, and a highly sensitive person. Prior to understanding what all that meant for me, I would absorb other people's emotions and compile them with my own. That was a whole lotta energy and other people's emotions I carried for years before I learned how to discern what wasn't mine and discharge it.


I am still learning, and growing, and remembering to allow myself to experience negative emotion in a way that feels safe, although still uncomfortable. It's some of what I coach my clients on: to allow yourself grace for what you may be going through, to love yourself and validate your feelings, and to see new possibilities. I had just temporarily forgotten myself.


Let the healing begin


It's been almost a month and Charlotte is doing much better by the way. Still off kilter when she walks, her neck and head are still a little floppy, but her personality has returned in full force. We still pass each other in the hallway, she gets her beloved stinky wet food twice a day, and she has hopped up on my lap for a few pets, but she never stays long. I hear this condition can take some time to heal, and I look forward to the day when she's 100%.


I am doing very well. I feel like a weight I didn't realize I was carrying is gone. We are smart creatures, us humans, and we can adjust to accommodate our burdens without setting them down, or ultimately free. Being busy and not carving out time for self-care is something I talk about all the time with clients, and I temporarily forgot to practice what I preach. This experience was a good lesson in checking in with the still, quiet part of myself that had something to say. I think a good coach knows that all the answers are within ourselves; it would do us some good to stop to listen from time to time.