Where we are with Elvis

>> Thursday, September 14, 2017

He is thirteen, which nobody considers old for a cat but is nowhere near young. A wild tom wouldn't live to such a Methuselah age and housecats didn't either until Science. Sort of a lot like humans, then; thirty-five used to be middle age and I should get to the point.

My cat is dying, not too quickly (we think) but more quickly than he would be if he didn't have cancer in his belly that has spread into his lungs. We are beyond surgery or chemo, but his vet thinks he's got eight to twelve good months if we can get him eating again and holding down what he eats. So we have medicine and hope for that and no way of knowing if he will be our boy for six months or sixteen, days or years, a moment or a while. 

But probably not the while.

There's a cliché when you mention cancer that is the reason this will be a no-comments post; lots of people like to say, "Fuck cancer," and I have no criticism of that, it's just not something I feel like reading or hearing right now. I'm not angry that my cat has cancer, and to be honest I really just feel like cancer is a thing that happens because sometimes cells just gotta be cells. I'm not angry, I'm sad and impotent and grieving and not ready for the end of the story that was in some sense inevitable when I brought Elvis home; a human being's maximum lifespan is about eighty years longer than a cat's. 

If you're reading this, odds are you're feeling love and sympathy. Thank you.

It seems shallow, maybe, that the illness or death of an animal can be more devastating to me than a human's. I can only say that human beings have agency and sentience far above what most beasts possess. If I were told I had a year to live, I could cash out my retirement and drag Kat on a whirlwind world tour. Or blow all the money on bourbon instead and try to beat my own deadline. Or join a cult. Or go nuts over so-called "alternative medicine;" perhaps try to cure death with an all-smoothie diet blended from exclusively purple fruits and vegetables. Or give away all my material things and spend every waking hour in Buddhist temples. But my cat: he may have no idea he's dying, and the quality of his remaining life of whatever length is left to me and whatever wisdom I supposedly have.

So, you know, I've cried a lot today. To the best of my knowledge, Elvis doesn't know why. If he's noticed, even.

While we're here, I'd like to say I have some wonderful people in my life. Yes, of course you guys. But also. Doctor Hartge has been wonderful through this. (She's at South Point Pet Hospital in Belmont with Doctor Dobies, who has known Elvis longer than I have. Everybody at South Point has been wonderful.  They always are.)  She didn't want to tell me what the X-ray showed over the phone, an X-ray which she just sort of decided to do because his not-eating bugged her and so she had me sign a consent for it when I dropped him off for what was supposed to just be a steroid to boost his appetite), until I insisted because I needed to know.

I got her call while I was in court.  The D.A., Mark Warshawsky, and Judge Collins continued the case I had in that courtroom just as a matter of course when I came back in the courtroom, obviously upset.

I went from there back to my office, where my boss, Kellum Morris, didn't even wait for my entire blubbered explanation before telling me to give my files for today to Elizabeth Lutz, who pretty much runs everything, for him to cover.  Elizabeth was wonderful, too.

And my wife, of course.  I drove back to Charlotte to pick her up--Belmont, where SPPH actually is, is one-third of the way from Gastonia, where I actually work, and Charlotte, where I live--and drove back out to Belmont, two-thirds of the way back to my office, because I couldn't have gotten through the details of sitting down with the vet and everything else without her, just couldn't have.

And of course there's Elvis, who doesn't know what the big deal is, who only knows he had a very bad day of car rides and poking, without the least clue of how bad it really was for him.

I don't know if any of the folks mentioned in this section other than my wife would ever read this, but thank you, all of you, thank you.

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