No one loves me like The Bunny.
Dear People Of Earth Who Think I Have Been More Batshit Crazy Than Usual This Week,
I am quietly going insane.
Last Sunday I took Principessa Bella Luna, my furry companion of 13 years, into the vet because she vomited a tiny bit of blood with her food. Because this was the second trip for this reason in about two month’s time, the vet opted to do an abdominal x-ray and blood work. While I wanted an answer to Bella’s health problem, part of me did not want them to find anything because that meant that nothing was really wrong.
The abdominal x-ray did not show anything in her stomach, but the x-ray did catch the lower part of one of her lungs; it showed a mass. She’s ten pounds of old lady fur and bones, there’s no room for a “mass!” The vet immediately starting talking about referrals to MedVet’s oncology center. Despite its soft circles and arcs, oncology is an ugly word. I’ve already been through kitty cancer with Cosmo, I knew the misery that is on its way. It felt hopeless.
Adding insult to injury, the vet said that Bella’s neck was too fatty for her to find a vein for the blood work so she shaved the front of her throat and went for the jugular. Again, she is only ten pounds of old lady fur and bones, there’s no room to “go for the jugular!” Every other vet I have ever dealt with takes the blood sample from a vein on the inside of the cat’s leg. I’ve helped them do it. No shaving or jugular veins left to ooze needed.
After standing in the lobby for what seemed like forever waiting to check out, I got in the car and ugly cried my way home. I was a danger to myself and others. Suck it, world. At home I sequestered myself and Bella in the bathroom to give her a pill and clean up a spot of blood I noticed on her paw. Keep in mind that Bella is a brilliantly white cat with black spots. Her fur is not cream or off white, no eggshell, it is purely glowingly white. So when she exited the carrier with her ruff covered in blood, I took the ugly cry to formally unknown levels of pain and horror. The jugular puncture had continued to ooze and her movements had helped to spread the blood around. Sponging blood off my cat and sobbing was not the original plan for my Sunday morning.
I spent the rest of the day walking around ugly crying, ugly crying in the back yard, ugly crying while folding laundry, alternating between states of barely coherent glazed consciousness and ugly crying. At bedtime, Bella headed for her regular spot on the pillow by my head, I took one look at her and began to wail again. She tolerated that for about five minutes before exiting the room. I found her stretched out stiffly on her side under a table in the spare bedroom, not a usual Bella spot. She was awake but did not respond with her usual purr when I petted her. I moved one of the cat beds to the floor, hoping she would have a more comfortable night. I was convinced that I would not have a live cat by morning. I cried some more.
Had I thought about it, I probably would have realized that Bella was most likely sore and traumatized from the manhandling at the vets. I get a shot or have blood drawn and I’m a sucky baby for a day, she got poked in the jugular! By morning she was cuddled into the pet bed and ready for breakfast. I ate my breakfast sitting beside her, petting her.
As my deceased Gma said, “Getting old sucks.” It sucks not only for my 15 year old cat (that makes her a 72 year old human), but for me as well. I actually pulled a lower back muscle presumably in the throes of the ugly bedtime cry. Gone are the days of tragically sobbing with only emotional ramifications. All week my back has hurt in pretty much every position except leaning back against pillows on the couch. Because of the stress from worrying about Bella as well as faking having my shit together every day for classes, I’ve been clenching my jaw during the day which makes my face, teeth, and neck hurt. My almost constant state of anxiety makes it hard to get a full breath, concentrate enough to follow trains of thought or plot lines, and my hands don’t work right. My best comparison is that it’s like the jittery disconnected feeling brought on by too little sleep the night before and too much coffee the morning after. It all gets worse when I’m left alone with my thoughts and few distractions.
On Wednesday night, Miles decided to get on board. He refused to eat his dinner and put himself to bed at 6:00 like a sick toddler. Miles does not refuse food …ever. Him not vocalizing about food or eating food is so beyond out of character for him, that I did not know what to do with myself. By breakfast, he was lethargic but ate. A vet visit, blood work, and more money later, he was fine and just wanted to make sure that Mommy was paying attention.
Friday afternoon, Bella and I traveled to the cancer center for better chest x-rays, blood work, and an ultrasound. Surprisingly, I held it together even when they put me in the same exam room that I had sat in for hours when I was there with Cosmo in 2009. After consulting with the oncologist, she sent me off to “run errands” until 4:00 when they would be done with Bella’s exam and would have some information. What
Bella says you’re never too old to shave the pussy. At least she has a sense of humor about this.
errands? At this point I was lucky to have enough brain function to answer questions like my own phone number (I got the area code wrong) and drive my car.
Essentially, I have a very healthy older cat. Her ultrasound on her abdomen was “boring” aside from having her tummy shaved (I was wondering how they were going to deal with the ultrasound goo), her blood work was great and she showed no signs of being in physical pain. However her chest x-rays confirmed that there is a mystery mass of cell anarchy inside her tiny kitty lung.
The surgeon felt that Bella is a good candidate for surgery. In one moment he would make me hopeful which is frightening in itself, but in the next he would seem to contradict himself, making me question if surgery was the right path. I feel like this is where doctors and teachers overlap. It would be nice as a teacher to be able to be straightforward and say, “You know, your kid is not smart and really the thousands of dollars you’re going to spend on college are going to be wasted on Charlie from Flowers for Algernon. He should learn a basic trade and that’s cool because the world needs ditch diggers too” or “Survey says that your child is a lying whore/bitch plus she’s super lazy and manipulative so maybe you should take away all the expensive stuff you bought her and pretend to be a real parent until she moves out of the house.” However, teachers have to find veiled, secret code, politically correct ways to say any of this so it sounds like every student is a super smart, well loved winner with oodles of potential. Likewise no doctor wants to promise that everything is going to be okay or that the right decision to make is Option A instead of Option B. Doctors will not straightforwardly say, “If you do this, you will barely prolong your pet’s life and will painfully torture her in the process.”
“If you do this, you will barely prolong your pet’s life and will painfully torture her in the process” is among the possible scenarios on a loop in my brain. Am I selfishly setting my best fur friend up for suffering? Or am I helping her? If she was a relatively healthy 72 year old woman there would be no argument. But I can’t explain to her what is happening. I hate that at least two doctors have suggested that I go home and “talk this over with the family.” I have a family, but these people mean MY FAMILY because a woman my age is supposed to be married and have reproduced. I don’t know if she is in pain right now. I question every move she makes, wondering if it’s symptomatic. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we just got really old and then died, bypassing all the questions of what to do, minimizing pain and suffering? Have I made the right decision?
I can’t make my brain stop thinking about this. I almost cried in the checkout line at the grocery store today. The whole trip, one voice in my head was logically running through weekly meal options and the other voice was screaming questions about mortality and finances– seriously, can I even afford this. That makes it very hard to focus. Forget about trying to choose yogurt flavors. Waiting behind a woman with a ton of groceries and no intentions of sliding the conveyor belt divider my way, the screaming voice had pretty much won. Suddenly another store employee popped into the aisle behind me, made eye contact, and very firmly said,
“Don’t worry. You’re fine.”
She was referring to the “Checkout lane closed” sign she had just put up for that aisle, but the logical voice had to really strangle the screaming voice to keep it from screeching, “BUT I’M NOT! I’M NOT FINE!”
I am dropping Bella off for surgery in the early hours of Wednesday. If all goes well, I will have her home some time on Friday. Between now, then, and beyond, I will continue to sleeplessly dismiss all shreds of rational thought.