Saturday, August 30, 2008

Very hard

Well, Pyewacket's still with us, but probably not for long. It's just so incredibly sad. I'm having a hard time imagining a world without Pyewacket in it. I know that's silly, but she just has such a strong personality, and is so loved by everyone who knows her.

She's just barely eating now; I bought some deli roast beef today, and she ate a little bit of that. Bob will carry her in to her water dish and she'll usually drink a little bit. Last night John and Leslie were over for dinner and we had Chinese food, and Pye ate a few grains of fried rice. Today, I had the leftover rice for lunch, and I put a spoonful on a paper plate and took it upstairs and left it on the floor in front of Bob's recliner; she's spending most of her time under it now. It felt a bit like leaving an offering at the mouth of a cave for a deity . . .

The roast beef got her to come out from under the chair, so I picked her up and brought her downstairs and put her on the table in front of the window. Bob said, "She's getting like Doña was -- you take her somewhere and put her down, and she stays." But a few minutes ago she got up and trotted off to the basement. I got up and followed her to be sure she wasn't going to go hide somewhere down there, but she was going to the litter box. A good kitty to the end.

Bob's been taking her outside for a few minutes each evening, and that seems to perk her up a little. We sat out there with her for a little while last night, and reminisced about how John found her sitting on his stoop in the rain, a poor pitiful little wet thing, and how all he had to feed her was hot dogs, and how she was grateful to get them.

And how we drove out late the night of my birthday and picked her up, and drove home with her on my lap, and she was so sick. But we took care of her, and got her well, and loved her and gave her a great life. We've gotten so much from her, but of course she's gotten a lot from us also. She's just tired now, and getting ready to leave us. I'm finding that really hard.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008


I've been putting off writing this, but I know everyone is wondering how Pye is, and hoping for the best. We were, too, but it wasn't a surprise, really, when the vet called and said that she does have cancer.

The tests were done on Saturday, and he said we might have results on Monday; he didn't call on Monday, and he didn't call on Tuesday, so on Wednesday I called and left a message, and he called very late that afternoon. I think he didn't want to make the call, either. He said he wished he had better news, that she was very sweet, and I said yes, she is.

He said the tests showed that she has cancer, but not what kind. It's probably lymphoma, going by the swollen lymph nodes, but it could also be another kind of carcinoma (histiocytic, I think he said). It doesn't really matter, I guess. I asked if there was anything we could do, and he said that they could do chemotherapy, but it's expensive, and would probably only gain her a couple of months. I said we'd talked about it, and didn't really want to put her through that; he said it wasn't as hard on them as it is on humans, because the goal is different--they aren't really trying to get rid of the cancer, so the dose is smaller. They're just trying to prolong life for a little while.

But we don't see much point in putting her through anything even mildly unpleasant if it's only going to extend her life a month or two. That doesn't really seem right.

So he said to continue giving her the prednisone, that it could help shrink the tumor, and would make her feel better. It does seem to have helped. She has a little more energy, I think, and has some appetite back. She isn't eating like she was before, of course, but she isn't turning her nose up at everything.

We've been buying special things for her, trying to tempt her to eat. I bought "gourmet" cat food today; she also likes canned chicken and tuna, and deli ham. She wasn't crazy about the babyfood I tried -- I think it was too bland. She likes some soft chicken-and-cheese treats that I got the other day, too. I figure we'll just spoil her rotten for whatever time we have, that's the least we can do.

We're doing okay. I've cried about it; it just seems so unfair. But it's a part of life, I just need to remember that. But it's hard.

I got another cortisone shot in my hand on Tuesday. The doctor thought it was worth another try before doing surgery. I think it might have helped this time, but it's hard to tell yet. It was better, then yesterday it was clicking again, and it still is today, but I think maybe less. I have to wait a month before doing anything anyway, so I'll just take it as it comes.

I don't think I ever showed this picture of my one and only moonflower this year:

My mom gave me a tiny plant when I was out there last, and I've been a bad gardener and never did plant it. It's still in the pot she gave it to me in. But I've been watering it, and Bob waters it when I forget, and the other night I saw that it was going to flower. You only get one chance, and it blooms at night. If you miss it, that's it, the flower doesn't open again, it just wilts and dies. So I kept watching, and saw it bloom. Made me happy.

What else . . . Oh! I bought an iPhone last night. I'd been wanting one, but couldn't justify the expense, then my boss said I needed it for work, and the company would reimburse me, so I bought one. I thought I was going to have to pay the premium price -- it wasn't time for me to get a discounted upgrade, so I was going to have to pay an extra $200, but for some reason when the total came up it was the regular price.

The guy at the store was surprised, too, but he said let's not ask any questions, and I signed for it, and it went through at the lower price. I messed around with it all last evening, downloading free applications and figuring it all out. There's a free eReader application, so I can read all my ebooks on it; I need to get some checkbook software, that's probably the most important thing I need, and I'd like to have a medical records application. With those two things I will have replaced most of the important stuff from the Palm, and just have one device--phone, iPod and organizer.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Make a wish

I decided that I couldn't wait until Tuesday to take Pye to the vet. She was doing so poorly that I wasn't sure she'd make it. She hasn't been eating at all. I called and asked if they could suggest anything -- I thought maybe they could suggest something like some kind of high-protein . . . something . . . that we could give her. One of the guys at work said they had given one of their dogs some kind of gel to keep her alive when she wouldn't eat. The vet said there was a high-calorie food that he could give us, but thought I'd better bring her in. He had an appointment open this morning, so I got up early to take her.

Then we couldn't find her. She's been hiding in weird places; I know that's a reaction to not feeling well. This morning was the worst. We finally found her underneath Bob's recliner. I stuck her in the carrier so she wouldn't get lost again.

The vet examined her, took some x-rays, and had a consult with the other two vets in the practice. They came in and said that it looks like there's some kind of abdominal mass, but they can't tell for sure what it is. They suggested I take her over to a veterinary specialty clinic to have an ultrasound. Like I said before, we're not inclined to want to spend a fortune and put her through test after test if it's only going to gain a couple of months, and my vet said he understood that, but he thought that an ultrasound would at least (at Bob is fond of saying) give us a track to run on. She's lost more weight -- she weighs less than 8 pounds now. That can't go on much longer.

The younger vet went off to package up her x-rays and blood samples, and my vet stayed to talk. I asked him to please tell me what he really thought. He said he was going to be optimistic, but candid. He said he thinks there's something major wrong with her; he said he does still think she has an abcessed tooth, but that he doesn't believe that's the core problem. He said that (the tooth) is off the table for now. He said that it's possible it's something that can be treated, but we may also find out that it's cancer, and in that case we'll do what we can to keep her comfortable until we can let her go.

He called the other clinic and asked if they could squeeze us in, and they said they could, so I headed over there -- he told me not to worry about paying them today, just get over there, so I gathered up my stuff, the x-rays and blood samples and Pyewacket, and headed over.

So we spent a couple of hours over there waiting to see the doctor. I knew they were doing us a favor by squeezing us in, and it wasn't a problem. I took my knitting with me and finished most of a sock while we waited. I also met a really interesting woman who is a holistic vet in Lawrence. She said she refers patients to this clinic; she was there today with her dog who had some kind of spinal problem. I actually kind of like waiting in hospitals and doctors' offices -- it's enforced down time, you're not expected to do anything but wait, and as long as I have a book or my knitting, I'm perfectly fine with it.

So anyway, the doctor examined her and got her history, and said he'd like to do an ultrasound if that was okay. He said (and the ultrasound confirmed) that her spleen and liver are enlarged, and he said that she was dehydrated. He asked me if it was all right to take some samples to send in for testing, and I said that was fine, and he said he would like to give her subcutaneous fluids to hydrate her a little bit. Since it's Saturday, we probably won't have test results until Tuesday, and then we should know whether it's something that can be treated, or whether we just do what we can to keep her comfortable for a little while.

The doctor said he was kind of in a quandary about what to do in the meantime. He said we won't have the test results back until probably Tuesday, then we should have a better idea of treatment, if any, but what should we do until then? He said if it's cancer, he would give her prednisone, which would make her feel better, but if we need to have more tests done, then prednisone would make them unreliable. He decided to go ahead and give me the prescription, and said if she still wouldn't eat, to get it filled. I decided to go ahead and fill it.

I went in to the Target pharmacy and handed the clerk the prescription, which was made out for "Pyewacket."

He looked up questioningly at me, and I said, "It's for my cat."

He said, "Has your cat filled prescriptions here before?"


"Does she have any allergies to any medications?"

"Not that I know of."

Then he asked for her birthdate (he said I could guess), and I told him 5/1/99, and I asked, "Will this be covered under my insurance?" and he said, "Good try."

I know how to give a cat a pill, but it's hard to do, especially when you're trying not to hurt her. I tried crushing it, mixing it with water, and giving it to her with a big syringe by mouth, but that didn't go very well either.

We tried tempting her with various things; she'd sniff, or maybe lick, but wouldn't really eat anything. Bob said, "Maybe she'd eat some steak." He was going to grill one for his dinner, so he went out to start up the grill. She acted like she wanted to go outside, which was actually a good sign, so he let her. We never let them go out, but he let her, and stayed close to her in case she tried to go too far.

He just let her stay a few minutes, then brought her back in. He said he'd take her out for a little while every day. He said, "It'll be like the Make a Wish Foundation."

She has some big shaved places on her sides so they could do the ultrasound, and one on her neck where I guess they sampled the lump. Poor little ragged thing.

She still has a pretty face, though.

Tonight I got her to eat some salmon-flavored cream cheese off my finger. Maybe I'll get her some ice cream tomorrow.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

No news

I spoke to the vet again this morning. I wanted to get a better understanding of the sequence of events. He said that they still haven't totally ruled out cancer, and the first place it metastasizes is the lungs, so they want to do a chest x-ray to see what her lungs look like. If they see cancer, then she wouldn't be a good candidate for surgery. If the x-ray looks okay, then they can do the dental surgery and take care of the abcessed tooth.

I called Bob, and took a few minutes to think about it, then called back and talked to the receptionist to schedule an appointment. At first, she said that she probably couldn't schedule the dental surgery until sometime in September, and I said unfortunately, I doubt if she'll last 'til September if we don't do something. So she put me on hold and talked to the doctor, and came back and said they could do it next week.

So I take her in on Tuesday and drop her off for x-rays and blood work, then assuming everything looks okay, take her back on Thursday for the surgery. She hasn't seemed like she wants to eat much the last couple of days. We can't tell, of course, whether she doesn't have any appetite or whether her mouth hurts. I've been giving her "gourmet" cat food with a lot of sauce on it, and she'll usually like off the gravy and leave the meaty bits, but this morning she didn't even want to do that. I think she's still losing weight. So, it's a worry.

And as far as me, I called the doctor's office last week and said that the cortisone injection hadn't seemed to have anything at all for my thumb, so could I go ahead and come in for another one, or, if the doctor doesn't think it would make any difference, schedule surgery.

But the nurse checked with the doctor, who said I had to wait the full four weeks; I asked if that was because it still might get better, or because I had to wait that long between injections, and she said the latter. So the same Tuesday that I'm taking Pye in, I have an appointment in the afternoon to see the hand doctor. I'll drop her off in the morning on my way to work, go to work, leave after lunch, pick her up, take her home, then go to the doctor. At least that's the plan.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I talked to the vet this morning. He said they got the test results back, and the thyroid tests were fine, but her white cell count is still low, and they don't know why. I should have asked more questions, but they always call early in the morning and I just couldn't think. I need to call him back.

Anyway, he said it was a mystery (this was the younger vet), but that I should go ahead and schedule her for dental surgery after we finish the antibiotics. He also said that they would want to do a chest x-ray before surgery. I can't really remember what they said when I was there -- something like some cancers settle in the lungs, and they would want to rule that out before doing surgery.

So I feel like I don't really know anything more than I did before, although at least they're not saying that it's definitely cancer, and not having a thyroid problem is, I guess, good, but then why is she losing weight? Certainly if she has a bad tooth, you would expect weight loss because it was hurting her to eat, but we haven't noticed anything like that.

I think she's probably got another couple of days' worth of antibiotics to take -- it's hard to tell, because it's a liquid -- then I guess I'll make another appointment to take her in.

And an update on me -- the "trigger thumb" is no better at all, in fact it may be slightly worse. So apparently the cortisone injection didn't do anything at all. I'll probably call the doctor late in the week and see what she thinks, whether it would be worthwhile to do another cortisone injection, or whether I should just schedule surgery. I definitely don't want to do it, but I'm afraid there isn't any other choice.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008


I think I mentioned the other day that when I took Pye in to the vet, we couldn't see our regular vet, and we saw the "new guy." When I took her in yesterday to get samples for more tests, the regular vet (the one who owns the practice) was there. I talked to him a little out in the reception area after the technician had taken Pye to the back room. (Aside -- I really like this tech, and she really loves Pyewacket. She took her out of the carrier to take her out back, and as she walked away with Pye under her arm, she turned around and said to me, "She's purring!")

When they finished getting the testing samples and brought her out and put her in one of the examining rooms, both of the vets came to talk to me. The older doctor said he's pretty sure she has an abcessed tooth. She also has swollen lymph nodes, yes, but he thinks that could be related to the tooth. He hasn't completely ruled out cancer, but at this point it doesn't actually seem likely. Frankly, at the time I thought it was a pretty hasty diagnosis, to go from swollen lymph nodes to cancer, but what do I know?

He asked if she was eating, and I said yes, she was eating fine; he said that eating, yet losing weight, could indicate a thyroid problem. He said they had gotten one thyroid panel back, but not a second one, so when they get the tests back they should have a better idea. Then he'll want a chest x-ray--I can't actually remember why he said that (maybe that lymphoma settles and shows in the lungs?), and then if everything else is okay, do dental surgery.

Which will cost a fortune, of course, but we'll do whatever we need to do. Unlike the worst case -- if it's lymphoma we'll do whatever we need to do to keep her comfortable and pain-free, but I don't think we would do chemotherapy or anything like that -- we couldn't let her remain sick and in pain from a bad tooth.

They gave me some antibiotics to give her, so hopefully that will help her feel better, and we'll wait and see what the tests show next week.

It's always something.

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