A cat, a bell, and a long slog toward hope

My cat, my cat, you are becoming unintelligible and I am humbled that I ever imagined a possibility of expertise with your afflictions. Yours wound me as my own.

Coolidge’s diabetes has gone renegade since his thyroid went volcanic. I can’t do radical increases with the long-lasting type of insulin he needs, and there’s just no chasing the numbers anymore—but if he’s stuck in the mid-200s, with occasional nosedives into the 40s and 50s, at least he isn’t stuck in the 300s, and he doesn’t have ketones.

And now the new wonder formulation of thyroid suppressant is making sores in his ears. And Friday he had a blood test for his T4 and it’s much too high. Still. His T4 was perfect when he was taking the pills, and of course the pills didn’t hurt his ears. But they made him inappetent.

It’s not my fault, but that doesn’t matter: I feel incompetent anyway. Frustrated, discouraged, and incompetent. I’m letting him down. After all, what’s so hard to figure out? An endocrine system is only a little more complicated than the whole rest of creation.

My husband gave me a little bell for my chain link bracelet. It’s such a pretty little bell, and my husband knew the significance of the bell to me. I hear the bell ringing as the ringer cries, “Unclean, unclean!” And so I am, unclean and yet scoured. A sinner saved by grace. Already and not yet: already redeemed and not yet perfected. That’s not for this life. The timing of our pastor’s exposition of this theme last week was a more than welcome refresher.

My cat groans, joining the rest of Creation that awaits the end of the effects of the Fall. Man took down all of Creation with him when he first sinned, when he rebelled against God. Disease and death are the consequences of man’s rebellion: hyperthyroidism, diabetes, ulcerated ears, and the inevitable end of each wondrous life itself.

My cat has, I think, a sense that none of this is his fault. We have always encouraged him to believe that nothing is ever his fault. Nothing could be his fault because he is not sin-tainted. Only humans can exercise a conscious will to sin. I sense that he knows it is I, not he, whose intrinsic defectiveness has brought certain unpleasant things—things like pin pricks, injections, caustic medicine, and sore ears—about. But my cat cannot abstract; he cannot hope. I can abstract and I do have hope; and I even have a little bell to bring to mind that I already have that for which I hope. But not yet.

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