it’s been a while since I’ve written here. We’ve had several major life events that are difficult to speak about. When I’ve been overwhelmed recently, I’ve gone outside into the woods looking for what is permanent.
The seasons come and go, but they always come around again. The leaves come down, but they come back again. Some trees are lost to disease or wind, but saplings arise, small creatures make their homes in the fallen branches, and larger creatures hibernate in caves formed by fallen trunks. My life lately has been evidence of that.
In August I had a carotid something-ectomy to clean and repair a 90% blocked carotid artery that supplies blood to the left side of my brain. Signed papers acknowledging that I understood the risks of the surgery were death, stroke, bleeding, some other thing, and re-operation. Spent a night in Hartford Hospital. Unlike the lumpectomy and mastectomy about 10 years ago, I could not talk the medical people out of this, presumably because they had to monitor overnight for signs of stroke.
The best moment was waking up and realizing that I knew who I was, where I was. That was reinforced by the half-hourly proof that I could look to the left and look to the right, blow out my cheeks and make several other faces in the stroke script, squeeze both of the nurse’s hands with both of mine, and stand up.
My exhiliration quickly faded when I realized that the sheets were made of the same kind of paper they use for puppy training pads, because I had to fight myself out of them at least 20 times that night to get to the bathroom (dragging that stand that’s EXACTLY the same width as the bathroom door) and trying not to tangle up the 3 IV lines and the couple of dozen electrodes that were attached to it and me at too many places to figure out. I was picking adhesive off my skin for the next week. My frustration and discomfort were softened by the fact that I DID get out of bed at least 20 times that night.
I lack the photography skills to show you the 6 inch slit on the side of my neck, but luckily only others can see it in real life; it’s invisible to me when I look in the mirror. There’s already enough crap in my appearance that I have to avoid seeing in the mirror.
I was to have not lifted anything weighing more than 10 pounds for three weeks, but first thing I did when I got home early the next afternoon was lift 21 pound Ben up to the sink to get a drink. Nothing happened.
Something is wrong with Sophie. About 2 weeks before my surgery, I took her in for her rabies shot and annual checkup, and we started chasing ideas about why she has lost about a third of her body weight in the last 2 years. There were x-rays and ultrasounds and 5 or 6 blood draws. There was a tooth cleaning and a tooth pulled and there were appetite stimulant pills and antibiotic injections, and now there’s a broader spectrum antibiotic gel to be given by syringe that has made her afraid of me. After feeding her home-cooked chicken breast for a few weeks, we seem to have found a food she’s willing to eat.
After about a week of Sophie eating 2 small cans of food a day, Ben collapsed on a routine walk between two rooms last Tuesday. The vet diagnosed vestibular disease and “prescribed” Dramamine for the motion sickness. The vestibular disease (vertigo) turned out to be a symptom of advanced lymphoma which affects cats’ brains in about 10% of cases. On Friday I took Ben to the vet for the last time. I carried him to his bed which I’d placed in the passenger seat of the car. I took his brush (he loved to be brushed more than anything) and his favorite catnip flavored treats. I kept my right hand on him during the 15 minute drive, while he looked around in wonder at the beautiful fall foliage.
We set him up in his bed in the examining room, and I fed him treats and brushed him. He died purring.
Sophie and I are both only children now.