I am not sure which one of his 'nine lives' our Senior Cat is on at the moment, but I am beginning to think it may not be his last ...
Senior's current health status began with a cough (which was discovered to be pneumonia) a year and a half ago. After several rounds of antibiotic which did not keep his cough at bay, our vet suggested prednisone. She couldn't say with certainty if he had asthma or cancer, but a minimal dose of this steroid would alleviate his symptoms and he would be comfortable.
We found his 'sweet spot' (not too much, not too little) with this medication. One pill, snapped in two and taken twelve hours apart bought him a year and a half of comfort. Almost ...
His breathing has gotten wheezier. His purrs are a bit more labored. When I watch him breathing, it seems to be a full-body-effort as his breath seems to come from the very bottom of his diaphragm.
He has lost weight again (he temporarily regained some weight after we changed him to a renal-friendly diet). He is just 'fur and bones'.
Then he developed a cough. It was a croupy kind of cough. It hurt my heart to watch him hunker down and endure these coughs that sounded like a seal's bark.
Senior Cat is 15 years old. He has fought the good fight against whatever respiratory illness he has, for a year and a half. He is a small cat and I cannot begin to imagine the toll his medication has been taking on his shrinking little body.
I have been breathing in his existence because I am unsure how much time we have left together.
I could have sworn he was 'in his final weeks' when I made a call to our vet last week. I called because I will be going away this upcoming weekend and I was nervous about leaving my Youngest Son to deal with my concerns over our cat.
I talked about our cat's cough, the fact that he has lost weight again and that he seemed to have stopped eating his hard cat food (I was guessing it may hurt him to swallow the hard food).
I was doing a lot of guessing. I gave her a lot of information. I just wanted to know what kinds of things we should be watching for and what to expect as our Senior Cat walked down this final cat-walk of life...
Our vet answered all my questions and suggested one thing. She said he may have developed a secondary infection and we could try to give him some antibiotics.
That was a week ago.
Senior's cough seems to be cured. He is back to nibbling at his dry cat food again. He is tolerating me holding him for longer periods of time. He has regained a little bit of his lost weight. And he has been lavishing me with purrs and 'kitty kisses' (he just can't help himself - he feels such a strong urge to lick those-he-loves).
I still believe we are in our Twilight Months together. But a week ago, I would not have been surprised if 'today' was his day to go. And here he is. Breathing easier, gaining back a few ounces as he weans himself back into solid food and purring in my ear.
I feel like I've been walking through my days in an altered state this past month. Today is the day we find out just how 'altered' it is.
Today, my mom walks into the cancer clinic and will walk out with a prognosis and a plan.
Four weeks feels like a long time to sit in a state of wondering and guessing. I have no idea what the purpose behind this time may be but I feel certain that there is a reason for it.
Senior Cat's health feels symbolic of something to me right now. Our family is not the only one walking through uncertainty today. I have not found any one thing I can do for any one person right now, to make their wait any easier. Senior Cat has given me the 'gift' of feeling like there is something I can do at a time when I felt like I could do nothing.
I am walking beside our cat, being his advocate, watchful of his comfort levels and any signs of distress. He is giving me the gift of allowing me to do my best and loving me through thick and thin.
His gentle eyes, his labored purr that he revs up 'just for me' and those little 'kitty kisses' are exactly what I need the most right now.
We will walk through this day, like all the days that preceded it. When we come out the other end of it, the best we can hope for is to find answers which will offer some solutions which (in turn) will provide relief ...
At times like this, I usually say/think something like "Knowledge is power". Why do I feel differently today? Today I have a feeling that knowledge could show us just how powerless we really are...
P.S. Approximately nine hours after I wrote the above post, I received this text from my brother:
“The news is in. And it is GREAT! It’s a very good chance the growth is not cancerous. She will be booked in for surgery sometime in March to remove the growth. Mom says for you two (my sister and I) to definitely go to Vegas. More details later.”
I just got off the phone with my sister and there were really very few more details to tell. Because they don’t think this is cancer, Mom’s surgery is not a priority. Thus she will have a wait time for a bit. There is much relief being felt all around.