This is kind of a sad post but it needs to be written out and archived. Also, it's a good way for me to talk about it without having to actually talk about it because I sometimes turn into a complete wreck and sometimes I just want to pretend to be normal. So I'll put everything here, and you're welcome to offer condolences and hugs. Unless it looks like I've been freshly crying. Then don't. Just talk to me (about anything but my cat). If I talk back, the conversation will continue. If not, I don't feel like talking. If I want to talk about it, I'll bring it up and probably drive the conversation until I'm ready to pull that car over.
A few months ago, I made a post about my cat Mandy going to the vet. She had been throwing up and lost some weight so I took her in. The results came back fine, and the vet suggested a change of food due to a sensitive stomach. It worked for a bit and she seemed happier without the dry food. Then a couple months later, I noticed she was losing more weight and very fast. I took her back in for an ultrasound. The abnormalities suggested cancer in her stomach and a followup test of some tissue samples confirmed (and if you want to know, it is intermediate-to-high grade, large-cell lymphoma). Devastated was the feeling I felt first. Helpless was the one that prevailed over all others.
I looked at her increasingly shrinking body and knew that I had to at least see if she would respond to the chemo treatment, so I opted to move forward. The few days leading up to the first treatment were incredibly stressful. She wasn't really eating and had started to hide in corners, but not her typical "I'm trying to sleep so I'm going where it's hard for you to reach me so you will leave me alone" corners. I was pleading with her and begging her to just survive long enough to make it to the first round. And she did.
The first round was great. She automatically felt better and was eating again and sleeping out in the open. Her tolerance for me throwing pills down her throat every afternoon was quite admirable. But the first round was only a protein to break up the cancer. A week went by and then the real chemo began.
I dropped her off and ran errands to pass the time. I picked her up and brought her home. She was sleepy and a little floppy, so I set her up on my bed. Because her pee and shit would be all toxic, she had to be separated from the other cats, but since she'd just gone from being Cancer-Cat to Chemo-Cat, she got the bedroom with me and the other two had to deal with the rest of the apartment. The following few days were rough. There was poop falling out of her butt constantly and she had little to no appetite. And she just wanted to lay around and do nothing. Worst of all, she looked sad and miserable. Maybe that was just the first round and others would be easier on her? Maybe the first couple of days are like this and then they're Super-Cat again? Many questions that had to wait until the next appointment with the vet, one week after the first.
Before they can proceed with chemo, they have to do bloodwork to make sure everything is okay. Drop cat off. They steal blood. They run tests. If all is good, cat gets next chemo in a pill. Eventually, I got tired of waiting and called the vet. They were still waiting for results, but I could head in around the usual pickup time because they'd be ready by then.
At every step of this process, the days that I spend waiting to hear back from the vet about picking her up are agonizing. I start to panic that something has gone wrong. I fear the worst case scenarios. This time when I showed up they brought me back into a room to chat. The chemo most likely had eroded a good amount of the tumor, but so much so that it caused an ulcer in her stomach. As a result, she was experiencing internal bleeding and needed a blood transfusion to survive. I authorized it without asking any questions about the outlook without it or the cost. Those didn't even cross my mind. I asked questions like "when can I take her home?" and "seriously, when can I take her home?". There was also a discussion about furthering the chemo. At this point, we cannot continue for at least a couple weeks, and if we do, there is a risk of this happening again. I have yet to make a decision, but I don't see myself continuing the chemo treatment (and totally reserve the right to change my mind). So far it has just been so hard on her and beyond stressful on me.
Anyway, she stayed over night and got some other cat's blood to help fix her. They constantly ran tests to monitor everything. It went well and I got to bring her (and her bag full of meds) home. To snuggle her. And pet her whenever she wants me to pet her. And to stop when she's had enough. And to let the tub drip so she can get fresh running water whenever she wants (yes, terrible environmentalist move, but this is my cat we're talking about here). And take a million and one pictures of her. And let her sleep wherever she likes in the bed, even if this means I sleep in the shape of a seven or an X or a square root symbol. And make sure her favorite toys are always within reach. The point is making her as happy and comfortable as absolutely possible, which sounds so fucking cliche it hurts, but is totally true.