This week, we had our vet out. Originally this was going to be just a long overdue check up for Zerk (who is on daily medication and special-expensive-food to help with allergy issues) (my Zerkybear does not just get itchy. He loses fur, erupts with sores, and can’t keep his food down.) He hadn’t been seen in two years because all of 2014 went to Corbie’s medical needs. Because we were using an not really extra but timing with the rent pay wise “extra” paycheck to get caught up on our utility bill since our last rounds with the vet, of course this meant that more than just Zerk suddenly needed to see Dr. Bonnie.
We’ve got the cold running through our house. Zerk and Grim have had moments of sniffles and sneezies, and Neech decided to skip breakfast one day, but Her Ladyship has been struggling to shake this thing for a week and a half. Along with some other issues that we will not discuss in public dealing with a Lady’s toilette, we decided that enough was enough. Luna does get colds; of our lot she’s got the weakest immune system. She also tends to go down hard and fast when she goes down. She has ALL the attitude in our house, so when she gets quiet we know something is Really Wrong. She hadn’t gotten quiet, so we were not yet on High Alert. We just wanted her to be seen, and to see what we could do to speed her healing along. (There is nothing so sad as a smooshed-faced critter having a sneezing fit. I love her little face but the breeding that creates such skull shape is deplorable.)
And then Corbie started coughing more. (Corbie has Congestive Heart Failure, and has been on medication since last February). Coughing is a thing to watch, because it means the heart is either having a harder time with things, or fluid (aka blood) is getting into the lungs. It is a very distinct cough, the stuff of nightmares for me. He’ll have a fit if he’s been too active or if he’s been straining at his harness, but this week he’s been having them while in bed or at rest. Not huge fits, a cough or two, but more than I like, so I wanted his heart and lungs to have a good ole listening to.
Three animals, medication refills or adjustments for two, a shot for Lu, some nail trimming, and some L-Lysine powder to help clear out the wretched cold for the cats. Thanks to a gift certificate (!!) our total was just shy of $300.
I love our vet. This is good, because we see a lot of her. When Beth and I talk about leaving Eugene, we admit freely that, if we had the money tomorrow to up and move, we wouldn’t. Not yet, not now. Wherever we end up relocating, we’re not going anywhere for the duration of Corbie’s life. This is partially because we don’t want to put him through that sort of stress, but it’s also because we are not leaving our vet. (The other “money is no factor” reason we’d choose to stay access to two amazing libraries.)
At the new year, out of curiosity’s sake, I tallied up our animal expenses. I only made it through August before getting bored with bookkeeping, and I did not record every purchase, so there’s a lot of food and litter purchases that I paid cash for and did not keep receipts for. Despite that? By August of last year we’d already spent $4k on our animals. This is without them being seen as regularly as they could be, because we’re that family with a special needs kid (Corbie) and the others get neglected because of it. *sigh* Working on that.
I haven’t been back east since we buried my Grandmother. Beth’s daughter hasn’t been out to see us since before then. We want both trips to happen in 2015, but I also am not sure how that’s even going to happen. I’ve got a dental bill to pay off, and that’s the tax refund that usually goes to plane fair. And depending on how Corb’s health goes . . . well.
I feel guilty, a lot. When we relocated out here the plan was to have visits at least once a year. That’s not been happening. The idea of skimping on the needs of my family so that I can get somewhere or so that we can have people here does not sit well with me. I miss my mother, my aunt, my brother . . . and between medical issues and more medical issues, there is no extra money to go anywhere. I’m grateful, because we always manage to have just enough, just enough . . . but it’s stressful, and it’s guilt-laden, and it’s hard. It’s hard.
After the vet visit, I nested with everyone. Luna, who was still grumpy from being handled and was sleeping off her shot. Zerk, who had been fawned over (and the look of dread on Dr. Bonnie’s face when she said, “So, he has a heart murmur,” — we knew, or, we’d been told before that he might have one. She hadn’t mentioned it before, so I wonder if it comes about when he’s stressed, because a vet back in PA mentioned it, ages ago), Corbie who had many treats, love, adoration, and more treats, and Neech and Grim, who hardly ever get to see the vet (in fact, Neech never has!) because they aren’t as needy and our resources are finite. My family, in various stages of aging, in various stages of health, in a moment that will stretch on forever, and is at the same time fleeting. I cannot imagine being anywhere else, and I have such deep gratitude for having just enough that the visit pinched, but did little more than pinch.
My family is my home. My immediate family does not look like other peoples’ immediate families. I don’t care, and I’m done wishing other people would understand. My heart breaks every day, that I haven’t seen my brother in two years, or my mother, my aunt. I miss them, and I’d love to sit down and visit with them in person. But it’ the smell of Zerk’s fur as he rubs his face against mine, his arms hugging either side of my neck. It’s the press of Corbie against my back at night, and his snoring that has me wearing earplugs. It’s Lu’s gravelly, loud, opinionated conversational meows and the game we play of meeting eye contact and talking. It’s the thunder of Neech as he hauls ass from one end of the house to the other, diving into his fort, and yowling at the top of his lungs. It’s Grim with his earnest expressions and his cries for food because he’s staaaaaaaaaaaaaarving when I just fed him two hours ago. It’s even Beth with her chattering at me first thing in the morning — but don’t tell her that, or she’ll never take my gimlet glare seriously again!
It’s my gods, too — Poseidon being present in my mind and my heart every moment, even when I’m cleaning the cat box or wiping up puddles of pee (diuretic, you know) or grocery shopping or showering. Pops too, whose presence helps tremendously as we face the trials ahead. Shrines are not necessary, but having them, glancing over and seeing them, having a physical representation of the center of our lives . . . it’s a huge help, a great tool. Our gods are oh so patient and supportive when it comes to our focusing so much time, energy, and money on our critters. Way, waaaay back when, when I first married Poseidon and I’d set aside a day to spend time with just Him, it often included snuggling on the couch with a book and Angel. So time spent with just Him has always included just Him and this animal or that animal. And, truly, I know that my not quite normal hierarchy of family is part of what allows He and I to have such common ground.
My immediate family does not look like yours. I have a Husband, but not i the way most recognize. I have a partner, but it’s again not what most would think. I have no children (even if Neech thinks I’m his mom, thanks to hand rearing beginning at four weeks of age), but I have a host of dependents who I have, and will, sacrifice time and comfort for. These people — Beth, Odin, Poseidon, yes, but Corbie and Neech, Luna and Zerk and Grim — this is home. They make up the sanctuary that is home more than four walls ever could, and I love them all so very much.