caregiving

It’s been a rough few days, with each day feeling different…better in some ways and way challenging in others.  Fogg is doing pretty well.  She’s finally off her pain killers, though in some pain when it comes to eating.  She won’t keep the e-collars on at all.  She is biting at her stitches more, but hasn’t done real damage yet.  Overall, she seems to mostly be back to herself.  Which is great.  Because I missed her.

I think the biggest challenge lately–for both of us–is lack of sleep.  We both are exhausted, taking naps whenever we can.  The problem has been her pain killers making her hyper, which means she is big on exploration and putting herself in bad situations.  I cat-proofed my bedroom as much as I could, but there are some things I couldn’t remove by myself.  So I have to watch her like a hawk–to make sure she’s not climbing on stuff or generally getting herself dirty.  It’s been a challenge during the day–requiring a lot of attention.  I’ve kept my work calls minimal for the last two days to give us time to adjust.  Tomorrow will be my first full work day that’s normal.  I’m kinda cringing because I know she’ll need me to watch her.

At night, though, I can’t watch her–and that’s when she’s gotten into problems.  So, I’ve had to put her in a large dog crate.  It’s very comfortable, but she bitches to high Heaven every time I lock her up.  Sometimes, she doesn’t mind it.  But mostly, she cries and tries to get out.  She doesn’t seem to bite at her stitches, so I’ve left the collar off her  because she was getting too violent trying to get it off when I put her in there.   I actually bought a onesie for her to keep her little mouth off the stitches, and that went okay this morning–though she literally threw herself down, tantrum style, trying to wriggle it off.  She was not successful.  The one problem with it is, in her tantrums, she runs into things–like bowls of water and softened food.  So, I have to make sure she’s not getting her incision wet at all.  We had a close call today.  But I think it will work for the crate and might help calm her (ironically).

____

Caring for a cat recovering from surgery has been hard.  I knew it would be–but it’s hard in ways I didn’t expect.  The physical taking care of her is a challenge.  It’s a lot of adjusting, constantly, and having eyes in the back of your head.  The not sleeping well or often thing is finally getting to me.  I feel like I could sleep a week straight.  And not having my entire bed to stretch out in has not helped the leg injury.  Caring for three cats–two groups–separately has also been challenging.  I feel sad that I’ve had to ignore my boys because I simply can’t do two things at once.  They’ve been surprisingly good.  No messes.  No behavioral problems.  And Rilly comes in to calm Fogg when she’s crying in her crate.  He’s a good brother.  Monkey, on the other hand, comes in just to eat up all her food.  (Bad brother.  Oh, how the tables have turned).

I think a lack of sleep is hard on the emotions.  It makes everything feel more difficult.  I have to strategically think about how I’m going to take a shower.  I still haven’t taken out the weekend’s trash.  I haven’t checked mail.  I’m afraid to actually leave her alone.  She’d be in her crate, but she could do something to hurt herself–in that five minutes.

And we don’t know if she’s okay yet.  And won’t know for a while.  Caring for her has been a good distraction in that regard.

I think I’m weathering it well.  That wave of depression that hit me a little while ago is better.  It got better when she wasn’t as out of it as I imagined she’d be.  When my feisty, independent Fogg came back to me, I felt calmer and more steady.

Like she hadn’t turned into something else in the process of getting better.

This caregiving thing–alone–though–is getting into some difficult shit for me.  Of course, I care for these three little angels every day, all day, and have for months.  But caring for something that’s hurting or sick–demanding in its needs where it requires you sacrifice your own needs…well…it brings up the emotions from caring for my mother.  Only Fogg is getting better.

Though I studied biology in undergrad, I never wanted to be a doctor, or a nurse, or even a vet.  For a long time, though I cared deeply, I thought I didn’t have it in me to care for people in pain.  Like sometimes, even when my roommate was crying about a break-up, I’d freeze–running to get our friend to comfort her.  Because I didn’t know how.

I knew how to experience pain at arm’s length.  To keep it far enough away from me.  Because then, I could be the strong one.  And that’s how I knew to help.

I cared for my father alongside my mother until I was five.  When he’d come home covered in blood and shit and vomit–robbed and broken.  I’d help her carry him upstairs.  I’d help her put him in the shower–clean him up–put on pajamas and tuck him in.

And when she was sick, I carried her up the stairs–gave her a sponge bath–combed her hair–and brushed her teeth.  Only to carry her back down again–push the tubes into her nose and make her carefully orchestrated dinners to chase the 17 medicines due that evening.

Caring for my parents as they fell apart was so much harder than losing them.  It nearly killed me, and it’s the core reason for  so many of the traumas I still have a hard time releasing.

Today, I got it.  I got it so far down in my heart that it feels like a black hole.  I never had a choice to care or not–to go or stay–to choose who I was going to be and why I would be the one always there.  I just got the burden.  And that is why I feel like I don’t matter so damn often.

But, this time, I chose it.  Not because I had to.  Not because I should.  But because I love her, and I know I can make her better.  I know I’m better equipped to make her better.  And I want to be her person.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Lately, I keep making those choices.  Keep telling people what I want and need–even when I know they don’t care or understand.  And sometimes–like this week–people do exactly what that voice in my head says they’ll do.  They don’t care about my needs or wants.  They cross my boundaries.  They abandon me.

But this time, I just let them go.  I don’t beg them to stay.  I don’t fight to keep them.  I don’t mourn them.  I just count them among the people I don’t actually need to stay.

I think I’m healing, too.

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