The triple toe-loop of tenderness

The triple toe-loop of tenderness

245Oksana came to us with some ghastly name I don’t remember – Kittypoopoo or Newt or some similar.

We made her an honorary Olympian, joining kittens Bolt, Phelps, Marion, Yelena, Murray, Solo and Mary Lou.

She soon proved she would be the most graceful of them all.

As you may recall, Oksana arrived at Tabby’s Place with a raft of respiratory woes. The little black cat with the little white locket had been passed from person to person like a loveless hot potato, in some strange set of circumstances I don’t fully recall. (Funny how our memories protect us from pain we once knew.)

In addition to being what respected journals like OK! and InTouch refer to as “scary-skinny,” Oksana sounded like Darth Vader…if he had emphysema on top of whatever it was he had. (He should definitely call those law firms that advertise on late-night TV for helping people with asbestos-related issues. But I digress.)

1We ran through the usual gauntlet of treatments and diagnostics. We skated Oksana off to all the usual Super-Spectacular Specialist Vets (SSSVs). But even those SSSVs, who are well-versed in Tabby’s Place cats and their medical melodramas, were left scratching their heads. (Not literally. Please, SSSVs, do not write to me angry that I’m hinting you need Head & Shoulders.)

Oksana was snorkely, snuffly, and constantly “chesty” (in a non-Dolly Parton sense)…and it was getting harder for her to breathe.

At last, we reached a sort of diagnosis. Oksana has a tracheal stricture (nasty narrowing) that is, alas, inoperable. Her respiratory effort (fancy vet word for Darth Vadery Sounds) fluctuates in severity, and both stress and increased activity exacerbate it. (This means that the stress and activity of Olympic figure skating are probably out for the time being.)

Since this is rare to the point of outrageousness, we’re not quite sure what to expect in terms of prognosis. Oksana could skate on through many years of problem-free bliss…or she could face a sudden emergency situation if the stricture plays dirty and decides to restrict her breathing. Honestly, we just can’t know.

The SSSVs were able to break down the stricture a bit, and steroid treatment will keep the inflammation down while slowing any regrowth – we hope. Best-case scenario, we can wean Oksana’s steroid dose down to nada. Worst-case scenario…well, there’s no reason to go there now.

Such a scary situation meant one thing for the dainty Olympian: Oksana was bound for glory the Lobby.

Like others before her, Oksana gained a terrifying prognosis and a cushy piece of real estate in the same day. Given her uncertain medical future, we wanted to spoil this little star as thoroughly as possible.

2Oksana has wasted no time in fully adoring her new digs. The tiny girl is as unobtrusive as a spirit around the other cats, preferring human companionship and soft nesting spots to tangling with the bad boys. Skating around scuffles, she’ll lock on you with her marble-round eyes, and faster than you can say “triple salchow,” you…are…gone.

Amazing, isn’t it, how Oksana can overcome the past to love life? But, this is far from the first time we’ve seen a Tabby’s Place cat rise from the rubble of a rocky past. No, far more amazing is Oksana’s willingness to overcome even the present in order to slurp up life’s sweetness.

Permit me an aside to explain.

Right around the time when Oksana’s namesake skated into the spotlight, when I was a tween/teen (and long before “tween” entered the vernacular), my friends and I listened to Big Deep Serious Songs. They had titles like “Long December” and “Bittersweet Symphony” and “There’s Not Enough Room In My Overalls For All This Angst.” At fourteen we were sure we really really got these songs – and clearly they really really got us, what with their cheery lines about “the smell of hospitals and winter and the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters and no pearls.” We were weathered, in that charming way that only upper-middle-class Honors students can be. We knew what it was to endure, dude. There was so much seriousness and pain all around. And, if anyone doubted that, they could just listen to our Walkmen or read the messages scribbled on the bottom of our Converses.

But here’s the funny thing: now that I’m a few moments older, and have a few more oystery-but-pearlless experiences under my belt, those songs don’t move me anymore. Funny how, once you’ve tasted serious sorrow and serious joy, you’re better able to recover from the one and live your life from the other. Yup, sometimes those oysters don’t have pearls. But life is amazing. There are so many miracles happening at any given second of your existence that you almost can’t stand it. Who has time for angst? Or overalls? And aren’t oysters, in themselves, remarkably luminous and splendorous?

Which brings me back to Oksana.

Surely our little girl knows that life isn’t perfect. She’s lost homes. She’s lost people she thought she could trust. She’s lost her ability to breathe freely. But, at any given moment, this is not a cat paralyzed by loss – this is a cat greedy for life’s goodness, and determined to find it.

And she does.

Oksana’s life, her imperfect present, is overwhelmed by joy – come what may.

A good lesson for all of us clumsier skaters in these imperfect post-Hurricane Sandy days.

Housekeeping note: I am looking for a few good spectacular guest bloggers. Have you adopted a cat from Tabby’s Place, and do you have terrific tales to tell? Email me. Are you a volunteer bursting with poignant prose about one of our kitties? Email me. Are you an awesome person with a story about a Special Needs cat? Email me. Do you just have a fantastically amazing photo of a kitten you must share? Email me. Are you Marcus Mumford, and are you contemplating asking me to marry you? Email me. You get the idea. Send those writings/proposals to

5 thoughts on “The triple toe-loop of tenderness

  1. Such a wonderful & inspiring blog (as always). Your way with words always manages to tug my heartstrings. How I love Oksana in all her Darth Vadery glory. I will definitely be making a trip to TP to meet her soon! Glad to see you back online and not resorting to the “I love Webbie & I want my electricity” blogging. Hope Pippa & Dibbles are well.

  2. 2 ?’s Angela,
    1) where are you? I’ve been trying to call since Friday. 2)is this dainty black bundle of awesomeness going to be available for sponsorship? If she is, I’d like to include her in my sponsored cat family. Miss Mona’s taking Ike’s place and (hint, hint) Oksana will take Nuttin’s place (when the time comes).

    1. It’s wonderful that you want to sponsor Oksana, she’s such a sweetheart! Of course you can always donate to help not only her but all the kitties. Let’s not give up on Nuttin yet, he’s still very much with us!

    2. @Mishale70 – Thank you for your sweetness! We are all quite alright and hunkered down at my Mom’s in northeast PA until there’s some semblance of power/normalcy back in our corner of Jersey. Needless to say, I am missing Webster something fierce. (I hear reports that the feeling is mutual, as shown by his peeing in inappropriate places to protest my absence. I feel so loved.) Dibbles and Pippa are touched by your thinking of them, and they send displaced-kitty kisses your way. 🙂

      @Fredhetz – No exaggeration. Some of the names with which cats arrive at Tabby’s Place are…unique.

      @Lynnwebb – Fear not, all is well. I’ve been displaced to my Mom’s house by the storm and will be back to Tabby’s Place in person as soon as possible. I trust you will understand what I mean when I say I hope it’s a very long time before you sponsor Oksana. I do believe Nuttin has a few miracles left up his sleeve.

      @Bialy – I agree 10,000% re: the mighty Nuttin. 🙂

      Hugs to you all!

Leave a Reply