Game Therapy: Dragon Age II, Last Post on Part 2

This entry is based on a few earlier posts: here are the original concept & most directly linked entry.

Growing up early… Growing up early.

I tried to figure out why this one was included in Abigail’s list of traits. I mean, it resonated, but why?! What had happened to me that made me feel this way? Why couldn’t I point to an event that forced me to grow up?

It’s taken me a while, but I figured it out. Mom’s anxiety and break downs. The knowledge that she wasn’t strong enough to handle the world, and the childish belief that it was my job to protect her from it. That my narrow shoulders were strong enough to carry her. That my tiny hands could hold her pain.

She was wounded before I showed up, broken by the world before it laughed in her face and handed her a baby. I know that I didn’t break her, but I didn’t help either. The stress of parenting in the midst of a dark and panicked season of life, it was too much to add to her current burdens. It makes sense that she struggled.

I need to be clear: I am not responsible for anyone’s mental health but my own, and I never have been. I do not blame myself for her struggles. But I used to, before I knew better. I used to try so very hard to shield her from pain, just like she (arguably) should have been shielding me.

But life doesn’t wait until you’re ready. It comes when it wants.

Of course, I don’t actually know if I was planned or not. Maybe they thought they were ready. Maybe mom thought she was. Maybe neither realized how hard it would be for all of us.

So at a young age, I felt like I needed to be the one to guard my family, even though it was unfair to me. In addition, I felt alone in that task, even when there were others who could have contributed. 

That’s why Abigail was the only one watching, and the only one leading her family to safety, and the only one running back for her father, and the only one carrying the true burden of that day. 

It’s because I needed her to be burdened down, like me. Because I needed her to be unhappy and alone, like me. Because I needed to connect to someone in this way, even if it was just a character acting as my avatar.

It’s ok. Be kind to yourself. Go easy on yourself today, Flicker. Today, you won’t guard anyone. Today, you will be safe to rest. I release you.
Image is from the German Dragon Age wiki, and is of a young girl from Dragon Age Origins.

Making the Call

I decided to take Kuno to the vet after all, and we scheduled it at a time that my husband could come along. Car rides are much easier with two people, because the driver can handle the road, and the passenger can hold and stroke the panicking cat. He drove, and I tried to comfort Kuno as she yowled and shifted and turned and tried to climb on the dash and so on.

Those scared, overstimulated little meows are so hard for me to listen to. I hate doing things that put her in that state of mind, but sometimes, it is necessary. At least this was better than our 4 hour drives- like the one where my car wasn’t fully secured, and she escaped into the snow, and I had to pull over and chase my terrified cat through a graveyard while we were still 2 hours from home. That was awful. 

Anyway, we just went to the vet a bit ago, and things went… well, normally. She was scared in the car, with a rushing pulse, diluted eyes, panting, and those yowling cries. We got inside and she was cautious about the environment and everything, but calmer than before. Nervous for the first few minutes of the appointment, and then golden for the rest of it. Scared on the drive back, frantic to get out of the car, and very happy to be back in the house. So overall, that’s a win.

I learned somethings too: Kuno has herpes, which is a chronic infection for cats. Once infected, the cat carries the virus for the rest of its life, and stressful changes in the environment cause flare ups. These flare ups are the respiratory infections that I’ve seen her fighting throughout her life, from the very first day we had her. It seems very likely that her whole feral colony was infected with the disease at once, and now, even 7 years later, Kuno still struggles against her disease.

This has been the most severe infection I’ve seen her with so far, but she’s got a bit of medicine now to back her immune system up and keep the viral load down, so hopefully, things will turn around. 

Hang in there, pretty kitty. I love you more than you know.

Watching Her Suffer

Kuno is sick right now. She has been sniffling and coughing for a few weeks, and I hate it so much. If she was any other cat, I would just scoop her into her case and tote her to the vet, but I don’t know if it’s worth it to make her suffer through the long car ride, the vet visit, and the second long car ride. (In case you didn’t know, I wrote earlier about Kuno’s intense fear of cars and the injuries she inflicts on herself while trying to escape from cat carriers.)

I’ve done a bit of research and found that respiratory infections are more serious in cats than they are in humans. For humans, colds are relatively common and may simply be a part of life, while many mild feline ailments actually manifest as digestive troubles or skin problems.

I have been going back and forth about whether or not I am a bad owner. Is it worse to give her two panic attacks in a single day or to let her body fight this infection alone? If I do take her to the vet, those panic attacks ware likely to weaken her immune system further (just like stress affects humans), but she has been so sick lately.

Being responsible for the wellbeing of someone else is hard, especially when I can’t communicate with her. I wish I could explain the car rides or ask her if she feels more or less energetic than she did yesterday. Instead, I just have to watch her symptoms, monitor her eating and digestion, and make my best guess.