I dropped Gillespie off at the vet yesterday morning for x-rays, following up on his appointment earlier in the week. The results were some good, some not-so-good: For the most part, his internal organs — what could be determined by the x-rays, anyway — were fine. But there is a mass near his liver and his bile ducts aren’t working as they should.
What is the mass? Could be nothing. Could be benign. Could be, of course, not benign. The vet would like to do an ultrasound for a more precise diagnosis, since x-rays only tell you so much.
So now comes a host of decisions. He’s 17 1/2. Would knowing make a difference? What kind of treatment would he need, and how much would it cost? Does he have 6 months? A year? More?
What is the point of diminishing returns?
Three years ago, I had to put another cat, Queenie, to sleep (as the cruel euphemism has it). Queenie was 19, but she had been suffering from kidney failure for at least 18 months. In that time she’d had a handful of seizures and had grown mildly incontinent, soiling the carpet when she couldn’t control her bowels. I was giving her IV fluids at least twice a week.
Queenie loved me (and, our joke went, only me — we called her “Queenie the Meanie” for her behavior around other people and animals), but she wasn’t grooming herself and wasn’t eating much. She was trying, but she’d lost her spark. She wasn’t … dignified. I thought I was being merciful when I finally made the call. It was, I told myself, what I would want another human being to do for me.
I hated myself for doing it anyway.
In the short term, I don’t have to do anything but give Gillespie a new prescription, one that’s supposed to promote the health of his bile ducts. I saw him grooming himself last night, so though he’s lost weight, he still cares about his health (or, at least, his fur). But time is a bastard. I hope I can make his time as easy as possible until the bell finally goes off. Whenever that may be.