Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Heartbreak - Losing Theo, Losing Purpose

"“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, ..."
Matthew 25:31-46

Theo passed away early yesterday morning, about 4:15 AM.  I was up with him all night.

He had been sick for the last 4 months or so.  At first they thought it was a kidney trauma, but a new vet recently diagnosed it as diabetes.  Perhaps if I had found that out sooner I could have done more.  I have never had a diabetic cat before, it was all new to me. 

It's a problem when you owe the vet money to get care. Sometimes they won't serve your animals anymore, or at least are very discouraging when you call them, preferring to give you phone advice than having you come in and run up more bills.  So I get a lot of phone advice.

But that also causes me to run around seeking new vets and sometimes I end up finding gems.  The new vet who helped Theo is a gem. 

But that is not what this post is about.  It's about the spirit of desolation you can experience after a loss, especially if it is a person or animal who has been sick for a time and you have been caring for them every hour on the hour.  Like the female octopus blowing on her eggs to keep them afloat, you find you cannot afford to look away or think of yourself or your own tiredness or needs for a moment or you lose ground.  And as important and overwhelming as your own needs appear to be, when you succumb to them and turn away from your convalescent you always find they didn't matter as much as the ground you lost with your loved one.

And when you wake up everyday to his or her needs, and suddenly they are gone, you face a horrible emptiness without them.  It gives you purpose.  It gives you something more important than yourself to think about when they are foremost on your mind. 

I once had a dog who became paralyzed.  He was in wheelchair the last year of his life.   He needed round the clock care.  When he died the silence and the emptiness was overwhelming.  I found this article on the Internet about this very subject, here is a portion:

"Caregiver Syndrome"

For those of us who are caregivers for a terminally ill or other special-needs pet, their death is a loss that can hit us doubly hard. I had a difficult time understanding why I was so devastated by Major Barbara's death, until one day when I was in conversation with close friend who is a former AIDS hospice volunteer and a minister. I told him about the extremely difficult time I was having coming to grips with her loss - far more difficult than I'd had when I'd lost friends and family members in the past - and asked him "What's wrong with me? Am I crazy?" His response: "You have Caregiver Syndrome, and what you are experiencing is completely normal".

In a nutshell, Caregiver Syndrome is something that is a familiar concept in the AIDS hospice circles. Caregiver Syndrome happens when a person's life becomes consumed with taking care of another person (or, in this case, a companion animal). We devote huge amounts of time, energy and attention to our sick pets, and when the pet dies, we are left not only with the "normal" grief of the loss of a loved one, but also the gaping hole left because we are suddenly bereft of that which has been such an all-consuming focus of our attention for so long. A friend of mine who was a caregiver to an AIDS patient expressed it this way: "I don't know what to do with myself anymore. My whole world revolved around taking care of him, and now he's gone." We become so wrapped up in our roles as caregivers, that when the object of our care is no longer there, we find ourselves literally having to re-assess and even re-invent our lives. Doing this takes time, patience and work.

The spirit of desolation can be overwhelming.  It is tempting to succumb to it, especially if you are alone, have no one to talk to, or feel no one close to you understands what you are going through.  Sometimes people, to fight their uncomfortable feeling with the subject of sickness and death, are too quick to minimize your pain and loss, which can isolate you even more.

The spirit of desolation can make you angry, resentful, self -righteous, insecure, hopeless.  God feels far away.  We have to fight it.

I feel Theo's loss terribly.  Meanwhile a neighbourhood cat, beautiful Rainbow, has shown up with her litter of kittens.  It appears her front leg is injured.  Is it broken?  She brought the kittens to the food bowl and left.  The last time I saw her she was hiding in the bushes across the way. 

At the park this morning I saw one of the youngest females, Pansy, a kitten herself, with her recent litter.  She had brought them to the water bowl.  Small and sickly, I wondered if they would make it.  I found her sister Anemone in the road, killed by a car right after I found Pookie.  Anemone had been pregnant, too.  I don't know if she had already had her litter when she was killed. 

This afternoon I noticed Solo's front paw is swollen and painful again.  The last time she had this problem she had to be administered a course of prednisone.  She will need to go back to the vet. 

The needs will be never ending, this much is clear.  Theo is gone but others rise up so to speak to take his place in their need.  I want to help them all.  The vet told me this afternoon when I called him to let him know Theo had passed, "You can't save them all."

"I know," I said, "But we have to try." 

I met an elderly Cypriot lady in the grocery store.  She was loading up on cat food like me.  She came and whispered to me, because she said people get mad in Cyprus when you spend money on animals. so she wanted to be quiet.  She told me a story of how a mother cat she was feeding took a piece of ham she put out and took it straight away to where her kittens were hiding, and set it down before them so they could eat.  She said, "You see, they are like us."

God Bless that woman.  She lived with her brother she said.  She said he payed for all the cat food.  I will probably never see her again.  I wondered if she was an angel.

The mother looks after her young.  When she knows she is in trouble she makes sure to bring her young to where they will be cared for, like Rainbow did.  Like we do. 

Look at the octopus. Look at God's great design. We are all created in His image, all His creatures, more alike in our needs and ways to the animals than different.

"...they are like us."

God is coming at us every minute.  Are we too busy, is it too painful to listen?

"You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them."
Ezekiel 34:3-4

I will share some memories of my beloved Theo with you in the next post. 

Thank you, Theo. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Needed Now

Your help is needed!

These three kittens followed me and my dog, Muji, home from a walk!  They need vaccinations and deworming.

I have twelve kittens that need to be vaccinated and it is time to spay Twigs and neuter Milton, past time!

It's past time to spay Twigs!  All her kittens (5 in total) need vaccinations.

Milton, trapped and relocated from the local Orphanides,  needs neutering...it's time!

I have a new arrangement with a vet in Larnaca where I can spay a female for 50 euro, and neuter a male for 20 euro.  This is good.

But, I need help! I can't do this alone!

I found these three tiny kittens in the middle of the road in front of the park, next to their two littermates who had been killed by traffic.  They need medical attention and vaccinations.

There are many more cats at my house and at the feeding stations who need altering.

I also need food, adult kibble and cans, kidney support cans, kitten food, kibble and cans, and baby cat kibble.

Please I need donations of bags of kibble, I go through 100 kilos a week

I need donations of cat food tins, I go through 70-80 weekly

Also needed are stronghold applications for fleas, ticks, and earmites. 

Dewormer medications and pastes are needed. 

This sole sick kitten was brought to me with a bad respiratory infection, he needs veterinary attention.

Fleece blankets.

Large plastic bowls.


A food processor.

I have been cooking pig's liver for the cats as it is nutritious and inexpensive.  But I need a food processor to mix it all up.  It is impossible to do any chopping on my kitchen countertop with so many eager assistants. 

I also need a vet who will volunteer some time to come out and help me on a regular basis. 

I need Dettol.  Lots and lots of Dettol disinfectant in the form of bottles, aerosol sprays, non-aerosol spray cleaners, and any other form they make.

I need clumping cat litter.  It has to be clumping because one cat, Swatchee, is partially paralyzed and he still has his limb.  If I use the heavy litter his foot starts to bleed and then gets infected.

My cat litter experiments should get their own post because they are legion. 

Please help me. 

PS  And homes.  I always need good homes for these babies.  Won't you help? 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Caring for the Sick

God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.
~Mother Teresa

I am overwhelmed now with sick kittens.  I have twelve kittens here now, several of whom are sick, one who is close to death.  I have barely enough money to feed these cats, much less get them the veterinary care they need.  I wonder at times like this what I am doing, if I am helping, and I am tempted to feel hopeless. 

I am saddened by the people, the so called animal lovers here,  who have never offered me any help.  I have received criticism, advice, requests for money (vets), warnings, chidings, admiration, but as I was reminded in a dream the other night, not one person has asked what they could do to help. 

No one wants to get involved.

Why?  This work requires sacrifice.  It requires facing your failures, facing death, and not being able to live the way you want, and do the things you want, when you want.  

At times like this I look desperately for inspiration, hope, energy, and after exhausting the meager crumbs the world has to offer, I turn again to God, and I am reminded of the truth. 

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.
~Mother Teresa