Monday, December 19, 2016

My kitty was diagnosed with renal failure. (rants)

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Last night, I dreamed that I was laying in bed in pain. My stomach and insides felt a dull pain marked by the occasional stab. I thought about what I was feeling. I knew that this pain wasn't going to go away, but that there was more good in life that I could continue to enjoy. I decided that I wasn't suffering to the point that I could no longer enjoy being incarnate.

I took my 17 year-old cat to the vet because she seemed constipated. They gave her an enema and some fluids, and everything was supposed to go back to normal. But she got constipated and dehydrated again almost immediately. In under 24 hours, she had stopped eating, drinking, pooping, and was drinking entire bowls of water in one sitting. The vet showed me the results of her urinalysis and blood work, and explained  that she was undergoing renal failure- a common, incurable disease in older cats. After hospitalizing her for nearly a week total, he recommended that I put her to sleep because she wasn't going to get any better. I had no idea what to do. If she was in horrible pain, or was going to die a very painful death very soon without a doubt... well, I'd never had to put a pet down before, and I hadn't given it much, if any, thought. Whereas I was somewhat prepared for my dad to die because I knew I had to think about it in advance or I'd be completely screwed when it actually happened, I deliberately put off thinking about my cat's death. Now I was frozen, angry at the universe and in tears.

I called my mother since the cat is hers too, and fortunately, she had a strong opinion: you don't euthanize pets. In short, she said, "Take the cat home, do whatever it takes to prolong her life and allow her to die a natural death so the family has a clean conscience about the situation."

I did, and I haven't regretted it, but it's been soHard. I've had this cat for over half of my life and she has always been the most important thing to me. It's nothing for me to drop everything and take care of her now. The first day she came back from hospitalization number two, the vet had done absolutely everything he could and beyond to help her. He gave me an IV for subcutaneous fluid injections and some antibiotics and other temporary medicines. I thought she was going to pass away that night since they kept saying she might pass away in the hospital, so I slept with her and a bowl of water, and she made it just a little longer.

She couldn't walk right. She'd had arthritis in the hips for a couple years and according to her x-rays, at some point, her hip bones had "collapsed." She was covered in her own urine because she'd lost bladder control, and she was drinking so much again. She stumbled sideways to the litter box, pooped and collapsed on the other side and lay recumbent on the hard floor. I sobbed for at least the fifth time about her sad state and picked up her weak, frail body and put it back on the bed.

She peed the bed about three times that day and I kept the washing machine going. But she kept drinking water and purred when I held her, even after I had to learn how to stick her with a needle and put a lump of fluid under her skin (a very undesirable task for me. I accidentally stabbed myself to the finger bone this morning).

The next day, she only peed the bed once and I got dry shampoo and wipes and cleaned her up. I found a couple of liquid diets for her and she kept drinking and purring.

Today, she's still making it- not peeing the bed at all, still pooping, but I have decided to force feed her a liquid diet that (fortunately), she seems to like the taste of. But she won't even eat her favorite treats or drink now.

I've measured out how much liquid diet and water she needs per day, I've bought a large syringe, a blender for the cat food, and another flavor of liquid diet, and she at least won't starve to death or dehydrate or die of constipation. I know she will pass away due to the kidneys' inability to process toxins. The doctor says that it takes about three or four days for changes to the kidneys to start taking effect in the body. I hope she will last longer than that since she lasted longer than that in the pet hospital.

It's awful thinking of what life will be like without her. It makes me wish very intensely for a self that exists beyond the material we are made of. I don't see a reason to believe in one, but I do wish that I could reconnect with her again one day in a better sort of reality, because I have always felt that this little animal is a kind of soul mate for me, however unconventional.

The doctor says she's eventually just going to stop breathing, but I've always known that. It's just a harder fight now and it's going to come sooner. And am going to fight it the best I can. I know I can't win, and I really don't care that I'm going to lose. It's the fight that matters, not the winning. She still purrs when I hold her and wants to come sit next to me. She tries to drink and eat without a syringe, and she can still enjoy her videos of birds and squirrels. So we're going to get what we can out of this material world while we can. She can feel my love for her. I just have to speak her and she knows my love and starts to purr.

While this was going on, I went to the dentist for the first time in about 3 years. My teeth are apparently in a dire state. At one point, I quit going to college for several semesters due to teeth problems and other health issues. I was paying for college, healthcare and rent out of pocket and although I'd actually been making quite good money, the expenses were devastating. Once, I spent $5,000 on oral surgery. I had no insurance to cover the costs. Honestly, if America had required health insurance back when I was first starting out in with my regionally-accredited BA, I'd be much further along. Fortunately, this time around, my once-healthy finances won't be entirely destroyed, but they are taking a massive hit with summer classes, health bills and now this. But it takes a lot of pressure to know what actually matters.

The small, insular nastiness and power struggles that plague day-to-day life in urban America are so stunningly insignificant in the face of a long, deep, sincere love. The awareness of having a love, whether present, or only in memories, grants such a profound sense of self that... I get it when one of my friends said that the desire to retaliate against offenses simply left him one day.

I used to be able to shove myself through health issues with will power. It's not working for me anymore. I wish that I had known myself sooner so that I could have had an easier time instead of jamming myself into other peoples' molds.