Just the other day, my mother came up to me asking, ‘what are you, son?’ A few months back, I’d be able to provide a list of things; I am a son, a brother, a friend, a student but I could’ve never sworn ‘…a diabetic’ would be one of them. But, what my mother meant in asking, ‘what I am’, was whether I was a cats or dogs sort of guy. She’d only been snooping because of a young black-spotted white cat was up for adoption in a Cats Home, Bridgend-way. She knew I couldn’t resist the beauty of a kitten, call me soft, but I love them. At the end of the day, Hellboy couldn’t resist cats, so would you call him soft? You never know, I could be ‘dia-Hellboy’- or not, no one will ever know?
We drove up to the Cat’s Home a week after hospital (as I couldn’t wait) to witness the beautiful paws, claws and even flaws this kitten may possess. I felt the 9 month gestational period in a 30 minute drive, knowing the wait would well be worth it.
By the time we arrived, it was as though I could hear his little cry, “I’m here”, “I’m here”. So, my ears heightened like a Noldor elf and scurried past an immigration office full of orphaned cats choking on their captivity. When they presented ‘Iggy’ (his ‘birth name’) like a ‘rabbit’ from a hat, my heart melted within like a molten chocolate cake. I never felt anything as beautiful as the eyes of a kitten touching me, his life in the hands of mine.
We officially adopted him a week later, once the vaccines and routine checks were carried out. As the women at the Cat’s Home say, “He’s good to go!”
He fitted in right away. Usually, you’d find him perched on your shoulder like a parrot, or playing fetch and sleeping in front of the fire like a dog. In ways, he made the O2 advert alive, ‘Be more dog’. It was a pleasure watching him grow. Yet, upon diagnosis, I felt more and more fearful of heights, often crashing to the ground like a featherless bird. Sometimes, all it took was a comment about my insulin dosages to send me crashing down. The Diabetic Nurse advised me to accept it rather than fight it, for all I was doing, was prolonging the timeless struggle of DKA.
As for the cat, he too was trying to cope with an identity crisis- what to name him? My father took the traditional approach in naming cats, suggesting everything from ‘Fluffy’ to ‘Snowball’ (which I swear he stole from ‘Stuart Little’). Whereas, my mother took the ‘no-approach’ approach. She knew what the cat meant to the family, but to me in particular.
The cat was a sign of growth and in that hope for the future. He was and is my balance, a constant in an episode of my life that seems incoherent. And that is why my mother named him, ‘Ketone’ to re-identify my struggle and pain during a dying pancreas to a preying, yet, lovable cat. Besides, it sounded better than ‘Tesla’- the name I was going to call him.
And Ketone, he was.
Now, upon writing this, I have 6 scars on my left and 2 on my right hand, with multiple head aches and a coat disguised in cat fur to prove how much he loves me. When the day is over, he tiredly climb my chest to once again bestow his life in my hands.