Wednesday, January 27, 2016

He's Gone...

My Mikey is gone.  And he's never coming back.

My heart is so completely broken. I wish this were all a bad dream.

That photo is the last one I took of the two of us, just two days before he died.

It's been 5 days since I let him go, and it hasn't gotten any easier.

I still keep hearing his voice in my head and expecting to see him around every corner.  I would give anything for one more day with him, healthy, to hold him and snuggle him and smell his head and kiss his paws. 

I've played last Thursday night over and over in my head.  Questioning if I did the right thing.  Going over what I thought went wrong.  Wondering what was going through his mind and if he knew through it all how much I loved him. 

I had a vet come to my house that night, which I thought would be the best way for him.  I didn't want the last thing he experienced to be a cold steel table in an unfamiliar, scary place.

The morning after, I drove back to Pennsylvania, tears streaming down my face the entire time, with both of my cats in the car.  My dad dug a hole and we laid Mikey to rest in my parents backyard under the apple tree where our family dog is buried.  He looked like he was sleeping.  Even though I knew his spirit was no longer in that body, I still couldn't believe it was the last time I'd ever see him in this life.  It still doesn't feel real. 

Sal grieved for days, searching frantically for Mikey in my apartment and at my parents house.  He cried under the bed the first night and couldn't sleep.  He continues to search and look behind him constantly for Mikey and at night sits atop the bed, looking into the hallway, waiting.  I can't imagine what he's thinking and I'm worried about leaving him home alone all day from now on.

From the day they were born and for the past 11 years, they were constant companions.  They have never even spent 1 day apart.  They slept together, played together and groomed each other daily.  They were brothers and soulmates.

There have been a few times I've seen Sal looking over my shoulder, eyes wide and unflinching, and I believe Mikey is visiting him.  Today, he was staring intently down the hall, and then chased something up the stairs.  I believe they are still playing together.

I don't want to keep crying about Mikey, but I also don't want him to think I've forgotten about him.

We weathered the blizzard in Pennsylvania and just came home to my apartment tonight.  I think a tiny little part of me expected to see Mikey waiting for us when we returned. 

His food bowl and litter box are still out.  I still have jars of baby food on my counter and his medicine in the fridge.  I'm not yet ready to pack up all the reminders.

I miss him more than I ever thought possible, and our lives will never be the same.  I can't believe this is our new reality.

I hope he knows how much I love him, and I hope wherever he is, he's not hurting and not lonely.

I got this photo of my boys snuggling, the night before Mikey died:

I lost a piece of my heart last week that I'll never get back.  My sweet boy, I loved you so much and I always will. 

What greater gift than the love of a cat? ~ Charles Dickens

Monday, January 11, 2016

I Guess It's About Time for an Update....

I guess it's about time for an update... It's been awhile.  I'm sorry for not checking in the entire month of December.  I hope you all had wonderful holidays.  And Happy New Year!

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Thanksgiving.  I wonder if I remember how to do this?  As you could probably tell from the tone of my last post, I was in a bad place.  December was an emotional/terrible month for me and I was in no place to blog about it.  I returned from Thanksgiving in Georgia to a cat that was very, very ill.  Not eating at all, hiding all day, and in a lot of pain (didn't know it at the time).  He lost 2 lbs in 2 weeks and had zero quality of life. 

I would rush home after work every evening, not knowing what condition he would be in, and I honestly thought he was not even going to make it until Christmas.  I was a wreck, he was a wreck.  I was spending all day taking care of kids, then coming home and taking care of my dying cat, and who was taking care of me?  No one.  I couldn't even think about Christmas.  When it was apparent I was going to have to put him down if this continued I decided to start him on daily prednisone.  It's a steroid that's a stop-gap measure for animals with cancer, but it comes with a risk of heart failure which is why I initially rejected the idea.  Prednisone alleviates pain, makes the animal more comfortable and extends their life a bit by slowing the progression of cancer.  It's not a cure.  As far as I know, pet owners do not often pursue chemo for animals.  

But in order to even have chemo as an option, you need to have a biopsy and confirmation of what type of cancer you're dealing with. I believe in my last post, I had said Mikey would be getting a biopsy but after his condition deteriorated so quickly I decided against it.  The vet would need to stick a needle through his body and chest wall and there were huge risks (lung puncture/collapse, bleeding out, etc).  So chemo was out and I don't think I would have even pursued it anyway.

In my attempts to do everything possible, I hired a holistic vet to come to the house and treat him!  I know what you're thinking. What the h^ll does a holistic vet do?!  And what does that cost?! It's expensive.  I mean I do not pay for acupuncture, massages, pedicures or even HAIRCUTS for myself because I can't afford them, but I was shelling out money for acupuncture for my cat!  We had 3 visits with her and initially Mikey actually sat while she put needles all over his body!  Once I started him on the prednisone and he started to feel better, however, he was not as patient.  She also gave me some essential oil to massage him with which contained things like oregano oil and he was walking around smelling like a pizza.  Ha  I've also just recently started him on some Chinese herbs which are homeopathic cancer treatments. 

All this background is to say after weeks of turmoil, uncertainty and heartache, he is finally stable.  He is not in pain anymore.  He plays and cuddles (he's on my lap 24/7).  He is eating now, but not cat food!  He prefers real meat and fish which I am now cooking every night.  And he eats treats which are probably basically junk but I'll give him whatever he wants.  He's quite skinny so anything he wants in his last days, he gets. 

I genuinely feels he wants to be here for a little while longer.  Once I sense that changing, I will have very difficult decisions to make and I'll be a freaking wreck again. 

I'll regale you with one more little anecdote regarding Mikey and then I'll stop with the cat talk.  One day a couple days before Christmas, he was having a string of bad days.  Hadn't eaten and didn't have much energy (some days are like this).  I got home from work and tried feeding him every thing I could think of and he still didn't want it.  I got frustrated and started crying and basically screaming at him that he had to eat (horrendous behavior on my part).  I took a shower and tried to calm down but was still upset.  It was then that Mikey went into the kitchen, jumped on the counter, and retrieved and dropped a little medicine cup at my feet.  I had completely forgotten about this game we used to play!  I didn't even knew that Mikey knew where I kept the little cups.  We proceeded to then play 'catch' for the next 15-20 minutes. 

When I say that I can't remember the last time we played this game, I mean it has been at least a year or two.  When Mikey was younger he loved this game.  He literally plays 'fetch' just like a dog! I never taught him this, he just brought a little milk cap over to me many years ago, I threw it, and he fetched it and brought it back to me.  And so it began.  He loved this game but for some reason, I had kind of forgotten to 'play' with my cats for so long.  Their lives became more about a comfort to me lately, than me stimulating them and remembering to give them the attention they obviously craved.

At this moment and on this night, it honestly felt like a miraculous, spiritual event.  I hadn't seen Mikey like this in months, and here he was playing.  I feel animals can be psychic on some level and I honestly felt like he was telling me that he was still here, still wanted to be here, and was still in the game.  I cried some more then and told him I understood. 

Okkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.  That was a lot.  I hope I didn't kill you all emotionally! 

I'll end with some Christmas pictures to recap the last few weeks.  Oh did I also forget to mention that my car broke down on Christmas Eve?! Yeah so that happened too. I almost didn't make it home for Christmas.  I was debating until the last day whether to even go home this year because I was so distraught, and then the cherry on top was a $400 car repair!  But I'm glad I did.  Because being at home with the people we love turned out to be the best medicine for both me and the cats.  After nearly 12 years in Baltimore, I'm thinking its about time I get moving closer to the people that are important to me, but more on that later. 

For now, enjoy:

Running through fog on Christmas morning.  It was 60 degrees.  So strange.  And wonderful.
My running has actually been feeling really good lately so there's one silver lining in this dark cloud hanging over us.  I've been logging more miles recently and so far, so good on the leg/knee issue!

Christmas Day with my nephews!

My babies

My very best friends in all the world
After a month of incredible stress and turmoil, being around my family and friends was incredibly healing.  I don't reach out for help much, but I am realizing more and more that being around loved ones is actually really necessary for a healthy happy life.  It's no good for me to be on my own constantly.  Apparently it took my cat getting cancer for me to realize this.  In his last months of life, all he wants is to be constantly near me.  Constantly.  Follows me everywhere.  Is on my lap for petting and snuggles every opportunity he can get.  Sometimes I don't think I realize how much of a negative affect the distance from my loved ones has, until it's too late, crisis hits and I'm unraveling.  People need people.  Otherwise what's the point?
There are some things I'd like to accomplish in the new year, but for now they'll remain unsaid.  I'm kind of in a holding pattern right now as I don't want to make any big changes in Mikey's last days.  What I do know is that 2016 for me is going to be more about connection and trying to be true deep down to what's important to me.  You never know how much time you have left.
I wanted a West Coast winter this year and I got it.  On the East Coast.  I know this is hinting at severe ecological changes, but I can't help but enjoy it.  For now anyway.  Now is really all we have anyway.
I don't know how often I'll be blogging right now as my priorities have obviously changed.  I'm gone from my house 12-13 hours a day as is and any time that's left I want to spend with Mikey.  Thanks for everyone who has reached out and kept us in your thoughts!
How were your holidays?

How does 2016 feel to you so far?
Is it important for you to be near family/friends or do you like the independence of distance?