It's something to do with his lungs, but we're not sure what — apparently the vet showed his x-ray to all the other vets and the once-a-week radiology specialist, and nobody could tell what was going on. The vet thinks a bronchoscopy is the best way to know what's going on, "but we have to get his thyroid balanced first... and then there are the kidney issues, as well. But really, a bronchoscopy is the gold standard."
Maybe so. It's also a specialty procedure that they'd have to refer out, it requires full anesthesia... and this is an 18-year-old cat we're talking about.
I haven't even asked how much it would cost. Many hundreds of dollars, I'm sure. But spiritualmonkey and I are both in agreement that given Nemo's age and multiple health problems, even having the bronchoscopy done would count as heroic measures, and we're not willing to put him through that.
I don't know how much longer he'll be with us. Back at the beginning of December, I didn't think he'd make it until the 20th, when my vacation started. Then I thought there was a real likelihood he wouldn't survive until the new year. Now... well, we have plans to spend MLK weekend dogsitting for my aunt and uncle, and I'm really hoping the cat is still with us — and fearing he won't be. Please, beast, cause logistical difficulties!
For the past few years, I've been feeling very aware of his increasing age and have been making a point to spend time just being with him, appreciating him. Not necessarily petting him, although he does love his cuddles. (He once spent several days at the vet's for an operation, and when we picked him up his chart included the notation "very affectionate — demanding much affection".) He just likes being with his monkeys, snoozing on the other end of the sofa while we read or spend time on the net.
One of the things I'm finding hardest is balancing the desire to want him to stay with us as long as possible with the desire to minimize his suffering. He doesn't seem to be in pain, he's not gasping for breath, and he's still mrrrt!ing at us with demands that we stop what we're doing and come pet him. Until those things change, I'm not rushing to take him in for that last-ever vet visit.
He's not lying on the floor purring at me while I do my Egoscue exercises anymore — purring too loudly seems to make it harder to breathe — and he's getting a little wobbly when he walks, but he can still jump up to the back of the sofa easily, he's rediscovered his appetite since we switched to Fancy Feast and has put on some much-needed weight, and he's still coming to curl up against my ankles most of the time when I sit zazen.
I'm incredibly thankful for every day he's sticking around with us, and am working on not wasting energy fretting about a future I can't control. For now, he's here and he's purring, and that's what's important.
Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln... I'm doing remarkably well, overall. This has been the best, least difficult winter in general and holiday season in particular that I've had since before my mother died. Sad about the cat and worried about the economy and job stuff, but not crushed by midwinter depression. The last three days of my vacation, Pirate and I went to a party at my boss's one night, got together with idiomagic and her sweetie at the Musée Mechanique the next day, and went down the Peninsula to visit my family the day after that. I mean, that would be unusual for me any time of year, but this is the middle of winter, no less.
It's due to the Zen, of course. There have been many moments when I would have slipped down into the Pit of Despair if I hadn't been paying attention. 10 minutes a day staring at the wall counting your breath, and Cheri Huber's books and weekly podcast. I highly recommend them to anybody who struggles with depression.
I gotta go pet the cat now.