Thursday, May 17, 2012

Morbidity and Mortality


Nothing like an annoying low level illness to make you morbid, right?

I am lucky to live in a very helpful community. The dog people in particular are right on top of any sort of help a friend might need. We've all felt the pain of having to a walk a dog in the rain/sleet/hail/snow/dark of night when you'd be better off lying in bed praying for sweet death. When I went down like a sack of bricks last week people walked my dog, brought me soup, bought me everything from ginger ale to paper towels. It made my life so much easier and my healing that much faster.

Even with all that help one day I just didn't feed the cats. It was too much work, I couldn't even fathom it. They licked out my soup bowl and stalked the kitchen counter, which resulted in the great sesame oil catastrophe of 2012 the repercussions of which are being felt to this day, so they survived just fine.


It got me thinking, though, about what in the holy hell I would do if I were ever sick long term. Frankly, damned if I know. I live in New York so I'm already based where the good doctors are so staying here would be smart. Asking for help from people who don't live here is problematic because you have to train them since they don't know the area. I know that if I went to help a friend who lives in a place I'm not familiar with I'd have to really bring my A game to be actually adding value instead of being a liability with good intentions. I'd have to learn where everything is in the house, neighborhood, town, and depending on treatment options, the whole damn state! Forget knowing where the cheap ginger ale is or which direction the dog likes to walk around the block. It would be far too easy to be, in the immortal words of Tom Smothers, the kind of help we all can do without.

I'd probably have to send the dog away for the duration. Of course I'd rather have him with me but he gets bored. Dude needs at least 3 solid walks a day and, while it's possible to pay for such a thing, that gets expensive if you hire people for it and it's a true pain for friends to have to get up and come all the way to me before going to the park or wherever they plan to take him to exorcise his yayas. Even if I could get most of that covered he'd still have to go out for that last pee right before bed and, though I triumphed over a measly flu to do that all last week, there's no telling if I could triumph over chemo or a broken bone.


The cats might get to stay. I'd need help, though. My cats are fed this high concept plan with raw food which, I can imagine, might be more than I could handle if I was feeling pukey. I could prop myself up on a broken limb to get them fed twice a day but I could not prop up a yakky stomach to mash stinky raw meat into paste. Sometimes I have trouble with that when I'm fully well. And then there's the litter box. Depending on what mythical illness I'm battling could my immune system handle the, well, handling of other mammals' excrement?

Again, I'm very lucky. There's a good chance I could farm out the care of my animals without too much trouble and a decent chance I could even keep them close for visiting purposes. No guarantees but my people are good fucking people, especially in a crisis. The bummer is that I love my pets and their presence would probably lend a lot to the healing process. I mean, I know a number of people who initially got pets when they were going through a health crisis because they knew that they needed a reason to get out of bed in the morning and someone else's welfare to look out for.

I guess there's only one solution. Don't get sick. Pass me the vitamins!


  1. I was sooooo lucky to have friends that lived mostly somewhat nearby (farthest was 1.5 hr drive). The radiation and chemo did make me tired, but I was still able to walk both dogs, albeit one at a time, and not for long distances, and slowly. I thank my lucky stars I was able to do this! Max did end up staying at my friend Megan's for awhile...boarding wasn't an option for Wolf as he'd lose his shiba mind. (I tried it once...wasn't pretty).

  2. Jennifer6:26 AM

    Hey Kizz, I can write the worse one, titled "who will take Stella and the cat if we die?" It would include me drunkenly asking at least 15 members of our family and friends.

  3. Miflohny1:11 PM

    Loved your Free to be You and Me reference!

    I think a long illness would necesitate rotating house guests. Then the pets and the people would be able to give you the TLC you would need/deserve.

    When Chris got sick and had to go to the doctor regularly, she was living at home with her parents. Her mom was retired and could take care of her, but she couldn't drive and Chris couldn't handle long bus rides, but they couldn't afford so many cabs. Lo and behold, a neighbor ended up driving Chris to all her doctor appointments. The neighbor had a friend in another city also facing cancer. She couldn't be there for her friend, so she was there for Chris instead. So, things sometimes work out in unexpected ways.

    But, hopefully, you'll never have to really worry about this!