P is for Perseverance

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that?
We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.
We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.

Marie Curie


(Percy resting in a basket, notice the shaved back leg / Julie Cook / 2019)

Here’s a brief update regarding our patient.

You may remember that on June 3rd our cat Percy had a joint fusion on his back hock.

He is named Percy for Perseverance…all because since a kitten, he came to us
in dire straights when we found him he found us
after having been thrown from a moving car.

He was broken, bruised and dying.

But once we went to work…he not only survived, he actually thrived.

There have been some mouth surgeries and teeth issues along the way
but the biggest stumbling block has been this back hock.

We believe this hock business is due to an old injury with his leg…
and because of the injury, he had worn the skin down
on the hock (aka knee) to the tendon…meaning the tendon was exposed.

Months of all sorts of treatments and minor surgeries didn’t help…
so we had to bite the bullet and pay a small fortune to a Veterinary surgical group
over north of Atlanta for a joint fusion surgery.

It meant a 12-week confinement and life in a cast and a cage and a cone.

Well come Monday we will be 9 weeks in.

Two weeks ago they removed the cast.

I realize that up to 6 weeks in a cast leads to atrophy of the leg muscle…and yes things
can smell rather ripe from having been closed up…
but I knew enough to know that I smelled infection.

The Surgeon told me to keep the cone on and let the leg be exposed to air.

Problem was it was oozing and bleeding.

After 3 days home, I called in a bit of a panic, because Percy was in obvious misery and pain
as his foot looked black. Gangrene fears set into my overactive mind.

They told me to see if I could get him to my local vet before driving the
hour and a half it would take to get to their practice.

I took him to our vet.
The doctor told me to put him on the floor so he could watch what he did with the leg.
He held it up and wouldn’t put weight on it.
Plus the vet agreed with me, he too smelled infection.

Following surgery, they had actually done a biopsy on the leg and found that Percy
had a bone infection.
It was a resistant infection to most antibiotics so he had to have a special antibiotic
I had to order from Arizona.

I think he spit out more than I could get in him via the syringe.

Our Vet was betting that Percy had never gotten over the initial infection.

And so now for every day since our first visit back, two weeks now,
Percy has had to go in for a shot.
And in order to give his body a break, they are now rotating with pills.
And thankfully, he is actually now walking using the leg.

The Vet explained that bone infections are difficult to treat therefore the
treatment regime can be lengthy.
He was also a bit concerned by Percy’s depressed appearance.

So despite the surgeon’s demands that he remain coned in a cage the entire 12 weeks,
our vet told me to give him some freedom.
Of which has made a tremendous difference in his demeanor.

Percy has become a bit of a rock star at the Vet’s office as they all great him the
minute we walk through the door.
We don’t sign in and simply head to the available exam room.

All the vets in the practice know Percy and all the vet techs flock in to visit.

Percy is not the typical cat.
I’ve always said he’s more dog-like than cat.
Personable, loving and intuitive.

Rescues are like that.

Our visits are short and sweet, in and out…only for us to return the next day for
another dose.

His hock is still bleeding so I continue treating it and wrapping it.
He continues to spend each night in the cage with the cone but I try to give
him a break throughout most of the day as long as I am home,
allowing him to lounge on the back deck…
As long he doesn’t insist on chewing on his bandaged leg…which if given any
unobserved time, he would gnaw it off it left to his own devices.
And when I leave the house, it’s back in the cage.

And hence the cone…

At this point, I don’t know if we will ever get the bleeding under control.
And at this rate, I wonder about the infection.

When I walked into the vets that first afternoon, with an infection smelling patient,
I felt an overwhelming sense of desperation and I was in tears.
I practically begged our vet to help us.

As Percy’s mom, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility for his well being.

I explained to the Vet that had I known what I know now, we never would have had the surgery.
I would have never put him through this misery.
Nor would I have done this to us and what all the rehab is requiring at home.

Problem is that I bet the infection set in while the tendon was exposed.

So we’re living with a catch 22 sort of scenario.

We will head back to see the surgeon in two weeks.
Who will probably x-ray and fuss that I’ve not been diligent with the cage and cone.

But I told this young surgeon during our last visit that if I had to do it all again,
I would have exhausted all other options.
His response was “he’s just a cat, what’s 12 weeks?”

I thought then and there that this guy, Vet surgeon or not, doesn’t ‘get it’…
he’s not just a cat.
He’s more than that.

He’s overcome so much in his 8 years.
And by gosh, I’m not going to let him go backward now.

Just being able to sit with me again in our chair, each evening, wrapped up in a soft throw
has done wonders for his disposition…giving him a small glance of our normal routine.

I don’t care if you are a human or an animal…a regular regime of life goes
a tremendous way toward healing…

Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
true faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
Lord, that I may carry out
Your holy and true command

St Francis

how far are we to go?

“But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”
Albert Camus

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(Betsie, Corrie and Nollie Ten Boom)

Survival of the fittest.
We’ve all heard of it…
that notion that the strong, cunning, stealthy and fortuitous among us usually come out
on the other side..
Whereas the weak, sickly, naive and unlucky, more often than not,
will succumb to those more trying events of life.

Many a survivor of all sorts of traumas and events are often heard to opine as to “why me?”
“why did I survive, making it to the other side, when the other’s did not??”—
those others who seemed to be perhaps better people, more kind, more gracious, more giving,
seemingly to have more to live for or even greater purpose…
why didn’t they live, while the now living survivor laments to still be breathing….

I think it is called survivor’s remorse…
a natural reaction…

Yet perhaps there is a deeper purpose for those who survive…
something that reaches to a place far greater than any mere mortal can comprehend….

Ravensbrück Concentration Camp…
A “death” camp north of Berlin constructed in 1938 in order to house female prisoners.
It was a camp initially built to hold roughly 900 women…
but by the end of its first operational year, it had far exceeded its maximum number,
swelling to 10,000 women.
A reasons for the Germans to continue with construction.

Mostly Poles, but there were prisoners from every Nazi occupied nation.
Many of these women came with children and many more gave birth while being held
in Ravensbrück.
There were unspeakable medical trials and tests carried out on many of Ravensbrück’s women,
leaving many to die agonizing deaths while others toiled through 14 hour days of
extreme manual labor.

During its operation from 1939 to 1945, it is estimated that 132,000 women came and
went from Ravensbrück…most of whom went out by way of death.

Betsie Ten Boom, Corrie Ten Boom’s older sister, was one of the thousands of victims
of Ravensbrück.
She was humiliated and worn down physically from months of being treated more
like a hated animal than a humanbeing..
Gravely sick and malnourished, her body simply gave out while her spirit
never wavered.

Betsie saw it as her Christian duty to minister to the other women–
both believers and non believers…
even compelling her fellow prisoners to pray for their monstrous
and sadistic guards.

For it was in those guards who beat, tortured, belittled, mocked,
demeaned and ridiculed their captives, who Betsie saw as people in need.
Betsie knew that Christ died not only for her but for those guards as well…
and if Christ would give his life for these Nazis,
then why should she not be willing to do the same….

“Let any one of you who is without sin…”
Betsie knew that no one on this earth was without sin and therefore…
all, both captive and captor, were in need of Christ’s saving Grace.

Corrie had seen the dead bodies of prisoners stacked up like cord wood…
those who had lost their battle to survive,
staked inside one of the bathrooms of the infirmary…
the same room where she would eventually see Betsie’s body,
discarded and waiting to be incinerated…

And yet without hate for their captors, Corrie returned to the barracks,
determined to carry on Betsie’s mission of love in a place that knew no love.

Shortly following Betsie’s death, Corrie was, as it was later discovered,
mistakingly discharged from Ravensbrück.

However before she could be released, she had to be “healthy” enough to leave.
Corrie was currently suffering from staggering edema in her legs and feet…
So as in a case of deep irony, she was sent to the infirmary to heal,
the very infirmary where women were merely sent to die,
in order that she might pass the physical exam necessary for release.

In the dank and dirty infirmary she was placed with those who were dying
from all manner of disease. The air was putrid with rotting flesh.
Yet she was thankful to have a wooden platform in which to lie down,
while being able to prop up her grotesquely swollen legs against the wall.

As she later reflected in her book The Hiding Place,
Corrie knew that living in such a place as Ravensbrück made the retreating of self,
that of one turning deeply within self to a place that normal humanbeings
dared not tread,
a necessity of simple survival.

It was a place of survival by any and all means…
a place that she would later recall as being Satan’s ploy….
“this was the great ploy of Satan in that kingdom of his: to display
such blatant evil that one could almost believe one’s own secret sins didn’t matter.”

A place where morality, kindness and decorum were strangers.
She found herself fighting hard to continue loving and offering hope where
none was to be found.

At night in the infirmary she would be unable to sleep due to the constant wailing
of women pleading for the guards to bring a bed pan as the women were all too ill to
make their own way to the latrine.
Knowing what she must do, Corrie painfully dropped her heavy swollen legs from their
elevated position and climbing down from the platform, found the bed pans as she would
carry them from patient to patient.
Serving her fellow “woman” as only she knew Christ would…

On one of the aisles full of the sick and dying were a couple of Hungarian gypsies
who were suffering with severe gangrene.
Sadisticly they enjoyed waving their pus covered black dying limbs in Corrie’s face,
shrieking and laughing at her…taunting her efforts of simple kindness.
As these women had tragically become the animals they were assumed to be.

One night, Corrie couldn’t find the bed pans.
The other patients told Corrie that the Hungarian women had taken the pans and were hiding
them in their cots so they wouldn’t have to get up.
Suddenly Corrie felt the sensation of a wet piece of cloth, which had a wretchedly
foul odor, land on her face.
The gypsies were laughing as they had flung their diseased soaked bandages on her face.
Terrified and demoralized, Corrie ran sobbing to the latrine to wash her face under
the lone working spigot…vowing never to offer aid again….

and yet….
the one prayer that she would say over and over throughout her life came to her lips..
“Jesus, I cannot forgive them/ him/ her. Give me your forgiveness.”

She marched back into the ward, heading directly toward the Hungarian women,
when she heard the bed pans crashing down on the floor.

The thing is that Corrie could have, and by world standards should have,
selfishly thought of her own health and legs,
not bothering to sacrifice her health and potential release,
for the sake of others who openly mocked and ridiculed her selfless acts…
but as a Christian, who was actually living her faith…
Corrie knew there was no option

“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than
on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.
When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command,
the love itself…”

And so as we now find ourselves marching forward into this new strange and hate
filled world of this 21st century,
may we recall that same command to love… as well as to forgive…
knowing that we have been given the love necessary…
a love that far exceeds the depths or capacity
of the human heart….

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7