Saturday, September 27, 2008

Life, Death, Mercy and Morality

Brother-in-law the Wiser has been in intensive care in the hospital for a over month, most of that time in a drug induced coma. I spent much of last week sitting by his bedside simply being there for his wife. The few times he was awake he looked absolutely terrified and in agony. He could only move one arm and his head. He consistently tried to yank out his ostomy bag and breathing and I.V. tubes. The doctor ordered a padded cotton boxing mitt placed on his hand. Being unable to snatch out the things tormenting him, he flailed mightily with his arm, hitting anything within reach -- mostly himself. The few times his wildly staring eyes met mine I saw nothing in them but horror. It didn't look like anybody was home in there.

Even if his body survives this ordeal, will his mind?

It seems to me that we are kinder to our pets than we are to our fellow man. If a pet is in agony at the end of life, it is considered acceptable, even commendable, to help them die with speed and dignity.

When a pet is dearly loved, it is not an easy decision. I have had to make it twice.

Five years ago Handsome the cat became desperately ill with an infection in his chest. The vet said that he might be able to save him with extreme measures, keeping him on IV antibiotics and nourishment for probably a week or more. Though Handsome was only ten years old, in the prime of life, I knew the LittleDude wouldn't want that. He trusted me to take care of him, so I said goodbye. I miss him still.

My beloved cat, Esmerelda, was eighteen years old and in chronic kidney failure. I decided, after having tormented her by administering subcutaneous fluids for several months, that I would keep her as comfortable as I could without invasive treatment and when she "stopped smiling", I would let her go.

Two years after my decision, she stopped eating and purring, wanting only to rest curled in my arms. I called the vet. He came to my house after hours and gave her a shot. I held her close with my forehead pressed to hers as her frail body relaxed.

I loved Esmerelda with all my heart,we were "SimoneezerTwins" for twenty years. She wasn't a pet, she was my best friend. Her absence has left a hole in my heart and life that will never be filled. Even after seven and a half years, I still weep for her.

I'm crying now for my brother-in-law and Esmerelda and Handsome. I am crying for my Grandmother who lived through three years of unceasing pain because my Grandfather begged her to stay with him every time she was fading. And for my Grandfather who lived for seven years after her passing but was never the same. And my sister-in-law and her daughter sitting for hours beside a hospital bed, waiting.

I know I did the right thing with Esmerelda and Handsome. How could I ask someone I love to cling, suffering, to life so that I wouldn't miss her?

Why are we less kind to the humans we love than we are to the animals? Why do we artificially and torturously prolong their lives when there is little or no hope that they will live a quality life or even the life of a vegetable? How can that be a kind thing to do? Where can one draw the line between mercy and morality?

And then the little voice in the back of my mind whispers, "But what if he can recover?"

I am overwhelmingly relieved that it is not my decision to make.

For myself, however, DNR - Do Not Resuscitate. I have told my husband and my parents. When it is time, let me slip away gracefully.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Cutest Kitty In the World

Never have I met a cat who knows how to work cute like Sachi. She flutters her big blue eyes, poses and purrs. She is indeed the Princess of Pretty Kitty.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Off and Away

The Engineer's older brother is very sick. He's been in intensive care for more than three weeks and Friday had major surgery. I'm headed back east tomorrow to hold his wife's hand and lend a shoulder to his daughter. Don't think that he will know I'm there, though there's always hope.

I will come home late Friday, just as the Twin flies in to Michigan. The Engineer isn't going until the following weekend. Both the Engineer and the Twin are (surprise) engineers, so they've decided this provides maximum coverage and the least amount of stress for Brother-the-Wiser's family.

This means that I have been cooking in mass quantities the last couple of days so that the Engineer won't starve while I'm gone. He can't cook his own food from scratch, but he's supremely proud of his nuking abilities. Yesterday I cooked a 4+ pound pork shoulder, a tub of potato salad and a bucket of coleslaw. Today I scrambled up three and a half pounds of ground beef, pork and turkey and made a giant lasagne. I've told him it's his job to figure out how to fit it into the fridge. I don't think he'll suffer any pangs of hunger.

There's just one more thing I have to say:
KC - Thanks for the birthday apron. Did you know that it matches the color of lasagne perfectly? (Good thing with the mess I make when I cook.)

About Time For a Limerick

There was a young man named McConkey
With the wit and the charm of a donkey
He pinched a cute lass
Said he liked her big ass
She smacked him so hard he went wonky.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Will This Breathless, Deathless Romance Never Fade

Today's my birthday. The Engineer is out of town -- again. Sunday he went to the grocery store before I woke up and got me grocery store flowers because he knows it drives me nuts. Our local grocery is right next door to a flower shoppe, and I'm absolutely positive that when the flowers are too raggedy for the flower shoppe, they get sent to the grocery and sold at a discount. It was a large, colorful and petal-dropping arrangement.

He also got me a grocery store card.

Classic, eh?

On the inside it says: "I always feel a flush of excitement whenever we're together."

The man really knows how to woo a woman.

And I do my part, moaning and groaning and pretending he's really twisted my tail. It's a strange relationship, but it works for us.

P.S. He's also hidden a present someplace and is sending me scavenger hunt clues via e-mail. I guess with the choice being love him or hit him with a baseball bat, I'll choose loving him.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Neon Zit Syndrome

Ever had a zit on your nose that you knew lit up the night like a flashing red neon light? When you went out in public, when you talked to anyone, you knew it was getting stared at with horrified awe. How could it not, damn thing was bigger than your whole head.

And wrinkles. I don't have wrinkles, I have crevasses deeper than the Grand Canyon. Worse, I have Old Lady Lip Wrinkles. (In case you can't tell, the sound effects here are piteous whimpering and moaning.)

Then there are clothing imperfections. The shirt that looked fine when you put it on in the morning suddenly develops a big spot right in the middle of the chest when you're about to meet someone you want to impress. (Aw geeze, they'll think I'm a total slob!)

I'm not even going to mention blubber-butt and thunder-thighs.

Sometimes it seems the only possible solution is to go out covered in a full-body burlap sack.

Now wouldn't that be subtle?

Chances are nobody ever notices such glaring imperfections. You went through all that grief and self denigration for nothing. Even if someone notices the zit on your nose that looks, to you, like the taillight on a '59 Cadillac, they probably don't give a rip.

Someday, you know what, I'm going to have enough self confidence that I won't give a rip either...


I hope.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blogging When Stressed

I'm no good at it.

This has not been a good summer for my friends and family. There have been too many deaths, injuries and illnesses. Worry robs me of my prowess at the word processor.

The Engineer, the cats and I are, ourselves, all fine. I'm hoping that the most worrisome of the hospitalizations comes to some sort of a resolution within the next week or so, but until then I will probably remain mostly silent.

Bear with me...