Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Art of Suffering

Of late, I have been busy and preoccupied with one of my cats, Checkers. Shortly after I returned from India, I decided to keep him fully indoors because he was injured again. He had been bitten and hurt just too many times by the neighbourhood tomcat which we nicknamed Dorina. Having been giving many cycles of antibiotics and even surgery for his injuries, enough was enough.

After two weeks in the house, he was visiting the litter tray very frequently, straining to pee. One evening, after a long day at work,  I came home to find him vomiting and terribly sick. An emergency case, we rushed him to a vet at 10.30 pm,  where he was diagnosed with FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Disease, cathetherised and warded. After a week long stay, he came home, 1 kg lighter and dehydrated. I brought him to my regular vet. who was surprised thatt my cat had been cathetherised without a drip. Sigh. I was told to force feed him daily to help him gain weight.  He seemed to be improving but relapsed a week after his course of antibiotics finished.

He is now still hospitalised. I feel pressured to make a decision as to whether to put him under the knife. Urethral obstruction—when the cat's urethra becomes partly or totally blocked—is a potentially life-threatening condition and one of the most serious results of FLUTD. When the urethra is completely blocked, the kidneys are no longer able to remove toxins from the blood and maintain a proper balance of fluids and electrolytes in the body. If the obstruction is not relieved, the cat will eventually lose consciousness and die. A surgery called perineal urethrosomy (PU) addresses that problem. The surgery involves removing much of the penis and the narrow portion of the urethra, thus making a new and wider opening to relieve obstruction. Side effects of surgery can include bleeding for up to ten days after surgery, narrowing at the surgical site, urinary incontinence, and a greater incidence of other kinds of bladder diseases. This is quite a major surgery and is only recommended as a last resort.

I would like to save him  from potentially life threatening situations in future but this would involve a drastic surgery. I am now hoping that with a change in diet, medication plus urinary supplements, he can be problem free. But who can predict the future? Since he started getting sick, I had been stressed out. I now realise that I  have been out of balance. I have been suffering at my own hand.

Listening to a talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, I see how apt his words are for my situation, The wise monk teaches the art of suffering. He says that when we know how to suffer, we suffer much less. If there is pain in our body or in our mind, we must not allow fear and anger to take over. Otherwise, the pain is multiplied. A simple headache can become both a physical pain and mental torture by imagining all the worse case scenarios.

In my case,  it was the fear of  making the wrong decision for Checkers. It was the fear of watching Checkers suffer or die because of my decision.  I put so much pressure on myself to get it right. I didnt stay in the present moment. I just allowed my mind to be a playground for fears.

I see more in a cat than just another animal. I see precious life. And it is life that I am striving to preserve. We all feel pain and suffering whether humans or animals. I feel for them. Yet, after going through a big round again, I arrive at at the same conclusion. What's new???  I hate to admit it but many things in life are out of my control. I don't make the decisions about life, death and suffering. Much as I would like to see the world relieved of suffering, I have to be realistic. This situation is yet another which teaches me acceptance. And it is in acceptance that I am relieved of my own suffering. I feel better already.

Checkers drinking milk with his orange brother called Caramel.