Thursday, July 28, 2016

Furry Frog In A Pot

I know that no joke is funny once you've had to explain it but I feel I must explain. If you follow me on social media at all I've made some jokes and posted a lot of pictures of Elvis and most of them seem to have fallen flat. So perhaps this needs to be said:


In fact, please do. Am I sad about his diagnosis? Of course. Am I walking around wringing my hands and rending my garments? I am not. That seems like a colossal waste of the time he has left not to mention fucking exhausting. There will be plenty of time to do that once he's gone and I don't need any rehearsal for this one. Don't worry, I'll hit my mark.

Last weekend there was a day when I was pretty sure he was done for real. I had a plan about calling the home visit vet and when we'd schedule his death and I told myself to go to sleep and wake up and then decide. I had Pony Express come by to check my math and she felt it was solid decision making.

I woke up the next morning to a cat who was better than he had been the day before. Not a lot better but not the same and not worse. So I didn't call. I put the plan in my back pocket and I'll use it when the time comes.

My theory is that Elvis is like the frog in the pot. If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water they'll hop out right quick because it's intolerable. If you put a frog in a pot of cool water and increase the temperature very gradually he'll stay put because he has time to get used to the feeling.

Elvis has been terminally ill for over a decade. That's not an exaggeration. Nearly twelve years ago I was told he'd live a couple more years. I changed and adapted his medications, his food, his environment to accommodate that and all the other diagnoses he got between then and now. He's adapted right along with me. His life hasn't been perfectly comfortable but he's been able to be a cat and do cat things and pretend he was a dog for a while, too, because he loved Emily.

A couple of weeks ago he got the current diagnosis of a tumor on his jaw and inside his mouth (or possibly several of them, it's unclear and not important). I adapted his food and his meds and his environment to accommodate this. His comfort levels seemed to dip and his epic grossness levels seemed to rise for a few days and I took that pretty hard to heart because I feel strongly about my responsibility to keep him from unnecessary suffering. Once we got the food sorted out and I was able to give him the meds regularly enough to get him used to the process he seems to have rallied.

Now I have a cat who sometimes bleeds from the mouth, who has a weird little eye thing going on, who eats almost exclusively baby food, who sometimes gets stuff caught in his throat and has a momentary freak out, and who does a weird wheezing thing about once a day. That same cat jumps up on the counter to beg for a meal, knows which exits to take to hide from his meds (but isn't using them as much), jumps up on the couch to yell at me and drag my hand over to pet him, sleeps plastered against my leg no matter the temperature, and continues to sharpen his claws on the sofa arm.

He's himself.

So there's a lot to be happy about. His fur remains as soft and silky as it has been since I started giving him all these wacky supplements years ago. He continues to use his signature move of laying only the front half of his body on my ribcage for 5 minutes every time I lay on my back in bed. The fact that he still sometimes likes to explore the hallway outside the apartment and is still surprised every time someone comes out of another apartment is hilarious.

There's a lot to make fun of. I should get you guys a recording of his voice. It's what Phyllis Diller would sound like as a cat. His totally nonchalant, "just looking" face when he wanders into the kitchen in the middle of the day is fooling NO ONE. His humble surprise when I always open up another jar of baby food when he does that is ridiculous. He's got me hopping and he knows it. The way he looks like a furry walrus when he's lounging around in the air conditioned comfort will never cease to make me laugh.

Every day I wake up and take a deep breath to remind myself that this could be the day and I have to be open to the idea. So far every day I've taken a long, hard look at Elvis and he's seemed like the same cat I've had for almost 16 years just a little smellier and in my head I hear, "Not today, Satan!"

I'm considering posting pictures of him at the end of every day and hash tagging them #NotTodaySatan because that makes me laugh.

I encourage you to laugh with me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Photo Challenge: FOOD

This is like when you showed up in the cafeteria before school and found out that all your friends wore the same color and it wasn't even spirit day!

It's so awesome I'm not even going to caption them, just going to leave it here to make your stomachs growl. Yay!

by Me

I'm not going to explain. I'm just going to say that the next prompt is SLIP.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday August 9th for posting on August 10th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and SLIP. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Oh this week, you guys. Some order, routine, and beauty are just what I need.

This one by Our Cindy feels like it encompasses the prompt in an ethereal way. I want to step inside it.

Our Janet, as usual, captures just the right mixture of specific and funny!

I was giving her all this direction and all she gave me was distraction. Love her.

Let's make it a FOOD challenge this time around. Any food at all.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday July 26th for posting on July 27th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and FOOD. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

You'll Know It When You See It

I am the girl who cried, "Wolf!" I am the voice of your mother reminding you to say, "Thank you." I am that weird humming the electric light in your bathroom makes. You're so used to me you can't hear me anymore.

Elvis is dying.

See? I've said it a million times. I've believed it a million and a half times. Why would any of us listen to me any more?

To be honest, there's a way to look at it where he's not dying, it's just that his death is now inevitable and near.

I should explain.

One side of his face looks like Marlon Brando in The Godfather. It's all rounded out and yet still cat-like enough that for at least a day I thought the other side of his face had collapsed instead. Both options seemed plausible.

Despite a friend look at him and trying to suggest what was really going on the only option I considered was an abcess. It was my own guilt. I know his teeth are terrible and I haven't done enough to fix that. So of course it was going to be a giant mouth wound filled so full of pus and blood and gore that it was hard to the touch. It was going to be another expensive and complex diagnosis followed by months of vet visits and medications.

Hard to the touch is the clue, in case you don't know. I knew and I still didn't get it. If the bump is hard and doesn't move around under the skin and off the bone then there's good reason to be worried. The moveable ones are usually fatty tumors or cysts (not always, I'm not a vet, but you at least have time to think). The unmoving ones are the ones where you want to maybe shut your brain off.

The vet touched his face for less than 10 seconds before he said, "Yeah, that's a tumor."

"Do you want to see?" he asked a few sentences later.

"No," I said, "but I'm going to."

There's no point in a biopsy. There's no treatment that would increase or maintain his quality of life. The next word problem in a feline lifetime of calculus tests is how to find foods that he can eat around this ever-growing mass along one side of his jaw and encroaching on his neck. I have broth and wet food with extra calories and supplements and oils and pain/anti-inflammatory meds. I have the brains God gave a goat and more experience in making this particular cat comfortable than anyone else on the planet. Now I help him eat and when he can't eat any more I help him die. The vet was worried that I might be one of those people so unable to make these kinds of decisions that I might let him starve to death slowly. I almost wish I were.

I'm not.

I'm shocked. I'm devastated. I keep trying to accomplish tasks and getting the order all wrong (plug in the vacuum before you turn it on).

I'm also shocked that I'm shocked. He's nearly 16 years old and when he was 4 they told me he'd live a couple more years. That was not the last time someone gave me instructions for how to ease his burden for the precious little time I'd have him. I'm used to being told he's going to die.

I'm not used to believing them.