update on alex

Alex and I saw the vet this morning. A different doctor was on duty today than the one who treated him for a respiratory infection several years ago; both are women, and both have a terrific tableside manner. I was surprised at just how well Alex behaved, given the many more indignities and needle pricks he had to endure this time around, and given how frightening it must be for him to be at the vet’s. The only time I really heard him in more serious emotional distress was when they took him out of the examining room, where I was able to be with him, to another room to draw blood and try to shave some fur off his neck to examine a small bump there. I could hear him yowling then, and the doctor told me later it was before they’d even stuck him; that it was just the process of trying to get him to lift his neck to be shaved. I’ve always noticed that he doesn’t particularly like having his neck stroked, something that other cats of my acquaintance have almost universally enjoyed.

An hour later and $370 poorer, I really didn’t know much more than when we went in. The doctor believes that Alex probably has lost all or nearly all of his vision in the one eye, and she agrees that it might be glaucoma but isn’t sure, and since she doesn’t know what the underlying factor might be–there was never any trauma to the eye that I observed–we have to try to figure out if there’s something more serious going on that might endanger the other eye or his life. She drew blood to test for feline AIDS, leukemia and other cancers, and she hopes to have the test results sometime tomorrow. She also looked at the little bump on his neck that I had at first taken to be a tick, and then thought was just a scab; she thinks it’s actually a tumor of some sort, and because it’s pigmented, this worries her. It’s too small for her to aspirate or biopsy, so she wants to have it removed, but she’s going to wait until we find out what else might be needed, so if we have to do any surgery(ies), we can do it all at once. She also found a lump at his tail, that she thinks might just be a fatty cyst, but she aspirated it and will get a cytology report on it. She gave me ointment to put in his eye twice a day, and I also have to make an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist, who is down in Springfield–Alex is unhappy enough in his carrier the two blocks to the vet; I’m not looking forward to driving with him the half-hour to Springfield. It’s also very interesting to me that I have to take him there, given that one of my dreams last night had my car breaking down in Springfield.

So… until the specialist sees him and the bloodwork is back, I don’t know what will be needed next, but we’re there may be surgery needed–and probably expenses in the four-figure range, given it was nearly $400 just for the initial examination and laboratory work today–for several things: the eye, the small tumor on the neck, and the cyst on his rump. I’m already feeling a ton of guilt about not having taken him in sooner or more regularly, and now I’ve got a bunch of other emotion building up… it’s like there’s a floodgate holding it in check right now, but I can feel it back there. I’m tasting some acid in the back of my throat, too, so it appears that the stress is bringing back some of the reflux.

But there’s also a detachment, to some degree. After all the things my family has been through in the past two years–dad’s kidney disease and coming very close to death, my cousin’s addiction to pain killers, my aunt’s divorce, my sister and brother-in-law’s car accident, my grandmother’s continuing decline into Alzheimer’s, and my 10-month unemployment–I feel, not numb, precisely, but inured to the less pleasant events in my life. The worst thing, perhaps, is that I sometimes find myself no longer waiting for or expecting positive change (though, to be fair, there have been some positive moments, especially dad getting a kidney two weeks before I was scheduled to donate one of mine). A string of tails in a series of coin flips might seem odd, but of course it’s no more or less likely than any other set of results. My infinite number of monkeys just seems to be churning out Sylvia Plath instead of Shakespeare these days.