Monday, April 07, 2008

Cat Pee

When I got home at 8 pm tonight after an hour of setting things up for the night with a new private caregiver 7 pm to 7 am, I felt sad. Mom is drifting away from this world: weaker, not speaking much, sleeping more.

I wanted just to lie down and cry, but little by little, tasks pulled me into a more normal path: taking in the mail, boiling the shrimp so there will be some kind of food available when John gets home at 10 pm, squirting the puree down the cat's feeding tube.

I knew I should eat, but only comfort food seemed possible: two leftover squares of a Hershey's bar, then a smoothie made of strawberries, plain yogurt, and orange juice.

I postponed grading papers and preparing for tomorrow's class in favor of an entry or two on the blog.

Just before sitting down at the computer, however, I carried some clean sheets to the linen closet, where I found the mess I had made at 2 pm: half the sheets in the closet were on the floor because I had pulled them out to find two matching sheets and a pillowcase to take to Mom's residence for the caregiver who will work 7 pm to 7 am.

Wearily I started putting them back in the linen closet until I thought I smelled something wrong. Cat pee? No--but some of the sheets were definitely damp.

I collapsed on the floor amid the sheets and cried.

"I can't do it!" I kept saying. "I can't do it."

Last night after sleeping on a futon next to Mom's bed, getting maybe three plus three hours of sleep, I'd come home planning to take my first bath in two days and sleep. But I decided to feed the cat first, before bathing and putting on clean clothes, and sure enough, the tube clogged and puree squirted out all over me and the cat.

At least I was wearing yesterday's clothes, but I'd had enough. In a burst of energy, I decided to take the cat to the vet before my bath and nap, in order to get that damn feeding tube out. The vet said the tube would be in two weeks at most, and today was the day. If the cat could just go outside during the day and eat its own food, things would be better. Tube feeding a cat while watching Mom starve to death is too much.

But the vet refused to remove the tube. "We have to wean her off the puree," she said, writing down a detailed seven-day plan for the cat's feeding.

I left cursing the cat, drove home, ate a bowl of oatmeal, and took my bath. I called and got an appointment with the nurse practitioner to see her and get the antibiotic extended for the bronchitis/sinusitis I've not quite beaten.

Before rushing out the door to that appointment, I dove into the linen closet for a set of matching sheets. I would not have visited at 4 pm, except that I needed to take a letter to Mom's residence informing them that we would not be renting Mom's room in May. I was worried that each day I delayed would cost us $230 (Mom pays $7000 per month for room, board, and care).

When I delivered the note, however, the office manager told me that 30-day notice wasn't needed in the case of death. "When were you going to tell me this?" I felt like asking.

Anyway, I was dismayed to discover that the cat for whom we have been doing twice-daily feedings and paying exorbitant vet bills had decided to pee all over the linens on the floor. She's been using her litter box pretty well until today; I guess those fresh sheets were just too much of a temptation.

After my pity party, I got up and took my smoothie upstairs to sit down at the computer.

I also set the table for John so he could eat his shrimp and leave me in peace upstairs. When he got home, I used the excuse of grading papers to avoid our usual dinner-time conversation. I didn't feel up to telling him about the cat or my mother, and I knew he'd need support for his difficult day. (Today the Pulitzer Prizes were announced but the LA Times didn't win any. Also the Times had had to print today a lengthy retraction of its Tupac Shakur story two weeks ago--about the worst thing that can happen in journalism.)

I'd like to cancel my class for tomorrow morning, but some students drive an hour or two in order to get to campus. They wouldn't find out until they arrived at the classroom door.

I guess I'll make an attempt to mark their weekly response papers (this time comparing the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel According to Luke) and then skim their list of three articles found for their research papers. But it's 11:30 pm, so I will just go to bed if I get sleepy.

Tomorrow's another day.


terri c said...

Sending love and prayers to you and your Mom. There is nothing that can make this easy. Wish I were there to re-launder the sheets and help grade the papers.

Anne Eggebroten said...

Thank you, Terri. How kind of you!