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.


  1. It really sucks when they get old and it's time for them to leave us. Hugs to you.

  2. Julia8:13 PM

    I'm sorry. It's so difficult to face the reality of losing a treasured family member. Hugs for both of you.

  3. Huge hugs. Sucks no matter when, no matter how. He's mightily loved. Xoxoxo

  4. To me this is the hardest part, walking this road. Peace be with you.

  5. Miflohny2:21 PM

    So sorry to hear this. You, Elvis, and your whole family of animals are in my thoughts.