The Enumerated Suck of the First Week: Lymphoma Suckhole Pt. 2

This is Part 2 in an ongoing series about Mortimer, Original Critter, who has been diagnosed with feline hepatic lymphoma. Read more about that whole pile of shit here and here.

The first week sucks so bad.

I’m technically only on Day 5 of the first week, and it’s already been the longest and crappiest that I can remember in recent times. And that stands to reason: my cat is a walking time bomb. Of course that sucks. What’s surprising is the numerous, often excessively banal, ways in which the first week of a lymphoma diagnosis is a horror. So, without further ado, let’s just jump straight into this flaming shitpile with both feet.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Shit Begins: Lymphoma Suckhole Pt. 1

poop

This is Part 1 in an ongoing series about Mortimer, Original Critter, who has been diagnosed with feline hepatic lymphoma. Read more about that whole pile of shit here

That’s how all this started: With poop. How else would it start in my house?

Technically, that’s not true. It was the absence of poop that got this ball of suck rolling downhill in highly uncontrolled fashion.

The following is as condensed a timeline as I can give, from weirdness that I now understand to be relevant to diagnosis. It’s probably very dull–it’s a goddamn timeline of my life over the past couple weeks. But if there is one thing I hope it can illustrate, it’s that the symptoms of this horseshit can be extremely subtle. I pay such close attention to my critters that you could reasonably accuse me of helicopter pet parenting and not a single (probable) early symptom couldn’t be easily explained by normal circumstance of life. So if you have a cat with lymphoma and you feel like the biggest asshole of all time for not picking up on it earlier, I am here to tell you that this shit does not play fair.

Continue reading

*unintelligible swear words*

This is a terrible picture because this has been a terrible week.

 

Mortimer, Original Critter, has lymphoma.

That’s why he looks very angry above: he was, at the time, 12 hours out from his first chemo, had significantly diminished liver function, hadn’t eaten in 3.5 days, and was suffering mild encephalopathy.

Fuck cancer.

I’ve decided I’m going to chronicle whatever the hell happens from here on out mainly for people who, like me, take their cat to the vet for some vague weirdness only to be told, after several hours and multiple bags of chips that, actually: lymphoma. And especially for people who then frantically wipe the grease and crumbs off their fingers to google “cat lymphoma prognosis” and wind up with far more depression and confusion than they had while trying to wrap grey matter around the understanding that time with their kitteh is now finite in a painfully specific way.

 

I’ll do a couple background posts and then, hopefully, post many updates over the next few years.

If you’ve come across this in your Googlage and are wondering how to proceed, let me state right up front that I have no idea or recommendations beyond strongly suggesting that you consult a veterinary oncologist. I can only share what we’ve decided, why we decided it, and how everything plays out.

So, the following are relevant to our specific situation, based on discussions with our veterinary oncologist:

Mortimer:
12yo neutered male domestic shorthair. Former barn kitten. Has lived the spoiled life since 8 weeks of age. Indoor only. Fed only the fancypants-est food. Grain free for the past 10 years, raw-fed (prey model home, prepared frozen, and prepared dehydrated) for the past 3 years. Sees a holistic vet for yearly checkups. Gets only rabies vax. Has been the picture of health, if a bit on the portly side, his entire life.

Diagnosis:
Hepatic Lymphoma with super giant intestinal lymph nodes and a shitty liver. I believe that is the highly technical terminology. Will also accept: Fucking shit. That’s what we have.

Options:
Chemo, or imminent death from liver failure.

Decision:
Chemo. Madison protocol. That’s 2 months of weekly treatments as an outpatient, followed by 4 months of treatments every other week.

Prognosis:
Since liver failure is a pretty significant complicating factor, prognosis is uncertain and depends entirely on:

  • Mort’s ability to tolerate the chemo
  • The responsiveness of the cancer to the treatments
  • The ability to return the liver to somewhat normal functionality.

In general, cats tolerate chemo in this application quite well. Lymphoma in cats cannot be cured, therefore treatment aims to improve quality of life and, ideally, achieve remission. This means that side effects are kept to a relative minimum and this treatment protocol cannot, in any regard, be compared to the level of sickness commonly induced by chemo in humans. If remission can be achieved, then Mort could get a couple quality years. Median survival rate is 1.5 years.

I cannot stress this enough: The goal of treatment is to use the chemo to make Mort feel better. Not to make Mort violently ill in the short term, with long term hopes of beating the disease. Since the  disease cannot be beaten, there is no point in causing suffering.

I do not intend to present as any sort of authority on the subject. I am just a seriously freaked out person with a very sick kitty and if anything that we (Schmoop, Mort, Other Critters, and I) go through in the course of whatever is to come can provide any sort of comfort then I might as well share it.

Blog will remain blue for the forseeable future, mainly because making it all black (LIKE MY SOUL) would be super hard to read.

Fuck Cancer.

Read Part 1.

No, Seriously, I Really Mean it This Time.

Teetering precariously on the edge of the step. Just like me. Except replace "step" with "sanity."

Tiger teetering precariously on the edge of the step. Just like me. Except replace “step” with “sanity.”

It’s been almost two months. My goodness. I actually feel slightly awkward about this because if you did get any kind of kick out of my blog then you know that two months could not possibly have elapsed without incident.

Nay.

The past two months have included the following (just to catch you up):

  • A Calvin/Karmann near escape on Halloween, which resulted in me unleashing a torrent of questionable language while trying to shove bouncing puppies back into the house as legions of six year olds and their horrified parents gawped. I gave them extra candy.
  • A Karmann poopstrike.
  • Suggestions that Karmann may be developing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
  • Denial.
  • Barking. A lot of barking.
  • Running for Critters hustle.
  • Extreme Nighttime Naughtiness.
  • PLAGUE OH MY GOD.
  • Knee injury.
  • Mort parachuting from the kitchen counter onto Karmann’s back, in the middle of a dog snit that started because Calvin had the gumption to smell a smell that should have been her smell ENTIRELY.
  • Nigel being pretty benign.

Continue reading

The Puke Moon

IMG_3095.JPG

It happens every so often. I’ve posted about it before. There are times–mysterious, sacred, spiritual times–when all the house critters are united by a common thread . . . And they all start puking.

The Puke Moon.

We are currently under the influence of The Puke Moon.

We had a disastrous weekend. I will spare you the details but highlights include me getting stung in the neck by a bumblebee, Cal spontaneously freaking out while alone and scratching the crap out of our bedroom door while we were away, and Schmoop gesticulating in such a manner that he dislodged his favorite sunglasses from the top of his head, sending them flying out the window of the car, on the parkway, where they were immediately run over.

So, as a kind gesture to erase the negative juju, Schmoop bought the pups some all-natural cheese cookies yesterday. We feed raw, and the pupsnacks are generally liver or kidney jerky and something called a lamb puff, so the cheesey cookies, being grain-based, were the equivalent of doggie junk food. A little can’t kill them, right?

As it turns out, no, won’t kill them. It will make them turn their stomachs inside out, though.

Shortly after eating his 3 cookies, Cal started with the lip licking. It died down, though, and I charged brazenly ahead with critter dinner. That was a bad idea. Because during human dinner on the patio, Cal became frantic, trying to eat my dead plants, and the grill cover, and neurotically licking the concrete floor, and I knew what was coming as frantic consumption attempts only ever lead one place with him: the evacuation of more food than he could ever possibly have eaten–in his entire life, let alone for dinner–by volume.

Calvin is magical, he creates matter. Being the source of All Things in the universe may explain his mental state. We may be star dust, but star dust is actually Calvin poop.

After puking all over the place the boy pup settled . . . Until 10:30. When the frantic need to consume returned. Except there was nothing left in him to evacuate, so I hauled myself out of bed and we came downstairs where I could keep an eye on him as he rode out the nausea. By happenstance, he finally settled around 1:30, about 30 minutes after I finally gave him a Gas-X, and a little later we tottered back upstairs.

And then Karmann woke me at 6. Puking.

And then at 11, Mort puked twice.

So I’m calling it: Puke Moon. Nigel hasn’t started yet, but he can’t possibly be far behind.

So excited for the next 12 hours!

Just Like a St. Bernard Only Tiny

IMG_3081.JPG

“Why does everybody keep asking me if there’s brandy in this stupid thing?”

Let’s just get this out of the way: I’m a terrible person who makes their very innocent little kitteh wear a tiny backpack. And I laugh about it. In fact, looking at this picture now, I am still wont to giggle.

I am giggling.

When I’m not busy abusing and disrespecting my animals, I occasionally run a road race and by “run” I mean “plod”, and by “race” I mean that’s what all the people in front of me are doing while I swear and plod. This past Saturday, I suckered Schmoop into joining me for a 5K, because I really like to spread the abuse around rather than limit it to only the species over which I have total, fearsome dominion. So, we picked up our race packets Saturday morning at WHY-DOES-THIS-TIME-EVEN-EXIST??!!?!??-o’clock, and immediately dumped them out in the back of the car.

They contained . . . a tiny backpack.

A tiny backpack laden with band-aids of all the shapes and sizes that nobody could ever possibly need. Little itty bitty band-aids unfit to cover a splinter hole, all the way up to standard sized bandages, all of an off-brand. You know the super plasticky ones that wouldn’t reliably stick to a a recently steam cleaned pane of glass, let alone human skin? I have a tiny back pack full of those. Actually, our household technically has two.

Two tiny backpacks full of totally useless first aid devices.

Oh, plus two antiseptic wipes–two per wee rucksack, bringing our total, of course, to four–which will actually come in handy in the middle of the night when Mort exacts his revenge by gouging at our faces. Mental note to remove wipeys from tiny backpacks and divide amongst our nightstands.

So after much perplexion (should totally be a word) we did what any self-respecting cat lovers would do. We made the cat wear the tiny backpack, effectively turning him into an off-brand version of a St. Bernard.

He was not amused. His stupid humans, however, were sorely entertained and snapped many pictures and did all manner of truly awful things like picking him up off his window perch and setting him on the ground so that we could watch him melt into the floor because cat bones immediately decalcify when presented with unpleasant situations. It lasted maybe five minutes (probably an eternity in kitten years) and then we lovingly removed the backpack and gave him snuggles and gently put him back up on the window, all while fending off two puppies who can smell cat humiliation as if it were brisket.

But here’s the thing: this is not my fault. I cannot, in any way, be held accountable for my monstrous actions because what else was I supposed to do? Race organizers gave me a tiny backpack of useless treasures and literally the ONLY being IN THE ENTIRE WORLD that could EVER wear the tiny backpack is a cat. And I have two cats, and I found myself–entirely unintentionally–with two tiny backpacks and WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO?

So I did the only thing I could and I took photos and I’m not proud but cats in tiny backpacks are hilarious and you know it. YOU KNOW IT. So you can’t judge me.

Reunited!

20140725-141446-51286477.jpg

I am a horrible cat mom.

Mr. Naughtypants has finally figured out how to apply his brute kitteh force to the cellar door, thereby popping it open, so he’s been spending some time down the basement while his stupid humans are out of the house. We generally return to find him hunkered on the steps, as if to insinuate that he cracked the door open but did not–would not ever–explore the basement. There’s nothing down there that is particularly dangerous to him, I just don’t want to have to pry him off the top of a storage cabinet, or remove him from the laundry lines, so I haven’t been particularly pleased with his new love of interdomicile travel. I’ve been pleased, these past couple days, to discover that all his door digging (and there has been a lot) has come to naught and, try as he might, little stripey kitteh has been marooned on the upper levels of the house.

Fast forward to today, when I was in the basement sorting laundry. In the middle of chucking some socks into the workout pile, I spied an aberration on the pale blue duvet cover heaped onto the floor, awaiting it’s go in the washer. A small, kind of icky, animal-printed aberration.

Tiger.

Apparently Mortie took Tiger with him on one of his subterranean adventures and the little guy wound up abandoned. On an admittedly comfy portion of pending laundry because Mortie may wake the household humans every day, without fail, at 4am, but he is exceedingly kind to his stuffed and squashed-headed bestie.

And then I stopped to think about the last time I saw Mortie with Tiger and . . . DOGS HELP ME I CANNOT RECALL.

He has been without Tiger for so very long that I have no idea when the dynamic duo were last seen together. Bad kitteh mom! Bad!

So I abandoned my laundry sorting to take Tiger upstairs and Mortie immediately batted him around, then picked him up and walked him all over the house–never letting Tiger touch the floor–for about 20 minutes. And then they laid down and I took the above picture and came upstairs to post it because I’m supposed to be cleaning the house but bleh. And then Mortie picked him up and brought him upstairs, where he’s spent the last 10 minutes reacquainting his truly-baby-kittehood buddy with the living quarters.

Tiger is currently being shown the bed.

Schmoopie’s Critterful Moment

20140404-152722.jpg

So, not infrequently, my critters get up to shit. And by shit I literally mean they usually do so in some inappropriate place, at some particularly inconvenient time, and the household devolves into madness as humans scramble for cleaning products/cats/dog/etc. Mercifully, this usually happens when we are both around, though I think I can claim without a martyr’s complex that when it happens with one person present that person is usually me. It’s just statistics: I’m with the critters all day, so I’m more likely to be the lucky one. This should not be a surprise, since I basically started this blog to record all the daily and apupcalyptic weirdness in which the critters are perpetually ensconced.

Yesterday, I went for a run while Schmoop hung with critters. The general mood, at the point I left, was increasingly bizarre, so I skipped out the door (and into the rain) gleefully, knowing that I would have a bit of a reprieve. Tra la la!

When I returned, a scant half hour later, the smoke alarm was blaring, a beagle was tearing through the house, and Schmoop was in the kitchen yelling at Karmann to move. From the strained timbre of his directive, she was noncompliant. I froze, wondering if my entrance had been heard above all the excitement, and calculating the likelihood that I could slip back out silently for “another run” by which I mean a trip up to the bar for “a beer” by which I mean many beers.

Just as I was slowly backing away, Schmoop came dashing out of the kitchen and up the stairs, grumbling as he passed that Cal had shat on the stoop and he’d just come in from a doggy potty break wherein Karmann had pooped and then, upon returning to the warm, dry indoors, parked herself right at the top of the basement stairs, indicating that she, you know, needed to go out, and could I deal with at least one situation. Apparently this all went down while he was in the middle of making me dinner.

I took the dogs out while Schmoop dealt with the smoke detector, which had no good reason for going off save that Calvin had pooped right beneath it. So either our smoke detector is a poop alarm, a sentient and malevolent device that seized upon a moment of human frailty, or the batteries died. WE MAY NEVER KNOW.

This episode came at the end of a very nutty few days of twice-daily prednisone for Karmann’s Addison’s. Said therapy clearly helped her, with the super added bonus of turning her into a kinetic pee machine, and thus the household hominids were especially delicate.

Nutter is feeling boatloads better on the once-daily dose, and is finally capable of doing something other than staring at us, pacing, and peeing–she can now rest comfortably AND ALSO be frisky when the situation demands it. And she’s convinced that most situations demand it. Going to the kitchen? PLAY! Going to the bathroom? PLAY! Going upstairs? PLAY! Brushing teeth? PLAYPLAYPLAY! Which leaves me to wonder about how long she’s been feeling under the weather. Because the dog I have now is the Karmann of two years ago: high energy, insanely affectionate, ready to go in .005 seconds. For those of you who have only spent time with Karmann in the past year, and are inevitably thinking, “but that describes the Karmann I know, so what could have changed . . . ?” I can say only that you have seen nothing. NOTHING. This Karmann–2 years ago Karmann–is nuttier than you could possibly imagine. She is indefatigable. She actually bounces. She is made of such raw energy that you can almost see her molecules vibrating. Come see her now. Better yet, come take her for a weekend. I’m exhausted.

Her improvement has also had a, um, wonderful (?) effect on Cal, who was so stupendously happy last weekend that he spent Sunday leaping for kisses and wagging his butt and dancing for grandma before all the amazing excitement made its way to his colon, where it was transformed into another round of frantic liquishitting. Even bouncing, kissing happiness causes systemic skepticism in the beagle. I have no idea how to maintain a perfectly unexciting yet casually pleasant household, which seems to be the only state in which he can function normally.

This past week we also (finally) managed to feed whole, bone-in pieces without initiating doggie world war. Usually, feeding whole chicken wings or thighs–the pieces we’ve previously tried–results in World’s Sweetest Puppy Karmann turning into a crazed and evil hellhound who resource guards THE WHOLE ENTIRE HOUSE from Calvin. So we stopped trying. Goddess knows we have plenty of inherent crazy in this house without having to bring it in from outside. And then, this week, we found the answer: duck necks. Karmann likes duck well enough to eat it, but not well enough to commit beaglecide. Score! The only downside is that Mort patently refuses to eat duck in any form, and we have to cut them into large chunks for Karmann, lest she redecorate the living room with duck necks. I will roll with these challenges if it means I have a non-murderous form of zoobie cleaning available to the puppies.

In Running for Critters news, I ran 9 miles last Sunday and I ran in the rain yesterday–and probably will have to do so again today. I don’t want to brag but that pretty much makes me a super heroine.

Kitten Curtain Deathmatch and Other Pleasantries

20140327-113942.jpg

The kittens have the sort of relationship that would make Dr. Phil raise an eyebrow. One minute they love each other and are snuggling adorably,the next minute they sound like a small herd of rabid elephants stampeding through the house on a murderquest. Rabid, quacking, yowling, screaming elephants.

Occasionally, they use props. Mortimer really liked it when we were painting the dining room, and a plastic tarp thrown over a kitchen island-turned-buffet created an amenable murderers cave. He would hide beneath the buffet–behind the tarp–and wait for an unsuspecting Puppy, Nigel, or human to walk past, greeting all with the ninja paw, or sometimes even a full kitten lunge-and-retreat. By the time painting was complete, the tarp was shredded. In times without painting projects, though, a bed, human, or piece of furniture will provide suitable cover for whichever kitten is on the offensive. They take turns being the aggressor.

Yesterday, they used the delightfully old timey window treatments left by the previous homeowners, which we have been reluctant to replace because critters destroy everything, as staging for their battle royale. For ten or so minutes they alternated hiding behind the curtain, and deathmauling the curtain hider, while I watched and giggled and calculated the survival rate of whichever kitten crashed through the window and onto the driveway.

As usual with kitten shenanigans, it’s all fun and games until someone gets a claw stuck on some fabric. In this case that someone was Mortie, at which point Nigel became bored and left the striped cat to sort his dilemma alone. Brute force prevailed, and I now understand where the mystery tear on one of the other panels came from.

To the neighbors wondering if this is some sort of crack house with the torn and lopsided window panels: not my fault! *points frantically at nearest kitten*

To the commissioners who want to raise my property assessment: this is totally some sort of crack house!

To any police who might have read the above and are now planning a SWAT infiltration and DEA bust: just kidding! (Unless a commissioner happens to be reading over your shoulder.)

***

In Karmann news, the vet confirmed Addison’s based on cortisol tests, and then did a full blood work up only to discover some things which supported Addison’s, and others that were exactly the opposite of what they generally expect. Given that she is my puppy and I have been informed by two physicians, independently, that various anatomical bits are “not exactly where the anatomy books suggest they should be” this is not particularly surprising. I grow ever more convinced that we somehow share DNA, or are swapping places. I have not personally had any interaction with a Zoltar machine lately, but who knows what Karmann gets up to when she isn’t busy pooping every 20 minutes.

Since “supportive” outweighed the “huh?!?” We are treating her with a short course of a low dose of prednisone and observing her closely. If she improves, we will take that as confirmation. If she doesn’t, I suppose there will be a considerable amount of head scratching. Either way, she’ll have another blood test at the two week mark.

So far, on day two of the prednisone, I can’t see any improvement. I can, however, see a lot of pee–increased urination being a known side effect of prednisone, albeit one I don’t recall her having during treatments in the past. And she doesn’t seem to get much warning, either.

KARMANN: *sleeping*
(15 seconds pass)
KARMANN: ohmygodtakemeoutNOWWWWWWWWW!!!
*pees on stoop*

I assume she’s just trying to not pee until the next regularly scheduled pee, but then realizes late in the game that that isn’t going to work. And unfortunately, when it happens in the middle of the night or at the ass crack of dawn she is thwarted by humans, who require things like pants (and the half asleep, blind, bumbling location thereof) to go outside. Natch.

She still seems off, to me–like she’s agitated not in the sense that she’s cranky, more like she just doesn’t know what to do with herself. Which makes me sad. Because I tell her we are going to get her better but it’s taking a really freaking long time and she just keeps feeling weird in the meantime. But then I suppose I need to give the prednisone more than 36 hours.

I hate being patient.

***

I also hate port-a-potties.

Which is why, if you are reading this and thinking, “Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh maybe I’ll donate to this broad’s fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League . . . Or maybe not. I mean, she’s kind of funny-ish. At times. I’m getting, like $.50 worth of entertainment out of this. Can I donate $.50?” I am here to tell you I’m sorry, I’m off my game, and YES YOU CAN! You can certainly donate $.50. And if 70 of you donate $.50 (that’s a total of $35 for my fellow MFA’s out there) between now and April 1 I will be entered into a drawing to win one of seven VIP passes for the marathon and a VIP pass means NO PORT-A-POTTIES!

It also means private changing rooms. Very swanky.

Granted. If I do not raise $35 by April Fools Day–which is also Calvin’s birthday, no pressure–I will still run, and I will pee in a wee plastic hut, and I will change in a giant room with hundreds of other sweaty females while averting my eyes.

I WILL DO THAT FOR THE CRITTERS. I will publicly undress for them. I will do that.

All you have to do is give $.50.

Squishable Sunday

20140323-220503.jpg

Things I learned this week

1. Sleep is awesome (confirmed.)

2. Karmann does, in fact, have Addison’s

3. Running after eating half your body weight in andouille sausage is a BAD IDEA. Unless of course you think you might need to direct someone to your location, in which case you could tell them to follow the smell of sausage and sweat. I personally prefer GPS or even cross streets.

4. Using an untested trail system, with reviews stressing how awful the blazing is, is probably never going to yield the type of long run you’re aiming for.

5. Kittens are adorable sleepers (confirmed.)