guilt-trip

It really hit me hard today. It's been almost 10 years, so that's quite a lot of time, and years are passing by, and suddenly someone you have shared these years with, is gone forever. What does that do to all those shared years? They are now, like your companion, slowly sinking into oblivion.

So, I was going through old photographs today to create a photobook. A bad idea at this moment of grieving. But I couldn't leave the house today and needed something to do. I also wanted to stay with P. so that he doesn't feel neglected. Like always, my unhealthy perfectionism kicked in after awhile and it turned into a gruelling obsession. I wanted to find every single photograph available, order them chronologically, not just by year, but actually by month and day. I was trying to restart old mobile phones to rescue the photographs on them. Then, all the old cameras that ended up somewhere after I had bought some newer equipment. And yes, there were some forgotten memory cards with low-quality photographs on them.

I was trying to rescue what I couldn't rescue. So, I was getting sadder and sadder, looking at all those pictures; his early years, his maturing years, his physical bloom, and slow decline, and then all the photographs I took last week, hoping to stop time.

The guilt question has been creeping into my mind. I had to acknowledge that this year must have been pretty hard on him health-wise. Probably I didn't take it seriously enough, which means, I didn't spare him the many visits at the vets, the cortison, the antibiotics, the narcoses, the stress and pain. But then, what would have been worse? Not going to the vet, and hoping that his ailments would heal on their own, or do as I did? Two operations, one end of March (to get rid of a rotting tooth, as I was told), the other end of August (to remove the excessive nasal mucus, which was chronical and had taken hold of his upper respiratory organs again). I could see that especially this last operation with its anaethesia and the brutal cleansing of his nasal cavaties had hit him hard. He was another cat afterwards, even though he eventually had two months of almost unburdened breathing through his nose, until it all started again two weeks ago.

Anyways, looking at the photos from these months made me cry in shame and guilt. He was still in pretty good shape in July and August. And then afterwards, end of August and September, he had started to decline. I am not sure whether my mind is making this all up to torture me, but I have always felt bad about this last but one visit at the animal clinic when they rinsed out his nasal cavaties. Somehow it was my fault, because as he didn't respond to antibiotics any longer and the mucus in his nose had hardened and couldn't be sneezed out any longer, so that he was breathing hard and noisily, they didn't see a way to treat his chronic rhinitis. They had just shrugged their shoulders. I had asked them, whether it was possible to do a rhinoscopy and rinse his nasal cavaties, like they had done years ago successfully during a tooth operation. And they reluctantly agreed to try, but their reluctancy was not a sign of medical consideration, but rather cluelessness. So, they couldn't offer any alternative, and I could sense that it was mostly all about the money. I didn't know then that he had a tumor. Had I known that, I wouldn't have sent him through all that.

He was pumped full with medication and especially painkillers after the operation, and before that, I had been given an anti-inflammatory drug instead of the antibiotic, but which made him vomit several times a day. Thank god, I immediately stopped giving it to him the second day, but I guess that his kidneys (he had never had kidney problems before that) couldn't deal with the impact. And as I said, there were more painkillers to take after the operation. In the weeks to come, he was losing weight dramatically. Also his behaviour changed. He was no longer the affectionate cat that he had been before that.

There was a point, his loss of weight, excessive drinking and urinating all around the place, also his loud calls during the night and early morning, that I took him to the vet again. This was the visit when we learned about his very high kidney parameters, and then the vet pressed his belly and detected "something unusual, probably a tumor", which was later confirmed. Four weeks later, and he is dead.

I still don't know why this tumor, which was 4 cm long, and all the others in his lymph system, had never been diagnosed before. I am pretty sure that his kidneys had suffered from the last operation, but I do not know, why despite all the blood tests for all sorts of ridiculous parameters and visits at the vets and in the clinic throughout all those years, nobody could feel that there was something cancerous growing in his belly? It must have been there for months, maybe years.

Before I disappear in a swamp of guilt, remorse and pity, I just want to say that I wouldn't have put him through the last operation if I had known about the tumor. The only diagnostically significant and helpful treatment he received was the ultrasonic of his belly and kidneys. And this was all done without an anaesthesia. If there is a next time, I would immediately ask for ultrasonics of all the inner organs, if possible. Forget about radiographs, blood samples and swap tests, they just support a money-making machine on the backs of our animals.

And now I ask for his forgiveness, even though I know it is impossible and simply too late for that.

R0001504.2 - Kopie.JPG

(End of October, 2021)

Comments

Alex was fine one day and then, on a Wednesday, I noticed he wasn't his normal self. He died the following Sunday. I often think what did I NOT see? How did I let this go without knowing something much more sinister was taking place? Cats don't show their sickness. Alex had cancer and it seemed out of the blue, though I know it had been there for a while. I hate myself for not knowing or for letting it go on for so long. I wonder, if I'd known, would he still be with me?

I cried for a year, every day, straight, and I still cry. What you're going through is totally normal and it is okay.
 
Alex was fine one day and then, on a Wednesday, I noticed he wasn't his normal self. He died the following Sunday. I often think what did I NOT see? How did I let this go without knowing something much more sinister was taking place? Cats don't show their sickness. Alex had cancer and it seemed out of the blue, though I know it had been there for a while. I hate myself for not knowing or for letting it go on for so long. I wonder, if I'd known, would he still be with me?

I cried for a year, every day, straight, and I still cry. What you're going through is totally normal and it is okay.
I am sorry to hear about what happened to your cat Alex. You only had a couple of days to say goodbye and prepare yourself and the cat for it. The shorter the time for saying goodbye, the longer the grieving process. At least that's my experience, also with humans.

I am not sure if cancer in cats is curable at all, unless you want to put them through chemotherapy or fill them up with medication like cortison, which will make them rather die from the side-effects than the original disease.
But of course it is important to know about their state of health anyway, so that one can prepare oneself for what is going to happen, and avoid unnecessary stressful treatments or visitis for the pet at the vet or clinic.

I read that cats that eventually show their symptoms to their human companion, want to say goodbye. Not sure if your Alex found another way of doing so.
T.
Tarzan
actually came crawling out of his hideout under the couch only 15 minutes before the vet rang at the door. He was suddenly sitting on the small white carpet, looking at me, and then walked over to the water fountain. I followed him, and then sat down next to him and gave him half a tube of emergency paste, that he licked up hungrily for several minutes. After awhile, he stopped abruptly and moved away from me, sat down next to the potted plant, showing me his back. It felt good because I had the impression that he wanted to show me that "he had enough" and now was ready to go and leave me behind. After this short interlude, he moved under the couch again. As I said, 15 minutes later the vet rang the door bell.
 
They certainly have their ways of telling us. Do we listen, though? I didn't at first. The night before Alex got so sick, I was emailing a friend and I noticed Alex just sat there and was staring at me. I stopped and looked at him and asked him why was he staring at me. I asked him if he wanted treats - and of course he did (he LOVED Temptations treats) but he continued to just watch me. I know now that he was trying to tell me then and that he wanted time to spend with me. I was stupid enough to just continue emailing someone who isn't even in my life anymore. I'll never get that moment back and it kills me.

I'm taking it that T was able to pass away at home. That's actually very nice. I wish that for all of my cats, but Alex and Pier both died on a Sunday and Chance died at 4am at an emergency clinic. Having T die at home, at least you knew he wasn't stressed from being somewhere else.
 
They certainly have their ways of telling us. Do we listen, though? I didn't at first. The night before Alex got so sick, I was emailing a friend and I noticed Alex just sat there and was staring at me. I stopped and looked at him and asked him why was he staring at me. I asked him if he wanted treats - and of course he did (he LOVED Temptations treats) but he continued to just watch me. I know now that he was trying to tell me then and that he wanted time to spend with me. I was stupid enough to just continue emailing someone who isn't even in my life anymore. I'll never get that moment back and it kills me.

I'm taking it that T was able to pass away at home. That's actually very nice. I wish that for all of my cats, but Alex and Pier both died on a Sunday and Chance died at 4am at an emergency clinic. Having T die at home, at least you knew he wasn't stressed from being somewhere else.
Thank you for saying that, yes, at least he didn't die in the clinic, which would have been even more impersonal, and probably offers even less opportunities to tune in with your sick animal in the way you are both used to at home.

The night before the euthanasia, I took him to the emergency clinic, and the vet there told me that she would euthanize him now on the spot, adding, "I am sorry but I have to tell you the truth", as if I had never thought about it before myself and was one of those people who refuse to even admit that their animal is in the process of dying. Thank god, I didn't let her do it, but I told her that I would prefer the home setting with the pet physician. He got a painkiller from me, and that night he really livened up a bit, snuggling up against my legs asking for food, something he hadn't done for weeks. So, I think he had a good last night, free of pain.

I am not sure, if your Alex was actually looking at you. I read that it is their vision that they lose first when getting sick. Often we do not notice their diminishing eyesight. The last sense they can rely on at the end of their life is their hearing. Maybe he was listening to the clicking sound coming from your computer's keyboard, just like someone who is listening to music or any other interesting sounds. I don't think that they always want something from us when looking at us.

But I know what you mean with the "moments that will never come back" to us. It's only the void left inside us after their death that can make us aware of our oblivious ignorance in the past. That's what they mean when they say that we should "cherish every moment as if it was the last". But is this really possible? We are always wiser afterwards. I am pretty sure that your Alex was not a neglected cat, and that he had been given lots of attention from you this day when he was looking at you. That's why you thought, you could do your own thing for awhile, which is important too.
 

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