Sometimes in life you reach your limit. And sometimes, you have to figure out what that limit is, exactly. And it is not always easy.
Today we have to go pick up Opus from the vet. She’s making baby steps at getting better. More honestly, she’s struggling back from the brink. She’s put on some weight, and her fever is gone, and her abdomen is no longer sore. But more disturbingly, she’s still got diarrhea, which anti-diarrheal meds are not helping much with. She still has trouble eating without anti-nausea meds. Our wonderful vet Dr. Germain (who works alongside the equally wonderful Dr. Maggs, who is on vacation this week) still feels an unusual mass in her abdomen, that may or may not just be swelling from the pancreatitis. And most disturbingly of all, the last Xray showed what may or may not be cancer in her abdomen. And the frustrating thing is, without cutting her open to do exploratory surgery, we can’t know for sure. But the brilliant Dr. Germain, who has been bang-on in her gut feeling all the way along about Opus’ gut, is worried that it might be cancer. It’s been agonizing for her, trying to fix Opus, whom she loves and cares for like she was her own. It’s been agonizing for us.
So our plan of action is this: first we show up, then we see what happens. First we bring Opus home, and we medicate her and feed her and love her and hope that she pulls through and that it is just a long, slow recovery from pancreatitis. But if we bring her home, and she begins to deteriorate, we have decided that we will have to make the call, and say goodbye to Opus. We will have Dr. Germain come over to the house with one of the techs, and they will give her her last shot here, at home, happy and in the arms of the people who love her best. It’s a peaceful end. It’s all I ever wanted out of all this medical stuff — if I cannot make her healthy and whole, then I want her to not suffer, and I want her end to be peaceful, with love.
The hard part is, we make this decision partly out of necessity. We have just reached our limit financially. We are out of money. It has been so expensive and we just cannot do any more. And that hurts. If we could, we’d move heaven and earth to ensure that she has the best medical care possible (which she does right now) for as long as is required (which is where we fall short). We simply have no more money. But another thing we’ve considered is that we just have to set that limit for Opus. How much more indignity and discomfort do we put her through? She’s so old, even putting an IV in her little old lady veins is a struggle. She has a heart murmur. She’s too old for surgery. She’s sick and she’s got the runs and she can’t groom herself. She’s shaved all over in patches, like she lost a fight with a razor. It’s heartbreaking to see her. And despite all this, when she sees us, she purrs and chirps and loves us up. That bright, funny, scrappy little girl is still in there. But we cannot keep her in the hospital indefinitely; it isn’t fair. We want her home.
So we reached our limit. And in the next few days, it may be that she decides that she has reached her limit too. And if that time comes, I know my heart will shatter like cheap glass, and losing Opus will test this human heart’s capacity for grief and loss. But that too will have a limit, and with time, will heal.
But who knows what the next few days will bring. We will bring her home, and love her as much as we can. We’ll take pictures and video and press her little pawprints in plaster to save. We will hope, and we will pray, and we will wait. It is all we can do.
And then, downstairs in a cage, is Cinnamon. BDH’s baby girl. Our little orange ‘fraidy cat, our sweet girl who never causes us a lick of trouble. She’s got diarrhea. She’s lethargic and won’t eat. And so she, too, must go in to see Dr. Germain. Somewhere we must find a little more cash to take care of another sick girl. Somehow we must redefine our limits. But hopefully, this will be a clue to what is causing Opus to be sick, and we can get both of them fixed up. In the meantime, we worry.
I remember the days when time seemed limitless, when our energy was limitless, when our resources, while not exactly limitless, were certainly better. And I wonder if we’ll ever get to that point again.