We got a call yesterday saying that Schmitty did pull through the surgery. That’s good news. The bad news is – the really bad news – is that Schmitty’s cancer has spread, which means he doesn’t have much time left and the time he does have left, as well as its quality, is probably going to be up to us. Of course, in the wake of the news, I am now unbelievably regretful for having put him through this surgery in the first place. I only hope that he’s not too scared right now and not too lonely and not in any pain. Tobyjoe and I spent many tearful hours yesterday discussing what we need (and want) to do now. We have decided that no matter how badly we feel, we need to start thinking for him and putting him through anymore unnecessary pain just to prolong his life 3 to 6 months is out of the question.
I have to be honest with you, I haven’t felt this sad in… well, ever. That’s pretty shameful to admit considering I have had to say goodbye to family members and friends. If only I could ask him what he wants and explain to him why we did what we did, then maybe it wouldn’t feel so horrible. And I knew this day would be hard. I pictured the tears and the puffy face, the hard time sleeping; I was ready for all of that. But what I didn’t think about was the actual experience of reliving the memories as well as letting go of our routine together. I’m going to miss him so much. And I can’t stop crying. I can’t even see the computer screen as I type this.
How do people get through this? Do we go in and say goodbye when they finally put him down? What should we do with him when that’s over with? We have no yard in Brooklyn. Last night, I started to read more stories about people who lost pets and it made me feel a little less awful knowing I wasn’t alone. Misery loves company. That old cliché is true. I didn’t have any pets growing up so I never had to say goodbye to one. Schmitty is my first. What happens now? How do you do this? How long do you cry? When does it get easier? Have you done this before? When will I stop wondering if he’s going to follow me to the bathroom? Or run to the food bowl in the morning? Or greet me at the door?
My heart is shattered.
I feel that I need to do this for the sake of history and writing it down makes me feel better in the time that it takes for me to type.
The doctor called earlier today. I answered. I should not be answering the phone right now, which is why Tobyjoe has taken it away from me. In the past couple of days, every time someone calls and even hints about Schmitty, I begin to cry and literally can’t utter a word. It’s terrible for the person on the other end. Anyway, a doctor called and he said to me that the cancer in Schmitty’s abdomen covers the size of two human hands put side by side. He’s also running a fever. I was trying to find out if he was in pain or if there was any hope at all. Unfortunately, the oncologist doesn’t return until Monday and the results of his biopsy don’t come back until then either. Which means we might have three more days of wondering ahead of us. And I’m not sure I want to go through that.
When the doctor told me about the size of the troubled area, I began to cry. It took every bit of composure to say the words, “I have to call you back.” That’s when I broke down and began sobbing again. Tobyjoe came out and I told him it was time for us to let him go, that the cancerous areas seems to be way too large. We both agreed that that was what we’d do today; say goodbye. And then the phone rang.
Tobyjoe answered this time. The same doctor called apologizing for how he had acted. He said he spoke with the oncologist and she said that Schmitty is going through what every animal goes through after this type of surgery and that we should wait until we get the biopsy results back to make any decisions, that the infected area could be fatty deposits, not necessarily cancerous and inflamed tissue. (Earlier, when I brought up chemotherapy again with the doctor he told me that if the infected area came back as cancerous, it would be extremely painful for the cat, hence the catalyst for my breakdown.)
Tobyjoe is going to head in to see him tonight and make the decision at that time. As much as I want to go, I don’t think I can handle this right now. It doesn’t help that I’m pregnant. And today I had a small contraction, which I read is fairly normal. But still. Tobyjoe reminded me that the most important thing in our lives right now is our unborn son. It’s probably best I avoid visiting Schmitty, especially if he’s cut up, shaved, and not well. I am sad enough as it is. I could spend 13 lifetimes with Tobyjoe and never, ever make what he’s about to do for me up to him.
I’m leaving this horrible decision up to Tobyjoe. We’re having an ethical dilemma at the moment. But if it’s time to let Schmitty go, then Tobyjoe will know tonight when he looks into his big green eyes.
Because I am a total worrywart with the imagination of a person on hallucinatory drugs, I insisted we go in earlier today, before visitation hours, to check on Schmitty. Tobyjoe (bless his sweet, sweet heart) went in and asked to speak to a doctor and visit with the big fella. We wanted answers. We wanted to know that he wasn’t scared and suffering, lonely and in pain. I told Tobyjoe that the decision was up to him. If Schmitty looked uncomfortable, he could ask them to put him down. I stayed upstairs and sat in the waiting room, crying, watching yet another breaking news story about some gun fire at a NASA building. I sat and waited; the Nation seems to be in shambles right now – one nation under guns – and all I selfishly care about is my fuzzy, fuzzy man.
Eventually, Toby resurfaced from the ICU with a smile on his face; Schmitty looked OK. He was in good spirits and immediately perked up when he saw Toby. He’s on medication and feeling no pain. Plus, and this is the best news, he ate! I had made the decision earlier (Thanks to Pete) that I didn’t want to have to resort to a feeding tube, that if he didn’t eat, I didn’t want to force him to go through another operation to insert a feeding tube. Schmitty gobbled food off Toby’s finger, and happily.
Since he isn’t in pain and seems to be doing fine, with both eating and the post operative care, we have decided to wait until Monday’s test results come back from the lab. On Monday, we should know how much of his body is cancer-ridden. At that time, we’ll make our decision. I keep asking myself if we’re prolonging the inevitable, but I won’t know that until later. Hindsight can knock the wind out of a person. I’m already preparing for such a blow. As much joy that cat brought me, this mental pain is so tangible right now. I almost don’t want to fall in love with another animal as long as I live.
But it just wasn’t time yet. Not today. Maybe next week, but today isn’t the day. Even though this hellish emotional roller coaster I’ve been on is so very tiring, we need to give him until Monday.
I have received countless emails from people. Each and every one of you has helped me more than you can possibly imagine, with both your comments here and via email. I have read stories, heard about heartache, and have been given hope that things do get better even though I can’t see that side of things right now. I can’t even begin to thank you all. Your stories and words and encouragement have literally gotten me through the day with even a laugh or two.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.