Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Say It Ain't So, Zo.

We're cat people here at our house. Don't get me wrong, I like dogs just fine. In fact, I grew up with an assortment of the usual pet suspects. But there is something about a cat. The carefree, low maintainence regime has always fit well with our Gone For The Whole Day or Overnight mentality.

And for reasons that I cannot truly explain, other than to nod towards my possible questionable sanity, all of our cats have been 'Kennedy's'. All of them. We give them long, convoluted names, and then tack Kennedy on to the end of the whole mess. Voila. Welcome to our family.

Our current members of the Kennedy Clan are:
Anna Kalina Copernicus (she's 14),
Zoey Isabel Delaney (she's 10),
 and the newcomer, Suki-Chan Lotus Flower (she's 3).

Life was going along swimmingly until a few months ago when the normally portly Zoe started to slim down. It wasn't anything drastic, in fact she looked quite svelte. But still she continued to shrink.

And we noticed. But didn't notice.
Saw without really seeing.

There were other little Red Flags that went up around her: vomiting, lack of appetite, excessive thirst, lethargy; things that when taken as a whole become one blaring red warning light. But when seen separate are just that; separate little things.

We saw. But didn't see.
Or didn't want to see.

In the last 2 weeks her weight has whittled down to an astonishing 4 pounds. Four. Every symptom climaxed and we began to wait for what we knew must be coming. Every night, worrying. And yet there she was in the morning, looking worse for the wear, but bright eyed and happy to see us.

How long can she endure this? I wondered.
 How long can I endure this?

Today we took her to the vet, who confirmed what we had been fearing. She has diabetes. Our choices are to put her on injectable insulin, which may not control her level of the disease, or to let her slowly wind down in her own time. Or we could put her "to sleep".

What kind of choices are these, really?

The insulin route, even if it did work for her, is out of our reach thanks to that funny green stuff called Money. When we get sick (Dan, me, the girls), there is much deliberation before actually going to the doctor. Do you REALLY need to go? Sure we have insurance, but like most people today, our 'Insurance' is more like 'non-surance'...a great idea in name, but not much in policy. And let's not even get started on our prescription plan. That starts a whole other conversation of, "Do I really NEED to take that medicine?" We go over everything with a fine tooth comb. And that's with US. The extra the insulin and testing supplies would cost us is simply not in our budget. At all.

Putting her down was out of the question for me. Today. She rallied this afternoon, eating up a storm and showing some sparkle in her eye. I couldn't disregard her will right now. I won't.

So we've chosen the option to make her last weeks as comfortable as possible. She spends most of her days in the basement, so we've set up a little resort filled with cushions, food bowls with any variety of food we think might tempt her ever waning appetite, water bowls filled with cold water and ice cubes, which seem to be her favorite, her litter box, easily reached, and familiar toys.

Night time is hardest for us because she was always on our bed every night. With us. A lump at the foot of the bed to be hindered by and annoyed with. But a welcome lump, nonetheless. She can no longer jump up on the bed, and getting down would be dangerous for her as well. And we need to know that she's near her litter box because she's been having accidents. So at night we create a little retreat in the upstairs bathroom; comfy and with everything she could need, including us, nearby.

And we'll wait.
Wait for her to weaken more.
Wait for her to lose more weight.
To get more tired.
To get more sick.

We wait.

She'll be with us, though. Surrounded by the familiar faces and things that she's always known. And when the day comes (and we know it will) that she's too weak to continue on, then we'll say goodbye to her. With tears. With pain. With love. Hurt.

But until then we wait and wonder why med companies feel it's okay to make these lifesaving medicines expensive enough to be outside the reach of many people who need them.

Zoe's worth a hell of a lot more than we're able to give her.

And she deserves better than this.

Because she's waiting too.
And that's the hardest part.

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