Dedicated to my sister...

I'm going to dedicate this, my first post of 2008 to my sister.

She is going to be starting off 2008 with a difficult task. Her long time companion Missy (her cat) has been getting progressively sicker over the past month or so. After a visit to the vet in December, she was told that Missy was likely dealing with a condition called Feline Hepatic Lipidosis (a liver condition) and it is either secondary to some sort of an infection or to cancer.

The only way to diagnose it as cancer is to do an intrusive biopsy, so my sister (who is very attached to Missy) decided that she is no worse off by treating it. Since the discovery of this, she has been feeding her cat "no less than 1/3 cup of liquid/puree food total per day, and 100cc of water". This is all done via an eyedropper every 3 hours. My sister was told that if Missy did not start getting better within a week or two, than it can be assumed to be cancer. (The liver condition with the infection would typically improve in that time frame.)

It has been just under a month now, and my sister has been desperately trying to care for her Missy. She has sent me numerous e-mails about this, but this morning, she sent an email that I could tell she had a difficult time writing. She told me that since they have not seen any improvements, the decision to end Missy's suffering has been made.

I (to the best of my knowledge) do not believe my sister has ever had to have an animal euthanized. She has made the decision to be present with / for Missy when it happens. I have been there / done that. It's not easy.
I pride myself on being able to detach emotionally from many things. (Some say this is very unhealthy.) I believe my career has a lot to do with this, but that is a post for another time. Let's just say it takes a mountain (and a half) of emotion to move me. Putting down our last cat hit me pretty hard.
With that being said, I agree that she should be there "for Missy" (and for herself). Based on how attached she is to Missy, I believe this will be a very difficult task for her.

What does an (adult) big brother tell his (adult) little sister when she is so obviously in pain. When we were younger, helping her with difficult times was easy.
I can think of one instance where a classmate relentlessly harassed her. I heard all about what she was going through, and the steps she had taken to stop it ("legitimately" through the school staff). When that failed, and faced with the pain and tears of my sister - I took it upon myself to "take care" of the situation in "my own way". I helped this classmate "understand" what he was doing was "wrong" and that continued harassment would result in further "involvement" on my part. This classmate got back up, dusted himself off, and threatened to have a friend take care of me in the same manner (I think the exact words were "kick the shit" out of me). After a couple of threats of retaliation by his friends, I heard nothing more from this classmate or his posse of "shit kickers". To the best of my knowledge there was no further harassment towards my sister either.
If only I could help my sister the way I did back in high school. Like I said, back then - it was easy. Nowadays, we are both grown adults. My sister has become a very accomplished woman (more energetic, enthusiastic, and capable then I can be). We live a thousand miles apart - and both have very busy lives that keep us less "in touch" with each other as we should. But that does not change the love that I hold in my heart for her. Seeing her in pain, and not being able to do anything to help hurts me.

So, I do what I can. I am reassuring. I have told her what she is doing is the right thing. That every living thing has it's "time", and I try to soothe a little bit of her pain with words. Words that are based in logic, and reasoning - but as she has told me - "Yea, the brain knows all those things, but the heart can't quite get it yet. I just can't seem to stop crying."

I can use the power of my words here to share with my sister (and the rest of the world) that which I am not very good at sharing in person. I can tell her that her stoic, (at times) emotionless giant of a big brother is feeling for her, and trying his best (across the miles, and through our busy schedules) to help her through this difficult time. To let her know that she is in my thoughts, and prayers - and that (even though I am a thousand miles away, and sometimes too busy to even stop and poop - (which combined with a case of Parcopresis - is not an easy thing to deal with)) I will do what I can to be there for her.

So, please feel free to share any kind words, thoughts, or experience you may have so that I can pass along to my sister to help her out. It's the least I can do for her.

3 comments:

  1. Bro,

    What can I say, I have the most amazing brother in the whole world. Your words DO help me. Knowing I have you to lean on means the world to me. I won't let the whole world know that inside this big boy is a a heart as mushy as bowl full of jello. Expect a blog page for Missy :)

    sis

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  2. What a tough situation for your sister. My heart and prayers go out to her and Missy.

    I have not (yet) been faced with this situation. Hubby and I have discussed what our limits would be for Liberty (family poodle of 13 years). Yes, we'd take out a loan if required but we also want to be realistic about her pain and suffering.

    Then there is my sister and brother-n-law.... Many tears were shed by our entire family for their dear "Chuck" - her choc. lab of 15 years. Chuck fell ill and needed special care for months. The time came when no further treatment could help him. He was in pain. My brother-n-law was with him in the end. In a way he said it was closure for him but
    yet, the hardest choice he ever made. He knew that Chuck would be in a better place running with friends and chasing his chewed up tennis ball.

    I am sure (by the sounds of your post) that Missy knows how much she is loved.

    Again, my prayers go out to your sister. My words to her would be .....
    Stay strong, you've done an exceptional job with Missy and she knows. Prayers being sent your way.

    *sorry for the long comment. I am such an animal lover myself - God Bless!

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  3. It is always a sad time when you must say goodbye.
    Speaking from experience - as if going through this gets any easier - you have to put aside your feelings and do what is best for your friend.
    I cried several times a day for a week straight after putting down my dog.
    It came as a surprise, although it may have been for the best, as she didn't suffer.
    The guilt feelings are still difficult to put away.
    One should try and rationalize, I guess, but those feelings and thoughts will rear their ugly head once and a while, less often now.
    Healing takes time. But one does
    heal.
    Yes, it was only three months and we had another dog. This after saying that I never wanted to go through the past several months ever agin.
    Our pet friends and family are gifts - we have to give them back after too short a time.

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