We were quite surprised with the vet’s approach to Joe’s illness. My thinking on that Wednesday morning was that little Joe needed assistance OUT of his misery. Of course, that wasn’t our decision to make as he is a foster. The decisions are made by the shelter board in conjunction with the vet. However, when I am told that there is ANY chance of survival (with quality life to follow), I am ready to give it my best effort. If a vet tells me there is a chance, even a slim one, it becomes impossible not to hope. The fact that we had to get through 48 hours before we would know if the meds would work was the hard part. It is very difficult to watch any animal struggle. As I said yesterday, I was surprised to discover that a bit of peace accompanied my experience with Joe. I gave him the love and attention he deserved, as did the other members of my family. Older Daughter force-fed and gave meds on schedule. She gave subQ fluids with Younger Daughter’s or my help. There were three possible outcomes. Joe would die on his own. Or, he would get no better and would be assisted to the Bridge on Friday. Or he would show signs of recovery.
Joe made it through Wednesday night. Thursday was no different from Wednesday. I was deeply disappointed, but I still knew that my part in this was to give love. For the first time, the satisfaction of giving love outweighed the horror of watching the struggle. Joe would give up and go, he would stay the same (which was terrible), or he would start to improve. Thursday was long.
Then Joe made it through Thursday night. In the wee hours of Friday morning, when I first checked on him, I felt a crazy mix of emotions when I stepped into the bathroom. Immediately, I was disappointed that Joe hadn’t been able to let go on his own. I knew today was the day that he would go back to the vet to be assisted out of his struggling body. I had watched him get thinner before my very eyes over the few days he had been with us. He was nothing but a skeleton. Every breath had been work. I was disappointed that he hadn’t slipped away on his own and that he was still suffering. And then there was the nightmare of taking him in - that is rarely anything other than an agonizing decision. I sat down beside him, and he looked up at me. The third eyelids were up, as they had been all along. I lightly stroked him and told him how sorry I was. And then I noticed that his abdomen wasn’t swollen. The air, the trapped air, that had been collecting in his abdomen was gone. I lifted his face to mine. I watched as he breathed. Was I kidding myself, or was he struggling ever so slightly less than he had been in the middle of the night? And there it was - hope.
When Older Daughter joined me downstairs, I had her come in and see what I had seen. He definitely did NOT have a swollen abdomen anymore. The breathing, while neither of us could be sure, we both thought seemed less labored. He would NOT go to the vet TODAY. He had fought to stay here through nearly unbearable suffering. We would see how the rest of Friday went. I knew the reality all too well. Everything could turn around on a dime. But it had been nearly 48 hours, and there had been a 5% chance that the meds would begin to work. Joe would stay right here for now.
Older Daughter gave fluids and meds and then went to work. Younger Daughter went to campus. I force-fed Joe during the day. I maintained my calm. But it was definitely now mixed with anxious desire. By Friday evening, it was no longer questionable - Joe’s breathing was easier. On Saturday, he walked around in the bathroom some. He breathed. He coughed. He sat over his water dish and seemed to want to drink. More meds, more force-feeding, more fluids. Before bed, we put some canned food out in a bowl. Joe sat over it, tried to lick it, but for some reason just couldn’t do it. We went to bed.
The next morning (Sunday), as I came down the stairs, I heard my husband’s voice from inside the bathroom. Do you have some food for this kitty? His bowl is empty. I literally crashed through the door. And there was Joe. Sitting up. His food dish was empty. Somehow without breaking my neck, I slid into the kitchen and grabbed the food. I put out a small amount and he ate it. There was Joe, eating, coughing, breathing, sitting up. I let myself believe we were on our way. I was so glad he was here in our home and so glad I had been less burdened this time with the suffering and more focused on the love. All day Sunday, as I went about my day, I thought about how this could have had a very different ending. In fact, it absolutely SHOULD have had a different ending, and still could. It was comforting to know that if Joe had left us, on his own or with assistance, I had found a way into a new peace this time. This time, the love he needed and that I was able to give was enough to keep the devastation of losing him from taking me out of the game.
Joe did better and better until late yesterday. He seemed lethargic, and I noticed he hadn’t eaten in several hours. We took his temp, and he had fever. It was mild fever, but it was still cause for concern. Today, no fever and back to eating. We will watch him closely. Joe may be a back-and-forth case like so many others we’ve cared for. They go so far down that it is hard to come all the way back without some rough spots. And I don’t kid myself - I know from experience that Joe could head into a nosedive that he doesn’t come out of. We are taking it day by day. What I know is that Joe afforded me the opportunity to discover that my Summer of Loss was not entirely in vain. Something has shifted ever so slightly in me - something that will help me survive the losses that are sure to come in my future. I also know that whatever we face now with Joe, he has known boundless love.
And now a quick word about a fun time that occurred here over the weekend.
I mentioned on Monday that this past weekend, Amy (House of Cats) and Andrea (Celestial Kitties) did birthday posts for their Winnie’s Wish kitites - Trixie (Tuxie) and Leo. [They are in the sidebar as adopted.] Both Amy and Andrea added BIG plugs for us here at the daily dose in terms of trying to generate interest in adoptions. Well, since it was Trixie and Leo’s birthdays, it was, of course, also Glitter, Cashmere, Spritz, and Mitts’ birthdays as well. We don’t normally celebrate kitty birthdays here (too many!), but we do have the occasional cathouse party. With the help of a BIRTHDAY PACKAGE from brother Leo (and his mom Andrea), we had a birthday celebration of our own. I’ve got pictures.
See you tomorrow.