Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I'll have a cup of sorrow, with a teaspoon of regret and just a dollop of tears....

Well, I thought yesterday's post would be the last.  Somehow, I still have all these disjointed things flailing around in my mind, and this seems like the logical place to put them.  My apologies.

First, I have a clear comprehension that this was a CAT here we're talking about, and which I am mourning.  I realize that there are people who have lost human loved ones who would think my sadness reflects some sort of innate unbalance of sentiment.  Or something.  But, the reality is, yes, he was a cat, and yes, I've lost - just sat here and counted them on my fingers - eight other cats over the last forty years.  I guess the difference is, thanks to Scruffy and feline diabetes, I had developed the obviously false expectation that, if I did X, Y, and maybe Z and found people who had experience with whatever it was, disease processes would stop/back up, and life would go on.  Like, I could read and learn and DO stuff and the disease would pull up and say, "Whoa - I'm outta here.  You can have this scraggly little cat back."  I'd had the luck to get Scruffy through a whole variety of stuff that was particularly unpleasant for him - urinary blockages, diabetes, melanoma and laser eye surgery, and Milk's epilepsy bowed to my extreme good fortune after only a year of diddling around with medications.  So, in the back of my mind, there lurked this tiny little hope that maybe the cancer that had snuck up on us would disappear.  The problem was the kidney stuff - you only get so many nephrons, and Scruffy's were giving up the ghost at such a fever pitch that even my skill at deluding myself was overtaxed.

I'm thinking I should have seen one of the IM specialists. Right in the beginning.  At the first mention of elevated creatinine.   Choy-Foong told me about Aluminum Hydroxide and sent me hers; the Tanya CRF website had a list of foods and their phosphorus levels; Choy-Foong also sent me Meowzi's remaining azodyl capsules.  The euphoria of finding that the tumors were gone was so short-lived because I didn't understand that that didn't mean more cancer wasn't lurking in all the little nooks and crannies of his body.  Or that his kidneys - that I worried about the WHOLE time he was a vastly uncontrolled diabetic and they turned out to be fine - would never get the chance to just diddle along toward failure at a more normal pace.  There are people on the CRF boards whose cats have had CRD/F for nine years!  I would have been thrilled with even one year more.  Although, then I think, yeah, but I'd have to go through all this pain and sadness with Scruffy again - and I don't know if either of us could have tolerated it.

I woke up this morning, way earlier than I would have chosen, to find one tear meandering very inefficiently down my right cheek.  Like, even in my sleep, my heart is so disrupted that it's got a sort of leak.  I haven't had an actual decent night's sleep since Scruffy started chemotherapy; he woke me up a dozen times a night. He'd stand on my chest - I'm a really deep sleeper, normally - until I woke up, and then he'd head-butt my chin until I'd uncover both hands and rub his little ears.  His "eary-beeries".....  And then, he'd go back and flop down with his head in my hand again.  It was so endearing.  I'd give most anything to have him here to wake me up again.  Yeah, I know - it's been less than 24 hours, and numbness will set in. Eventually.

I have been instructed by Melissa that there is to be no expression of regret about the timing of Scruffy's demise.  (I was gonna type the other "d" word, only I couldn't.)  That it was the right time solely because it was the right time.  And then I think, well, yeah, but I bet I could have kept him alive for another week or so.  We'd already spent six weeks of nearly every minute involving doing something to, with, or for my sweet boy.  I had all the pills, I had the fluids, I had the doctor's appointments, blah, blah, blah.   Would he have been happy? Well, truthfully, yeah, I think he would have.  He didn't ask for much, and he never really quit eating with some enthusiasm, which, to my mind, is the key to survival for a cat in most circumstances. The thing that scared me was his dying - the actual dying - from kidney failure.  I was watching a Tom Selleck movie over the weekend, and he had a dog that wasn't doing well, and when he took it to the woman vet - she had NO personality - she said, without any discernible testing being done that I could see - that the dog had "kidney failure" and there was nothing that could be done and he should be "put down because the end wouldn't be pretty."  I had looked up on the Tanya website the section about The End.  There was a whole chart of horrible things, and of course, there was no way to know which one/ones Scruffy would get.  I was terrified that he'd end up in seizures in the middle of the night and there wouldn't be anything I could do to help him.  Or that he'd die when I wasn't home or something. So, yes, maybe deciding when it would happen and being able to make sure that there was no undue pain involved and that I could be there for him, even if he didn't know it - well, it made a kind of twisted, stomach-turning sense.  Occasionally, on the Feline Diabetes Message Board, people would come on and post about whether their cat was ready to "go."  And someone would say, in essence, "Well,  I know a lot of people who've said that they waited too long, but hardly anyone ever says they did it too soon."  I'm not sure about that.  Maybe I did it too soon.  Maybe Scruffy wasn't really getting weaker daily, or feeling nausea from the kidney failure that even ondansetron (doubled) couldn't stop.  I don't know.  Maybe there's no need to know.

And of course, once it's done, there's not much point in stewing about the might-have-beens.   The last two months with my Puffer, even with the sickness and the smell and the pilling and the dragging-to-the-hospital and the fear of chemotherapy, well, it was a time of such distinct and memorable pleasure. He was really a sweet little guy. He was perfectly willing to sit on my lap for hours and hours.  His whole life had been devoted to trailing around behind me, waiting for me to sit down so he could jump up on my lap.   He was always the first one in the kitchen when it was time to eat.  He even dragged himself downstairs to meet me at the garage twice in the last week of his life.   I didn't realize until he was hospitalized in January that I talk to him ALL the time.  Talked.  All day long, I was gibbering away to this poor little cat who probably would have been perfectly happy if I'd just shut up and scratched his ears and chin in silence.  I appreciated every single thing about him - and oh, how I regret how mad I was at him about all the rug-peeing.  I have a distinct memory of yelling at him one time, and he stood there, tiny little body all tensed, staring up at me, and then took off at top speed with his ploofy tail in the air. And he went  straight downstairs and pooped right beside the litter box.  Guess he showed me.....  And I kept meaning to make a video of him, loping along with his stomach swaying from side to side to race up the cat steps in the kitchen to eat on the window ledge.  It made me smile for the entire almost nine years I had him.  It still makes me smile, thinking about it, with more tears running down my face.  Time better hurry up and fix that leak.  There's not gonna be enough kleenex in the world.

My friend, Lorna, made this - it's wonderful.

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