Imagine That! - A Cat Tail Tale
Last to breakfast meant trouble; Tumbleweed was always first. I called and called - no Tumbleweed. I put the bowl down, and as I turned around, Tumbleweed dragged himself through the cat door, hind legs collapsing and barely helping him. He plopped to the ground, panting with a wild-eyed look, not at all interested in the cat food. He had black tire marks on his fur, and his tail didn't work at all; it seemed to have no feeling, and urine dribbled down his fur. It was Rescue Remedy first and off to the vet as fast as we could go (I use Rescue Remedy, the Bach flower remedy, for all emergency situations).
X-rays confirmed a fracture in the base of the tail at the hips. Luckily the hips and legs were not fractured. The end of the tail was not pictured in the x-ray, but there was a possible fracture there too. The fracture near the hips was very close to the nerve that serves the urinary sphincter. Only rest and time would tell if that nerve was damaged beyond repair. If he continued to be unable to hold his urine, it would be bad news. If his tail did not regain its use, it would need to be amputated to avoid it getting caught or stepped on unknowingly and risking serious infection.
Luckily it was the weekend. I spent most of it with Tumbleweed in my lap. I administered homeopathic Hypericum, Arnica, and Ruta Grav at intervals, and gave the medicine that the vet prescribed. Tumbleweed seemed comfortable, but when I moved, he moaned and cried. We made him a bed and helped him be as comfortable as possible. We put his litter, food and water within easy reach. I traced the meridians on his body when he felt up to it and he liked that, taking big breaths when it felt good.
Day by day he improved. He got to the point of running and playing again and was able to control his urine, but the tail still dragged. The vet had said it might be as long as a month, but a month was fast approaching, with no change. Tumbleweed's tail hung and dragged like a horse's tail, and was always getting wet and dirty. He could not feel it when we touched it. The meridian tracing and remedies seemed useless against the heaviness of that tail. I thought hard about what else I could do.
I had read about imagery and visualization and decided to give it a try. For several days, two or three times each day, I held him in my lap and imagined that the nerves in his tail were like tree branches, all connected at the spine and branching out in their different directions through the tail. I sat and closed my eyes and pictured this over and over.
After the fifth day of no response, I suddenly thought of Chris Reeve and what one of the doctors had told him about the nerves being there but not having a complete connection or something. hmmmmm. I decided to change my tactics and visualize something more 'electrical'. The first thing that popped into my mind was Christmas lights - those annoying strings of little lights that work fine when all the bulbs are good but go entirely out when one bulb fails. I imagined Tumbleweed's tail with nerves of Christmas lights. I pictured lots of little bulbs and visualized myself going in there and changing every little bulb that didn't work. I grinned at my silliness, but enjoyed it.
Much to my surprise, the very next morning, Tumbleweed was able to lift the top third of his tail!! It arched up like a horse's arched tail, and when I petted him it lifted toward my hand. I was so thrilled! Could that silly imagery have really helped? I assumed it did and repeated the exercise that night and a few more times later that week.
Gradually, during that week and the next, his tail became 'alive' again, right to the very tip. He had questionable feeling in it for a long time; he could feel firm touch better than light pressure. But the odd thing was that the tail had become very strong. When I petted him and stroked to the tip of his tail, the tail wriggled strongly and wrapped firmly around my hand, almost like a snake would hold onto your arm to stay on. It was a strange but very welcome feeling. Tumbleweed's tail was the strongest of all the cats' tails, even though its feeling wasn't all there.
Eventually the tail gained more feeling, and to this day it works fine. It lifts and curls like nothing had ever happened. There is still a slightly crooked spot at the end, and it does turn off to one side more than the other, but it is a beautiful tail once again. I am so glad he was able to keep it!