It’s “Hairball Awareness” Day

Really. I’m not joking. Be Aware of the Hairball. Today is not necessarily a day of celebration, but merely a day of being aware. I wonder if it has a ribbon?

I’ve had lots of cats over the years so I’ve seen my fair share of hairballs. Some of my cats never had any problems at all but some cats just seem to be plagued with them. And nothing would help. Not leaving an open jar of Vaseline and baiting the cat to eat it nor feeding said cat a special diet of “hairball-remedy” food could alleviate the issue. If they were prone to them you just kinda had to live with it.

The worst hairball offender that comes to my mind is the cat that belonged to my step-dad, Rob, before he and my mom got married. I met this cat when I was 12 years old, when the cat was just a cute, wee-little kitten. I loved going over to visit the man who eventually became my dad especially because of the side benefit of getting to play with the adorable little kitten. I don’t believe Rob was in the market for a cat, but when his neighbor dropped it off one day at his house – kind of like a “drive-by” catting – it was love at first sight.

When I first met this cat, I asked what his name was. Rob said that he didn’t know because the cat had not formally introduced himself, which I found to be hysterical. Anyway, Rob eventually ended up calling the cat “Anonymous”. And while “Anonymous” was an aesthetically beautiful cat, he was the most foul little beast I’ve ever encountered. Don’t get me wrong, he had some redeeming qualities, like playing “fetch” with a wadded up paper ball (no joke!). But “Anonymous” was most famous for his “running three-room hairball”, where he would skid out in the kitchen (sounding like Fred Flintstone starting his car) and bolt through the hallway only to slide to a stop before ramming into the sliding glass door in the family room. Of course, this mad sprint was performed in tandem with laying a hairball that stretched from Point A to B. Heinous.

Other foul things that “Anonymous” did: The infamous roll-top desk hairball (yeah, try cleaning THAT up!), the “use the back leg to scratch behind the ear only to pop a giant cyst all over the bathroom mirror” maneuver, and then the “I’m not fond of you so I’m going to “mark” you”. I swear I’m not making this up.

“Anonymous” was not apologetic for any of his actions. He’d perform these amazingly disgusting feats only to eye you as if to say “Are you going to clean that up, or what?” He became quite the curmudgeon in his old age, often sitting on the gate to my parent’s driveway in German Village and hissing at the passers-by on a lovely spring day. My mom posted a sign by his “perch” that said Chat Lunatique (Crazy Cat en Francais) , which was a big hit in the touristy community. In fact, despite the passing of the “Anonymous Cat” – he succumbed to cancer – there have been many folk stopping by to ask about the Chat Lunatique and they are almost always disappointed to learn that he’s passed on to Kitty Heaven. If only they knew about the running three-room hairballs that my parents had to put up with….

I would never want to be any sort of animal that had to bathe myself or my offspring with my tongue. I have a feeling that I, too, would be susceptible to hairballs. Fortunately, one of my two offspring is currently follicly challenged, so grooming him would not be overly time consuming or resulting in many hairballs.

My poor little Bean. He’s really struggling right now. We knew that the days following his high dose chemo treatment would be horrible but I was hoping that those stem cells would be a little more helpful in creating a speedy recovery. Ben was discharged last Saturday from his round of high dose chemo. We went back for his stem-cell “rescue” on Monday, and by Tuesday he was struggling with a sore throat. He was admitted to the hospital because he stopped eating and drinking, and then began throwing up blood. By Wednesday he was absolutely miserable. Mucousitis was plaguing him from his throat to his stomach, making it impossible for him to take anything by mouth. No food, no water, no medicine. He was in a lot of pain. Since then he’s been sleeping a lot with the occasional foray into vomiting up blood. Tonight was a bit better than earlier today, hopefully tomorrow will be even better. The docs seem to think he might be ready for discharge by Monday, and I’m sure Ben will be more than ready to get out, too, but we’re not going to let them push him out before he’s really and truly ready.

Have I mentioned lately how much I HATE CANCER? I hate it. I really do. I hate it a whole real lot. I cried yesterday while looking at my teeny-tiny son lying there, refusing to snuggle with me because he was miserable, unable to talk to me because his mouth hurt, shooting up out of his bed when the pain got to be too much, throwing up due to a combination of the mouth sores, the pain meds, and not eating for several days. I cannot wait for this part to be over. I know I keep saying that… I can’t wait for surgery to be over, I can’t wait for chemo to be over, I can’t wait for the aftereffects of chemo to be over… and it’s all true. I can’t wait for ALL of it to be over. But I can only muddle through one section at a time. And I can’t wait for this part – the part where Ben feels absolutely horrible – to be over. Forever. Completely. All gone. Adios. I want my son to have “normal” normal. Not just the normal we have because we’ve been doing it for so long. I hate that this life of cancer has become our “normal”. So not cool.

I’d really rather be cleaning up hairballs.

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