I started with an e-mail I sent to a friend the day I first took Ogden to the vet because I found a lump in his side. Her response to that was, "Oh, it's probably nothing." If only that had been true.
Monday, November 25, 2002 - Leaving early
I made an appointment for Oggy today at 3:00pm. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to handle this one. :-( I felt a lump in Ogden's side as I was petting him. I've felt it for a week or so now but when I try to find it again, I never can. This morning, as I was petting Ogden, Jeff asked, "Did you feel that lump?" If Jeff is noticing it, too, it can't just be my imagination. I called the vet immediately.
There's a part of me that thinks it's probably nothing. I think I'm known as the hypochondria mom at the vet. I bring the animals in all the time and there's never anything wrong with them. Still, I have it get it checked out. What kind of momma would I be if I just let it go?
Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - Yin and Yang
What must go up, must come down. Into every life, a little rain must fall. After waiting a week, we finally got good news yesterday. Our house appraiser wasn't sure our house was worth what we were paying for it. We got the word yesterday that the appraisal came in at $500 more than what we're paying for it. That's one more hurdle jumped in the race to the house finish line. I was happy.
I'll start backwards on my day. We went to the Animal Emergency Room last night with Nemo. He had a little seizure. He's doing fine now but it was just the topping to my day.
I made a vet appointment for Ogden yesterday. I had noticed a lump in his side and when Jeff made the comment, "Have you noticed the lump?" I knew I wasn't being crazy and decided to get it checked out. When I brought Ogden to the vet, I first checked to see if I could still find the lump. I could. But when the vet tech asked me to find the lump, I couldn't. She then mentioned that I was probably just feeling his kidneys. Turns out, she was right, but it wasn't a good thing. His kidneys are enlarged. They're supposed to be 6cm and one is 8 1/2cm. Depending on how the vet looked at the X-Ray, the other looked to be 6cm or 7cm. She took some blood and got some fluid from both of the kidneys. Her two thoughts were cancer or kidney failure. She assured me that cats can live with just one kidney. They did a preliminary test on the blood and fluid and determined that it probably wasn't cancer. She sent me home and said she'd call in a hour. Two hours later, Jeff called the vet because she still hadn't called us. I kinda knew that one of his kidneys was in failure but the tests came back to say that both of Ogden's kidneys have stopped working - double kidney failure.
They're still running tests on the blood and fluid to determine just how bad it is. The vet was surprised that he was eating normally, drinking, and using his litter box. He's happy and bouncy and drooly and purry. These are good signs and is the reason he's not at the vet now. They figure if he's happy and eating, why mess with it?
The other good sign is the fact that his kidneys are enlarged and not shrinking. You can reduce the kidney size through diet and medicine and get them working again but if they're shrinking, ya can't grow 'em back. It's a very odd thing.
He was at the vet in May and they did bloodwork then and he was fine. The good thing is that we probably just caught the kidney failure. Jeff did some research and found out that a). we can get the kidneys working again and b). the breed most likely to have kidney failure is Maine Coons and c). cats have lived several years after being treated. It's not the end of Oggy but it's making me realize that it's pretty darn close. :-(
So I now I get to wait for the vet to call to give a better prognosis or whatever the term is. They're sending his bloodwork to a pathologist to definitely rule out cancer. They're going to schedule an ultrasound soon. We'll go from there.
The funny thing is that Wensley is the one not doing well. She hissed at Ogden last night (vet smell) so Jeff decided that it would be best to lock her out of the bedroom and let Ogden just sleep in peace with me. She was very sulky this morning, refused to come down to breakfast, and was no where to be found when I left.
Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'll be at home... probably eating Boston Market. We had planned on going to see my parents but - and even Jeff brought this up - we've decided to spend as much time with Ogden as possible.
Thursday, November 28, 2002 - Yin and Yang Update
The most telling piece of Ogden's illness was the fact that when I brought him to the vet in May, he was fine. Finding out that both of his kidneys have shut down in just six months without any signs of this should have been a red flag. My little guy has lympho sarcoma (cancer), too, which is probably the reason his kidneys have shut down.
We got the phone call around 7 o'clock last night from a very sad sounding vet. We're being referred to a specialist at the University and they'll tell us how bad it is. Again, we just have to wait. I was kinda okay with knowing his kidneys have shut down because that can be reversed. Adding cancer to the mix, and not a good cancer (if there is such a thing), is breaking my heart.
I thought I'd have him around for at least 6 or 7 more years (but ideally, forever). My visions of the future never included just Wensley running around. I always thought it would be Oggy and me. I'm not even sure if Oggy will make it to see the new house, and that's something that's very hard for me. I wanted to see him watching the squirrels and birds outside because for once, they'd be very close in our own trees and bushes. I wanted to watch him play on the hardwood floors and remember that toys scoot a lot faster on hardwood than carpet. I wanted to watch him run around the house and try to take a corner with no claws on a hardwood floor. I know Oggy isn't dead yet and that there could be some miracle cure out there that enables him to live those 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 more years, but right now, I don't see a future.
I'm picking up a video camera this afternoon so I can watch Oggy in action for years to come. Have a Happy Thanksgiving! As long as Ogden is with me, it will be happy for me.
Monday, December 2, 2002 - Life on Monday
It's been a tough week since Ogden was diagnosed with double kidney failure and then ultimately cancer. He endured his first round of chemo last Wednesday (right before Thanksgiving) and steadily went downhill. It's amazing how quickly he went from happy and seemingly healthy to spending the weekend in ICU.
Ogden stopped eating Thursday night. He didn't even want the chicken from Jeff's Thanksgiving dinner. Ogden has never turned down food in his life. One of the pills I had to jam down his throat is "toxic," which means I have to wear gloves when handling it. It must not taste very good either because Ogden struggled violently to keep the pill from going down his throat. I managed to get a piece in him and left it at that. He tore a hole in the rubber glove as he snapped at me.
He went into hiding Friday. It was very sad. Normally, when Ogden isn't feeling well, he turns to me for comfort. I simply lie down next to him and he starts purring. There's nothing I can't cure for him.... until now. He wouldn't come out of hiding for me and even moved away when I tried to touch him. I've never seen him like this and it scared me.
Friday night was "vomit fest" - he couldn't even keep water down for longer than 2 seconds. The poor little guy tried so hard but nothing seemed to agree with him.
We made an emergency appointment at our regular animal clinic Saturday morning. I expected to go home with him like always but they took him away from me. He spent the weekend there with an IV to get him fluids. They ran blood work on Saturday and and his bad levels (the waste level the kidneys weren't filtering out) had sky-rocketed over his first test which was performed not 5 days prior. I did visit him Sunday afternoon and it broke my heart. His eyes were glassy. He did recognize me instantly and jumped up in his kennel. He let me pet him and he gave me kisses as he purred and purred. I don't think he understood why I left him there and really didn't understand why I closed the door to his kennel and walked away. That was hard. It was eerie to not have him home at night.
It is now Monday night and I am happy to say that Ogden is finally home. The vet did blood tests again and his bad levels were almost back to normal. He seemed very happy to be home, despite the fact that he made lots of new friends with the vet techs. Unfortunately, he resumed vomit fest as soon as we got home. The vet gave him the toxic drug and I have a feeling Ogden isn't handling it well.
I'm making an appointment with the University for Ogden tomorrow. Hopefully they'll be able to get him back to his lovable self. Right now, I'd settle for a day of non-vomit fest.
Tuesday, December 3, 2002 - Life on Tuesday
When we were looking for houses, life changed daily. It was kinda stressful, but at least it wasn't the wide spectrum of emotions THIS drama is bringing with it. Sheesh. I brought Ogden to the U this afternoon and they put fluids under his skin (less invasive than an IV) and gave him some anti-nausea medicine. He seems to be much, much better. His spirits are good - he head-butted me and sat on my lap and even rolled over for me to rub his belly, all things he hasn't done for almost a week now. He doesn't want to eat yet but I can give him another dosage of the anti-nausea medicine in a few hours and hopefully that will help. We're up; we're down. We're up right now so life is good. When we go down, life isn't good. But I'll concentrate on being up right now. Hopefully this will last... and improve.
Wedneday, December 4, 2002 - Life on Wednesday
So many people have told me that they thought Ogden would live forever, which makes me happy to hear that I wasn't alone in that thought. Jeff and I have joked that Wensley and Zoe, two cranky animals, will live forever. Wensley will be thirteen in February and Zoe is 6 1/2 (which is quite ancient for a guinea pig with a life span of 4-7 years). We have attributed their longevity to their crankiness. If you're mean and orny, you'll live forever. If you're sweet and happy, you die young. So, let that be a lesson to you. :-) I'm planning on being cranky.
I took Ogden to the University yesterday after another day of not eating. They pumped fluids under his skin, gave him an anti-nausea injection, and sent me home with anti-nausea pills. He was in much better spirits than I had seen him since the beginning of last week. He was 90% Oggy, compared to 40% Oggy on Friday night (his lowest point). He still didn't want to eat but at least he was interacting with me.
On Monday night, I laid with him on our bed and he purred but he didn't head-butt me or cry at me or touch me. It's an Ogden thing to have to touch me all the time - if he's sitting next to me (or behind me on the couch), he touches me with his tail. He gets in these weird moods sometimes and whaps his tail in my face as he's sitting behind me on the couch - and he won't stop. I haven't been able to tell if he's mad at me or if he's trying to be funny when he does this... If I'm lying next to him, he puts his paw on my face. On Tuesday night, he head-butted me, cried after me, and put his paw on my face. He still didn't eat and vomited only a few times. It's so sad because I can tell he really does want to eat but he's afraid he'll be sick. We also tried to give him another anti-nausea pill and he would not let us. I've given him pills before in the past and he's been pretty tolerant but the way he was jerking his head around last night scared me. I thought he was going to break his neck.
The good thing is that he seems to be doing better (other than the vomiting and not eating). They've run blood work and all of his levels have dropped, some of them to almost normal. His kidneys are starting to shrink. Of course, we can feel them better now that he's lost a pound and a half since last Monday... He's soooo skinny! I can feel his bones, and not in a good way.
He's actually been quite good about going to the vet. He doesn't even struggle when I put him in his carrier. He doesn't like to come out of his carrier when we're at the vet, but that's a different story. I think he knows that the vets are trying to make him feel better.
We're up. We're down. We were up for a while yesterday and, of course, like a good roller coaster, we came down. I'll wait a few hours, and we should go back up again. I hated leaving him this morning because he was so happy - he was wrapped around my head on my pillow and purring in my ear. I want to be around him when he's happy... And I want to be around him when he's not, so I can try to help him.
So... did you have a good Thanksgiving? I don't think I asked. I made Jeff a roasted chicken because we didn't have turkey in the house. I did manage to make Thanksgiving-y side dishes. I'm having my Christmas get-together with my sister on Friday the 13th. She's leaving for Phoenix on the 24th, but we close on our house on the 20th so we'll be too busy for Christmas celebrations. I didn't have a Halloween party this year so I thought it would be fun to combine Christmas and Halloween... :-) Besides, it really doesn't feel like Christmas anyway.
Thursday, December 5, 2002 - Life on Thursday
Last night he resumed vomit fest and still wouldn't eat. For those of you keeping track, tonight will be a full week since he stopped eating. My 16 pound Maine Coon has dropped to 12.5 pounds in a matter of two weeks.... He is unbelievably light. I picked him up last night and I was amazed that I didn't do the traditional groan and grunt after picking him up. He hasn't been this skinny since he was a baby. Wensley is heavier than he is at this point - and she's smaller! Ogden has always been pretty considerate when he barfs (unlike his girlfriend who barfs where she's at - which is usually on the couch). He makes sure to get down off the furniture and barf in a corner. Last night, he barfed all over the bed (Jeff's side). After I washed the sheets, he almost did it again. This little behavior makes me realize that he's really not himself...
I've tried every treat on earth to get him to eat. I've tried cream (he loves homemade whipped cream), tuna water, baby food, bacon (I even fried some up at 3am), all sorts of new kitty treats (shaved salmon), and "cat's milk." We were given this many years ago when we had premature guinea pig babies. I had to bottle feed them cat's milk and Ogden kept trying to knock the baby out of the way to get to the cat's milk. He sniffs everything so intently that you can tell he's starving and really wants to eat it but he's petrified that he's just going to barf. He does this odd licking of his lips, almost as if the smell is making him sick and the licking of his lips keeps him from barfing.
I am bringing him back to the University today. This makes 5 vet trips in 11 days! They're going to show me how to inject his medicine into him instead of trying to force a pill down his throat. He freaked out the last time we tried to give him a pill (an anti-nausea pill on Tuesday). I have a feeling that he's afraid to put anything in his tummy after barfing for a week. I'm really hoping that only a few injections of the anti-nausea medicine will bring him back to eating. One almost did the trick. Here's hoping that three bring him back to normal!
His weekly chemo treatments have been suspended until we can get him eating again. It's better to get food in him at this point than keep up with the treatments. We'll start fighting the disease again after we've won this battle.
So, that's today's news. He's still barfing, he's still not eating, and we're going back to the vet.
On the brighter side of life, I'm half done with my Christmas shopping. :-)
Friday, December 6, 2002 - Life on Friday... Part 2
He ate. He ate. He ate. He ate. He ate. It's a short sentence, but a good one.
Ogden spends the day locked in our bedroom so that he doesn't have to worry about hissing Wensley (she hisses at him after vet visits and since he's been to the vet 5 times in 11 days, the smell just doesn't seem to be wearing off) and so that we can monitor what he has been doing during the day. That way we don't have to wonder who's been drinking the water, who's been using the litter box, who's been eating. We know.
Before I leave in the morning, I make a mental note of the levels of each bowl. I came home Friday afternoon and scanned the sea of food bowls to check their levels. I had left out a new one (filled with some moist food - a cross between canned and dry - like Tender Vittles) but didn't really look at it before I left. I was pretty sure I had filled it and now I could see the bottom of the bowl. I gave him his injection and 15 minutes later, my question of "Did he eat?" was answered. Yes, he had apparently eaten during the day, but unfortunately, the food was no longer in his tummy.
Several hours later, Ogden ate again. Okay, so it was only three pieces of Pounce and a teeny piece of turkey, but it was more than I had seen him eat in over a week. I was pretty happy for the little guy. I gave him another injection several hours later. After each previous injection, he's barfed, so I decided to see if I could put an end to that. I rubbed his tummy for twenty minutes and no barf. He did his little licking lips thing, which is an indicator that he's close to barfing, and every time he did that, I rubbed his tummy and said, "I'm not going to let you barf." He would lay back down and I would continue to rub his tummy. After half an hour of rubbing his tummy and still no barf, Mr. Ogden must have decided that I was helping and rolled over to let me have full access to his tummy. This is the first time since last Monday that he's let me do that. I think he's starting to feel better. I rubbed his tummy for an hour. It's been almost two hours since his injection and no barf. I'm hoping we're conquering that battle.
Two funny things: 1) The vet shaved the upper half of his front leg when he had his IV inserted last Saturday. With the bandage removed, he looks very much like a shaved poodle. We call it "the poodle cut." His leg also resembles a Q-Tip. It makes me giggle. 2) I've said a few sentences over the last week that I never thought I would say to Ogden. a) You're too skinny. b) You should gain some weight. c) I'm getting tired of rubbing your tummy.
So, he's eaten and gone 8 hours without barfing. We're making progress!
Monday, December 9, 2002 - For We Need a Little Christmas
Is it just me or does it not seem like Christmas this year? I've been trying to find the time to make my Christmas cookies but I haven't been motivated to do so.
Hope y'all had a good weekend. Our weekend was pretty good, considering Ogden showed some signs of improvement. He continued to eat this weekend... although only a few bites at a time. He drank lots of water and even bathed a couple of times. Of course, when Jeff tried to play string with him, he politely stared at the string but made no attempts to bat at it. Ogden always loved to play string and hated it when Jeff would take a few minutes out to play with Wensley.
We finally figured out that he didn't want "smelly" food - tuna water, baby food, canned food. I gave him some neutral food - some Tender Vittles (which is moist kibble) and he's been eating that. He did barf a couple of times this weekend, but at least he's getting nutrients into his system.
He sleeps right next to me (or on my pillow) every night. I can't tell why he's doing this. We lock Wensley out of the bedroom at night so Ogden can sleep without fear of being attacked. When Wensley was allowed in the bedroom, she quickly established that any spot near me was hers and Ogden fearfully obeyed. Now that she's not a threat, he may simply be returning to the life he once led. He could also want to be near me for comfort. I secretly think he's trying to spend as much time with me as possible... I haven't figured out if it's for his benefit or mine...
We may do chemo this week. We haven't decided. If he reacted so violently to this first round of chemo (barfing, not eating, and losing over 3 pounds in less than two weeks), we're not sure if it's worth it to make him go through this all the time. We have been talking about pulling him from all medical treatment and just let nature take its course... He doesn't seem to be in pain right now but we know that all the barfing he's been doing can't be fun for him. Of course, we'll make sure his days are without pain. We just want his life to be comfortable and filled with some dignity.
My daily updates will probably go to an as needed basis. For the most part, these updates have been a way for me to deal with what's happening to him. I appreciate y'all just letting me e-mail you and ramble on and on. I don't think I would be doing as well as I am if I just sat in my own little world and watched him grow less and less like the Oggy I've known all these years.
And the brighter side continues: 11 days until we close on our house and I have 2 1/2 people left to shop for.
Monday, December 16, 2002 - What a Difference a Week Makes
Jeff spent the weekend making fun of me. Two weekends ago, I was a "little" tense that my kitty wouldn't live to see our new house. That thought upset me greatly. But now, I have a feeling that he'll be around for quite some time. Not as long as I wanted him to stick around, but he will definitely live to see our new house. He's doing soooo much better!! He's almost 100% Oggy. There's a little spunk missing, but in general, he's pretty normal.
Ogden did very well this weekend. He ate, he played, he purred. His appetite isn't what it used to be but he tries. He also didn't barf (Wensley took up that role this weekend). I even stopped giving him his anti-nausea injections (after Jeff went and got more needles). For two weeks we kept Ogden locked in our bedroom. We wanted to be able to monitor how much he ate, drank, barfed, etc. The only way to do that with two cats is to separate them. Plus, we also wanted to give him a break from Wensley, who took up the habit of hissing at him (she now just meows at him when she sees him). Now that he's doing better, we've opened the door and are letting him roam about. Except he doesn't want to. I guess he's watched me a little too closely over the years. When I'm sick, I get in bed, watch movies, and even eat in bed. I stay there until I'm better. Ogden has decided that since he's sick, he too, should get to stay in bed all day long... and eat there, too. It's almost as if there's an invisible barrier that keeps him in the bedroom and Wensley out. She doesn't come in the bedroom often, either.
Zoe is doing fine. She takes her medicine very well. I think she's even started to like me. It's only taken six years for her to realize I'm not some scary person. She likes her nose kissed and even thrusts her snout in my direction when I'm holding her until I kiss it.
Ogden's next chemo session is Thursday. The oncology department has the entire week of Christmas off so I guess they're pushing his next one out a day to compensate for the missed session next week. I actually don't mind it being on Thursday; there's a big storm coming for Wednesday and I'd rather not extend my hour and a half chemo-to-work commute to two or three hours with snow...
So things are starting to slow to a more manageable, less emotionally draining pace. Of course, this is just in time for our new house. We close on Friday!!! We bought our first major appliance on Saturday. We feel like grown-ups now. We bought a fridge. I hugged a few (who can resist a Sub Zero's face?) before we settled on a stainless steel side by side. It gets delivered on the 28th. Jeff is thinking about taking his monthly trip that day so I'm free to hug it all day long after it gets delivered.
Have a good week everyone!!
Thursday, December 19, 2002 - House Closing Eve
There's Christmas Eve (for some folks), New Year's Eve, and for us, House Closing Eve. House Closing Day is just 15 minutes away and like a little kid, I'm up waiting. Okay, so I had to give a few animals some medicine and I did fall asleep for a few hours....
Ogden had his third round of chemo today. After a week of no vomiting, I guess Ogden decided to demonstrate to the technicians how food goes in and then comes back up. He barfed a couple of times during chemo. They think he was stressed; I wondered if not eating that morning had anything to do with it.
On the bright side, okay REALLY bright side, no, wait, BLINDINGLY bright side, Ogden's radiograph showed that his kidneys have shrunk back to normal size!!!! I don't know if they're fully functioning yet (ya don't get to talk to a doctor when you pick em up or drop em off) but the fact that they're normal in size is very good. I can't tell you how many doctors and technicians have mentioned, "Those were the biggest kidneys I have ever seen." At a referral hospital, that's kinda scary....
I took Ogden's bandage off when he got home (why must they insist on putting a pink bandage on him? I saw blue on a foo-foo dog today so I know other colors exist). He seemed to have bled a lot more than the other times. They keep using the same leg and that one's a bit bruised. He was even limping a bit. I guess I'll have to ask them to use the other leg next time.... Ogden was very glad to see his girlfriend Wensley when we came home. He went right up to her to sniff her only to be greeted with a hiss. He slinked away. Poor Ogden.
He was extremely clingy tonight. When I told Jeff this, he asked, "And how is this different than other nights?" I would move an inch or two and Ogden would scoot to be right next to me again. He also climbed me several times to get to my face. He still seems to be in good spirits.
Zoe Update: Zoe is still taking her medicine. I have wrestled with the rehydrated food for the last time. No matter how soupy I make it, it still gets stuck in the syringe and won't come out. I can't tell you how many times I've cleaned off a wall because I push and push and push and then it shoots across the room. I finally figured out that if I use the syringe to squeeze out all the water, I can make a little brick out of the food. I dump it out in the bowl. Zoe eats it. It works. Stupid syringe.
Uh-oh. Ogden just vomitted. I'm hoping this isn't a sign for how our weekend is going to go.
Okay, show of hands - how many people are buying a house tomorrow? Hee hee hee.
Have a good Friday!
Wedneday, January 1, 2003 - The Return of the Update
When I last e-mailed everyone, it was late in the evening (midnight) and Ogden was busy barfing. I made the comment that I think it might be a sign for the future and it indeed was.
Ogden's third chemo session did not go well. He barfed during the treatment and it went downhill from there. For the first week, he did eat his normal but still less than pre-cancer amounts and then would barf at least once a day. After a week, he slowed down in eating to a couple bites a day but would still barf at least once.
On Sunday, Dec 29th, he stopped eating. He barfed many, many, many times on the next day. Throughout the past two weeks, he hid in our walk-in closet until he heard me in the bedroom. He would then come out to be with me. If I left or as soon as he thought I was sleeping, he would leave and go back to hiding in the closet. He purred when he was with me and seemed to be happy. Of course, his eyes did show signs of a bit of pain.
I called the U on New Year's Eve and made an appointment. They weighed him - he dropped almost 2 pounds in two weeks. He's now at a measly 10.5 pounds.
We decided to skip his next chemo (which was set for the 2nd) and try to get him eating again. Three weeks ago, they gave him a steroid injection that was supposed to last anywhere from 2-5 weeks. I asked if it was possible if the steroid had worn off and his doctor decided it probably had and gave him another steroid injection. This is supposed to help stimulate his appetite and give him energy. They also injected fluids under his skin to help hydrate him. After not drinking for at least a day, he wasn't too badly dehydrated. They showed me a couple of fun little tests to see if he's hydrated - if you pull up a bit of his skin, it's supposed to snap back into place within half a second (try it on the back of your hand). The longer it takes to smooth out, the more dehydrated he is. You can also push on his gums. If the color returns quickly, he's not dehydrated.
Jeff was concerned that Ogden's constant barfing was caused by spreading cancer. With Ogden's type of cancer, the most likely places it would spread is to his spine or to his brain (he has stage 5 cancer). With either of these, neurological symptoms would indicate the spread - slow eye reflexes or trouble walking. He passed his neurological tests so the doctors are pretty confident that his cancer is contained. They think the reason he's getting so sick is the chemo. We may try another type of chemo next week. The one he gets now is intravenous. The other option is a pill that the doctors would administer. I'm happy that I wouldn't have to be the one to give it to him but I'm leery about how a pill would sit in his tummy. I highly suspect that the wouldn't be able to keep it down.
Our next option is to give up chemo entirely. It's tough to justify making him go through the chemo if he just gets so sick afterwards. We've been through 5 weeks of chemo (although only three actual treatments). Four of those five weeks have been barfing, not eating, and not drinking. He's only had one good, happy week through all of this. Of course, if we continue the treatments, it may be rough along the way, but when he's done, he may be back to normal for a few years. It's a tough call. Do you wade out 6 months of bad to get to the two years of good? What happens if that good time never arrives?
The good news is that Ogden's kidneys are back to normal size and his levels are almost entirely within normal ranges, which means his kidneys are functioning at almost 100%.
Anyway, I brought him home that afternoon, gathered some items to take to the new house, and stuffed him back in his carrier. While at the McDonald's drive-thru, Ogden sniffed and sniffed and sniffed the air. He could smell the burgers cooking so I got him one. I was happy that he was at least interested in smelling food. About two hours after we left the vet (and about an hour after we arrived at the new house), Ogden ate a few bites. By the end of the evening, he was eating a few bites every couple of minutes. He was very hungry. He also was extremely happy. He followed us all over and gave us hugs and head-butted us and cried after us. He was very talkative, which is unusual for him. I guess he had a lot bottled up. By the end of the night, he was exhausted. He hadn't been awake that long in... well, probably never.
We left at 1am. His behavior today (and last night) have been a complete turn-around from Monday night. It's simply amazing. He's unbelievably clingy (read: he won't leave my side) and happy and eats everything in sight. The steroid is obviously helping A LOT. So, for now, we have our Ogden back. We'll see how the next chemo treatment fairs.
Incidentally, we may be adopting a third cat soon. It seems a kitty has taken to living under our porch at our new house. She zips out from under the steps when there's too much noise and doesn't look back. I've been leaving food out for her because the one glimpse I got, she seemed a little fat... I think we may also have kittens soon, too. Of course, she may be a neighbor's outdoor cat and that's why she's fat. But for now, we've taken to calling her Zip and have accepted the fact that our new house may have more furballs than we thought.
Happy New Year!
Friday, January, 3, 2003 - Returning to some normalcy... kinda
When I got up yesterday morning, Ogden was not in our bedroom walk-in closet as he has been for the last 4 weeks. Since Jeff had packed a lot of clothes the other night and removed some of the drawers, there weren't any hiding spots left. I checked all of Ogden "pre-cancer" hiding spots and couldn't find him. He was in the animal room, sleeping under the desk. I was happy that he was downstairs, something he hadn't done in several weeks. He had been sticking to the bedroom upstairs (even with the door open) because when you're sick, you're supposed to stay in bed.
When I came home last night, Ogden was sitting in front of the balcony door. I was so happy to see him downstairs and not hiding. Of course, he assumed that I was home to give him a shot (he was right about that) or stuff him in his carrier and make him ride in the car. He's been good about getting stuffed in his carrier, riding in the car, and taking his medicine but they're obviously not his favorite pastimes. He slinked away from me and hid behind the couch. I still managed to squeeze behind the couch and stab him with his anti-nausea injection and after 20 minutes, he stopped hiding and actually jumped onto the couch and curled up with me.
It was so nice to have him sit on the couch with me. It's amazing how different life becomes when the little, every day occurrences suddenly stop. And it's amazing how comforting it is when those little, every day occurrences return.
Jeff came home and we went out to buy curtains, shades, blinds, and curtain rods for the new house. When we returned several hours later, Ogden was no where in sight. It was a little depressing to think that normal life had returned for only a few hours. I made dinner and Ogden returned to the downstairs world. It was so pleasant hearing his tags jingle as he came down the steps. And, for the first time in many, many weeks, Ogden was actually interested in Jeff's dinner. Of course, Jeff didn't leave anything behind so Ogden didn't get any but it was nice to see him back to his old habits.
The rest of the night was pretty much the same - Ogden did things he hadn't done in weeks and I enjoyed noting them all. His breakfast bowl was empty, for the first time in weeks. Of course, Wensley could have helped him but the fact that it was licked clean was comforting.
This morning I got up at 4:15am to give him his shot. I was all set to jump in the shower and go to work a bit early. I went back into the bedroom to retrieve the needle from the 10:15pm shot when Ogden came running into the bedroom, jumped on the bed and started purring. I decided to chuck the idea of going to work early and climbed back in bed to be with him. Sometimes there are more important things in life. I know I don't have that much longer left with him and I don't want to look back when he's gone and think, "I should have spent more time with him." Well, I'll probably do that anyway but at least this moment won't be regretted.
But just when I think life is returning to normal, Ogden barfed this morning. It was my fault. I tried to give him smelly food and that makes his tummy queasy. I keep thinking he'll get over it but he hasn't....
So, life is good... for now. Not normal, but good enough.
Hope you all have a good weekend. We'll be at the house painting. It's getting there... slowly.
Wednesday, January 8, 2003 - Number Four... Number Four
Ogden just came back from chemo session #4. It's odd to me that it's only number 4 given the number of visits to the U, but it is. They had no other chemo patients today so he was ready at 12:00 (normally it's 2:30) so I went to pick him up immediately. He arrives at 6 in the morning so I figured he didn't need to be at the vet any longer than necessary. I asked how he did (he vomited during his last session) and the vet told me this tale - she put the bag of food I brought on the table next to him during his treatment and he started eating it. I guess that sums up how it went - he was EATING during his chemo. How bad could it have been? :-)
They did give him an injection today of some medicine (Cytoxin, for those in the know) that put him in the hospital for a few days at the beginning of December. It was his lowest point (he couldn't even keep water down). During that bad time, we had given him two doses of the medicine in pill form two days apart. I was worried that this was going to be a bad session, given his reaction to that drug the last time because the injection today was the entire two pill dosage at once. If he was sick with two small amounts of the pill with a day off to rest, how would he handle it all at once? It was a choice between us struggling to give him two doses of a crucial medicine or a strong injection administered by anyone other than us. Since we have no luck giving him pills and good luck giving him injections (he just rolls his eyes at me when I approach him with his 3 times daily injection at home), we opted for the injection. It was a tough call but all seems well (knock on Wensley's head... it's the closest thing to wood).
It's a beautiful day here in MN - probably in the 50s - so Ogden and I took a walk when we got home. For his birthday in October, I had to get him a new harness because he had outgrown his other one. Even when he sucked it in, it was still too tight. On today's walk, we went back to the old harness. I don't think I've ever used the notches I used today.... Ogden likes to get the scent of the outdoors on him. In order to do that, he rolls on the ground. He prefers dirt to sidewalk but either will do. He found both. The cat who hasn't bathed in 4+ weeks rolled in DIRT. I was laughing too hard to scold him. The dirt he found was on a hill. He rolled in the dirt and then slid down a few feet on his back, paws in the air. He managed to right himself, rolled again, and slid on his back another few feet. It was very funny. I especially liked the paws flying in the air. I think I even heard a faint "Wheeee!!!"
We're now indoors with a not-so-white-bellied cat. I hope the dirt comes off his belly but food stays in it this week. He's happy and did well during chemo treatment #4. It's a good day.
BTW, we officially move into our house on the 18th of January!!!!
Thursday, January 9, 2003 - Cat Momma
I'm thinking I truly am a cat momma. I was sitting in the doctor's waiting room yesterday going through my purse (as I always do when I'm waiting). I have a bag of cat food and a couple of needle caps in my purse. If there are ever toys and a used cat hanky, I know I'm in trouble.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003 - The Saga Continues
Just a quick update.
After Ogden's last chemo (the one he ate during and then we went for a nice walk outside afterwards), he stopped eating the next day. I'm speculating that he stopped eating because something inside him told him that the last time he had the cytoxin injection, he couldn't keep anything down. If he didn't eat, he wouldn't barf. He did barf occasionally but nothing like the first time he had that injection (in November). His theory seemed to help him get through the last 5 days.
On Monday, I took him to the vet to get some fluids pumped under his skin. He needed to be hydrated because he wasn't eating or drinking.
He's dropped to 9.76 pounds. He's almost at half his original body weight.
I also thought that another steroid injection might help him. The steroid gives him energy and stimulates his appetite. He's always done very well after a steroid injection. They can last anywhere from 2-5 weeks; his last injection was 2 weeks ago. I was a little concerned about giving him the injection because I had heard that steroids can cause liver and kidney damage. My doctor confirmed that they can cause liver damage - but only after many doses. The biggest threat to him is diabetes - but again, many doses. I decided to have them give him the steroid. He needed to start eating and we would take our chances with possible side effects when they happened.
They took some blood to see what was going on with him. His kidneys are still functioning at normal levels and his cancer is still in remission. The main concern is his white blood cell count. Normal range is between 1000-1300. His is at 90. Yes, normal is a thousand and his isn't even at 100.... In people, this would put them in ICU. For Ogden, we've decided to keep him at home and that I would administer his anti-biotics.
Why is his white blood cell count so low? Well, it could be caused by the cytoxin (the nasty injection after chemo). Typically in chemotherapy, both good and bad cells are killed and the cytoxin may have gone overboard and killed too many good white blood cells. This would partly explain why he's not feeling well - the cells needed to fight off infection just ain't there. The other reason could, and I stress the word could, be that the cancer has spread to his bones.
A little background that I think I've omitted in the past - Ogden has stage 5 cancer. In cats, the stages determine where the cancer is, not necessarily how bad it is. The other areas stage 5 cancer can attack - and can also spread once "contracted" - is the spine or the brain. When they test for how the cancer is doing, they've only tested his kidneys because that's where the cancer originated. It's possible that even though the cancer in his kidneys has gone into remission, the cancer could have spread to the other two possible areas (spine or brain).
I get to give him a bunch of injectable anti-biotics. The vet warned me that one of them could cause blindness. Argh. After a week, they're going to check the white blood cell count again. If it's still low, they're going to do a bone marrow test to see if it has spread to his bones.
So, that's where we're at. Not the greatest news in the world but it's not the worst. That could come next week.... I'm trying to concentrate on the fact that his low white blood cell count is probably nothing. Please don't worry just yet because I'm trying desperately not to worry. We'll know more next week. I just thought sending an e-mail would comfort me a little and help me deal with the news I was just given.
On a brighter note, he did eat several bites today! And on an even brighter note, we move in 4 days!! Woo-who!
Wednesday, January 15, 2003 - It just gets better and better
As you may have guessed, the subject line is dripping with sarcasm. I did some research on the web, which then prompted me to ask our vet questions that I haven't asked before. I'll start from the beginning.
Ogden's cancer is caused by lymposarcoma. One of the things lymposarcoma does is cause cancer. How does one "usually" contract lymposarcoma? Feline leukemia. For those who have cats, particularly more than one, you know that you have to get your cat tested as soon as you adopt it (or find it or buy it) to see if it has feline leukemia. If it does, they normally recommend that you put it to sleep because it's not a good disease. It's highly contagious to other cats so if you get another cat, you have to get it tested before you can introduce them. When I got Ogden, I had him tested and he was fine. When we got Wensley, we got her tested, too, and she was fine. Cats can also get feline leukemia from mosquitoes, ticks, and other encounters with stray cats. So, even if they don't have it one year, they can easily get it the next after a walk in the park during mosquito season....
When Ogden was diagnosed with lymposarcoma, our U vet had him tested for feline leukemia. He tested negative (he didn't have it). Now, Ogden could be one of the very few with contracted lymposarcoma without ever getting feline leukemia. Or, Ogden could have had a weird form of it that lies dormant (or hides) and doesn't get caught when they test for it. None of this was explained to me.
The reason all this gets better and better (sarcasm here) is that IF Ogden got lymposarcoma from feline leukemia, there is a strong chance that Wensley now has feline leukemia. The reason no one mentioned all of this is that she was exposed to it long before he was diagnosed - if he had it, he's had it for awhile. There's nothing they can do for her if she does have it.
So we get to take Wensley in to test for feline leukemia. If she has it, there's no guarantee that it will lead to lymposarcoma. But if she does have it, it's not a good thing. Like I said, it just gets better and better.
Oh, and I mis-spoke yesterday about what was possibly wrong with Ogden. His cancer may have spread to his bone marrow (which is his bones but not his spine), hence the bone marrow test.
Bright thought for the day - three more days til we move!
Friday, January 17, 2003 - The Eve of Move Day
Perhaps the best news we've been given since that fateful vet appointment back in November is that Wensley DOES NOT HAVE LEUKEMIA! Of course, she absolutely hated getting blood drawn and made sure everyone in the vet office was aware of this. We had the test done at our normal vet since I really didn't see the point of driving an hour for a little bloodwork. Turns out our vet went to school with our University vet.
The funny thing is that word quickly spread throughout the clinic that Ogden's owner and his housemate Wensley were there. I could hear them in the back talking about wonderful little Ogden. Boy, does that cat get around! He's such a charmer. He musta made quite an impression on the vet techs for them to remember him so well (he spent a few days in ICU at this vet clinic).
I also thought it funny that the vet brought the test into the exam room to show me the results - it looks similar to a home pregnancy test except it was smeared with blood. It even has little dots appear to tell you the results. I guess he must have thought that since I've been around needles and mediciny stuff so much lately that I wouldn't bat an eye at seeing this little gadget (Jeff would have passed out). I thought it was cool so I guess he was right.
Anyway, the results are wonderful that at least cranky ol' Wensley isn't going to have to go through what Ogden is going through. The results also pretty much concluded that Ogden's lymposarcoma IS one of the very few cases that WASN'T caused by feline leukemia. Finally, the results of Wensley's test help calm my fears that I didn't do anything wrong to cause Ogden's illness (like bringing in stray cats to play with him and taking him on walks where mosquitoes can bite him).
Ogden didn't eat anything yesterday and did barf once. He hasn't eaten since Wednesday night (and then several hours later barfed up everything). He has been taking his 8 daily injections fairly well. He likes it when I lay down next to him after his shots. I kinda like it, too, except I fall asleep and wind up getting to work at 9-9:30 (instead of 6am). I think he's looking forward to Saturday, move day, because he seems to do so much better when he's at the new house than at the apartment. I'm looking forward to Monday. I'm taking the day off so I can lie on the couch and be with him all day. The only plans I have - and I've stressed this to Jeff - is to put away my groceries after they're delivered and to let the chinnies run around their new room (and hopefully start eating that awful paneling).
Hope you all have a happy weekend! We'll be moving.
Thursday, January 23, 2003 - Test Results
It's amazing how even though our days are different, they're also the same and they're always quite interesting.
I finally received a phone call from the University vet late last night who updated me on the results of Ogden's white blood cell count and kidney values. Here's how our day was different: Ogden is actually getting better! His white blood cell count is within normal range (although on the low side). This means that the cancer has not spread to his bone marrow. Those weird cells that alarmed our vet from his first test are no longer present, which confirms that Ogden's cancer is in remission. His kidney values are within normal ranges, which means his kidneys are still functioning. So, medically speaking, my little guy is doing better.
His glucose was higher than it was a week ago (and if you remember from last week, that was higher than it should have been). I was a little concerned because if it's climbing, his pancreas might be shutting down the production on insulin and he may be becoming diabetic. His glucose level isn't THAT high yet, but it's something we have to watch for. If Ogden does become diabetic, it's more injections for us.
He ate yesterday - a couple of handfuls of dry food! That's our good news. Our day was the same because even though he ate, he also barfed. Poor little guy.
It was also the same because we're still trying to figure out what the best form of chemo would be for Ogden. There are two drugs they administer normally for him and we think one of them is making him sick (it's the drug I opted for over his last chemo session; I hoped he wouldn't have the same bad reaction he had before but he did). We may just go down to the one chemo drug and eliminate the one that's making him sick. While that makes sense, it also means that the cancer may return because one drug just isn't that potent (which is why they use both). The other form of chemo is a pill, which I don't think will work because Ogden won't let people open his mouth anymore (he almost bit the vet when he tried to look at his teeth) and he can't keep medicine in his tummy. The final option is radiation, which may have the same nauseating effects on him. It's not typically used in cats and since it's used as a last resort, the stats on it aren't good (if you only give it to those who aren't doing well on chemo, it sways the results of how well it works). So, do we try the radical radiation that no one knows how it will affect him or do we go with a safer approach that may allow the cancer to return?
We did learn that if we chose to pull him from chemo, he has about 4-8 weeks (on average, it could be less, it could be more) before his cancer would come out of remission and would start attacking his body. I don't know how long after the cancer returns (IF the cancer returned) before he would die.... During that time, he would get lots of lovely drugs to make sure he wasn't in any pain. Of course, our doctor did point out that stopping chemo doesn't mean he will come out of remission. The cancer may just stay dormant forever. And our day was interesting because Ogden is acting really funny. It's probably just my imagination but he doesn't seem to be all there. He spent the entire day on the bed - and the entire night (I usually wake up when he leaves). His eyes just don't seem to be as bright and alert as they used to be. Of course, it's probably just my imagination and I'll probably study him too much over the next week or so, but it really spooked me.
On a different topic - when we first closed on the house, I spent a few days cleaning, which included washing the hardwood floors twice. Even then, my white socks still turned black after walking on them for a few hours. I've since washed the floors again and thought they were somewhat clean until I noticed Wensley's white paws and white belly - they're kinda dark grey.... So, if you ever have doubts as to how clean your floors are, I'll just send Wensley over. She'll give them the "white paw" inspection.
Hope everyone is doing well!
Monday, January 27, 2003 - A Hard Decision
Well, it's not the end of Ogden but we're probably much closer now than before.
After not eating for almost a week and probably not drinking for several days, Ogden had an emergency appointment today at the University. I had driven all the way to work (20 miles but since it was snowing, it took over an hour) and then talked to a technician at the U who recommended that he be seen immediately (after inquiring whether or not I knew about the emergency services... I guess they were a little irritated with me for not bringing him in sooner and I felt bad because they were right). I then drove all the way back home and grabbed Ogden for his appointment.
He saw the carrier and curled up in a little ball, put his head on the bed, and started crying. It was so sad to see. They took blood but because he's so dehydrated, they couldn't find a vein that would give them enough so they had to tap his jugular. Even that didn't give them enough so they had to do the other side of his neck as well. He puts up with the probing and the pricks but he let out a small whimper when they had to draw more blood.
His weight has dropped to about 8.5 pounds, which is almost half his body weight. One of the vet techs told me about her cat that she just put to sleep a few days ago - she had dropped from 9 pounds to 6 pounds in 8 months. I wanted to tell her, "That's nothing. Ogden's lost almost half his body weight - and he was a BIG cat - in less than two months." But of course, the poor thing had just put her kitty to sleep and we commiserated that the decision is a tough one.
I had to inform the vet that we've decided to pull him from chemo. He understood but I think was very disappointed. To quote the guinea pig from Dr. Doolittle (the movie), "You can't save them all, Hasslehoff." It's just not worth poor Ogden's agony of not eating and being sick all the time. Chemo has done a lot for Ogden as his cancer quickly went into remission and his kidneys started functioning but chemo has also caused him to lose almost 8 pounds. I told Jeff that it's sad when a cat who lived for food can't eat anything. Even the smell of food can make him vomit.
Our main goal is to keep him hydrated, give him some drugs that may stimulate his appetite, and above all, keep him as comfortable as possible until the end. There's no guarantee that his cancer will come out of remission but I have a feeling that it won't be long now before I'm without my little drooly guy. The hardest part was when a bunch of the vet techs came in to say good-bye to Ogden.
Our new round of drugs includes from sub-Q fluids (fluids injected under the skin to hydrate him) and some vitamin B12. B12 is supposed to help stimulate his appetite but it's also along the holistic lines - there's not much proof to its powers but since it can't hurt, we're trying it. His fluids come in a gigantic IV-like bag which gets to be hung up and has a tube coming out of it and that gets jabbed under Ogden's skin. It's hanging in my walk-in closet and when I told Jeff, he said, "It's like something out of MASH." He'll get a steroid shot every two weeks (which I have to bring him in for). Hopefully he'll start eating again. Hopefully the cancer will stay in remission. Hopefully I'll get my drooly, playful, fun-loving, care-free Ogden back. We can always start chemo again once Ogden gains a few pounds but I think we're pretty much done with that option.
I'm a little sad but I think we're doing what's best for Ogden. It's not fun to see him so sad (although he does still purr a lot... it's just not as strong anymore) and I don't want him to suffer anymore. I know that when he dies, a little piece of me will die too, but I also know that he'll always be with me (with my luck, he'll probably haunt me). Like I said, it's not the end, but it sure feels like it. At least I'll get to hug him for a little while longer.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003 - The Fighter
My little guy really is a fighter.
I sat with my little guy on the bed watching TV yesterday evening. After a few hours, he acted as though he were hungry so I went to the kitchen and poured a little bit of every type of cat food we had into a bowl. He sniffed everything very intently but I guess nothing really appealed to him so he didn't eat. About an hour later, he decided that the food wasn't going to get any better and that he was hungry enough not to care. My little guy ate! A couple of hours later, he ate some more. An hour after that, he ate some more. And all through the night, he kept getting up to get something to eat (and of course, I woke up each time).
This morning, I fed Wensley some canned cat food for breakfast (it's our routine). Ogden didn't come out of the bedroom when I called. I wasn't sure if he didn't know the routine in the new house yet (it took Wensley a couple of days to figure out when it was breakfast time) or if the canned cat food wasn't appealing to his stomach. When he wasn't eating, if the food was too stinky, just the smell of it would make him vomit. I decided that perhaps he didn't know that it was breakfast time and took the bowl into the bedroom and placed it next to him on the bed. Normally when cats eat, they stand up. Ogden didn't make that effort and just stuck his head flat in the bowl from his stretched out position. He truly is the king of slovenly but since he was eating, I didn't care. I called Jeff a few hours later to see if he kept it down and he did!
So, for today, my little guy is eating. On the downside, he also ate for a day last week and then didn't eat again for the rest of the week. It's too soon to say he's over the hump but at least he ate for a day. Of course, if he continues to eat as much as he did last night, it will be no time at all before he puts the pounds back on! :-)
On a different note, our little Wensley (the cranky and not-so-bright calico) is developing a different personality in the new house. For the first time since we adopted her four years ago, she's actually inquisitive and adventurous! We found a screen door in the basement and we've propped it up at the top of the basement stairs to keep the cats from going down there. Jeff has been letting Wensley go downstairs when he's in the basement so she has a taste for it. Yesterday morning when Jeff got up, he found the screen door wide open. Last night, I found out why. I was awakened by a "scratch scratch scratch" sound. Miss Wensley has learned how to open the screen door. I found her sitting on the other side of the screen door, heading downstairs. She actually had the nerve to yell at me when I told her to get out of the basement! I then piled some things in front of the door to keep her from opening it. I went back to bed and heard "scratch scratch scratch" but then saw her walk away a few minutes later. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before she'll figure out how to get down there again.
At any rate, the running total on number of days eating is 1. As I said yesterday, pulling him from chemo doesn't mean we've given him a death sentence. He may thrive for many, many more months. We just have to wait to see how things pan out. Today, things are good. Tomorrow, who knows.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003 - Today as Tomorrow
As I mentioned yesterday, "Today, things are good. Tomorrow, who knows." Well, tomorrow has passed and it started off well but ended with a thud.
It seems as though Ogden ate everything he could yesterday. Since I wasn't sure if he was drinking, I gave him some sub-Q fluids (hydration under the skin). The needle for the fluids is very big and I'm used to dealing with very thin, short needles. I evidently hit a vein and Ogden bled up a storm. I called the emergency services at the U who informed me that it wasn't as bad as I thought. While I was holding a paper towel over his puncture wound, he ate, so I guess he wasn't in very much pain at all.
He continued to eat through the evening - and was even interested in Jeff's fish dinner (but it had cajun spices on it so he quickly lost interest). He did a lot of things he hasn't done in awhile. It was nice to see him enjoying life.
Around midnight, he started the vomit fest. By the time I left at 7:30 in the morning, I think he must have barfed at least 10 times. He was also having trouble using the litter box. He kept going in the litter box and would sit in there for a few minutes, get out, pace around, and go to the other litter box. He kept pacing between litter boxes and every so often he would have to get out to barf. He had poo all down the back of his legs and when I tried to clean it off, he actually growled at me. He's never done that before, no matter how annoyed he's gotten with me (bit me yes, but never growled).
I'm hoping that maybe he ate too much too fast and last night was his body's way of saying, "Slow down." I'm hoping that when I get home tonight he'll be back to the way he was yesterday evening. I can never tell what the day - or night - will bring. I can say that if his temperament truly is going downhill, it's a sign that Ogden is reaching his limits.
Of course, just when I think he's at his worst, he gets better (and just when I think he's getting better, he gets worse). Jeffrey went home over lunch and offered Ogden some food. He ate it. Argh. How do you stop this crazy roller coaster?
Wednesday, February 2, 2003 - Today is a bit brighter
When I came home last night, I found two cats on the bed. Since Ogden was diagnosed with cancer, Wensley has done her best to avoid him. Ogden took to our bed; Wensley took to the rest of the apartment. After moving to the new house, Ogden continued to spend his days in our bed. Wensley, because of lack of traction, could not even entertain the idea of getting up on the bed, so she resumed control of the rest of the house. Jeff built a step to the bed this weekend and now Wensley can jump up again. It had been several months since I had seen the two of them together. I would have expected them to be on opposite sides of the bed but they were inches apart. It was very refreshing... but also suspicious...
I awoke this morning to the sounds of cats doing... something. I ignored it and slept until my alarm went off a few minutes later. When I got up, Ogden came running into the bedroom, chasing after me and crying at me. I don't know what he was up to or what he was trying to tell me. Was something broken and he was trying to plead his innocence or was he happy that I was finally up? I then found Wensley in the bathroom, behind the shower curtain (between the tub and the curtain). The bath rug was all messed up. They were evidently up to something this morning...
Months ago, we had a routine (in the apartment). The cats ate apart - one on one side of the kitchen, the other on the other side. I would set the bowls down in the same order. Ogden would get his first and then I would turn, go around the corner, and set down Wensley's. They both knew where to go to get their bowl and both would turn in the correct direction. One time, I tried to feed Wensley first and that caused great confusion so I stuck to the pattern thereafter.
I went into the kitchen this morning and opened a can of Fancy Feast. For the first time in months, I had two cats sitting in front of me, waiting to be fed! Of course, since we haven't established a routine in the new house, neither cat knew which direction to turn and there was a bit of chaos (kinda like when the power goes out at a stoplight and no one knows who has the right of way). It was so nice to have them both eating breakfast at the same time in the kitchen.
Ogden seems to be okay. He's not as ravenous as he was the last time he received his steroid injection and the vomiting seems to have ceased... for the moment. I didn't have to administer any fluids last night, which is a good thing. He continues to wake me up many times during the night by standing next to my pillow and staring down at me. It's actually quite creepy to wake up and see him towering above me. I always wonder, "How long has he been standing there?"
So, today, all is well. Tomorrow is another day.
Friday, February 14, 2003 - Happy Be-lated Valentine's Day!
There's not much to report about Ogden. He's starting to slide again and vomits once a day. I had to give him fluids on Sunday to make sure he was hydrated. It's sad when I have to give him fluids because it's a sign that he's not doing well. I also give him a daily B12 injection. On Sunday, I decided to see how Wensley handled injections, should she ever get sick like Ogden, and gave her some B12, too (B12 is one of those vitamins that the body just expels if it gets too much so I felt comfortable administering my experiment). She handled it better than I expected and slept through it.
Ogden is still eating, although considerably less. He even attacked Jeff's pork chop last night and ate a few bites. He hasn't shown much interest in "people" food in months so it was fun to see him eat some pork. Jeffrey even willingly offered him the pieces. This prompted us to reminisce about Ogden's love of pork chops. Earlier this weekend, Jeff made the comment, "It's sad that this is the Ogden we'll remember. It's hard to remember the old Ogden." So, in order to keep the old Ogden memory alive, here are two stories we came up with (sparked by his interest in the pork chop):
Many years ago, Jeff was eating pork chops for dinner. He was having a terrible time fending off Ogden, who was dive-bombing his plate from every different direction. Finally, Ogden left and Jeff felt free to leave his plate unguarded on the coffee table. A little while later, Ogden returned and approached from the other side of the table. We expected him to jump up but he didn't. He sat there, his ears peeking up over the table. Then, very slowly, a paw rose into the air. The paw very slowly came up over the edge of the coffee table and touched the pork chop. It then retreated very slowly back down. Jeff suddenly lost interest in the chop and Ogden was left to his feast. Ogden had learned the rule - if you touch it, it's yours.
Another time, Jeff ate the entire pork chop without giving Ogden a bite. He threw the bone in the garbage. The next morning, I happened to glance down at the garbage and noticed that the pork chop bone that had previously been so prominently placed on top of the garbage was no where to be seen. The garbage was otherwise undisturbed so I asked Jeff if he had removed the bone for fear that Ogden would get it but he didn't. I scoured the apartment but turned up empty-handed. We never found the pork chop.
Like I said, not much to report. He eats, he barfs, he sleeps, he gets injections. He's still purring, he still sleeps incredibly close to me, he still plays with his toys, he still likes to grab the brush from me so that he can brush his own face, and he still shows interest in life.
Hope everyone had a good Valentine's Day!
Friday, February 28, 2003 - Ogden Update # 3,481
After Ogden's last steroid shot two weeks ago, he slowly returned to eating and then quickly returned to vomiting. By the end of the two weeks, he was vomiting several times a day and had stopped eating. He didn't have much energy and seemed colder than ever. He slept curled up, with his tail wrapped over his head and around his body. Jeff commented on Ogden's sleeping position, "Could he get into a tighter ball?" When we found him sleeping with his back legs over his head, we had an answer to Jeff's question. When we first adopted Wensley, she had a habit of sleeping on the heat registers in the floor. I bought her a dog sweater to try to keep her warm but she hated it. She could - or would - only walk sideways in it. I dug out Wensley's old sweater and put it on Ogden. It's a turtleneck and makes his head look enormous - like a big lion. Jeff wants to sew an alligator on it because the sweater makes us think Ogden's heading off to prep school. He seems okay with his sweater and doesn't sleep in a tight ball now. He doesn't bathe himself anymore so the sweater doesn't interfere with that. I pinned it up a bit in the back so he doesn't have any problems using the litter box. Wensley stares at him as if she can't believe he's putting up with wearing a sweater.
I took him to the University Monday morning for his semi-monthly check-up. He did fairly well with the vet student who weighed him and took his temperature and recorded my comments about how he was doing. He purred and put on the old Ogden charm. When his actual vet came in, he tried to run. When the vet picked him up, he growled at him. It seems Ogden is associating all the pain and bad things with the vet (who is male) and not the students or technicians (who all happen to be female).
Ogden has lost a bit more weight, but only a few ounces. After I made the comment that he cries whenever he is picked up, they ran blood work to see if his kidneys were failing. It turns out, all his values are lower than they ever have been (since he was diagnosed with cancer). They're well within normal ranges. So why does he cry when his belly is touched? Could be ulcers or it could be that the cancer has spread to his tummy.... It's actually not a big concern because both possible outcomes are highly unlikely. He'll be tested when he goes back in two weeks for both of these things. If it turns out either of these things are occurring, there's not much they can do for Ogden that will be beneficial to him. Ulcers are treated by eliminating the drug that is causing them or by administering antacids. In his case, the drug that may be causing any ulcers is the steroid. Since that's what's making him eat, it wouldn't be any good to eliminate it. Antacids only come in pill or oral liquid form. Since Ogden won't allow oral medicines, antacids aren't the solution. If the cancer has spread to his tummy, well, there's nothing that can be done because Ogden can't tolerate chemo. But, like I said, both are highly unlikely. They have no idea why he's crying when he's picked up (the vet noticed this, too, when he picked him up). It could be that he's body aches more now that he's lost a ton of weight and isn't eating and has no energy. No one knows.
The vet did mention that we could start giving Ogden steroid shots weekly or every week and a half since it appears as though it wears off after a week. The shot is typically administered every three weeks and was moved to a two week schedule for Ogden. Giving him his shot with less time in between could have some side effects (diabetes) but we're not worried about that at this point. We just want to keep him happy and eating. The vet anticipates that the steroid may stop having any affect on Ogden (like helping to feel better enough to eat) in as little as a month. We'll tackle that issue when it happens.
When I pulled Ogden out of his carrier to put his sweater back on before we headed outside (it was -4 degrees out), he almost bit me and made noises that would make even Wensley blush. It was very scary because Ogden has always been the easy-going cat. He is truly getting tired of the whole vet experience. I also noticed that his towel in his carrier was wet... Poor little guy had an accident. When we arrived home, he climbed out of his carrier and followed me around, crying. I think he was trying to apologize for his behavior at the vet. Ogden's appointments are normally in the afternoon and when we come home, we spend the rest of the day together. This one was in the morning and I had to leave for work. He refused to sit near me on the bed when I came home that evening (since I have a lovely cold, I have taken to climbing into bed as soon as I get home) for several hours. Eventually, he forgave me and curled up next to me.
Ogden ate and drank during the night. This morning, he even came into the kitchen while I was serving up their breakfast! It's so nice to feed two cats. He gobbled up his food and even went back for seconds. It seems the steroid is kicking in again.
On a different note, I did discover that we have raccoons in our backyard. I got up one morning (4:30) and noticed a creature in the corner of our yard. I thought it was our stray cat Zip and sat down at the kitchen table to watch her in action. It eventually moved and I noticed it wasn't a cat but a HUGE raccoon. It climbed our great big oak tree and them climbed down after a few minutes. It was followed by a second raccoon. I noticed that these two raccoons were much skinnier than the one I saw go up the tree so I think there are at least three raccoons who visit us. This would explain why the bowl of cat food that I leave out for Zip at night is empty every morning. Pretty cool!
Monday, March 3, 2003 - Itís Still Winter
This weekend, as temperatures reached 40 degrees, I saw more grass in my backyard then snow. Today, I see not one blade of green. Probably cuz it took me over two hours to get to work this morning... because of snow. Argh. Will winter never end?
Since I have to complain about something, I chose the snow. I can't complain about Ogden's health because he's been doing quite well this past week.
Usually after Ogden's steroid shot, he starts to slip around Saturday, a little less than a week after the shot. Saturday came and went and Ogden kept everything down. Sunday came and went and Ogden's food remained in his tummy. And so far this Monday morning, everything looks good (because it's still in Ogden's stomach).
I was home alone this weekend as my cold persisted. Not wanting to infect an entire clan of Hollands, Jeff went to Philly for his cousin's wedding by himself. Whenever I'm home alone, I buy snacks and takeout for dinner. Ogden is usually included in this notion and this weekend was no different. I bought him a burger from McDonald's. When I got home, he saw his little hamburger bag in my hand and cried until I chopped up the meat into little pieces and gave him his burger. He actually ate it! It's been over three months since Ogden has shown any interest in a burger. His lunch the next day was some deli turkey. He wolfed that down, too, along with some dried up burger from the night before. While that may sound disgusting to most people, it was actually quite nice. When Ogden was full mass, he would eat anything he found, and that often included really old meat. It's not that he doesn't have taste. He just knows that if he doesn't eat it, it might eat him.
Every morning last week, I had two cats waiting to be fed their breakfast, and one who actually would cry at me because I was taking too long. Notice I said "cry" and not "howl" or "growl." This word should tell you that the one in reference was Ogden, and not his female counterpart. When he was done with his breakfast, he started in on Wensley's. When that was gone, he licked the bowls clean. At night, when he heard the word Pounce, he would actually come to end of the bed and wait for his treat.
It's so wonderful to not only have him eating, but to show real interest in his food. It was really scary when he didn't care at all about food because food was his life at one point. He would eat anything at any time of the day - he was always in the mood for a treat and would always try everything once. If I dropped something on the floor, I would call him first because there was a strong chance he would eat it or lick it up. When all that stopped happening, it was very easy to envision that the end was drawing near. Now that food is his best friend again, we're both happy.
Of course, the pessimist in me is just waiting for him to start slipping into barf fest again. It's a defense mechanism because it's so heart breaking when he starts to slide back into sick kitty world. For the moment, he's eating... and eating A LOT. He's even started bathing a little. He made me take his sweater off the other day. He kept licking his shoulder - through the sweater - until I took it off. When he actually licks his gross, stinky, greasy back, then we'll know that we're on the road to true recovery. We may actually see the old Ogden again.
Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - Spring is Just Around the Corner
I had a rather long winded (surprise, surprise) e-mail about how I've had to watch the Ogden I loved slowly became less and less familiar and then now, after three months, slowly return to his normal self. I figured I'd just cut out the prose and say: the "real" Ogden is almost back!
He's eating, he's bathing, and his whiskers and fur that he lost as a result of chemo are starting to grow back. He's playing, he's digging through the trash, and he likes being a pig about stealing Jeff's dinner. Most of all, he's happy. Of course, he's not happy about his frequent trips to the vet. As we turned down the road to the vet clinic (it's very long and winding), Ogden stood up in his carrier and began whimpering. I thought it pretty amazing that he can recognize the area. Of course, since he's been there at least 20 times in the past 3 months, I'm sure just the feel of the route is emblazoned in his memory.
Ogden had his two week check-up yesterday and they were quite surprised to hear that he had eaten for two straight weeks. He hasn't done this since he was diagnosed with cancer over three months ago. He hasn't gained any weight, but he also hasn't lost any. I was quite surprised to hear that his weight was the same because he's been quite a pig lately. I made the vet take X-Rays because Ogden still cries out in pain when he is picked up. I theorized that he might have broken a rib but everything - including all organs - appeared normal. The new theory is that because he lost so much weight so quickly, he's now experiencing growing pains.
Everything is still functioning in his body. His check-up schedule has been changed to every three weeks now, instead of every two weeks, because he is doing so well. He even behaved himself as he sat on my lap outside of Radiology as we waited for his X-Ray appointment. Many, many dogs went by (and tried very hard to sniff him) and there were lots of strange and loud noises. He was only grumpy for a few minutes as I put his sweater on him before he went back in his carrier to go home. He was cranky because he didn't like the big dog next to us watching him as I put on his sweater. After his appointment, we went to Burger King. He got a burger... which he shared with Jeffrey (a twist on the food sharing struggle).
On a different note, Wensley has learned a new trick. At least, we're hoping it's a new trick. She has always loved being in the bathroom and has recently taken up playing in the bathroom all by herself. We now cannot keep her out of the bathroom (she can open doors). Her new trick - she loves to drink out of the toilet. She gets RIGHT inside the bowl and drinks the water. I'm not planning on kissing her any time soon. Bleh.
Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - The Return of the Update
Some people have assumed that because I haven't sent out an update e-mail on Ogden that he's either doing really well or very poorly. I'd like to confirm that he is doing really, really, really, really well.
Ogden has returned to his unbelievably happy, drooly, hungry self. He loves to play with his toys. He loves to eat... and eat and eat and eat. He loves to sit in the window and watch everything that's going on outside. He can be found sitting near a window most of the day and night. He loves to wake me up at 5am to feed him (which goes back to his love of eating). He loves to give kisses and head-butts. He's just happy. Jeff and I actually wonder if he's so happy because he's not sick anymore or if it is just our imagination that he's so exuberantly happy because we had 4 months of not happy Ogden.
His new obsession is being outside. He loves to roll in dirt. He loves to be outside so much that he learned how to open a window and climb out of the house. I found him outside one day, rolling in the dirt. He goes out daily with me (on a leash) as I work in the garden. He almost caught a squirrel yesterday, quite by accident. Two squirrels were chasing each other through our yard. Ogden only saw the first one as it whipped past the porch steps where he was sitting. He leaped off the steps and into the air. Just as one of Ogden's paws flew into the air to try to smack the first one, the second one leaped over him and was knocked down by his flying paw. It was bad timing for the second squirrel. Luckily, Ogden didn't realize what was happening in time and the squirrel scampered off.
Ogden had a check-up on Monday. It's been a month since his last one. He has gained more weight - he's almost 10 pounds now. This is quite a feat as he was a mere 8 pounds in February. Although, for the amount of food he eats now, 2 pounds really isn't much of a weigh gain.... Must be nice to be a cat. :-)
The vet informed me that he and the rest of the Oncology staff did not expect Ogden to be doing so well. In fact, they all thought he would be dead by now because we took him off chemo. Jeffrey was appalled that the vet would actually say such a thing (the vet actually said those exact words) but I found it nice that Ogden was amazing everyone with his condition. I'm happy he's still with us and am even more happy now that I know that according to medical science, he shouldn't be here. I asked how long they thought Ogden might have before his cancer comes out of remission and they laughed. His remission has lasted a lot longer than they predicted and now no one knows how long this will continue. Ogden has the vets baffled.
Ogden had some blood tests done. For the most part, he's doing very, very well. They did find that one test of his kidney values turned out high but they're not too concerned. Basically, this means that he could be coming out of remission and his kidneys could be on the path to failing again. I stress the word could. Everything could be just fine. Again, Ogden is baffling medical science. There are no guarantees anymore. He'll get a re-check in a month.
We did take him off his steroid shots. The steroid is supposed to help him overcome nausea and to stimulate his appetite. Since I'm pretty sure he's doing well despite the drugs, we decided to discontinue this aid. We also did not want him building up immunity to the steroid, which can happen with prolonged use - the drug just doesn't work any more if you take it too much. If Ogden does get sick again, we want to be able to ease some of his pain by giving him the steroid again. If he's immune to it, he won't stand much of a chance. Now that we've discontinued the drug, he should be able to handle the drug when he needs it again.
Finally, the vet is pushing for us to start radiation (instead of chemo) as a means of preventing his cancer from coming out of remission. If we wait until his cancer does return to then start some sort of preventative procedure (like radiation or chemo), his cancer might not respond to the treatment. I'm hesitant to start any form of treatment because of Ogden's history and also because of Ogden's current wonderful state. I don't want to tamper with a good thing. We'll revisit the issue with Ogden's next check-up, which is in a month.
So, yes, Ogden is still with us and is as feisty as ever. We don't know much longer he will be with us or how long his current happy, healthy state will last, but we'll enjoy it while we can. It's nice to have the good ol' Ogden back.
Thursday, May 29, 2003 - Ogden's Summer Plans
Ogden had his monthly check-up yesterday. He has spent the last month eating, and eating, and eating some more. He particularly enjoys helping himself to food he finds on the counter, cooking on the stove, and on someone else's plate. He loves to be outside so that he can eat grass and roll in the dirt. If he doesn't get to go outside, he gets awfully cranky. It gets worse when he sees me outside when he has to stay inside. He loves to play with his toys and run around the house like his tail is on fire. He loves to stare out the window and watch everything go by. He loves to give kisses, headbutts, and hugs, especially to people who are most allergic to him. He loves to yawn in my face so I can get a whiff of his smelly breath. Basically, he's one happy cat.
I've said this before but I swear he knows the path to the University because as soon as we turned onto the campus road, he stood up in his cage and cried. Once we were there, Ogden put on the ol' charm and kissed and hugged all the female vet techs.
He had blood drawn and tests run to make sure that the value that was high last time was not high this time. This value was an indicator that he could have been coming out of remission. His tests came back fine. He is still in remission. Our vet seems to think that Ogden's steroid shot may be the thing keeping him healthy and after a brief heated debate, Ogden received a steroid injection. I guess if it's the thing that could be keeping in him remission, giving him shots is fine. My concern was that Ogden will build up an immunity to the steroid and if he does come out of remission and stop eating, the shot won't help him when he needs it most. I guess we'll tackle that troll when he appears. The vet does have some confidence that Ogden is doing well because he changed Ogden's blood work schedule from monthly to every three months.
Ogden weighed in at a full 10 pounds. I still don't understand why his weight doesn't jump more given how much he eats, but I am happy to hear that he's gaining weight (however so slowly).
While the fact that his cancer is still in remission is wonderful news, the best news came when the vet looked at Ogden's shaved leg (the one that was shaved in November and the hair hasn't grown back) and said in a rather surprised voice, "Hey, his hair is finally growing back!" I myself was rather shocked because I check his leg practically every day and have never noticed anything that even resembled hair growth. But like Jeffrey's grass seed, hair has sprouted overnight. It's still mostly bald but there is a teeny patch here and a tiny patch there and a miniscule patch over there of really, really long, scraggily hair. It looks longer than it's supposed to be. It's very odd. But after 6 months of baldness, my little guy may actually fully return to normal.
In sum, my little guy is doing very well and should be around for a little while longer. He plans to be outside as much as possible and eat everything he can. Can't beat that.
Of course, since we can only have one hairy cat, I shaved Wensley last night. It was very humid and she didn't seem happy so I thought it was time to give her a summer cut. She didn't think I was helping and there was much growling involved. Round two starts tonight.....
Does anyone have a favorite quote/line from a Dr. Seuss story? Seriously - I need a good quote.
Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend.
Tuesday, July 1, 2003 - Another Update... This Time from a 30 Year Old
A few months ago when Ogden and I were at the vet, I asked how long he would be in remission. The vet confessed that Ogden shouldn't even be alive. According to medical science, he should have died in March. There was no reason why his cancer was in remission. I gave him a few extra hugs that night and reveled in knowing that he really shouldn't be with me.
A few days ago, Ogden started showing signs that something wasn't quite right. He was weak, tired, and eating considerably less than he had a week ago. He seemed to be in a lot of pain and his eyes were very sad. When I offered him baby food one night, he ran to the bowl but didn't touch it. He didn't like to move very much, either. If I left him sitting in his bed or on the couch, he would still be there in the very same spot several hours later. It was amazing how quickly he went from happy and healthy to very much sick and in pain.
His monthly check-up was last night. He was very quiet in the car. Normally he meows a couple of times to let me know he doesn't like my singing or I stopped too suddenly or that he really isn't happy about being in the car. He didn't make a sound the entire way to the vet (which is a good 15-20 minute drive).
He has dropped .75 pounds and now weighs 9.25 pounds. One of his kidneys is enlarged (7 centimeters; it should be 4cm) and is most likely not working. They ran a bunch of tests (and shaved yet another portion of his fur) and discovered that he is out of remission. The cancer is back in his kidneys.
When we returned home, he eagerly waited for his hamburger from Burger King to be chopped up into Ogden-sized pieces but then he walked away from it when I served him his treat. I brought out his harness but he didn't seem interested in going outside. This is a first. Ogden loves to be outside. He hid in the closet for a couple of hours until Jeff made him go outside while I worked in the garden. The one thing that makes me happy is that I can still make Ogden happy. He purrs whenever I'm near him. When he was really sick, I could only muster a faint purr every once in awhile out of him.
We have a couple of options for treating his cancer - regular chemo (which Ogden didn't do well with the first time), oral chemo (Ogden doesn't do well with pills), or radiation (highly experimental on cats and not normally used for lymphoma). It's sad that his options are something that will make sick, most likely will make him sick, and has never been attempted before on a cat with cancer in his kidneys.
We've pretty much ruled out regular chemo. Ogden lost half his body weight during that treatment and considering he's only 9.25 pounds now (not at his full 16 pound stature), he probably wouldn't survive the treatment. We'll try the oral chemo first and then switch to radiation if oral chemo doesn't appear to be working well for him. He starts treatment on Thursday.
There was a time when I had come to terms with the possibility of only having grouchy ol' Wensley around but those healthy months made me think that Ogden would indeed live forever. I had happy and healthy Ogden for four months longer than I should have. I'm still hoping he'll be around to write the Christmas letter (Wensley hasn't been practicing) but that hope is a little dimmer today. Maybe he'll defy the odds again and live another 4 months. I'm not sure you get two miracles in a lifetime...
Monday, July 7, 2003 - Quick Update
Ogden started his new chemo treatment (pill form) on Thursday. Given his past reaction to both chemo and pills, I was a little worried about how he would react. I am happy to say that he is doing very well.
Normally when Ogden goes to chemo, I drop him off and leave because we arrive around 6:30am. Today, I got there at 7:15 and was told if I wanted to wait, the vet techs would be in at 7:30. I wanted to make sure they knew he was having a different type of chemo today so I waited with him. I had brought Ogden's breakfast with us because he didn't have time to eat it at home. He was very happy to sit in his cage and eat his breakfast. We then played in the waiting room. He had a lot of fun and was very happy. When 7:30 rolled around, everyone who was in the waiting room (there were three dogs and us) got our files and were sent down to Oncology. It was a little parade down the hall. They talked to each owner individually and took the animals in one at a time. It felt like he was going off to camp. He didn't seem very happy about being separated from me but at least he knew everyone who was there. I always get a kick out of newbies and their skinny little files. Ogden's is very thick.
I called a few minutes before 3:00 to see if he was ready to be picked up at 3:30. I was informed that he hadn't actually received his chemo yet. They put the pill in some baby food but Ogden hadn't touched it all day. I was told that he sniffed the bowl and backed away from it. Evidently, he could tell something wasn't quite right with it, the vet tech told me. I was a little amused. How stupid did they think he was? When I finally did get to pick him up, I looked at the bill. I saw several charges for a chemo pill and several deductions for the pill. They had to try three times to get the pill in him (I wasn't charged for the non-successful attempts). I'm glad it was they who had to administer the pill and not me. I am sure Ogden and I would have exchanged some words...
He has some blood work scheduled for this Thursday. Chemo has a tendency to kill off too many good cells in addition to the bad cells because it doesn't know which is good and which is bad. This blood test is to make sure he has enough white blood cells to fight normal every day infections. If not, I get to administer anti-biotics. His next chemo session is at the end of July.
It's been several days since his treatment and I'm happy to say that Ogden has been eating very well and everything is staying in his tummy like it should. His legs still shake and he seems a little weak. He has developed a few odd quirks and has dropped a quarter of a pound in a week. Other than that, he seems to be very happy and drooly and almost his normal self.
Hope everyone had a good 4th of July weekend!
Tuesday, July 8, 2003 - Amended Update
Ogden made a little liar out of me yesterday when I reported that he was keeping everything in his tummy. He normally greets me at the door when I come home at night (he's looking for an opportunity to escape outside). He did greet me, but with his little tongue sticking out. I knew what that meant. Ten seconds after I walked in the door, Ogden barfed. He continued doing this every couple of hours last night. He was very weird and spent the evening before we went to bed pacing all around the house. He's a little weak and his back legs shake a little bit. Even though he kept missing his jumps, he didn't seem to be bothered by the falls and would shake it off and try again. I assume the steroid is giving him the energy.
I dug out his hazardous waste box and went through his medicine drawer and organized all of the medicines he would need. We've resumed his injection schedule of a drug that's supposed to prevent nausea and some B12 (which is holistic but could help stimulate his appetite). It may be a day or two before I have to start administering fluids to keep him hydrated.
I also dug out his log book. The people at the U thought I was a very good momma when I presented them with a complete spreadsheet of his daily habits when Ogden had chemo in Dec-Jan. I record almost everything that he goes through in day - when he gets injections, when he barfs, when he eats, how he's doing.
Ogden spent most of the night curled up right next to me. He really wanted to be comforted. When I got out of the shower this morning, I found that he had inched over to Jeff for comfort. He did eat a couple of bites this morning.
So, Ogden has resumed his battle with chemo and we have resumed the roller coaster ride.
Monday, July 14, 2003 - Ups and Downs
When I sent out the last e-mail, Ogden had spent a day regurgitating everything he ate many, many times. That only lasted one day, I am happy to say, and he was pretty normal, except for his shaky legs and incidents of falling. The steroid gave him energy his body didn't really have. Ogden likes to jump up on things - counters, tables, furniture - but he would frequently miss and fall down. He just didn't have the strength to jump as high as he needed.
He had his blood test on Thursday to make sure that the chemo hadn't killed off too many white blood cells. He passed that test. That was the good news from our vet visit. Our bad news was that Ogden now weighed 8 pounds. He had lost 1.25 pounds in a week - and he had been eating (but just a few bites every day).
Ogden stopped eating on Friday. As a result, his energy level went downhill drastically. That is somewhat of a relief because if he moved less often, he wouldn't be tempted to jump up on things and then fall. I bought some "calories in a tube" kitty supplement. It's a high caloric gel that's used to help put on weight for kitties who need it. Ogden finally fits into that category. I wanted to get something in him because I know that if he can make it through the non-eating period, he will be fine. Ogden didn't particularly care for the gel so I had to get creative to get it into him. I know that if you put something on a cat's nose, they have to lick it off. It's just an instinct in cats. After the third application to his nose, he decided he didn't like me very much and I quit.
Ogden has an appointment this afternoon. I'm hoping the vets can help me get him to eat or come up with an alternative. I'm pretty sure they're going to tell me that Ogden has lost more weight - which would mean that he's in the 7 pound area. The first time we battled his cancer, Ogden went from 16 pounds to 8 pounds in a matter of 5 weeks. It was half his body weight but it was also 8 pounds. His Maine Coon fat probably saved him from wasting away. This time, Ogden started the battle at 10 pounds. He doesn't have the cushion he had originally. If he just loses half of his body weight (and not the 8 pounds he lost previously), he'll be down to 5 pounds. I'm having a hard time convincing myself that he's going to win the battle this time (partly because I'm such a pessimist).
He's still purring and purring strongly whenever I'm near him and hasn't lost his love of going outside (although he now sleeps outside than investigates). His spirit is still high but his body is failing him faster than I care for it to.
When Jeff and I found out that our offer on our house had been accepted in October, we sang the song "Our House" (with two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, and now everything is easy 'cuz of you). Ogden hadn't been diagnosed with cancer then and we had no idea that we wouldn't have our two cats in the yard for much longer. We took Wensley out this weekend (she hates being outside) to get her used to being outside while I work in the garden. It just won't be the same next year.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003 - The Future
Ogden and I were at the University yesterday for 3 hours. Ogden's true spirit was showing as he tried to charm the ladies in the waiting room (I let him out of his carrier) and vet techs in the exam room. He wandered around happily for quite a long time and then went back into his cage and slept. He was trying very hard to be himself but it was exhausting. I know the feeling. I get tired of being cute all the time, too.
We met the head oncologist this time for the first time. It could very well have been because the other doctors were busy... or it could mean that they needed to pull out the big guns to get Ogden through this.
Ogden went through a whole gamut of tests, including more blood work. After the doctor finished one of his tests, he asked if I knew what he was testing for. I did, which surprised him a little I think. Later on in our conversation, the doctor commented on something and then said, "Oh, but you must know that already. You have a medical background, don't you?" It made me laugh. Ogden and I have been to so many appointments and I've done a lot of research on-line about his condition that I actually am starting to know what's going on. Even after I said I didn't have a medical background, the doctor continued using medical-speak instead of dumbing it down for me. I was flattered but having a bit of trouble keeping up with the lingo....
The main reasons we were at the vet's office was for help in getting Ogden to eat again and to find out if anything else is wrong with him. He hasn't eaten since Thursday night and he continues to stagger and fall down a lot.
Ogden's kidneys have not shrunk back. They are still not working.
One of the reasons he is not eating is most likely not a result of the chemo. That would have started a day or two after chemo (not a week) and would not have lasted very long. The doctor suspects that he may have an ulcer in his tummy and that is causing him pain. We were given a more potent medicine to fight his nausea and another to treat any ulcers that he may have (basically an injectable form on Pepcid). He was given another steroid injection and an iron injection to help fight anemia.
Another one of the reasons Ogden is not eating is probably due to his enlarged kidneys. He's uncomfortable. His next chemo session isn't scheduled until the end of July. We could add some radiation treatments in between chemo to help shrink his kidneys down but radiation must be performed under anesthesia. Since Ogden isn't eating, anesthesia becomes more tricky and risky. We have to get him to start eating before they can do radiation. Of course, he's not eating because his kidneys are too large. It's a frustrating little circle. The solution for one problem is another problem itself.
The reason he is falling is a bit of a mystery and will most likely remain somewhat of a mystery. It could simply be that he has a potassium deficiency. I guess potassium helps control balance. It could also be that the cancer has spread to his spine. They took blood to figure this part out. If his potassium level is low, we'll get some supplements. If his falling doesn't stop after we treat him with the supplements, it's very likely that his cancer has spread. If the results come back with regular potassium levels, it's most likely that the cancer has indeed spread. The only way to know for sure is to do a test (I assume a spinal tap) that must be performed under anesthesia. Since Ogden hasn't been eating, this test is extremely risky and should not be attempted. We most likely will then assume that the cancer has spread.
A lot of Ogden's problems are a result not eating. If we could just get him to eat, we could solve those problems. The drugs we were given should help him feel better enough to eat. If the drugs don't help, our next option is a feeding tube. We have two feeding tube options - one in the nose and one directly into the stomach (that sticks out his side). The one in the nose is easy to insert but is kinda tricky to keep clean. The "food" is also liquid (basically water with a lot of vitamins). The tube can also be pulled out quite easily so he would be a cone kitty to prevent that. The benefit to the stomach tube is that he could "eat" real food through the tube. The downfall is that it would require surgery.... and anesthesia. Again, because he is not eating, this surgery would be risky. It's amazing that we would have to get him eating again in order to put in a tube to help him eat....
It's frustrating that most of the options that can help him could also kill him. We're going to try this round of drugs. If that doesn't help, we may have to try the nose feeding tube. If that doesn't help, we most certainly won't have two cats in the yard very, very, very soon. Wensley hasn't been practicing her writing or typing skills. This year's Christmas letter may be a couple of sentences written in tuna (and then licked off).
Tuesday, July 15, 2003 - Tuesday, July 15
My heart is breaking. My little guy lost his battle with cancer tonight. He died on July 15th, somewhere around 8:30pm. It all happened so fast.
I came home a little later than usual tonight. Ogden wasnít sleeping on the bed like he had been the past couple of days. He wasnít sleeping in the closet in Jeffís boxer crate, either. That had been his "I want to be alone" spot. I found him tucked in the corner of the closet. As soon as he saw me, he started to purr very loudly. I moved stuff to get to him and suddenly realized that Ogden was having trouble standing up. He seemed a little disoriented, too.
Jeff came home a few minutes after I made my discovery and took control as I was starting to lose it. He brought the two of us outside for one final romp in the garden. As we watched Ogden struggle to get around, it became quite clear that it would indeed be our last. Ogden could not stand and walking was almost impossible. He also would twitch every so often. At first, it was a mild twitch but then soon many of them turned pretty violent.
About an hour and a half later, we decided it was time to put Ogden to sleep. I carried him to the car and sat in the backseat as Jeff drove slowly and carefully, trying to avoid the bumps. Ogden was clearly in a bit of pain. He tried very hard to look out the window but I think the motion of the ride was making him sick.
When we got to the University hospital, Ogden cried and cried as I walked up the now familiar path to the entrance. He knew exactly where he was and he didnít want to be there.
Jeff informed the front desk that we needed to put Ogden to sleep and they took him from me to put in an IV catheter. They put us in a lavender room, which must be specifically reserved for this kind of thing because in all our visits to the U, we had never seen a room this nice before.
It seemed like an eternity before they returned Ogden to my arms. The doctor wouldnít be in for a few minutes so we had time to wait and just be with Ogden. Within a few minutes, Ogden began squirming and crying. Jeff ran to get the doctor. Ogden let out the worst howl I have ever heard in my life and his heart stopped almost instantaneously. He died in my arms.
Ogden purred almost to the very end. It was a strong, deep purr. I am happy that I got to be with Ogden when he died. I am glad that he didnít have to go through it by himself. I think he waited until I could be with him. I am happy that he went quickly. I am also grateful that I really didnít have to make the final decision to end his life. It was indeed time and Ogden decided that.
The doctor at the University was very nice - she even gave us an impression of Ogdenís pawprint (itís like a little cookie that you bake until it hardens).
We will most likely bury him tomorrow night, under the bird feeder so that he can be near me and be able to sneak up on the birds.
Ogden was the best cat in the world. As we laid on the floor together in the house as he was dying, I remembered lots of things he and I have been through.
Iíll remember Ogden the kitten climbing up to the top shelf of my closet in college and knocking over a box of cat food (because he was hungry and I was a sleepy college student who wouldn't get up to feed him), a 5 pound bag of sugar (for ice tea), and a whole big bottle of dishwashing detergent, all of which burst open and mixed in a great big pile on the floor. What a mess!
Iíll remember Ogdenís little heading whipping back and forth as the sheep on campus were being moved from one field to another and their path took them right in front of our dorm window.
Iíll remember the way Ogden loved to grab the brush out of my hands so that he could brush his own face.
Iíll remember that Ogden loved to play peek-a-boo. Iíll remember the joy he had in his eyes as he would whack me as hard as he could in my face whenever I popped around the corner and shouted "Boo!"
Iíll remember that Ogden would coming running if he heard the slightest movement of his harness. He loved to be outside.
Iíll remember that Ogden loved to stick his nose in my ear and purr as loudly as he could. I can almost feel the goosebumps the rumblings created.
Most of all, Iíll remember that Ogden loved to humor me. He put up with all the crazy things I did to him (all the trips on an airplane, all the moving from apartment to apartment, the time he was "Bat Cat" for Halloween....). There arenít many other cats that would do that. I loved him for that. He was the best cat in the world.
Hug your animals and human loved ones tonight. A great one has fallen.