Forever. When we adopted Iris she was estimated to be 8ish. So, we knew she was older, but we knew she still had a lot of great years left in her. We had no illusions about mortality, but she'd already wormed her way into our hearts so quickly that we knew she would always have a place in them, always be immortalized there. She will.
Over the past nine months, Iris (now 13ish)has kept up her appetite, but lost significant weight. On Sunday, we found her straining to eliminate. We called the vet. Yesterday the vet came. Iris is anemic and, though she is still drinking like she always has, she is dehydrated. After struggling to find a vein, the vet took blood to test for kidney disease, thyroid issues, diabetes, etc. Upon physical examination, the vet found what she believes to be a large irregular tumor growing on Iris' bladder. Most likely, Iris has bladder cancer (rare in cats). While we wait for test results and an appointment with the ultrasonographer, we are giving Iris 1/4 of a pill every day to reduce inflammation and feeding her copious amounts of protein, even letting her lick chunks of butter off our fingers. It seems that whatever she will eat, we must feed her because the cancer is hungry so when she eats, the cancer is fed first and the reason she is so skinny is because she has been living off fat stores and muscle, etc. So, we feed her and love her and cuddle her and spoil her even more than we already have been and we cherish every day even more. Iris will be gone soon, but forever in our hearts.
We have talked about what measures we are willing to take in the coming months, once we get the diagnosis. They will be minimal. We don't want her to be in pain. We don't want to keep her here just for us. Painful though it will be, we are prepared to let her go. At first, part of me was o.k. with giving her pills every day and keeping her comfortable until the time comes. After holding her and forcing a pill down her throat this morning, I changed my mind. I don't want her to go through that every morning with multiple pills. I don't want to be the lady who tortures her every day just to keep her here. It is better to let her go.
We are waiting for the results of the blood test. We are waiting to confirm the tumor by ultrasound. We are working through acceptance of the fact that it is time to let our first baby go.
I just needed to say it all out loud. I am glad to have this safe space in which to say it. It is real. Saying it, writing it, makes it more real. It's just another step in letting it sink in and accepting it.