Here I sit.
It’s a really nice day out, and I’m afraid to even open the curtains. I’m back in that crippling pit of anxiety, and I am not sure how to get out of it. But I really need to go to the vet that is a 6-minute walk away and I’m afraid to even take it. I am almost 37 years old and I’ve been overtaken by a fear of going outside.
Then the vet calls and says that my cat, Obelix, isn’t doing any better than yesterday and I feel my heart break a little more. I’ll give this context. But this is where I currently am I and I decide to not go see him at all because I know I’ll teeter into a breakdown in public.
On March 17th, 2018, my husband Roland and I were held up at gunpoint in a parking garage by Fourways Mall. There were a lot of construction vehicles around and it pretty much bottlenecked the exit for them. But I was recording with my phone to do a vlog (which I had recently decided I wanted to start doing) and didn’t realize I was going to record the moments leading up to a life-altering moment for me.
(You can see the video HERE on Instagram)
As my husband pulled into the parking spot, a silver Mercedes rounded the corner. In my video, you can see the red car that passed us. Remember that car so you understand how fast this happened.
We pulled in and I don’t even think I got my seatbelt off before two men with black handguns pulled open our doors, crouching, and demanded Roland’s watch (it looked far more expensive than it actually was). They told them they wanted his money, and he said he didn’t have any. They couldn’t see his wallet.
Then the attention turned to me as they demanded my wallet and my phone. Then, the man on Roland’s side demanded his keys and at that moment we thought we were about to lose the car too (it’s common for these types of criminals to swap cars often as they go on a robbery spree so it slows down the hunt for them) but the man tossed the keys away from us and they shut our doors before running to the Mercedes and peeling off.
We immediately got out of our car and started yelling for security up ahead and some of the parking garage attendants ran after the car. And remember that red car? It had only gotten to the exit at that point- and we had parked near it. The Mercedes clipped that red car, then the Fidelity security officers had managed to partially block their route with their truck and also hot hit. Then the Mercedes lost control around the corner and crashed into a cement truck that was on the road. We could see the cement truck clearly from where we were parked.
There was this flash of “they didn’t get away with my things” before the shots started to fire off. Since they couldn’t drive off while hooked to the cement truck, they stripped most of their gear and started shooting everywhere to keep people away from them. There were so many pedestrians that the security officers could not safely fire back. As everyone scattered, they ran up the road to a petrol station where they hijacked their next vehicle from a man that had just filled up his tank.
Roland didn’t hesitate to make his way to the car after he grabbed his keys. He knew that my wallet had the money for our utilities in it (as well as food and other priority expenses) and had to make sure my wallet didn’t turn up missing. I followed behind him to the crashed car and he quickly stuck his head in and looked back at me smiling as he told me that my wallet and phone were both still in the back seat. I felt a little less panicked then because I knew there was no way they would have had time to go through it- it was one with a lot of pockets and such.
I immediately noticed that the crime scene was basically being trampled over by everyone, including the police. I sat back and kept watch of my things as an officer started to mark the bullet casings with ripped up pieces of paper before another officer brought cones (by then a lot of the bullet casings still hadn’t been marked or the paper blew away). I watched as some of the bullet casings got pushed into the mud by their boots. I realized this was going to be a case we would not hear back about.
The, a female captain came to the scene. She took my statement and asked for my contact details. She had yelled at the security company owners for stepping all over the crime scene and told everyone to move. She didn’t even ask if my husband and I were supposed to be there. She knew.
But then she went to look at the silver revolver that was left behind and proceeded to handle it with her bare hands and dismantled it on the back of the Mercedes. The police officers around us shook their heads and said she basically destroyed the DNA evidence they could have found on the gun. People were just placing things on the back of the car (like their bags and equipment) before it was even printed.
It was basically a mess. At that point, I just wanted my things and was already very late for work. We stood there for 4 hours before they would even bother to photograph my wallet and phone (again, just sitting in the back seat) and I just wanted to go home. I immediately sat down and logged in for work (I work from home) and tried to process what the fuck just happened.
That following Monday (March 19th) at 2 in the morning I was working and Roland was still up for some reason. We heard this horrible screech and realized that one of our cats had been attacked by a dog. While we managed to save her, her leg was clearly broken badly and dangling from her. It came to no surprise that she was going to need an amputation. Several hundred dollars later, we brought home a tripod cat on Wednesday (March 21st). The cat, Bear, seemed a little too excited about the extra attention and demanded to be held a lot. The expenses and the realization that she will need to be monitored until she’s healed caused me to cancel my trip to the coast for my birthday in April.
Then, on Friday, March 23rd, I realized that our other cat, Obelix, was not doing well. He wasn’t eating, wasn’t using the bathroom and looked lethargic. When I wrapped him up in a towel and held him, he didn’t resist. I knew something was really wrong.
Roland’s father took us down the street to the new vet that had set up shop there. The place looked almost palatial with its gleaming surfaces. Everything was amazingly immaculate. They were very helpful and kind and gave me the paperwork to fill out.
When Obelix went in for his consultation, the vet looked at his gums and took his temperature and said she honestly felt that he was in end-stage organ failure. I explained to her that I was worried it was Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP for short) because we had already lost one cat to that a few years ago. She shook her head and said that she thought it was Feline Leukemia or kidney failure. Either way, she was fairly certain we were going to need to make a decision on whether or not to put him down. But she was going to admit him and put him on a feeding tube and drip in the meantime.
A couple hours later, she called me to say that his protein levels were very high, which was indicative that FIP had manifested. Knowing that there was no way to know for sure off of a single test, I asked for the full blood panel, which takes 5 days. I figured that 5 days would be ample time for him to show some improvement or for us to know that it’s time to let go.
So, it’s now the 28th of March and I feel like my world is falling apart. I don’t feel like I have anyone to talk to that really understands where my head is at, though friends have certainly tried (and I adore them for that). But I realized my anxiety pushed me into a frame of mind where I can’t feel safe planning on anything anymore. As I put down the phone, I messaged my husband.
And here I sit, unsure of what to do. It’s my day off and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and watch videos in bed. I messaged him later and asked if we can just get takeout because I can’t even cope with something as simple as making dinner and still haven’t managed to get myself in the shower. I told him I wasn’t doing well. He told me he understood…..which I needed to hear.
So instead, I am finally going to take that shower and get ready to get some grub. I’ll vacuum a bit so I can feel like I’ve accomplished something. Lately, everything has been about celebrating just being able to function a little bit each day. And I will make myself go outside, but with my family so I’m not so afraid. And when we get home, I will spend some quality time with my tripod and scour her “recovery room” (because a newly 3 legged cat is a really messy one with EVERYTHING- I was even scraping food off of the walls).
All I can do is cope with each day.