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Waitress, May I Please Have a Syringe of Water?


As most of you know, Houdini is struggling with Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the tongue.  You can read his story here: Houdini The Court Jester .  Two weekends ago, he stopped eating.  Rather, he wanted to eat but his tongue no longer allowed him to lap food or water.  One day he could, the next he couldn’t.  Instead he began pawing at his food and water bowls, became dehydrated and lethargic.  Saddened by the fact that the time had come but adamant I wouldn’t put him through suffering, I contacted a travelling vet with the intention of having her come to the house and help him onto the next life.  An appointment was made and we discussed giving him fluids intravenously in the interim.  I tried, he squirmed, it was a mess. Then a lightbulb went off and I attempted water orally with a needleless syringe.  He lapped it readily.  Maybe it would work with food?  I tried.  It did.  I cancelled his appointment.  Now he takes all his meals and water in the kitchen sink.

An internal debate with conflicting views is a part of my daily life now.  Yes, he is eating and drinking again…as much has he used to eat and drink before he even got cancer but he is not able to eat and drink on his own.  He must rely on me and a syringe and as his friend, I change my routine to make sure I am there to accommodate him.  Is what I’m doing right?  Am I prolonging his misery to selfishly keep him here?  I ask this of myself every day.

The travelling vet responded to my moral dilemma with “If you were forcing him to eat and drink and fighting with him every time, then I would suggest that you rethink the measures you are taking.  However, if he is happily and readily eating and drinking with the help of a syringe and he’s having more good days than bad, then go for it…why not?  A friend told me to look to Houdini for my answers as he is the only one who can truly make the decision and will let me know when it’s time.  And I do believe that.  All of the other animals I’ve had the pleasure of accompanying me through life’s journey, had communicated their need to move on quite clearly.  So I’ll wait for Houdini to do the same.  And if there’s one thing he’s telling me now, it’s that he is absolutely not ready to move on yet.  Instead, he continues to live up to his name.  He’s back to meowing me awake in the morning, running under the dogs to get outside (where he’s now allowed hours of supervised exploration or lying in the sun) and being his old, talkative self.  He’s used his intelligence to train me rather nicely when he’s in need of food or water.  A cat like no other cat I know.  One who happily adjusted his way of eating and drinking in order to get what he needs.  While he certainly has his bad days, there’s no denying that, his good days outnumber them.    If I happen to not see him sitting in the sink waiting, he scratches at the stainless steel and that, I can hear anywhere in the house.  “Um, excuse me, waitress, may I please have a syringe of water?”  Houdini, you’re one brilliant baby.

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