I can’t stop looking at this. I don’t know why.
In 19 years we’ve never had an x-ray. Never needed one. The jury is still out on whether we needed this one yesterday, but that’s another story. I have loved this cat so much for so long. But seeing her like this, seeing through her like this. She seems both fragile and magical.
It was a rough night. Not last night, the night before. She threw up 4 times, at least. Every time I had almost just fallen back to sleep, I heard her heaving, jumped up, tried to suggest we avoid the rug (which never works) and then tried to clean up as best we could without turning on the lights. I did moderately well. Still stepped right into a pile of it in the morning.
I try not to worry about that too much. Everyone I talk to that has had an older cat nods their head when I say we’ve reached the ‘not on the rug’ stage of our relationship. But 4 times in one night, poor thing. It still didn’t concern me till around noon when she was sitting on my lap purring and I was hearing all kinds of stomach noises coming from her that I’ve never heard before. And then a half hour later cleaning the litter box, I found blood and panicked. This is not ok. 10 minutes later I had an appointment for 3pm. And 2 hours after that I had these X-rays and a bill for $450.
We had our first real opportunity to face this ‘how do we handle the end’ thing a few months ago at the emergency room. The vets there were all ready to do MRIs and neurology and cardiology consults and and I did a pretty good job of sticking to my ‘let’s age gracefully’ mantra. But I did face some demons in that waiting room. Guilt, fear, grief, loss. Luckily prematurely, as she did come home and has been just fine. But I haven’t shaken that dread. That the end is closer than it has ever been. That every day is borrowed time. That our friendship will end, sooner than I might wish.
Yesterday was not the end. And last night was better, and this morning we are curled up in a ball and sleeping. That visit gave us more questions than answers. Her blood work came back perfect, no temperature, no infection, no kidney failure. Not even heart failure, which we always are told to brace for when they hear the murmur but never seems to actually be happening.
This x-ray seems to indicate a lot of gas in her abdomen but they cannot find the source without a very expensive ultrasound which also may not tell us the source. Even if they did find a blockage there’s little chance I would choose to put her through a surgery to remove it. She was not in any pain. We decided to come home and see how the night went. I am still waiting for confirmation that her digestive track is fully functional (that was a delicate way of saying I am waiting for her to poop, wasn’t it) but she is eating and drinking and purring and in no visible distress.
She hates the car and the vet’s office. She hates the nosy dogs in the waiting room and the smells. She hates the needles and the poking. She likes it here.
Mel’s last words walking out the door this morning were ‘don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.’ Which likely means another trip to the vet to ease my conscience and curiosity. My need for another 6 months, another year. Not now. Not yet. Hang on, Masha, we can get through this.
Maybe we didn’t need this x ray. Maybe it was a waste of money. But I still can’t stop looking at it. My miracle. My mystery. How could we understand each other so well, without speaking the same language? How can so much love be inside that tiny set of ribs? How long will that little heart hold out?
My Masha. Hang in there kitten. I promise we won’t go back there to ease my fears or soothe my pain. Only yours.
escaped the waiting room
The last thing the therapist said to me as I walked out the door was ‘be good to yourself.” That translates directly into ‘Stop at Newtonville Camera on the way home,’ right?