My cats Hemi and Cosette have been with me for years, and I’ve been blessed: they have been relatively healthy.
Until last week.
It started with my beloved Cosette. She suddenly lost her appetite, had diarrhea, was lethargic, and withdrew. No interest in sleeping in momma’s bed. I tried coaxing her to eat, and when that didn’t work, I called the veterinarian for advice and an appointment the next day. “Try baby food, chicken or turkey,” a staff member told me. But the cat showed no interest.
That night, I slept on the couch. Cosette usually likes curling up on my chest and sleeping when I lie down on the couch. She initially curled up on me, but she couldn’t get comfortable all night long, and she was clearly in pain.
Worry kept me awake that entire night.
I truly believed that my 16-year-old cat had possibly reached the end of the line. And this was a trigger for me. After all, I got Cosette the day after my breast cancer diagnosis, and she saw me through cancer and a divorce. She comforted me all those days of my feeling ill, all those days of post-marital loneliness.
Now my concern was for her. What if she had a tumor? What if I had to have her euthanized? These worries coursed through me all night long, and I decided I would rather put her down than have her endure chemotherapy, which is utter hell.
I brought her to the veterinarian and tried to keep medical flashbacks at bay. I’ve written about how being at the doctor triggers me, but going to the veterinarian also causes flashbacks for me. Anything medical related will trip me up. I had to do my best to overcome my own fears and bring my cat to the doctor.
Luckily, the x-rays were normal, and after her receiving fluids and a shot of anti-nausea medication and me stocked with anti-nausea and anti-cramping pills, we were on our way home. Within a day she got some of her appetite back, and her appetite would increase within a couple of days. I was relieved that she became her old feisty, crotchety, and affectionate self.
I was so elated, I barely noticed that all was not well.
Something was terribly wrong with Hemi.
Hemi is my affectionate 9-year-old tuxedo Manx, named after a Hemi engine on account that he purrs so much. He’s the perfect cat with one flaw: he gobbles up Cosette’s food after he’s done with his own. This has led him to be overweight, and as hard as I’ve tried, I’ve been minimally successful at keeping the weight off. It doesn’t help that Cosette is a finicky grazer, and she always leaves food available for Hemi. I must constantly keep him from wolfing down Cosette’s food by keeping her food out of paw’s reach.
The day Cosette and I returned from the veterinarian, Hemi started having the same symptoms as she had the day before. Lethargy, not eating, withdrawing. At the veterinarian’s office, it was obvious to the doctor and me that the cats had a nasty stomach flu. He had blood drawn, was treated with fluids, and then released with anti-nausea medication.
My mind was at ease. Except for the weight part. He lost too much weight too quickly. I attributed it to his not eating due to the flu.
The next day, the veterinarian called. Hemi has diabetes. Would I be able to come in with him for an insulin orientation and demonstration?
Now, after the training, and before his insulin treatments, I’m scared shitless. Ironically, when I was a teenager with aspirations to become a veterinarian, I worked at an animal hospital, administering shots and all sorts of medications. I should draw on that memory, I thought, and know I still have it in me to administer insulin to Hemi.
But a lot has happened since I was a teenager. First of all, I’m out of practice. And it showed during my fumbling with filling the syringe with sterile water, as well as my awkwardness with the medical equipment. Secondly, my history as a cancer patient has introduced clutter to my mind. Needles are a painful reminder of what I endured. I’m now sensitive and squeamish.
But the treated now has to become the treater.
I need to quell these disquieting fears to help my sweet Hemi. He deserves the best. And I think back to a post I wrote in January about the three words I would live by this year. One of them was “courage.”
I must summon up my courage and proceed in treating Hemi. And in doing so, perhaps I’ll hear his carefree purring once again.
Do you have to administer medical care to a pet? How has the experience been?
Do you have a pet or did you have a pet? I would love to hear about him/her/them.