Why is Dad scratching at the door like a goofball? And why hasn’t he given up yet? I’m so tired!, I mused, finally rousing from bed.
My body moved through hypoglycemia-induced-quicksand as I turned the doorknob. Much to my surprise, Tootsie, our 12-year-old cat, was the actual visitor. This was not a prank from a human family member. In fact, this was not a drill. My blood sugar had been hovering quite low for an extended period of time. Tootsie knocked in her own way, and, thankfully, she snapped me out of a deep sleep to answer.
I gulped down some fruit juice from the ever-present nightstand bottle and crawled back into bed. Although I am allergic to Tootsie and she usually detests venturing to the second floor of my family’s home on Cape Cod, here she was- settling in to keep watch.
She knows. She knows I’m low!, I realized.
As a child, whenever I would wake up in the middle of the night plagued by nausea, I begged my mother to sleep at the foot of my bed. Don’t talk to me. Don’t touch me. Don’t do anything. But please just stay with me. Mom obliged and kept her guard post until I drifted back to sleep.
Tootsie got the same memo. Normally, she would be purring and climbing all over me; but she now understood that the best way one can support a friend during a hypoglycemic event is to simply be a present observer in the moment.
Continuous glucose monitors and mg/dL readings and Humalog are all foreign things to Tootsie. She may or may not have identified the low blood sugar scent that alert animals are trained to pick up. Whatever the problem may have been, Tootsie seemed to know that something was wrong. She persisted in her attempts to alert me to the issue. Tootsie did the right thing, and she stayed the course.
Perhaps the human side of healthcare can learn a thing or two from a cat’s display of empathy?
Food for thought… Pass the Meow Mix.