Thursday, May 20, 2010

6 to 9 months was a pipe dream....

At the end of March, our cat Gus was given 6 to 9 months to live. He had a recurrence of a fibrosarcoma tumor that was inoperable. We decided to agressivly treat this cancer with chemotherapy. The vet told us that it could shrink the tumor and provide Gus with 6 to 9 months of comfortable life.

Gus went through his first chemo treatment with flying colors. He had no side effects and was as happy as ever. We measure his happiness by his sleeping habits. He LOVES to sleep on my pillow, all tangled up in my hair. When he is particularly happy, he will press his nose against my face and sigh in contentment. He has been doing this a lot lately.

Saturday morning, the sun was coming through the front window and I caught a glimpse of Gus, sprawled out, sound asleep in the sunlight. It was so precious that I just stopped and watched him for a few minutes, knowing that I wouldn't have him forever. I wanted to take in every moment.

Saturday night we were away from home, we ran a marathon in Olympia on Sunday morning. We got home Sunday night and I could tell Gus wasn't right. I thought maybe he was just mad because we had gone away. He didn't sleep on my pillow that night and Monday morning he was very lethargic. I left home for a bit and when I came back he had not moved an inch. His eyes looked sick. I called the vet and they said to bring him in. He had his second chemo scheduled for Wednesday, I wasn't sure how this was going to affect that.

We got to his oncologist and they did some tests. He had a high fever and his tumor was infected and abcessed. They suggested he stay overnight. They rehydrated him with an IV and gave him pain meds and antibiotics. They called me once to say he was resting comfortably.

Tuesday morning came and I hadn't heard anything. I was getting ready to call when the phone rang. It was the dr. I knew it wasn't good news. If things were just fine, the tech would have called and said to come get him....but this was the vet. The cancer doctor. My heart sunk.

She told me that he was doing better, but the infection was really deep. She was concerned that the infection was too deep and that it would come right back. Without putting him under anastheia, they couldn't get in and really clean out all the infection.

She gave me an option. She said that she could go in with a surgeon and try to get all the infected tissue out, but that could open a can of worms and the wound from the surgery would most likely never heal. Then I would be dealing with an open wound and changing a bandage every day. Plus, putting him under would be hard on him.

I came to a heartbreaking realization....there was nothing more to be done. I told the vet that I wanted to bring him home and make him as comfortable as we could. I talked to her about Wookie and how he just went to sleep. I asked her if there was any chance that Gus would do the same. She said no, we were going to have to decide. She said that we needed to prepare ourselves to make the decision to let him go and that it may not be this week, but it would be soon. She then told me how sorry she was and how lucky he was to have us.

I hung up the phone and I sobbed. I knew I needed to get him home. I headed down to the vet and picked him up. He certainly wasn't himself. He hates spending the night at the vet and I was sure he was exhausted. I got him home, he drank some water, went to the litter box and then we took a long nap. He snuggled up to me and every once in a while would rub my face.

We had a really good talk about all we had been through together. He was sound asleep at one point and was dreaming, his little whiskers were twitching. I just breathed him in.

Its been a few days and he is about the same. He gets in the window when the sun is out. He still isn't sleeping on my pillow and I really wish he would. That is my favorite thing. The other cats sense something is wrong, but like all the time I am spending in bed with them!!

Today I ran some errands and when I got home, Gus was sleeping on the floor in the sun. So peaceful.

The waiting is really hard. I keep telling him to give me a sign when its time. I certainly am crying much more than I would like and that is just exhausting. I find it hard to believe that sometime soon, he won't be there.

I met Gus on June 18, 1999. When I met him, I was suffering from a broken heart. My cat Bobo had died the day before. I remember thinking that I would never love another creature the way I loved her. Funny to remember that. I can't say that I love Gus more or less that I loved her. They are all so different, each animal brings something different into our lives. They all have their own personalities. They love in their own way and let us love them back, again, in their own way.

I could go on and on about Gus. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this cat. Its actually kind of a joke with a few of my friends and our usual vet always comments on it. All I know is that my life has been better because of this little sweetie. No one else is as happy to see me as he is...and vice versa.

Its been a tough few months around our house. Wookie left us on March 23rd. He and Gus were the first pets, all the others came after them. We always joked that they wished it was just the two of them, then things would be peaceful and quiet. I keep telling Gus that he doesn't have to be afraid because Wookie is waiting for him. The two of them can enjoy the silence together. I also tell him that we are all going to be okay. (I think I am trying to convince myself of that.) He is surrounded by love. We all are. For that, I am grateful. And as Bon Jovi says..."Love's the only rule"

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