The Healing Power of Love


Meet Dee. She is Vanessa’s feral cat. Vanessa is one of my very best friend’s from medical school. Prior to med school, she was a nurse in New York City. She was easily one of the best med students I had ever met (she basically tutored me through med school… and residency!), and she has an innate healer’s heart. She is now in her oncology fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. Dee was a feral kitten that Vanessa found literally on the side of the street. She was driving home one day and saw a white flash dart across the street in front of her car toward the highway. Vanessa immediately stopped because she was concerned she would run straight into the highway and be hit by a car. The poor kitten was just skin and bones and covered in fleas. Vanessa brought her home, cleaned her up, and named her Dee. She doesn’t even like cats. But her dog, Randall, a rambunctious puppy hound and Dee made fast friends. They would play together, eat together, and even sleep together. They adored each other. So far be it for Vanessa to keep them apart… and they soon settled into domesticated co-dependency.

One day, Dee didn’t come home. As most cats that roam outside, Vanessa did not think much of it, until she got a call the next day from the local emergency vet. It turned out the Dee was hit by a car and left on the road. A neighbor found her, wrapped her in a blanket and brought her to vet. She had brain trauma; her pupil was blown, she was likely blind, and had a large tongue laceration. She was treated with IV fluids and medications to decrease her brain swelling, but the veterinarian told Vanessa that she had less than a 10% chance to live, and that the she should probably put her down. And to be fair, anyone else’s cat would have had 0% chance of making it. But not Vanessa’s cat. She wanted to give her a chance. She brought her home and when they arrived, Randall was so excited to see his sister and best friend again. He immediately ran to them, but the minute he saw her face, he jumped back and started howling; somehow he knew she had been injured. Vanessa let Dee rest for the first day, but the wounded cat remained immobile, incontinent, and barely responsive. She wouldn’t eat, and just laid there, curled up in a ball, and medicated with morphine to dull her pain. The next day, Vanessa started feeding her with droppers of broth, which Dee would swallow ok, proving that she could swallow, and it was like the tongue laceration that created her aversion to food. Vanessa returned to the vet to get fluids that could be administered under Dee’s skin to keep her hydrated. It was looking hopeless for a few days, and Vanessa monitored Dee daily – if she was in pain, then she’d have no choice but to let put her down

Then one day, Dee got up, went to her kitty litter, and popped a squat. It was miraculous. That afternoon, she started getting up, roaming the house and baking biscuits with her paws.  Then, she started purposefully going to Vanessa for affection and interacting again with Randall. The video attached is Vanessa’s foster dog licking Dee… and she is purring!!!! That video was taken 5 days after the incident. It’s still an uphill battle, but Dee improves day after day. She’s now jumping up on the couch and sitting with her brother. She has started meowing her hunger call and is showing signs of being ready to eat. She looks happy.

And all this because of Vanessa. Dee is alive and well today… happy and at home… because of someone that believed in her and loved the hell out of her. She is enjoying the company of her brother and owner again. She is purring and baking biscuits. She is languishing in the sunlight… because of Vanessa. From a feral kitten darting across a highway, to a brain injured cat that was given up on by the veterinarian (and the person who hit her with the car)… Vanessa never gave up. Vanessa just loved her and nurtured her and believed in her. This is the greatest love story. Dee is the shining example of the infinite healing power of love. It just goes to show, that when you show someone or something unconditional love, the power for that love to heal can truly save its life.

I am so proud to call my friend Vanessa a fellow physician and lover of animals. V, Dee owes her life to you. Love you.