Friday, 22 August 2008

Up and down

What I haven't written about is the strange life I am leading caring for Harry in the midst of all the builders' work and mess; how I have longed for a few quiet days so that I could really attend to him and gain a better awareness of the state he is in and what he needs. At this point the cliche of 'an emotional rollercoaster' is an apt description of my feelings, while a gentler journey altogether seems to be Harry's lot.

Now that we have had a few tranquil days together, I can see that he spends a lot of time sleeping soundly, waking up to eat very small amounts of liquidised food, to march about checking out any new work, and to accompany me into the back lane with his usual inquisitiveness. Occasionally he heads off down the street with some determination, letting himself in to any open door to visit and explore, and has to be retrieved before he settles down on a stranger's sofa. He has to be groomed by me every day, as licking himself is clearly an uncomfortable business, and seems to enjoy this very much, welcoming the warm washcloth and the brush. He is tolerant of the syringe of liquid painkiller twice a day, though less so of the vile-tasting antibiotic twice a week, and has stopped running away after his breakfast in the knowledge that a pursuing Fury will descend with a syringe of medication.

But he is fading; his weight has decreased dramatically, his active periods are brief, and the tumour is growing. The vet says another two months; I find that hard to believe, given his rapid decline, but cats are amazing creatures, holding on to life with such tenacity, and so long as the good or fair-to-middling days continue to significantly outnumber the poor, the big decision will remain deferred. The vet's advice to maintain a record on the calendar was sensible, as a bad day can send me into spiralling despair and a conviction that tomorrow will be Harry's last, but so far, there have been only three such days, all followed by perkiness and keen interest in what's going on around him. Harry has a very strong and quirky personality, and has been immensely companionable and affectionate towards 'his' humans, and this continues to shine through.

So we soldier on, realistic but unhurried, as his life gets smaller and my acceptance of imminent loss gradually grows. And Kevin? Well, he ticks along, equable and dozy, eating, sleeping, demanding attention with the volume-control turned up to eardrum-shattering level, a sweet, deaf old chap who looks as though he could go on like this for ever. But, but....


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3 comments:

mountainear said...

I wish I knew what to say Rachel. I've been here and there's no comfort really; there's caring and tenderness and the bleak inevitability of the end we all must face. Enjoy this time together.

laurie said...

that daily care that you give him is comfort and will be comfort months from now. that you loved him and made him as happy as possible. the daily grooming sounds so bittersweet.

i'm so sorry. but this is not an entirely unhappy time.

Rachel said...

Thank you for these lovely comments. You have both touched on a truth here, that caring for someone sick or frail, whether creature or human, can be a joyous experience that comforts the carer as well.

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