Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Summer from Hell

Many of you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, so you already have a general idea that things have not been going well lately. Let me tell you, that is the understatement of the century. This post is almost entirely for me, and is extremely personal. It has almost nothing to do with writing, perhaps it's only so that you can understand why I've been away, and will be for a while - but not forever.
It started in May.
In work life, I finally got out of being a CNA and landed a dream job doing something I've wanted to do for years - work in a cube in surgery. I work behind the scenes and love the low-stress job I have. The only problem, the main girl there HATED me. The tension was so bad, my supervisor and I discussed the possibility of me going somewhere else. Then, as a stroke of luck, the girl who made work-life a living hell decided she wanted to work somewhere else. For the first time I can remember, I like my job.
While dealing with this girl, and before I discovered she would be leaving, my husband and I went to visit my family across the country. It was tight financially for us, but as we hadn't visited in about 9 years, we figured it out and made it work. The hardest part was leaving our 9 cats alone. My mom kept watch over them, visiting them daily and making sure they knew they weren't abandoned. They got treats galore and were spoiled beyond rotten by the time we got home.
It took us a few days to realize Gunther wasn't eating.
It was Memorial Day weekend when we rushed him to kitty ER because he refused any sort of treat, and we could feel each ridge of his spine. We were there for hours, running every sort of test the vet could think of and pushing fluids through him to rehydrate him. He spent the night there and we spent a very restless night thinking of the worst.
I picked him up in the morning and cried as I took him to our vet, where she ran more tests and watched over him for the rest of the day. That day was filled with unbelievable anxiety, but the worst was yet to come. When we picked him up, our vet couldn't find a single thing wrong with him. She gave us some formula to force-feed Gunther about 4 times per day until he started eating on his own. It took us a week of force-feeding, vet visits, antibiotics, and medication before my husband and I snapped on each other.
I broke down, weeping harder than I ever thought possible with the knowledge that Gunther was starving himself to death and there wasn't anything I could do about it. Even after 2 months, I still have tears streaming down my cheeks as I type this. This is by far, the most painful thing I have ever written. But I feel it's important. Not so you'll understand, but to help me heal. Today I write not as an author, but as a woman needing release from a heartbreak I hope none ever have to feel. Today is journaling. But I digress...
I don't know how to seek comfort from others. I can't even bring myself to find comfort in Bry's embrace. I knelt against the bed, sobbing for the impotent frustration at watching my child die. Two days later, he started eating. Life appeared to return to normal and I went to visit my sister.
A week later, Gunther was as wide as he was long. To most, this wouldn't seem strange. But he'd always been slender. Now he was the fattest cat in our house. We brushed it off, thinking it was just taking his body time to re-acclimate to the digestion of food. We thought he was like a kitten again, with his fat belly that would dissipate in a few days and he'd be fine again.
I know my timeline is fuzzy, but this all happened from Memorial Day to my birthday, July 16. Somewhere in the July 20th range, we took Gunther to a kitty specialist, where the vet told us in a cold, unfeeling, matter-of-fact tone, that Gunther had FIP and was dying. There was nothing we could have done to prevent it. And nothing we could do to cure it. A diagnosis of FIP is not made lightly and is always, always fatal. My heart broke.
We had him drain Gunther's stomach of the fluid he'd accumulated from the virus, gave him some shots to ease the pain and keep his appetite up, and went home. I wept, begging and pleading to any god that would listen, to just give me this small miracle. Don't let my baby die.
On July 23, 2015 we said our final farewell to Gunther. A part of me died with him that day. I felt my heart tear, shattering into bits as I held him. It is a pain indescribable. It literally feels as if that flimsy organ in your chest rips apart, leaving the delicate strands barely enough momentum to continue to push blood through your arteries.
That next weekend, when we received his ashes, a close family member crashed a vehicle, and my grandmother died. A week or two later, my brother was beaten up by a gang for trying to help a kid. This past weekend, another family member is struggling to regain - everything - after an accident.
Most people would be upset more about the human tragedies in my life. Those people know nothing about me. I can't have kids. My cats are my children. In every way. They are my everything. I have just lost a child after only having him for 8 years. It is not a thing I would wish upon my greatest enemy. I look at people and their mundane lives, and think, "what the hell is wrong with you?" I need the world to stop. I need to grieve and learn to cope with a torn and shattered heart. But I don't know how.
So that has been my life this year. I'm having trouble coping, and finding the energy to do anything more than work and come home. The other cats are adjusting, but it hasn't been easy on them. Psydon searches for Gunther from time-to-time, wondering where is best buddy is, and Frost mopes in the hall and bedroom, missing his brother-by-birth. We have good days, and things start to look like they'll get better, then life reminds me that I'm not done with the emotional trauma, and something else happens. I'll see him out of the corner of my eye, I'll pour too much ranch in my dip cup, or I'll catch myself calling him for his butter treats, or yelling at him to stop fighting. Each day does get better, but for now, I'm trying to heal and learn to deal with a broken heart.
Thanks for listening and understanding.