Have I written about feeling incompetent before? I know I’ve written about feelings of failure and not being able to do anything right. It comes up every now and then. Like right now. This week. Mostly yesterday and today.

This week started out well enough. I spent less money on groceries than I had budgeted. The Thin Mint cupcakes turned out really well. Tuesday’s dinner got a little burnt, but it still tasted decent enough. We happily ate it.

And then came Wednesday.

The kittens have been having loose bowel movements for as long as we’ve had them (about three months now). They came home with antibiotics after their first vet visit, and that cleared things up for a while. Then they started getting the occasional loose stool. And now, for about the past two weeks – maybe three – the problem has returned in full force. It was a mess every time they got in the litter box. It became clear that the problem would not solve itself. So, Tuesday, I called the vet and arranged to come in Wednesday morning.

We came home with not two, not three, but four medicines: a probiotic powder for their food, an antibiotic (to take twice daily) to clear out their bowels, a “parasite purger” to get rid of any nasties hanging around in there, and Kaopectin to smooth things over as necessary. The probiotic and the antibiotics are for two weeks, while the parasite-killer is only three days. The Kaopectin is as needed.

Yuzu had runny stool immediately after getting home from the vet, so I decided to give him some Kaopectin and administer a dose of the twice-daily antibiotic to them both. This took a total of 45-60 minutes, and though it ended with both kittens dosed up, I came out of it a complete mess, emotionally as well as physically. I’d say at least a quarter of the various medicines got on me and not in the kittens – I had to go change my shirt, and my jeans still have a big white splotch on them in two places. Also, I now have a set of lovely scratches on my back where Mirin wormed her way out of the swaddle-towel, climbed over my shoulder, and launched herself off of my back with all of her mighty claws unleashed.

But for the most part, they were medicated. Yuzu completely and instantly forgot about it all and wanted nothing more than to settle into a nap on my lap. Mirin hid behind the couch for an hour before tentatively venturing out to eat and avoid me whenever I came near. By the afternoon, she seemed convinced that I wasn’t going to do it again and no longer tried to hide.

Except that I was, of course, going to do it again.

Before going to bed, Geordie and I took the kittens up to the guest bathroom on the second floor and attempted to give them another dose of antibiotic, plus the parasite-killer. I say “attempt” because we were only half-successful. Yuzu got both medicines, after much weeping and wailing. Mirin got the parasite-killer but not the antibiotic. She writhed and fought as Geordie held her, eventually giving into unrestrained yowling. Finally, she started making deep, angry sounds in her throat, at which point I told Geordie to let her go because she was getting pissed off.

So was Geordie. Rather than continue as we were and upsetting both us and the kittens any further, we gave up for the night. The whole thing had taken about 40 minutes. I once again felt powerless and frustrated, feelings which have often been my companions since Lauren’s death. I told Geordie I would call the vet’s office in the morning and try to figure out how we could manage to get through 13 more days of this.

Nearly every single video/how-to on the internet regarding giving medicines to cats all seem to feature cats that are far calmer than either Mirin or Yuzu. They do not try to run away when the human wraps a towel around them. They do not stick their paws straight out in order to avoid becoming a kitty burrito. They do not duck their heads into the folds of the towel. They do not yowl as the syringe comes near them. They do not thrash their heads back and forth. They do not smack their lips and froth up their medicine so that it drips all down the front of them. They do not squirm and twist and try to roll over on their backs or fight their way out of the towel.

My kittens do all of those things.

The majority of these videos are two minutes long, at the most, which is about half the time it takes me to calm down Yuzu so that I can get another 25th of a milliliter into his mouth. These videos almost always end with a single squirt and the demonstrator saying, “All done!”

I hate these people. They address the action but not the details. Yes, it would only take five minutes to do this if the kittens sat quietly and patiently – as the demonstration cats do. Half of them look like they’re about to nod off. These videos are not helpful.

For the most part, the advice I got the vet tech when I called was not helpful. She suggested doing the things I was already doing. When I asked specific questions – “how do I keep her from thrashing her head around?” – she merely suggested holding onto the kitten’s head with thumb and forefinger on either side. Which made me want to ask a follow-up question – “how do I do that without breaking her neck, because that’s what it feels like is going to happen when I do that” – except that didn’t seem an entirely appropriate question to ask. She did suggest putting the kittens on top of a washing machine so that I could brace better against them.

That’s what  I did for their morning dosage. And it helped. The kittens still thrashed and meowed and generally disliked the whole process, and it took nearly an hour just to get a millileter of antibiotic into both of them. But I did it. Again, afterwards, I was worn out emotionally and physically, and I resolved that tomorrow, when I have the car, I’ll take the kittens back to the vet and ask them to show me exactly what I should be doing, because does it really have to be this difficult?

At least there is a positive side to all this. The kittens aren’t holding any grudges. Yuzu apparently forgets about it all immediately after he gets his treat (which I give immediately after I put them back on the floor). Mirin sulks a while, but after 30 minutes or so, she’s back to her normal self. Best of all, they’re already responding to the treatment. They’re going less frequently, and when they go, they aren’t leaving a mess behind them. Or bringing it along with them, which was a more major issue.

So, it’s working, but I feel drained. And we’re not done today. I just don’t know how to make it easier on them and on us.

I’m just hoping we can all make it through the next 13 days.

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