Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quality of Life: A Story About Gabby

Seventeen years ago I went into a pet store to look around.  We were living in my grandmother's house while our house was being built and my grandmother was living with my mother because her health was declining.  I had a preschooler and a toddler and somehow I ended up bringing home a kitten.  She was just so tiny and cute and when I held her I couldn't put her back into the cage. She was the cutest little calico fur ball and we named her Gabby because she 'gabbed' all the way home.

As she grew so did our love for her.  Once we were moved in and settled into our new house we happened to go into the pet store again.  This time there was a cute little white kitten with black patches and somehow we ended up holding this one too and were unable to let her go.  We brought her home, named her Lucy, and introduced her to her sister.  They did not exactly hit it off right off the bat.  Much like my Daphne was none too pleased with Megan when I brought her home, Gabby was not interested in having a sister either.  It took some time for them to become good friends and good friends they became. (Daphne and Megan are another story altogether.)

When I was pregnant for my son these sisters would essentially stand guard over me.  They would sleep near me while I sat in my rocking recliner watching A Baby Story and preparing for my baby while my girls were in school.  By this time I had a second grader and a kindergartener.  These fur babies grew alongside my babies.  When I had my son they were his guards when his sisters were playing or at school. 

When my mother became ill and was eventually diagnosed with cancer, they were there.  They comforted all of our broken hearts...even my mother's much to her dismay as she was always partial to dogs and not much of a cat fan. In July of 2004 my mother went home to be with the Lord and they would watch me fall apart in the depths of my despair.  When I cried they were there.

They were there for every birthday, every Christmas, every celebration, every argument, and every temper tantrum.  They were there for all the pet fish, all the pet birds, the newt, and the hamster.  They were there when we got a mouse in the house and I brought Gabby in to catch the mouse.  I put her right in front of the mouse who thought he owned my house and she took one look at it, sniffed it, and wanted to go back outside.  She had no interest.  I brought Lucy in and she chased it all night long and woke my husband up early with her prize on the stairs. 

The Easter following my mother's death Lucy was hit by a car.  We were all sad.  My beloved couldn't stand to see us sad so he asked a girl at work if we could get one of the kittens her cat had just had.  We went and picked one out. A long haired black kitten with a white patch on his neck.  We were actually told he was a she and we named her Lilly.  At "her" first vet visit we found out she was actually a he and changed his name to Linus. (No we never actually looked ourselves.  We took her word for it.  Also he was a long hair cat.)

Gabby was even less happy with a brother than she had been with a sister.  It took her some time to adjust to the idea.  Once she did however, they were inseparable.  They were two peas in a pod.  We had two girls and a boy in human babies and one of each in fur babies.  As Gabby grew older she spent more time with Linus than she did with us.  She would be in the same room but she wasn't really interested in us like Linus was.  Linus and I became best buds.  He would sit with me while I read books.  He would sleep at the foot of my bed.  He stayed near me after I miscarried my number four.

For a brief instance, they even had another brother when we took in a stray.  We named him Rerun as he looked just like Lucy.  Plus we kind of liked our Peanuts theme we had started.  But Rerun only stayed with us for a few months.  Once we got him fixed, which we only did once we were pretty sure he would stick around, he took off and we never saw him again.  We looked everywhere for him to no avail. 

Gabby and Linus were our comforters and they were each others best friends.  When Linus was killed by a stray dog, Gabby mourned his loss with us.  Where Linus had sat beside me while I read, now she sat in his spot.  While I cried myself to sleep at night she slept in his spot at the foot of my bed.  We saw each other through.  She had been with us through it all.  Our twelve and a half pound cat who loved eating and tried to take walks around the neighborhood like a dog was now our only fur baby.

A year ago we moved south to warmer territory.  It started before that though.  She started not going in the litter box.  She started declining.  Our girl, we realized, was getting older and we hoped she would survive the trip.  She has continued declining much to our dismay.  Our sweet Gabby who has been with us for so long and through so much is now seventeen.  She has two stones now in her kidney and essentially gravel in her bladder.  She also has hyperthyroidism.  Our once twelve and a half pound kitty as of today is now seven pounds and one ounce.  Her coat is thinning.  She looks frail and she pees blood.  Her Cat Chow that she once loved is a thing of the past as she now has to have special food for her bladder.  We've been dealing with this for months.  Today we found out it is getting worse.  And where before they talked like surgery wouldn't be a good option because of her age, now we are discussing quality of life and if surgery is worth the risk if it could improve her life if she lives through it.

Quality of life....interesting words when you think of them.  No one seems to discuss quality of life until life is coming to an end.  Why is that, do you think?  I'm no stranger to loss.  Our family at one time was losing so many that I though the funeral home was going to start offering us a group rate.  End game talks are not new to us.  They never get easier.  It seems to me though, that perhaps we should start talking about our quality of life while we seem to still have a lot of life left to live.  I don't know....just a thought. 

I keep thinking about We Bought a Zoo.  They discuss the end game for the big cat.  I keep hearing Scarlett Johansson saying that they are in so much pain but they can't tell you.  That you can see it in their eyes.  My cat who used to see a vet once a year for shots.  My cat who has grown up with not just my kids but me as well.  We've all grown up together essentially.  We were so young or maybe it just feels that way now that we are older.  My sweet Gabby who hated getting into her carrier actually fought to get back into her carrier while in the vet's office today.  She has been there more in the last year than any of us care to remember. So today we got more meds and made a tough decision.  Tuesday we will take the gamble.  We are going to try surgery and see if they can improve her quality of life.  They can't do anything about the kidney stones but they can hopefully take care of her bladder. 

I don't know how this goes.  I know that I can see it in her eyes.  I know that it is bad and I know that I can't say goodbye...not yet...not without trying everything.  I'm selfish.  I want her here with us for as long as the good Lord allows her to stay.  I have to know that I did everything I could because I haven't always been certain of that in other cases.  The doctor said it is routine and that while she is old she also doesn't have any other options.  She has had a good life.  She has had a family who has loved her.  She had a sister and a brother to love.  We've loved her even when she frustrated us and she didn't really like us. 

So here we are, once again in a place we don't much like and I come to you dear ones; our family, our friends both new and old, our beloveds who read and follow along with our family's crazy antics and our struggles and I ask you for your prayers.  I know that God already knows the outcome and I know that he will sustain us no matter what comes....good or bad. I know cats can't live forever and I know to some maybe she is just a cat but to us she is a part of our family.  If you could spare a prayer our way we would be grateful. 

1 comment:

Jadi Campbell said...

It is startling that such small creatures can leave behind such large holes when they leave our lives....