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Monday, August 6, 2012

Stressful Times


I recently had a couple of people write to me and tell me how stressed and overwhelmed they are with their sick kitties. This made me revisit that feeling; not that I’d ever forgotten it. I really never had much of a break after Alex died. I ended up caring for my one of my sister’s cats, Moufasa. He’s passed now and I care for the other one, Midnight. She’s elderly and has her own health issues that make it difficult and different to deal with from one day to the next. We’re pretty sure she’s got a form of IBD, along with kidney and bladder issues. Moufasa was also thought to have IBD but his was much easier controlled with diet than Midnight’s is.

It’s not easy guessing all the time what’s going on; what exactly sets them off or how to stop it. We love these creatures with all of our hearts but let’s face it; it’s daunting caring for them when they’re sick. They can’t tell us what hurts and how badly, they can only give us signs. Too often I see people in forums ignoring those signs. When you’ve cared for them long enough you get used to it. And what might seem like a small thing to the untrained eye, is really an alarm going off telling us to pay attention.

It’s a roller coaster and the truth is that you want the ride to stop. You just want things to be good for awhile, to stay on an even keel. Which means you can’t go on vacation or leave for any extended period of time. You have to be there at specific times every single day to give them structure with their medications and food or it will all hit the fan. In short, you have to make more of a commitment then you ever imagined you would. And it’s not that you mind that, you don’t; because your love for this baby is so deep and pure. But you’re exhausted, throwing out food, running out of money, losing sleep and forgetting about you. This is now the new normal and you feel guilty if you leave the house and something happens that makes you run late. You need to rush back and feed them knowing if they go too long without food, you’ll return home to vomit.

You know that awful sound, the sound of your pet vomiting. The second you hear it you jump out of bed and rush to them as if you weren’t ever asleep in the first place. The worry starts all over again and you feel like pulling all of your hair out. I can’t tell you how many times I sat on the floor crying, begging Alex to “please just eat!” Taking care of her was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever had to do. When she passed away I slept for a week and did hardly anything else. I was so distraught and exhausted my family and boyfriend had to make sure I ate at every mealtime. At the time, I didn’t care. After everything I went through with her I felt cheated and robbed. Then I felt guilty and panicked, like it must have been something I did and that’s why she died. Those feelings were there from the time she got sick and some of those feelings have never really gone away completely, not even now. It was a nightmare and one that I know so many people share right now or have shared. You feel like there has to be a reason your baby got sick and it must be something you did or didn’t do right. Blame is all you have that you can control, but blame isn’t going to change anything. They are still sick and need you to do it all.

I don’t have any new words of wisdom other than what I’ve already written on two of my pages from my site: http://www.ibdkitties.net/Caregiver.html, http://www.ibdkitties.net/Grieving.html. But I felt I needed to write a little something in addition to let others know that you are not alone in how you feel. Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty because you are tired of what’s happening. It’s a normal feeling, it really is. This is something all consuming and for however many years you have your baby with you, (hopefully many more than I did), things will never be the same. This is not meant to be doom and gloom, just that the words “I get it” can make all the difference. Remember that a little vomit sometimes is just that…a little vomit. Those setbacks can most often times be small ones and you can get through it, both of you. And when there are good days, oh those wonderful good days, cherish those and enjoy them! Try and let those good days be more important than the bad ones. Try and take care of you. Work it in the best that you can whenever you can and seize the opportunities. You’re in it for the long haul and knowing that ahead of time may help you understand how important those times for yourself can really be. 

12 comments:

Tigger Tales said...

Thank you for writing this piece. It helps to know that someone else understands. It's been over four years since I started caring for my sick babies, one of whom journeyed to the Bridge in 2010 and the other who is still with me. Both had/have chronic diseases.

Love and hugs!

Brenda said...

Thanks for your words of encouragement. It helps us keep a positive attitude. Many days can be a struggle and we know it is all worth it!

Purrs,
Dexter, Sigmund, and Brenda

IBDKitties said...

You're both welcome. And it is VERY much worth it. It's very difficult but worth every second. Love you guys!

Kristi said...

Wonderful entry Lisa! You put into words what so many of us have felt and are currently feeling. I have been without my Sally Maria for 10 months now. It wasn't until after we let her go that I realized how much I had been doing for her and for how long. When you're in the moment, you do everything you can for them. You don't go anywhere, or do anything. Your wants and needs go on the back burner because they need meds or a vet visit or special food again. One of the most stressful things that came up when I was pregnant was who was going to take care of the four footers when I was giving birth. But you do it because you love them and they are relying on you to make their quality of life as good as it can be. But, one of the things people with chronically ill pets aren't prepared for is the loneliness and feelings of isolation. Other people, even those with pets, just don't understand WHY you do what you do, WHY you put yourself through the pain and wonder and worry. It was one of the best feelings of my life to find acceptance and encouragement and support from others who were navigating the same path as I was. We don't do this for the accolades, for the "way to go" and the pats on the back. We do it because we love them. Simple as that. And when I look back on the 16+ years I spent with Sally Maria, all the time, care, money stress, worry and heartache, you know what I find? I wouldn't change one single moment.

Love, hugs & purrs,
Kristi & Sally Maria Angel

da tabbies o trout towne said...

nice article Lisa as it puts a "human" side to this situation and sadly, we've all been down this road...laura

IBDKitties said...

Thank you both. I'm always so nervous about a new entry but I felt close to this one especially. I could feel the frustrations from the ones writing to me and felt it was time to say they weren't alone.

pcat said...

You are so right Lisa, thank you! with my Tallulah I was always so worried to leave her and I always rushed home to be with her and make sure she was OK and got her food. Now I am faced with Xena and her CRF, thankfully she is doing well now, but I still worry when I am gone, I now that eventually I will once again be faced with giving her the fluids more often, medication and pleading with her to eat. I do feel like I always need to be home to care for her now, but knowing too that there are others who understand and I need to take care of me is important.

Again thank you for all you do and reminding us we are not alone and we need to take care of ourselves.

pcat said...

Thank you Lisa for reminding us that we do need to take care of ourselves and there is always support! Having gone through Tallulah's cancer was so very hard and it took a lot out of me, I was afraid to leave the house, always worried when i wasn't with her to make sure she was eating and getting her medication. Now once again I am doing the same thing with Xena who has CRF, I know I will be faced with having to be home more and I will worry even more when she gets worse...I pray everyday that she will continue to do well. I remind myself too that I need to do for me once in a while which can be hard to do.

Thank you again for all that you do and for this message to us..

Timmy Tomcat said...

Lisa. I see you have done a wonderful job of getting to the heart of the stress of care giving a loved fur. Thankfully my crew are all healthy at the moment not to say they do not worry me from time to time.
Keep up the great works.
Pete (Timmy's Pop)

IBDKitties said...

Pete, thank you so much. We've all had to care for a sick kitty at one time and they do really worry us a lot. So glad you're home cooked meals are helping your babies, that's so important!

Jeannine said...

As always, you have written this with such simplicity, feelings, and with the overwhelming knowledge you have firsthand. I so remember when Romeo was still with me and first diagnosed, I first went through the why questions, then the blame, then research and always the blame over and over. All of the research that I did even up until the day he passed on and the stress and no sleep took its toll on me for sure. I worked a very stressful job at the time but I was always at home on time to take care of my baby. I tried very hard to not stress around him because I knew that he would feel this. My world revolved around him and all I wanted to do was make him better even if it was temporary. The good days I cherished and they were victories. I do miss my baby a lot. I think of him and sometimes the "what did I do wrong" thoughts pop into my head. I wish I could have made it all better but I know that I could not. Even with him not being here, I am glad that he is no longer suffering. He is free now and I know that I will see him again to spend eternity together.

Thanks Lisa for all that you do!!

IBDKitties said...

Thank you Jeannine, I knew you would like this blog. I think we've all been there at that point where we don't know where we'll find the energy or strength anymore. But when you have a sick little one, you just somehow find it. Romeo was a lucky little boy.