July 23


I originally wrote this on March 20, 2022 for a self help therapy group on Facebook. I thought I would share it here, as my debut into blogging again this year. Mostly to give an idea of where my headspace has been.

On December 5, 2021, I lost my last guinea pig to a stroke. I was a mess afterwards as we had a rocky time with this guinea pig. He had a lot of health issues, since about late 2019. It started as a small lump under his right nipple; a mammary tumor. We excised it and that no longer gave him any problems. However, he developed an abscess in his cheek. This abscess traveled from his cheek to his inner ear. It was still with him when he died. He lived with it for two years.

Two years of medication, every morning, every night. Each evening, he had to have the abscess drained. He hated it. We hated it. We went nuclear on this thing. A trusted vet in Visalia helped us to learn how to give him shots, so that we could use stronger antibiotics and by-pass the gut. Gut issues are really hard on guinea pigs.

Even after all that, he died of a stroke.

I had a mental breakdown on February. I had been holding in a lot of grief. Over him, over Boo–the guinea pig who passed away before him, and over the loss of a puppy I always wanted but I was not in the headspace to take care of. I felt ruined. I felt like nothing in life would ever make me happy again.

Later that month, however, we said hello to a new kitty, now called Moxxie.

Moxxie arrived like a strange little spirit guide. An angel. Whatever you want to call it. She showed up at just the right time. She had been coming around our yard to eat for a short time, along with our other two outside strays. We didn’t know where she came from or why she chose us, but she was there.

One day, while Jason was at work, I saw her outside so I decided I would feed her. I opened the door and she walked inside. No fear. She came inside, plopped onto her side on the kitchen floor, and let me rub her belly. I have never seen anything like it.

In March, shortly after Moxxie’s arrival, my husband and I noticed that a cough one of our older boy cats (Skuld) was getting worse. The poor thing would have these awful sounding hacking fits, in which he would panic and hack and he would sit, hunched up, with strings of drool dripping from his mouth. He couldn’t seem to breathe without his mouth open. It was terrifying and heart breaking.

We took him to the vet. Initially, they diagnosed him with kitty asthma and sent him home with medications. However, in 24 hours, his condition worsened so we brought him back in. He was checked into their care because he was in desperate need of oxygen, fluids, and nutrients. He could not eat or breathe through his nose.

At the same time, back home, we noticed that our older girl cat, Belle (mother to Skuld and Skuld’s brother, Dandy), was also doing poorly.

At first, we thought Moxxie brought something into the home, as she did have a minor respiratory illness when she first arrived. (It cleared up on its own in a couple of days.)

That was not the case, however, as while Skuld was in the ICU, they discovered he had a large mass inside his tiny nasal passage, which was causing blockage and his inability to breathe. And Belle turned out to have acute kidney failure and had to be put down. She literally had 0 platelets and the treatment for kidney failure at her stage would have been fatal anyway.

So we continued to fight for Skuld’s life while mourning the loss of his mother. My husband called every single day, multiple times a day, for updates. We went out to the vet in Bakersfield to visit daily. Each time, the news we received only got worse. Skuld was away from home from March 12-18. March 17th was his birthday. 12 years old. March 17th. We told him on his birthday that we were bringing him home soon.

March 18th, we received the call that he had gone into cardiac arrest and died.

I couldn’t stop crying. Within four months–four months!–we said goodbye to three of our beloved pets in succession. We had Skuld from the day he was born. The tiniest black jelly bean. He could fit in a pocket. I felt so lost. So heart broken. So torn up inside. I didn’t think that I could ever stop crying.

I felt depression rolling over me. I didn’t want to sleep, eat, or do anything that I normally loved to do. Every day, I looked for Belle, I looked for Skuld. They weren’t there. And Dandy was orphaned, his mother gone, his brother from birth… gone.

I miss them all so much. To this day, even just recounting this, even just retyping this, I am crying. It doesn’t seem fair that we bring these lovely creatures into our homes… and one day, they just won’t be here anymore.

I don’t regret ever having them in my life.

And Moxxie, Moxxie, Moxxie. Has been an angel of amelioration, a balm to the soul. If it weren’t for her timing, we might still be sick with grief. She brought light back into our home. She is a beautiful, loving, affectionate soul. I’ve never met a sweeter, more loving cat in my life. And she showed up just when we needed that most.

Love your pets. Hold them close. Cuddle them when they want to have a cuddle. You learn the hard way that one day, you’ll regret all the times you told them to go away, not now, I’m doing something. Make time for them. They love you. You are their entire world. And one day, they just won’t be here anymore.

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Posted July 23, 2022 by Rachel Aseltine in category "Uncategorized

About the Author

R.A. Aseltine is an author and roleplayer living in California with her husband, guinea pig, and five cats.

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