I had a day off of sorts yesterday. Only I didn't mean to have a day off. That is, I didn't take the day off on purpose, as we so rarely do that - admit that it might be nice to take a break from our supposedly very crucial work and other commitments and get out of the office or house for a while. My regular vet had recently suggested that Teddy, our cat, be seen at the NC State Veterinary School, due to the fact that he appeared to need x-rays, and other expensive procedures and that it would probably be cheaper to go out to Raleigh and have it all done there. So they sent over his records, and I made an appointment.
I had mixed emotions about taking him. I mean, I was all for getting my cat, who is a very nice, good and cute cat, everything he needed, but the thing was that during initial discussions regarding my taking him to the vet school, there'd been mention of possible heart disease, and also mention of possibly having them perform an EKG, and you see, that would be, if my calculations are correct, an EKG, on a cat. You know, a cat EKG, and I generally make fun of people who do things like take their cat to get an EKG, and furthermore, because of the possibility of heart disease, I wasn't only taking Teddy to the NC State Veterinary School, I was taking Teddy to the Cardiology Department at the NC State Veterinary School, which in essence meant I was taking my cat to a cardiologist. And that seemed kind of a little much.
Compounding my conflicted feelings on the whole matter was the fact that I (naturally) got to my appointment a little late, and upon arriving at the enormous campus, promptly went to the wrong building. I used the F word a lot. I used it when I opened my car door into the car beside me in the parking lot (thankfully not leaving a mark). When my shoe came untied. When the hefty cat carrier, carrying my cat with possible heart disease, bumped into my shins (700 times). When I found out I'd gone to the wrong building and when I tripped on my still untied shoelace heading up to the right building. When I couldn't get the door of said building open because I had the cat in one hand and the gigantic but very fashionable bag I'd gotten for Christmas in the other.
After half an hour in the waiting room - which, by the way, is comparable if not more dramatic than an emergency room for humans (people crying, tiny dogs all wrapped up in plush towels, individuals sitting on the edge of their seats just dying for an update - "But doctor, we've been waiting for hours! How is Shadow doing?" ) it was our turn, and we were greeted by a very friendly fourth-year vet school student and a very friendly veterinarian. They checked out the cat, asked me a lot of questions, and then told me I could come back at the end of the day to pick him up. They said they'd call when he was ready.
I hadn't anticipated having the afternoon off, and dreaded the thought of driving the half hour back to Chapel Hill only to come back a few hours later, and afterwards head immediately back home. So I decided to stick around and headed into Raleigh to see the sites.
Alright, "sites" may be a bit generous, but I do like it there. I lived in Raleigh for a few years when I first moved down here right after college and it's changed a lot since then so every time I visit there's a new restaurant or coffee shop or store to check out.
I spent the first part of my afternoon worrying that I should have, somehow, been working and that I didn't deserve the break. I quickly realized I was being an idiot. I'm a firm believer in getting out there and seeing the world once in a while, but it's easy to forget to do. It's easy to (falsely) believe that the results you'll get from doing some kind of work, behind a computer, desk, at home or in the office, will yield more beneficial results.
Plus, I hadn't been on a walk - just a walk for the hell of it - in ages, and it was the perfect day for it. Cold enough for my coat and scarf, but not the bitter cold that drives residents of northern climates indoors all day. I walked down Fayetteville St. to the state capitol building. I saw men and women in suits having lunch. I saw half a dozen people protesting the death penalty. I saw newly renovated historic buildings. I saw shopkeepers taking smoke breaks. And when I'd seen enough I got in my car and headed to the NC Museum of Art where I stood around and looked at all the paintings I've seen there many times before, trying to remember which of the modern American abstract artists J likes the best, taking some extra time to study my favorite 19th century painters, and forcing myself to look at the European religious art one more time even though I sometimes feel I've seen enough of that stuff to last a lifetime.
Afterwards I had coffee at a place I loved when I'd lived in Raleigh, just idly reading the paper and observing the others drinking coffee that afternoon, which included a high school girl all in black who'd just taken up knitting and a southern gentleman in a bow tie.
I drove over to an outdoor shopping center afterwards, where there was a sale at one of my favorite stores, so I dug through boxes of normally high-priced shirts and skirts, tried on a few things, and bought one, and it was in the parking lot outside the store, where I was happily wielding my neon yellow and pink shopping bag with an adorable striped skirt inside when the vet called to tell me that yes, Teddy did have a heart murmur, but it didn't really matter because he also had cancer - cancer spreading from his throat down his esophagus to his lungs, and that there were various treatments we could try, from least aggressive to most aggressive, but it would really only change the final outcome to be between weeks and months because no matter what we did, it wouldn't cure him. She said I could come get him and think about it, and call her back the next day. So I got in my car and immediately began crying, which is funny, because honestly, I'm always one of those people who says I'm not a "cat person" and I've only had this particular cat for a few years, just took him home from the shelter because he was older and hadn't yet been adopted, but it turns out none of that matters. I was still very sad.
When I was seated in the waiting room yet again - Teddy's paperwork was being written up - this family came in with their dog, a big brown lab, who had a nosebleed and they couldn't figure out why. And they weren't annoying, or treating their pet like a human, or being mean to anyone or acting like the world was going to end. They were really great, actually, a mom and her two kids, with this huge dog dragging them around by it's leash. They just wanted to help their dog out because they loved him, and he was part of their family. The mom smiled at me over her styrofoam cup of coffee as she listened to her children giving each other a hard time, as siblings will do, and it really made me feel much better. I'm not sure why, maybe by just reminding me that life in general is important - life that's happening out on the streets of where you live, life with your family and yes, life that exists in the waiting room of veterinary offices.
I was soon called back to talk to the doctor about what we need to do next, then I took the cat - darling "Teddy McDonough" as he's called on a myriad of medicine bottles - home.