November 30, 2008

Announcing...The Cyrano Fund!

I truly hate having to do this, but I'll do anything I have to for my beloved, (mostly) perfect fur children.

Thanks to the wondrous generosity of some reader/donors, I have just enough money to pay December rent, with a tiny bit left over for food and the like. My deepest thanks to all of you. And I'm beginning to get my writing legs back. I mentioned an upcoming essay, "Clinging to the Wreckage," at the beginning of my latest piece. But I have lots more on tap, including my long-planned series on tribalism (in many, many parts). I know I've promised that series too many times before, but have failed to produce it. I fully intend to start writing it now. To be completely blunt, and not wishing to alarm you, I'm not certain how many more opportunities I'll have to write that series, so I think I'd better get through as much of it as I can in the next month or so. I shall do my best.

After the unexpected and sudden death of Fidele in early May, I have two remaining cats, Cyrano and Wendy. Wendy is the approximately ten-year-old outdoor cat, whom I took in almost two years ago after she had been abandoned by neighbors who had fed her and generally looked after her, but then moved away and just left her. I've had Cyrano since he was eight weeks old. He is absolutely angelic: sweet, funny and wonderfully affectionate. I haven't been able to afford a camera for ages, but Cyrano looks a lot like Dewey. (That's a lovely book, by the way, especially if you love cats or other animals, and even if you don't. I was delighted to read about the "Dewey Carry": when Dewey was fully grown, people would carry him slung over their shoulder -- always the left shoulder -- with his front paws going down the back. That's exactly how I carry Cyrano around. He loves his little tours, to the front door to look for birds and cars, to the bedroom window, to look for more birds, etc.) Cyrano has Dewey's long, beautiful orange and white fur, except that Cyrano's nose is white and his eyes are a deep green. He's gorgeous. And sweet, funny and wonderfully affectionate. Oh, I already said that. But he is!

So yesterday, Cyrano and Wendy had one of their twice- or thrice-weekly little tussles. Nothing serious, but there was a little hissing. (I think Cyrano is still trying to be, ah, overly intimate, if you know what I mean. And even though he actually can't be, if you know what I mean. Still, those instincts never completely leave...) I got up from the computer (where I was writing again!) and separated them. Cyrano walked into the bedroom, and I followed him, just checking to make sure everything was okay, as I always do. I check both of them after these episodes to make certain they're all right. Cyrano made some odd little movements with his mouth, and then he spit out...a tooth.

And not just any tooth: one of the BIG, UPPER front teeth. The whole thing, right down to the gum line. I swear to God, I'm not making this up. I can hardly believe it myself, but that's what happened. I held the tooth and stared at it for several seconds until I realized what it was (at first, I thought it must have been part of a chair or some other piece of furniture that he got caught on while wrestling with Wendy), and then I immediately checked his mouth. Yep, the tooth was gone. The gum has a noticeable area where the tooth had been that was and is a bit redder than the rest of the gum -- but there was no bleeding at all. Not a single drop of blood, thanks be. Still, I got hysterical for a minute or two. But Cyrano seemed completely fine. "Well, that was kinda weird," he seemed to be thinking. "Time for a bath!" So he lay on the bed and groomed himself for about five minutes. And then he took a little snooze. I absolutely adore this little guy.

An hour or two later, wanting to see if he appeared to be in any pain and if he would still eat normally, I gave him one of his favorite soft foods (Fancy Feast Ocean Whitefish and Tuna!). He inhaled it completely, just the way he always does. And he seems perfectly fine in every other way (playing, pooping, peeing, purring, eating this morning -- a few times, sleeping with Dad, all as before). So what the hell? I saved the tooth for the vet. It doesn't seem to be decayed or rotted, but perhaps it had some bizarre flaw or fracture in it. I mean, it was sheared off right at the gum line, the whole thing. What on earth could cause that?

So he should be taken to the vet, this week if possible. As I indicated recently, it's a huge deal for me to do absolutely anything at this point, but I'll manage it somehow. I'll probably have to take a cab to the vet and back, since I can't drive myself any longer and friends and neighbors will probably be unavailable during the week. At a minimum, Cyrano might need an antibiotic to make certain there's no infection. And perhaps some tests to make certain there's not some underlying, more serious problem. I would be devastated if it were something truly dire, but for now I'll hope it's just one of those very weird life things that happen. I'm not at all happy about the fact that I myself have had rotted, falling-out teeth for more than five years; it's been over a decade since I've been to a dentist. Sometimes those problems cause me a lot of pain, but I've learned to accept that. That's bad, but I also have much more serious health problems that I can't get help for. To address my health issues would require more money than I'll ever have, but I can't let the same thing happen to Cyrano or Wendy if I can possibly help it. One of the worst aspects of poverty is that when things like this happen, you feel completely helpless. It's awful.

Since I'm almost broke and have no other source of income, I have to turn once again to you, my dear, put-upon readers. As I say, I hate to do it, especially since I've just been out of commission for so long. But ye gods, Cyrano's tooth fell out!!!! Anyway, a few hundred dollars (several? who knows) should take care of the initial visit, medication and whatever tests might be needed. If more is needed after that, and if it requires a substantial amount of money...well, I can only hope it doesn't come to that. I don't know what I would do if it's very serious. Well, bear it somehow, whatever "it" may be. Many others have to deal with much worse, not that such knowledge helps all that much, which it doesn't.

As always, thank you very much indeed for putting up with me and my assorted, dull miseries. There have been altogether too many losses and heartbreaks in the last couple of years. I've had quite enough, thank you. Time for some good news! (No, Obama getting elected doesn't do it for me, sorry.)

Remember: Cyrano looks sort of like this, and he's an angel. Yes, I'm shameless on behalf of my children. So...The Cyrano Fund!

Cyrano thanks you, as do I. Wendy thanks you, too. Yes, Wendy, you know you do. C'mon, Wendy, he just wants to be friends! (She's convinced he has some dire, ulterior motive. And he's bigger than she is. And he's been here much longer. I can see her point of view. But he's still an angel.)

Okay. I need to do another half-hour check, to make sure everything's okay. ... Wendy is napping, and Cyrano is blissfully zonked out in one of his favorite chairs. Maybe his serenity will rub off on me someday.

Nah. But I keep hoping...