Cloister Commentary, Day 183: Palliative Care

Louis, in healthier days.

Nicole and I spent the day tending to our ailing dog Louis. Pain and anti-nausea meds had him wiped out for part of the day, and he is having difficulty getting up from the floor and not falling flat after walking around the yard, but he had enough vitality to indicate that he still doesn’t like cats and really likes ice cream.

He’s also having a lot of trouble defecating due to his bad hip, which is frustrating because he’s struggling with gastrointestinal issues. I’m sure the pet owners among my readers have thought this, too, but it stabs my soul to realize that these friends of ours understand keenly something isn’t right, that they can’t do what they used to–Louis was basically doing all of his normal stuff less than a week ago–but probably don’t understand what’s causing their loss of power. It really hurts to consider their confusion–and to possibly see it in their gaze. Louis is also not wanting to eat, which makes administering palliative meds a struggle. On top of all that, we slept maybe two hours the night before just watching him and grieving.

But it wasn’t a completely fraught day. Nicole is an amazing cook, and she made both a terrific Tex-Mexy chili with Sweet Earth plant-based ground and a spice mix my brother Brian and sister-in-law Myra gave us, and an adaptation of a “comfort recipe” my mom made several times in the weeks after my dad passed: Parmesan-encrusted portabello mushrooms, rosemary baked new potatoes, and fresh asparagus. Jane makes it with chicken breasts, but–shhhhhh–I like the mushroom version better. Additional palliatives of our own were Tecate, Speyburn single-malt Scotch, ice cream (Louis shared with us), books, music (South African jazz) and frequent hugs. And the weather was gorgeous–thank the stars.

Did we think about the passing of RBG? Of course we did, but if 2020 is anything it’s the year of stress-strata, and that stress was a layer beyond what we could reach. It will be there after the inevitable moment comes and goes.

Streaming for Survivors:

Alicia was there for me again yesterday.

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