helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
On March 23, I made this post (was private until I knew more):
http://helen99.livejournal.com/463036.html

He was in the hospital since that time - never came home. They performed diagnostic tests and finally came up with a diagnosis. It was definitely not heart disease, nor was it a recurrence of the mammary cancer, nor was it a lymphoma like they suspected for a while. Most of those would have been treatable to some extent. He'd developed a completely different type of cancer that had spread all over his lungs (fibrosarcoma). He never showed any symptoms at all before the initial breathing distress I described at the link above.

This type rarely occurs in the lungs - it's the kind of cancer cats were getting in the muscle and bone tissue of the leg from the 3-year rabies vaccine. Yet it could not have been from any vaccine, because I'd been very bad about being up to date on all his shots.

I'd been watching very carefully for recurrences of the mammary cancer for the past year. The mammary cancer surgery was about a year and a month ago, and all seemed to be well, but this entirely blindsided me. This had not shown up on any of the x-rays during exams. It only showed up on a very specifically targeted ultrasound that they did when they couldn't figure out what was going on.

We had him put to sleep on March 26, 2010. They brought him out of the oxygen tank wrapped in a fluffy towel and set him on Rialian's lap before giving him the shot. He was glad to see us, and he was purring. I had 11 good years with him, for which I'm very grateful.





Sithreal, my Sithreal
Sometime in 1998 - March 26, 2010

Sithreal

Mar. 23rd, 2010 10:11 pm
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Sithreal is in the hospital. Last Monday he started looking ill (the day before that, he had seemed fine). By the following morning, he had fluid in his lungs and was gasping for breath. We rushed him to the vet, who said he either had heart disease or cancer, there being more probability of cancer, because he'd had it before. That vet aspirated the fluid out of his lungs and prescribed a strong diuretic to get rid of any residual fluid. She advised me to take him to a cardiologist.

I called another vet (one who makes house calls) to come and see him. He also advised me to take Sithreal to a cardiologist. Two vets had advised me to take him to a cardiologist, even though the probability was cancer. I started to have hope that it was heart disease, because that is at least treatable.

You know you are having a very bad day when you say "I hope it's heart disease".

I'd hesitated to take him to a cardiologist, because I was fairly certain the illness was not heart disease. However, if I didn't, and the illness was, in fact, heart disease, I would never forgive myself. So I took him to the cardiologist.

He performed an ultrasound Echo Cardiogram on Sithreal's chest to determine if it was heart disease. The heart looked perfect. He continued looking around the chest cavity. He found what looked like a mass in the upper thorax, about an inch across.

The only way to tell whether or not the detected abnormality is malignancy is a biopsy. The vet said that I'd done right to take him off the diuretic, since it was not heart disease and the diuretic had made him dehydrated. He transferred him over to the emergency care unit for hydration and stabilization.

Sithreal was too weak to do a biopsy today, especially not on his lungs. The vet (a different one at this point) said that sometimes the lungs can collapse from aspiration and too much irritation. He opted to do another ultrasound on his abdominal area first. Sithreal had pain in his abdomen during normal palpitation by the vet (though this could be due to kidney irritation from the diuretic). After the ultrasound, they put Sithreal on fluids to try to increase his strength.

If they find something in the abdominal area, they'll take the biopsy from there. Otherwise, they'll wait until he's stronger to do a biopsy on the abnormality detected in his lung. They have not told me anything yet. No answers until tomorrow.

They suspect the cancer has recurred, or more accurately, that there were instances of it that were not detected when he had the original cancer surgery last year.

Or not, as the case may be. They're still doing tests. Whatever it is, it is not good. I visited with him tonight. He hardly recognized me. He was mostly asleep, his third eyelids mostly covering his eyes, which seemed irritated and runny. But he wasn't asleep - he was still sort of conscious, eyes sort of open. Finally at around 9 pm, visiting hours were over and I left. I don't think he noticed when I left - he had drifted off. There was no record in his chart of him having received an anesthetic. I don't know if I'll see him alive again.

August 21

Aug. 21st, 2009 11:28 am
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
On August 21, 1999 I lost a cat who was very important to me. On August 21, 2009, another cat who is very important to me was declared free and clear of cancer.

I'm not sure what to make of this, but I feel that no matter what happens in the future, something that was very, very broken has been fixed.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
So, Sithreal gave me a bit of a scare last night. I was sitting at my computer table Sithreal's tummy-petting station, and he was being unusually compliant about letting me pet his tummy. That was when I noticed that one of his nipples seemed discolored. I was relieved when it turned out to be just dead skin and some hair stuck to the nipple, which all came off leaving healthy pink skin underneath. I advanced up the chain of kitty titties, and arrived at the next one. This one had an even bigger thing on it. It looked similar to the last one, but it wasn't coming off. I became alarmed. Some may remember this episode in February 2009 -- this is why I got scared (and also why I was thus examining him).

This morning, we took him to the vet for his exam. He was due for one anyway, and if it recurred I wanted to get it while it was still microscopic. The vet looked at him, did the physical, took him in back, and brought him back out - it was just a scab with waxy/hair buildup, just like the other one, but was stuck a little worse. She easily got it off by scraping it gently. She had an assistant who helped her -- Sithreal wasn't allowing that much nipple-scraping last night. Last night was kind of a rough night when I thought it might have been a cancer recurrence, but this morning was worth it.

We're at the six-month mark, and it has not recurred. We're not home free by any means - it's watch and wait for the rest of his life. Another instance may occur elsewhere. I hope it doesn't, but I will watch very carefully. The thing that makes me happy is, we made it for the first six months. That means that the instance of cancer that we did get ... it's gone.

IT'S GONE.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
The last of the scabs has fallen off, and the scar is smoothing out rapidly. The sensitivity has gone down to the point where he lets me rub his tummy lightly (before he wouldn't let me get near it). As his fur grows back in and it smooths out even more and the skin on the side of the incision relaxes a bit, the sensitivity will decrease. We've taken the collar off now (even at night), and he's free to roam the house. He got used to having that room to himself, though, so sometimes he asks to be let in. I've decided that it might improve his health if he has his own territory where he can get stress-free chill time away from the others if he needs it, so we let him in there whenever he wants and to feed him. Thus falls the last cat-free bastion in the house.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
So... For most of yesterday evening, [livejournal.com profile] rialian was reading Horrors Beyond, a compilation of stories set within or similar to the Lovecraftian mythos, and finished it toward midnight. At that point he went to keep Sithreal company for a half hour or so.

Continuing Cat Foo and the Mouth of Sauron )

So that was the evening and the morning of the eleventy leventh day.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Sithreal had the stitches taken out today. I expected the vet to be there to tell me what I was supposed to do next, but he wasn't there. It was kind of surreal. I'd been dreading what the vet might say to me or try to convince me to do. I was at the point where I was going to send Sithreal to the vet's office with [livejournal.com profile] rialian and not go myself.

Then I decided to face the situation and go after all, only to find out that the vet wasn't even there. I forgot to ask whether or not Sithreal is supposed to return for a followup checkup any time soon, and the girl at the front desk didn't offer to set up an appointment, so that never got done.

The veterinary technician took Sithreal to the back room, and I waited for a few minutes while I had my complimentary hazlenut coffee. Then she brought Sithreal back out minus the stitches, and I took him home.

That was it. It was as if nothing had ever happened.

This doesn't mean we're off the hook yet, though. This just puts it off for a few days. The vet will probably call me if I don't call him.

I still don't know if they think he needs further treatment, and if they do, what that would consist of and for how long. I'm in kind of a weird state where I want to call the vet to be sure I've done everything right, but at the same time I don't want to talk to him at all (even though he's pretty cute).
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
The pathology results for Sithreal were all clear. No sign of cancer anywhere, lymph nodes clear. Yay.

Cautious, though, because the vet still wants us to consult with the oncologist to see if there should be chemotherapy. My answer to them is no, considering what I just read in that link. Major points:

1. He's all clear, so if he got chemo, there's nothing there to kill except healthy cells (already killed a number of those with surgery).

2. The course of treatment is usually 12 to 15 weeks. The specific length varies but that's the average. Maybe for cases like this it's shorter, but even, say, 7 weeks is WAY too long. Two weeks would be the maximum acceptable length I'd be willing to put him through, if even that.

If he had an inoperable tumor somewhere or if it had spread to the lymph nodes, then maybe. But he has no sign of it anywhere now. 12-15? Forget it.

3. Side effects: Nausea, toxic to bone marrow.

So. For 15 weeks they want to give my cat something that is toxic to BONE MARROW??? Good bye all his white blood cells, hello thrombocytopenia, which is what Ookie died of. He could die of secondary infections due to lack of immunity faster than a recurrence would kill him. In the immortal words of someone I used to know, "Home girl don't think so."

4. Cost

According to this link, the cost is expensive, since they use the same drugs as for humans and the same types of specialists. I get the feeling I'd be paying them to weaken/kill him. I think he'll be fine without it.

If I truly thought it would help him, I'd do it, but I do not think it will help him or increase his chances of a good life at all.

5. Quoted directly from the website: "Finally, it is important for the owners of dogs and cats receiving chemotherapy to realize that cancers we treat are rarely cured. Almost all of our patients ultimately have recurrence of their cancers."

So I'm supposed to give him something that is going to fail anyway...

Something that will kill the natural immune system so badly that my cat will be unable to fight off anything whatsoever, let alone cancer.

Just...
No.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Crazy thought enters head (concerning things esoteric): "You really believe all that stuff, don't you?"

Immediate answer: "yes'.
More thought out answer: "Some of it (well, the part I think is ok, anyway)".

--------------------------------------------

In other news, we haven't gotten the pathology results for Sithreal back yet. I'm extremely gun shy at the moment, since last time I thought I would get an "It was an abscess" or at worst, "It was a localized skin cancer". So this time I really do want to get a "No evidence of cancer". Even if results are clear, the oncologist may recommend chemo. I need to research this and be sure i know what to do. I don't want to compromise his immunity too much more unless it's deemed life-threatening not to.

--------------------------------------------

I just got good news in the political spam box:

"After such a long drought in federal leadership on renewables, we find ourselves pleasantly surprised by Congress' newfound love for the sun. Congress just passed an economic recovery package that makes good on Obama's promise to unleash the economic development engine that is clean energy. Nearly all of the solar provisions on the table made it into the final bill. Serious kudos to our hard-working friends at SEIA who traversed the halls of Congress until the 11th hour, and to all of our members who chimed in online to make their voices heard. Click here to read about the solar provisions in the bill. http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1179/t/5839/blog/comments.jsp?key=538&blog_entry_KEY=23317&t= . The recovery package will immediately spur job creation along each link in the solar supply chain- from PV panel manufacturers to solar hot water system installers. Next up on the federal solar agenda - a Renewable Electricity Standard. We are working to ensure that this important policy tool effectively deploys solar from coast to coast. As always, we will be counting on you to help deliver the message. Stay tuned, it may only be February, but it's already shaping up to be a great year for solar victories. Onwards, Annie + Vote Solar Team"

--------------------------------------------

In other other other news, I've fallen in love with this Greek song (which had it's origins in the Greek underworld scene of the 30s): Alexandriani Felaha (Alexandrian Country Girl):

lyrics, pronunciation guide, and translation of Greek song )
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Sithreal's surgery is now. Then once he gets home, there will be confinement to a room, elizabethan collar, pain medications, and oral antibiotics for as long as he has the stitches. Initially there will be a pain patch as well. I'm sorry, big kitty. Your life belongs to the goddess Porcelaina Conveniencea for two weeks, in hopes that it can be a long and healthy one thereafter. Best of luck.

update )
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
sithreal, medical )
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Sithreal is staying in the smaller downstairs bedroom until everything is healed up from whatever treatment he has to get. It gets a bit lonely in there for a cat who's used to being with his people whenever they're home. So last night, Rialian stayed with him in that room and gave him much-needed snuggles and company. The catch is, there are about 5 cushions on the floor where I've jury-rigged a bed for Sithreal. There isn't a mattress in there or anywhere for a person to sleep. Further, nobody had straightened Sithreal's blankets for the past couple of days, so they were kind of wadded up to make an ideal cat nest (but not a person nest). In other words, Rialian slept partially on some cushions and wadded up blankets and partially on the floor, so he could keep Sithreal company and give him snuggles.


Thank yooo!
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
This Link says that if the tumor is under 2cm, then the survival rate increases to "over 3 years". There's no upper limit on that, so it's looking better than it was with the last article. If there is no sign of spreading to the lymph nodes and he doesn't need chemo (or only needs a little), that would increase his survival chances even more. So that's what I'm hoping for now.

For some reason, I am reminded of one of the better post-apop 80s movies - Bladerunner. In this movie, there was an underclass of manufactured people called Replicants. Normally, Replicants were scheduled to die at a certain time - they'd last for, say, 15 years, and then their functions would automatically cease.

Then there was a breakthrough, and a new line of Replicants had been produced that were for all intents and purposes entirely human, and had no idea when their death would occur. It could be in 20 minutes or in 20 years. Nobody knew. One such Replicant has managed to pass for a human. She is working with the main character (a Bladerunner, i.e., Replicant exterminator) to catch a band of rogue Replicants who were trying to find their maker and force him to extend their lives.

The Bladerunner had no clue what she was until the end of the movie. When he finds out, he makes the decision to retire from his particular form of service to be with her. At least that's how my mind is remembering a movie I saw 30 years ago or so. So now we have,

Sithreal: Post-apocalyptic replicant bladerunner.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
sithreal, medical )
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
This weekend I didn't leave town because I wanted to stick around with Sithreal, give him his meds, keep him company etc. It turns out that it was a good thing I was here, because around noon my younger brother called, and was locked out of his house. It was very lucky that he called this weekend, because I haven't been in Maryland on weekends in months... until now.

After this happened, I realized that he did not have my cell number. Until recently, it had been enough for him to have my land line, because he hardly ever called, and I was in Rockville often enough to handle emergencies on weekends. This is no longer true. Also, ever since my mom died, nobody has a key to his house except him and me, so in an emergency or if he gets locked out, I'm it.

We had a good visit and I gave him my our cell numbers so he can reach us if we're out of town. It's only a couple of hours away, so I would be able to drive back. I'm still amazed at how lucky he was that I happened to be home.

In other news, the results from Sithreal's tests are not back yet - should be back sometime next week (the vet will call). He's doing ok, and is getting anxious to get out of the room. Only one more dose of pain meds. It was only supposed to be given for a few days - not a week like I had originally thought. That's a relief, since I didn't think that would be good. The incision is healing well and no sign of infection. He doesn't seem to be aware that it's there at all.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Sithreal is back home now. The surgery went well. He has stitches, so he'll have to be quarantined for a week to prevent the other cats from harassing him, and will be on pain medication for around the same amount of time. I set up one of the rooms for him with two large cushions and a pillow covered with cat blankets that I crocheted (he's a big cat). He has his food, water, and a litter box all to himself, and a heater nearby set on low to provide ambient warmth (when the gas furnace shuts off that room gets a bit chilly). I think he might like it - he's never much liked the other cats, and he hasn't tried to escape yet. When I showed him his new bed, he hopped onto it immediately and started kneading and purring. So far so good...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Sithreal is in the hospital. He had a suspicious swelling on one of his front nipples. I thought it was the result of him getting scratched by one of my other cats, but then it burst and turned into a lesion. It scabbed over so I waited a few days to see if it the scab would come off and reveal healthy skin underneath. It didn't. The scab persisted and what areas of skin did show looked infected, and appeared as an irregular red blotch. I feared it might be the beginnings of a tumor so I took him in to get it lopped off.

So now he has 5 kitty titties and is minus whatever that was. They're sending it to pathology to determine if it was malignant, but meanwhile I opted to treat it as if it was. Surgery went well, they got all of whatever-it-was, and he's resting comfortably for the night.

They want to check on him tomorrow morning so he's staying overnight. Hopefully he won't be too stressed by all of this (of course he will). We're picking him up before 9 am tomorrow. I was instructed to put him on a diet. He is supposed to weigh 14 pounds, and he weighs 20.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I decided that Sithreal is a new species of animal, whose scientific Greek/Latin name shall be

"Megalipopsychomeligattos"

which, when translated into English, becomes

Big Fat Crazy Honeycat

April 2010

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