Deaf Dog!

Keep Punching, Joe!

Posted in Uncategorized by Heather on December 3, 2009

Alright, here’s the good news. I got one of those Yudu Screen Printing setups on a lark. Actually it was less of a lark than three days of agonizing indecision followed by a dramatic impulse purchase in the wee hours before dawn. The fact that $100 of it was paid for with reward points helps with my buyer’s remorse.

So I drew up a little picture from the old days of my sketchbook and scanned it so I could print it onto (very expensive) transparency sheets. I spent quite a lot of time fiddling with settings and cursing. In defeat, I searched the make-and-model FAQ on the printer’s website and found this super-helpful information:

Q:
Can I print on ink jet transparencies?
A:
No.

LOL. Just “No.” No hemming and hawing there. No polite show of regret or self-conscious recommendations that I try one of their other products. I was further amused by the “Was this helpful?” rating directly below it, because naturally the answer is yes but I did find the answer rather more terse than I generally like. After grappling with the damn thing for an embarrassing duration of time, it is only human nature to require a small amount of ego fluffing when told that it was a complete waste of time.

Oh well.  Today I went off to Kinko’s to make the copy to a transparency and skirted by the art shop to buy some screen printing ink for paper so the great experiment begins tonight, with results likely posted tomorrow.

A few days ago, I made a little moss terrarium. I’ve seen them all over the web and since I have all of the supplies lying around anyway, I just had to try my hand. I actually couldn’t scare up enough moss to cover the surface completely, but I think I can be patient.

I also made a bunch of cute little Sculpey houses and mushrooms to decorate terrariums, but I haven’t cooked them yet so I don’t want to jinx myself by posting pictures.

After that last sad post, I really hoped to follow with increasingly optimistic and happy posts but I am once again beset by tragedy.

On Saturday evening, I booked a vet appointment for my 8 year old kitty Mish because I noticed that she was chewing funny. This is a pretty common sign that she’s going to need some dental work.  Generally you make a vet appointment, they give you an estimate and you schedule the dental appointment for sometime that week.

Monday morning, she had a swollen spot over her right incisor and she was a little lethargic. “Damn it,” I thought, “She has an abscess and now she’s going to need the dental today.” When we got there, the swelling was worse and she was winking her eye on that side. it all seemed to happen so fast. The vet gave me an estimate for the emergency dental work and I burst into tears. An abscess like that is life-threatening and you really just don’t have another option. So I ran to the bank in the rain and gave them my entire rent as a deposit. The money hurt, but I knew that I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.

They said they would keep her overnight and I would have about 12 hours to beg and borrow an additional$600. I sent a mass text to my coworkers to try get some more shifts and headed back to the Bronx.  When I got home, there was a message from the vet. Mish didn’t have an abscess, she had a huge tumor that went as far back into her throat as the vet could see. A huge, inoperable tumor that was beginning to affect her eye. It didn’t seem possible. How could it flare up so fast? She was fine the day before. Eating dry food funny, but wet food normally enough. She’s not old, she has always been very healthy.

The vet says it happens. She says that if I want to know exactly what type of cancer it is, they can go ahead with x-rays and tests, or she can refer me to an oncologist to discuss chemotherapy. She stresses that any course of action would be palliative. I feel insane with shock. You can tell just by looking at it that there is no chance of fixing this? Are any of her days going to be better than today? I say, “I hate to bring up the E-word but it sounds like…” I falter and she says, “I’m glad you said that” and tells me how it’s a very reasonable option. I can tell that this is what she hoped I would say. She says I don’t have to euthanize her today and I could take her home for a few days and just try to keep her comfortable. Some people like to have a little time to say goodbye.

She is already uncomfortable. How could I take her home and watch what little comfort she does have erode away? I know I will go crazy if I have to live knowing that it may only be hours before I have to say uncle and put her down. She hates the trip to the vet, it’s stressful for her. I say I will call her back in one hour.

Back when I worked as a vet tech, I remember hearing someone say that there is no “right time” to euthanize- there is only too soon and too late. You have to choose “too soon” don’t you? Isn’t that what being humane is all about? Isn’t that what we owe our animals? Can you, in good conscience, ask a creature who can’t understand why it is in pain to take astronomical risks? Could I live with the risk of her in agony for hours while I am at work or while I sleep?

I am trying to feel gratitude. The proximity of their deaths is unbearable. But here at least, is something I could not possibly have prevented or foreseen. When I saw her for that last time on that table, I couldn’t imagine asking her to soldier on. I naturally metabolize grief into guilt and self-loathing. For Mish’s passing, I can’t find a single thing for which I am to blame. I am trying to see that as a gift.

When Abuelita died, I took her body to the garden. I dug through five feet of bricks and clay in the freezing sleet to lay her in the ground. For poor Mish- God help me- I could not dig again. It is December and I have no strength left to sustain me.

The dog was my best friend, undoubtedly. Mish was nonetheless very well loved. The tendency of cats to be slightly ambient, loving house spirits does not lend itself to the limelight. She was just a stray who walked into our apartment unbidden and made it into a home. I had wanted to name her Siddha, after Siddhartha. I was voted down by those old roommates and she was named Mishu after a famous french drag queen. Despite our communal living arrangement, she was always my cat without a doubt. She chose me from the very start.

She was a world class snugglebaby, an excellent typist and lapcozy. She loved parties and had to meet everyone who came into the house. I have a tendency to speak aloud when home alone and she had a charming habit of  replying at the end of my every sentence. Far from being aloof, she was a chummy little cat who happily answered to her name and would gallop to the door when you came home.

With her passing I feel like an important support has been kicked out from under me. After eight straight year of having animals, my home is conspicuously empty.