Last year at this time, I had a surprise gall bladder attack! I’d never mention that to the general public except that my household of cats truly helped ease my fears and pain by each being their quiet, compassionate selves.
I know there are people who think their pets are cute mindless little critters with no manner of expressing emotions and compassion who like us because we feed them, but I have never been one of those. From my relationship with my first cat way back in the dark ages, I knew she cared for me even though she was barely anything you’d call affectionate, in her manner of affection, in her expressions, and simply intuitively.
I happen to live with the seven most loving cats in the world. Okay, I know we could argue about this all day because, really, each of our pets is the most loving—each to their own people.
But I would strongly argue for my current household. We never know how much they care for us until the need arises to show it, like a minor medical emergency.
Despite all my plans for work to get done, photos to post on The Creative Cat and Today, art to be completed, my continuing studio reorganization, I began a gall bladder attack in the early afternoon that worsened through the day until evening when I actually had to go to the emergency room. This had never happened to me before, but it runs in the family.
I am lucky, I have never even had a cavity, no broken bones, only minor stitches in my leg a few years ago but never anything serious or internal. But my lack of experience made it difficult for me to understand that this wasn’t just some gastric upset, it was a serious condition. I apparently needed some guidance.
Despite the urging of the Big Four, I never lie down for a nap in the middle of the day, but I found myself on the bed trying to rest until the pain went away, surrounded by the ministrations of four large black cats and one little tortie. Giuseppe rubbed his face against mine then stretched out along my body—I swear he’s almost as long as me from his nose to his tail. Mr. Sunshine pressed his face under my hands to open my clenched fists and gently chewed on my fingers, not minding when I squeezed him now and then. Mewsette offered a deep massage in exactly the spot where I had the most pain. Jelly Bean marched around me and sat on my pillow, emitting his most fervent healing purr, the one that vibrates the bed. All of them purred in unison, despite my acrobatics in trying to find a good position, and accompanied me to the bathroom when I needed to…expel the demons, you know what I mean.
I felt a little better, got up and went downstairs, and Mimi stood in front of me at the computer, talking and headbutting me, not letting me work. Admittedly, I’d been walking bent over with my arm at my abdomen and was likely grimacing, but I don’t think she needed the dramatics to figure things out. She is, after all, a mom. She made her point as I decided I’d just get some ginger ale and go back to bed.
In the kitchen, Kelly wore her most concerned look, talking non-stop and gently touching me with one paw. Cookie looked at me, assessing the situation, and when I went back upstairs she followed and laid on top of me, the four black cats surrounding me once again.
When the pain reached an unbearable level, they all accompanied me to the phone as I called my sister, understood the disappointing bowls of dry food for their dinner, and simply waited for me to return.
After all my tests and the pain had passed naturally, I saw at least three silhouettes in the front window as my sister dropped me off. Nearly all came to greet me, from upstairs, from the basement, from my office, following me into the kitchen.
Cookie was there, in a deep sleep, and I was immediately concerned about her because even when I awoke her she seemed lethargic where earlier she had been truly enjoying her day, messing up files on my computer, slipping out the door, trying to steal my food. I felt well enough to drive to emergency, but what was the cause?
Through most of our lives together, Cookie has been my best friend, my lady in waiting, my companion who absorbs both the good and bad from me, sharing my joy and easing my grief. I could always see in her expressive eyes that her emotions were flowing with mine and by her quiet presence with me anywhere in the house that I was indeed her responsibility.
When she was younger she simply took it in stride. Now that she is 19, though, things are different. I noticed last year when we lost Peaches, Cookie truly slowed down with her own grief and mine, slept extra and seemed a little lethargic, and while the appetite of the orphaned and starved kitten had always been legendary, it now waned. I worried, fed her special canned food and even baby food, gave her a few doses of sub-q fluids until she began to feel and look like herself again.
Then came the process of losing my mother, and as I intuited that my mother’s passing was imminent and simply became scattered and confused, Cookie followed me around, constantly making eye contact and touching me in reassurance, truly grounding me in my daily activities. This took a toll on her as well when, right around my mother’s death, again I needed to give her special foods, fluids, and added a few reiki treatments to get her energy back in line.
In between this, we’ve diagnosed her with hyperthyroidism and been working to normalize her medication, and in addition to that she’s developed a little heart condition.
So I must have really worn her out yesterday with my flailing around and moaning. She’s fine today, as am I. I can’t hide anything from her, and things always happen, so I guess I’ll just have to keep an eye on Cookie the next time around. Small price to pay for a lifetime of loving vigilance.
I must be a real basket case to need seven good cats to take care of me. I couldn’t hope to be in better paws.
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