The day I came home from Texas last month, I knew that Cricket was unwell. My vet let me bring her in immediately. Several hours and tests later, she was diagnosed with diabetes. Though I did have that momentary feeling of being hit by a truck and my eyes misted briefly with tears, I knew simultaneously it had been a matter of time. She’s an old, obese cat. So what do we do now?
I went home with Vetsulin and orders to give her 2 units every 12 hours. The first 2 shots were nerve-wracking, and then I was a pro! Nothin’ to it. It was trickier to determine the right time of day to administer the dose. We landed on 6:30, so I’m able at least to date and go to performances, dinner, etc. (Mornings, I reset the alarm for an hour later. 😉 )
Other than that, I found myself oddly relieved to be off the hook for any upcoming shows or travel. Go out of theatre on a high note, and recover financially from trips I couldn’t afford in the first place. I’m no longer available to rehearse, and I can’t trust anyone to give my sweet girl a shot. (She doesn’t emerge anyway, ’til after a sitter has poured the food, cleaned the litter, and gone. They wouldn’t find her to treat her. Cricket’s not interested in any other human than me.) (I’ve always loved that about her.)
We settled neatly into life at the end of the road. Nightly “claw talk” turned more tender, as I reminded her how profound and special she’s been to me, how grateful I am for her willingness to teach and love me. “Give me 2 to 4 years,” I said again and again, “and let me know when you’re ready. As long as you’re comfortable. Just let me know.”
In fact, I knew that 4 years was a stretch. For any cat, 17 is a good, advanced age, and Cricket has been plagued by bizarro health problems since birth, from the innocuous – chronic pink eye – to the horrifying. I’ll never forget finding her at 2 months in a grand mal seizure. I’ve never seen anything so awful in my life. She had several mini seizures in the following days, where she just plopped and glazed over. She listed to the left for over a week after that. I cried on the phone to my mother, “I don’t care if she lives 3 months or 3 years. I’m just going to love her while I have her.”
And here we are at 13. Here’s the thing: I knew we’d stepped onto the end of the road. And though I’ve promised her for years that I would understand somehow when she was, in fact, telling me she’s ready to go, I thought we had some road yet to walk.
Cricket will not stabilize. Follow up visits show ever-higher glucose. Increased insulin – We’re up to 4 units now – and prescription food don’t slow its progress. She can’t get enough water and misses the litter almost entirely. Puppy pads are the order of the day. Is she happy with this quality of life?
When is when? I’ve been begging since her most recent appointment, “Please, Cricket, one more year. I’m not ready.”
She seems happy. She seems comfy. She’s more visible in the apartment than ever. She’s always been a bedroom kitty, but since her diagnosis she comes out to sit near me while I eat or watch TV. She even jumped up on the ottoman that long ago became too high to use as a step into our marriage bed. (By turns, I accuse her of wishing to devour me – “If you were a big cat, you’d eat me” – and mate me – “You’re not just gay; You’re interspecies gay!” She loves it! Just PURRRRRRS, kisses harder, and pulls at my face [but never claws]. Eventually, I have to hide my mouth under the covers to keep skin on my lips. After a few shoves onto her pillow, my lover acquiesces and cuddles down for the night, my catty bedfellow.) (It’s worth noting here that she’s too fat to lick her own ass, so it’s not as gross as one might think… though no cat person thinks it is and no non-cat person could be convinced otherwise.)
Point being, I don’t know where we are. We have another costly appointment Tuesday to tell me what I already know: She’s not stabilized. I might be free sooner than I think, and it’s the most devastating freedom I’ve ever imagined.
How can it be the end? How could it go so quickly? How can I live without her?