Thursday, September 10, 2015

Another Labor Day, another health crisis

I think Ye Olde Knights of Yore had a pretty decent idea: cover yourself top to bottom, side to side, in armor and challenge anyone to hurt you.

True, it restricted your ability to interact with your fellow humans. Sure, that was the point, in terms of bad guys. But it also meant you weren't enjoying physical touches from the ladies, or your other friends for that matter. You also were at the mercy of the people who kept you from falling over and who helped work the crane to get you up on your horse, which probably hated you and wished you'd get your fat butt off of him.

And speaking of falling over... if you did, you were screwed. I mean, falling on your knees was bad enough simply because of the effort it took to return your seat to an upright position. But if you fell on your back? Authorities might as well come and draw the white chalk “corpse” outline around your body.

I guess it wasn't so bad when you were in jousting tournaments and such. There were do-overs and second chances galore. If you were on your back, things could be halted while they got the crane out and hoisted you back up, if that's what you wanted. If you took a bad enough beating, you could simply be dragged off by your feet and fixed up to fight another day.

Yeah. So all that physical protection had its moments, but it didn't really do much for the important part, did it. Your heart and your emotions were wide open to assault and it didn't take the medieval equivalent of a can opener to get at your vital spot.

I got to thinking about this when our cat Kenzie got sick over the holiday weekend. Almost two years to the day after I found out I was sick, it became apparent something was seriously wrong with this pet who had become so dear to us.

Two years of carefully constructed top to bottom and side to side armor shattered in no time. This time, I did ask why us? Why did this wonderful, warm little animal have to be sick? Isn't it enough that Sheri has type one diabetes? That I have an incurable form of cancer? That it was less than a year since we recovered enough hope after the loss of our beloved cat Samantha to try again to allow a third into our daily struggles? Evidently not, brothers and sisters. Evidently not.

Being a holiday weekend, we needed to travel about an hour to have her seen on an emergency basis. The hospital wasn't sure what was up, but gave her fluids and anti-nausea medicine and sent her home to see if that did the trick. It didn't.

I've been feeling pretty sick myself lately, so it fell to Sheri to drive even further to an emergency facility in Portland, by herself. Friends may well have been willing to go with her, but she needed to do this on her own.

The news got worse. Evidently Kenzie had been born with incomplete small intestines. That was OK, it seems, until they sort of telescoped into themselves and a portion of them became damaged enough that she had to have 16 inches removed. She stopped breathing during the operation and it was great work by the vet staff to bring her back.

Will she be OK? Will she be able to come home? We do not know. We call down there multiple times a day and, so far, she has been showing progress; small but consistent. Sheri and I have taken the hope and faith we were using for my cancer, and shifted it to Kenzie and her care. We could probably divide it up between us; there should be enough to go around. But frankly, it doesn't feel that way just now. We've managed with what we've been dealt, and I think we've managed pretty well. But this just seems like “piling on.” I know it's not, and I know Sheri and I will be back to being “strong” and “brave” and all that, but right now? Right now I don't have the energy for it, and I'm not sure Sheri does either, but you'd have to ask her yourself.

Speaking of Sheri, let me tell you two things about this latest assault on our family; things that may make clearer my claim that, despite my own health issues, I feel incredibly fortunate, like the you-know-what on earth (hint- Lou Gehrig).

When she had to take Kenzie to the first vet, an hour away, it was on one of the hottest days of the summer. One of our cars has air conditioning, but a manual transmission. The other has windows and is an automatic. Sheri decided to take the automatic because her gear shifting isn't as smooth as she would like it to be and she didn't want to keep jostling Kenzie while shifting gears. It meant she was going to be hot and uncomfortable, but there was no hesitation. She could direct air to keep Kenzie cool and she would just deal with her own discomfort.

The second thing involved a call to the vet after we were told that Kenzie was improving and was at least slightly responsive. Sheri asked the vet: “If you put your phone on speaker and put it next to her, do you think she would know we were talking to her and telling her how much we loved her?” It seems to me that someone like that should get an extra layer of protection over their heart if they're going to give it in love so freely. Doesn't seem to work that way, though.

So, here we are trying to regroup and give life another finger in the eye, rather than vice versa. And it seems that we're managing to get it done. We aren't going to be beaten, not if love has anything to do with it. Three points make a triangle and everyone knows a triangle is one of earth's toughest structures.

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere