Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Six Years Later

Possum and Wendy on November 2, 2009:


And last night, November 2, 2015: 


As you can see, Possum has barely moved in six years.

The 2009 photo shows our leather armchair covered in an old sheet because we were dealing with the kittens' ringworm plague and other illness and parasites they'd arrived with earlier that fall. We had to clean and pack away our curtains, rugs, pillows, bedding, and everything that could be stored to make the daily cleaning easier. I covered furniture with sheets and ugly Indian bedspreads that I could wash in hot water and fry in the dryer every few days. I did the same with the old cotton clothes we wore throughout those months (late October to late January).

It was a tough time. We had four sick cats whose nursing schedules included pills, liquids, injections, stinky lime-sulfur dips (weekly, at the vet), baths, topical treatments, nose drops, a vaporizer, subcutaneous hydration, and syringe feeding. Wendy had parasites in addition to ringworm and wasn't eating. In addition to his ringworm and a stubborn case of worms, Possum had a bloody, congested nose from calici virus, which gave him ulcers in his nasal passages. You can see his red nose in the photo. Our teenaged Persian, Snalbert, had calici too, and his symptoms included painful arthritis and blood dripping from his mouth from throat ulcers. We syringe-fed him for weeks; it was touch-and-go with him for a while. Our tiny tortoiseshell Persian, Snictoria, "just" had chronic renal failure.

The kittens' medicine was an expensive, cherry-flavored liquid so scarce that I could only get it at the Children's Hospital pharmacy. I walked to the medical area every few weeks and savored being out of the apartment. Otherwise, all I seemed to do was clean. I vacuumed EVERYTHING with my Miele, which has a HEPA filter. I figured out how to hold up the sofa with one hand so I could vacuum the lining and frame with the other. I vacuumed ceilings and windows and the underside of the mattress. And then I swiffered, scrubbed, sprayed, bleached, laundered, and disinfected. All the time. That's what you do during a ringworm infestation. You can't kill the spores except with strong bleach so you have to collect them and get them out of the air and off surfaces via a massive amount of cleaning. There wasn't a speck of cat fur in this whole place during that time. If we spotted any, we' freaked out. It was ludicrous. It will never happen again.

The goal was to keep us humans and the Persians from getting ringworm, too, and I succeeded. But we were still banned from celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family in Pennsylvania. That was fine; no pet sitter could come into our house to care for our contagious cats anyhow.

As I look back at those days, I realize that, while it was a nightmare, it was actually quite a good bad experience. I discovered exactly what I was capable of doing for my cats, which was anything and everything. I learned that my husband was a skilled, gentle nurse, better at many tasks than I was, especially syringe-feeding. We were proud of each other and ourselves. We found energy to do all that had to be done, and the cats recovered, and our lives got back to normal. Except that we were a stronger couple. I continue to coach other people who are coping with ringworm on an online cat forum. I found advice and sympathy there when I needed it and I'm glad to give back.

I never imagined I'd want more days like those, but I'd be thrilled to trade our current real-estate crisis for another ringworm plague. I eventually took control of that mess with nursing and cleaning plans. I always had chores to burn off my nervous energy and wear me out so I couldn't worry so much. I slept hard in those days (under a tacky synthetic blanket and another Indian bedspread). I wasn't stuck waiting for a serious buyer to finally appear while we hemorrhaged money on multiple mortgages and other expenses. And nothing that happened six years ago was my own damned fault.

Sigh. I know my current rotten experience will eventually resolve itself, too, and I hope I find I'm a wiser, better person for it. It can't happen soon enough. In the meantime I'll count my blessings and distract myself by remembering better days... when my vacuum cleaner was my weapon. Wow.

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