on borderland we run . . .
The past seven days have been some of the most turbulent days of my life. While I celebrated the first installment of my column "The Games of Our Lives" in the Onion AV Club, and started the second run of What's My Line? Live On Stage at ACME, I felt excited and happy . . . but through it all, I was constantly worried about my cat Sketch.
The doctors who treated him were wonderful, and encouraged me to call every few hours to check on him, but whenever I started to dial the phone, my hands got cold and my heart raced. Would this be the call where they tell me how sorry they are, but he suddenly took a turn for the worse and they did all they could but . . .
Fortunately, my worries remained just worries, and he continued to steadily improve all week, and he's finally home. Right now, he's sleeping in his favorite spot in my bedroom, between the curtain and the window into the backyard.
His doctor wants to recheck him in five to seven days to determine how his kidneys are doing, and take another x-ray to see how his lungs look. With that information, he'll be able to let us know if Sketch will be on a diuretic, and if so how often. He's going to be on heart medication for the rest of his life, and there's a good chance that it will prevent him from getting fluid in his lungs again, so we'll see.
Right before we left the vet, he told us that we should watch Sketch closely, and if his breathing becomes labored or rapid, we should give him a diuretic right away (easier said than done -- Sketch hates taking pills) and give him a call. It's weird. A week ago, whenever Sketch walked past me in the house, or I saw him on the couch or under the dining room table, I'd just say, "Hi fatguy!" and keep on doing my thing. Most times, I didn't even stop to pet him. Since he came home this morning, I've been checking on him three or four times an hour (it would be more, but I don't want to stress him out too much) just to make sure he's still alive. I stand in the doorway and watch his breathing, and I keep checking his dish to see if he's eaten. I've been a basketcase all week, and I thought that getting him home would put everything back into its right place, but now that he's here, I realize just how much of an old man he is (about 65 in human years) and how fragile his life is.
I haven't blogged about how much I've cried this week, because anyone playing the Joy of Tech drinking game would probably have cirrhosis by now . . . but I've had a week of puffy red eyes and shoulder shaking sobs because, honestly, this ordeal is about much more than just Sketch. I told Anne the other day, while we walked Ferris and Riley through the fading light of a magnificent Winter sunset, "I have been such a mess this week, worrying about Sketch, and it's tearing me up to know that I'm going to have to go through this with Biko, and Ferris, and Riley, and again with Sketch someday. I have always known that I would outlive all our pets, but if I'm such a mess when I face his mortality, what am I going to do when my parents die? Or what about my brother and sister? I don't want to even think about it, but I can't help it. What if I outlive you? What if something happens to you like a car wreck or you get cancer or you fall down and hit your head or —"
She took my hand and said, "I don't know."
Neither do I. In times like these, when I realize how complicated and precious our lives are, I long for those days when the biggest problem in my life was choosing between watching Scooby Doo and playing Legend of Zelda, or what shirt I was going to wear to school.
I guess I have to find a balance between taking nothing for granted, while not spending each day thinking about the inevitable loss of the people I love. I guess life is as simple, and as complicated, as that.
In the middle of the night on Saturday, when Sketch was in the emergency vet and we didn't know what was wrong with him, I walked into the back yard, looked up into the stars, and asked The Universe to take care of him. Some people call it a prayer, some people call it focusing energy, other people call it the final refuge of a desperate man, but I asked, and my fat little guy (whose spine is currently as bony as Monty Burns) pulled through.
I'm so grateful that Sketch is home, and relatively healthy. I am so grateful to the doctors and vets who diagnosed him and nursed him back to health. I am equally grateful to all of you WWdN readers who have virtually held my hand this week. It's given Anne and me a lot of comfort to hear all the success stories, and to have so much kitty love and mojo.
I have big news, which has only added to the emotional roller coaster that I've ridden so violently this week, but I'll announce it on Monday. Right now, I need to go kiss my wife, and then stand in the doorway and watch my kitty sleep.