I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails, riding the hormonal roller coaster, and I’ve gotten into a bit of a rhythm. I’ve discovered that if I take a sleeping pill at 8 and then take a 2 hour bath, I can actually fall asleep and get through the night. That’s really what it takes. After two solid months of weeping on the shower floor at 2 in the morning, I’ve cracked it.
But because I am hard headed, I keep thinking that I won’t always need that much caretaking just to fall asleep through the hot flashes and night sweats. So I decide to skip the sleeping pill, watch an extra couple of shows, and then I’m staring at the ceiling and hating everything. And I have to just stop trying to overachieve in the hormone endurance race and just do what it takes to get through it.
During all those long nights of thrashing around and exasperated sighing and whimpering into the shower tile, my fat boy cat Gizzy has been my companion. He’s not as demonstrative as my dear departed Cheetara was, despite all my work he won’t let me snuggle him while I sleep, but he is steadfast. When I can’t lie still he perches at my feet, keeping watch. When I finally collapse he saunters up the bed, plopping himself down between me and Bear like a jealous child trying to ensure there are no future children taking his place. And when I wake up in the morning, his fluff is the first thing that greets me.
This big dumb lunk is a longhaired gorgeous persian mix. I am always trying to hold him down to comb the mats out of his fur, and yet he won’t be deterred: he thinks he’s an outdoor cat. He wants to play outside with Atti every day and typically I let him. He never ventures far, he just rolls around in the dirt and suns his belly, and when I call them to come inside they both come grudgingly. But Friday night, Gizmo didn’t come in.
There have been a couple of other times when he went on a bit of a walkabout, so I tried not to panic. We live in an area where there aren’t many places he could go and not a ton of traffic to worry about, the real threat would be from other animals and I just wasn’t going to think about that. So I tucked Atti and myself in bed and told myself we’d hear Gizzy whining for breakfast in the morning.
But he wasn’t there. We checked with the neighbors, we drove through the neighborhood, and he wasn’t there Sunday. I was calling shelters and monitoring websites and he wasn’t there Monday. By yesterday, Bear and I were trying to resign ourselves to the thought that he was gone.
Yesterday a dear friend of mine had to say goodbye to her dog after a long illness and deterioration. I could barely offer her sympathy because I was working so so hard at being in denial about Gizzy. I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t face losing my sweet fat dummy in the middle of hormone hell, but there was nothing left to try.
Then last night I asked Bear to go out to the shed to grab some scrap wood for a craft project. After a minute I heard him scream my name in a way I’d never heard before. I thought I needed to call an ambulance. But instead of some bloody stump, Bear comes in holding a ragged and shellshocked ball of white fluff.
Somehow he had gotten himself locked in the shed. And he was trapped there for three or four days. In heat that was over 90 degrees, with no food or water.
We don’t know how he did it, we don’t even go over to that side of the yard very often so it’s not like we shut him in there when we weren’t paying attention, and Atti can’t get over there so it’s not like he did it. Maybe he found some little entrance he could get into but not back out of? Maybe the wind blew the door shut? But I don’t think the door was open in the first place? It’s a total mystery.
Also a mystery? How our sweet Gizzy managed to survive four days without food or water in a sweltering shed. I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t needed that scrap wood. We never get over there, it’s nothing short of a miracle that it all worked out the way it did and Gizzy was returned to us, thinner, dehydrated, skittish, but whole.