July 2013 may only be half over, but it’s already been a hard month.
My cat Blanco was diagnosed with cancer. It started with what seemed like another IBD flare up cleverly hidden around the time his usual brand of cat food was discontinued. Over the 4th of July holiday he started turning away food and hiding in the corner of our bedroom instead of hanging out on the bed or near me. He seemed so off that superstition made me think twice about posting a silly Facebook status update celebrating the 15-year anniversary of adoption day for my fuzzballs.
My cousin is a fantastic local vet and has treated Blanco through diabetes and IBD, so we called and got the first available appointment after the holiday. There was a mass. Tests. Lymphoma.
Lymphoma is treatable, but it is not curable. There are drugs — chemo, even — that can slow the growth, but cannot eradicate it. Treatment is about improving the quality of life in the animal for the time he has left.
And that’s where we are right now. At the time he has left.
We went to see a specialist about the options for treatment and we got a prognosis. It wasn’t as long as I would have liked. If it works, maybe a few months. If it doesn’t, maybe less. Still, we decided to try to give him the best quality of life possible for as long as he’s with is.
It’s been a roller-coaster of highs and lows around here. The lows include the days before starting treatment when Blanco looked just miserable. The highs are anything that remind us of his normal self. Going downstairs without being carried is cause for a celebration now. Jumping up on the bed in the middle of the night earns him extra snuggles. I used to scold him when he’d crawl over to my nightstand and bite my phone or glasses, but the other morning it got him swooped up and hugged. The happiest moment I had since this started was last Friday night when he sprawled out across my lap and just slept. But we don’t get many of these and when we do, they’re slightly dampened knowing that there are only a finite number of these moments left.
I feel like I’m wearing a weight around my heart. Sadness comes in waves and at the least expected times. When I’m not sad, I’m sighing.
I’m not doing much else, honestly. Grieving uses an awful lot of energy. So does trying not to have a tearful breakdown in public or making your friends feel bad because your mind drifts off mid-conversation. Writing-wise, I can push around words on the page, but I can’t get lost in a story. My head goes back to my little white kitty and I get up to go check on him. If social media is to be believed, everyone else is experiencing a crazy burst of creativity and productivity, so I think I’ll shut down social media for a while. I want to make the most of the time we have left and do the best by my B.
I am not, by nature, optimistic. Nor am I very good at living in the moment. I’m a worrier, a planner, a think-ahead-er. Roller-coasters are not my idea of a good time. I don’t like the peaks, knowing the valley is going to follow. But I’m trying to not think ahead. I’m trying to live in the now and appreciate every moment we have left.