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Rory's Journey

Rory, Tuxedo Cat, battles forepaw tumor with amputation

Rory's Journey

It’s been four months!

June 7th, 2015 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

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I’m doing pretty good, and mom will be back soon to post photos.  My fur has all grown back, and that little flabby bit of skin still hangs down, but the fur mostly masks that, thank you!

I still can’t really chase my sister around when she pesters me — but I DO make sure she doesn’t chase me from anything I really want to do (namely, eat).  My head is bigger than hers, after all, even if we do have twin food bowls.

I am able to jump up on mom’s lap when she’s typing at the keyboard, but I don’t really use the sofa any more.  I don’t even use the sofa to go perch up in the window to watch mom do yardwork any more.  Mom got us a second comfy cat bed, so I can either cuddle with sis, or sleep alone, as we might prefer.

When I’m walking, unless I’m going real slow, you can’t tell that I have any problem.  I don’t run fast but I can still move faster than mom.  I’m getting good at standing up on two hind limbs when I want.

Once in a while, if I’m startled by something, I may forget I don’t have a left forelimb, and fall on my face.  But this isn’t often — I try not to let things startle me.

At any rate, I should touch base more often!

Hugs to all my fellow tripawds!  Sorry, mom has been awful busy (and sadly neglectful).


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Updating my progression!

March 23rd, 2015 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

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It has been over 5 weeks since Mom decided my left forelimb had to go.  I do admit I rather liked it, despite the tumor growing on it.

But I continue to adapt, mostly.

Saturday, two days ago, Mom heard a cat scratching on Cee Cee’s scratching post.  Several times.  She turned around from her serious computer daze, and Discovered that it Was ME!  Like a  squirrel (as she says sometimes) I can stand on my hind paws and do what I need to do.  Beg for more food, more water?  Yeah, my hind legs are getting strong.

About 3 days ago I actually jumped up onto the kitchen sink!  Granted, Mom didn’t see this happen, and I probably used the lower cabinet top that never really quite shuts as a landing platform for this feat.

Mom’s bed is really high — she brought me in to sleep with her in early mornings shortly before she had to get up, twice so far — she’s a light sleeper and we cats are really nocturnal and pesky… I find that maneuvering over quilts, blankets, and her uneven body is really beyond what I like to do.  Uneven territory causes me to stumble.  She and her bedding are really too lumpy!

Last Friday, Obi-Wan (another cat here) chased me.  I fell over on my shoulder, thinking that that shoulder would work for some reason.  Obi just looked down at me, and didn’t pursue his aggression. I guess I looked submissive or something.  But I’ll get him.  Someday.  But note this: Obi-Wan Kenobi is NOT my only hope!!

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Tomorrow is my one month Tripawd annipawsery

March 5th, 2015 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

rory-quiet

And, you can see me yawning, too.  Looks like fangs are bared.  At least I still have these!  But, I am healing up well.

rory-fangs

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Day 19. Photo of how I am healing up.

February 27th, 2015 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Amputation, forelimb, feline

I am doing pretty well. There’s a flap of skin that hangs down and I don’t like it, but.

One of the things I appreciate is that I’m alive.  I can move around pretty well.  I can even sometimes work it up onto mom’s lap.  I’ve done this twice so far.  She puts me down on the floor when I get squirmy, however.  I haven’t quite done that on my own, yet.  Then again, she hasn’t waited for me to finally DO it.

I do want to say my sorrowful regards to a canine named Wilbur, who passed earlier this week after a tragic accident.

Wilbur was a heartfelt companion to mom’s sister-in-law, and was a boxer-pit bull mix.  There was a break in the electric fence (all this snow…) and he got out onto the very-near train tracks.  He was one of those dogs my mom actively loved.  And his more immediate family — several states away from here, so I never met him — are very devastated.

R.I.P., Wilbur.

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Day 17, or Thereabouts

February 24th, 2015 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I’m really doing pretty good.  Most of the time I seem to walk normal, as if all four legs are still functional.  I can even use the real kitty box, but since mom’s trash can is totally snowed in with heavy icing and since the one-inch high tray won’t fit in what remains of space, she hasn’t removed it yet.  (The poop itself has been moved.  I guess it’s more flexible.)  I did get into an altercation with CeeCee a couple days ago — mom swatted her for me since I couldn’t figure out with which paw I should do it!  Don’t worry — mom didn’t swat her any harder than I would have!

My current nickname might be “Hoppy”, but right now my gait is only uneven if I’m startled.

I don’t jump up on anything quite yet.  Yes, I did it the first night I was home, but right now, I’m not so very sure.  Yet.

 

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Rory’s Day 4 and Several More.

February 18th, 2015 · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

The computer at my home got sick, and a new one had to be procured, so I wasn’t able to dictate to this blog for several eventful days.  This also means no neat photos in this post.

What I don’t believe I mentioned earlier is that the docs shot me up with a seven-day pain medication, timed release sort of thing.  They also shot me up with antibiotics to last the same amount of days.  So it’s no wonder I’m not a bundle of life right away.  Plus there’s that collar…

At any rate, Mom and I took notes so you can follow along in my progress.

Day Four: 

I finally slept — briefly — on my amputated side.  The other side still feels like the side to sleep on.

That night, mom FINALLY brought me some Fancy Feast.  I jump up just as the pull tab starts to get lifted.  Mind you, pull-tab cat food is RARE in this house, but I know what I know.  We felines — at least myself and CeeCee — can tell the difference between a can opener on, say, canned tomato paste, and a can opener on something worthy to be known as FOOD!

PS:  there’s another good thing about sister CeeCee’s absence.  Mom can tell exactly how much I eat and drink, and how often I do Number One and Number Two.  She seemed awfully nosy about that!  I’m doing all four functions, although not as much as at one time.

Day Five: 

More Fancy Feast, please!

I don’t like being massaged or scratched today.  With the exception of behind the ears.  Behind the ears is always pleasurable!  I think I’m getting sensitive, or the pain med thing is beginning to wear off.

Day Six: 

Occasionally that evening, I cried out, a sharp cry.  The pain meds were definitely going away.  Mom never caught me in her eyesight when I did let out a cry, so I can’t tell her if it was because I’d just moved a certain way that I should not have.  It wasn’t remotely constant or regular, just simply like I was being reminded to be careful.

Day Seven:  (One Week, YAY!). 

When Mom got up the morning of Day Seven, I was all over her, all over her ankles.  Followed her everywhere, rubbing an ankle as well as I could.  Okay, she got the message:  more Fancy Feast.  I was alert again when she came home from work that evening — again more Fancy Feast!  But once before she went to work I again gave a sharp cry, another spasm of pain.

In the evening, Cee Cee came home.  I rested a lot, and we both pretty much ignored each other.  I’m no longer experiencing overt pain.  Not that I’m talking about.  CeeCee was much more interested in Mom than in me, which suited me just dandy.

Day Eleven — TODAY!:

I got my stitches out, and the collar came off!  I have this weird bit of skin hanging down which looks like a pouch — the vet says sometimes that happens, and often but not always it gets re-absorbed or something.  Mom’s going to look into this further.  The incision itself is healing up nicely — a little bit of expected fluid here and there, and neither mom nor I are concerned about that in particular.  I can’t wait for my fur to grow back!  My new nickname is “Hoppy”, because that’s how I walk.  I’m actually walking a lot better than either of us expected so soon.

CeeCee did get a bit snippy over dinner tonight — she swatted at me and I couldn’t swat back.  Normally, I would have.

Before surgery I weighed 11 pounds, eight ounces.  Today, I weighed in at 10 pounds, 2 ounces.  That’s a pound and six ounces lost — although possibly some of it was a short term lack of appetite.

More later!

 

 

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Day Four.

February 10th, 2015 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I didn’t move much overnight.  I shift around in bed a bit. I’m not really hungry.  Mom got me up this morning about six AM,  and made me move around a bit, and put me on my potty.  I scooted back to bed.  But I had drunk up all my water.  I eased around into the kitchen while she prepared breakfast — see, mom, I do move??

I lumbered back to bed — the one I share with CeeCee, all beat up and all — but it’s not so nice and soft so I moved back to my new bead.  Then I got up and used the potty all on my own.  It’s still pretty awkward, but I can do it myself, mom.

Mom promises to pick up some canned cat food for me after work today.  I’m not real hungry, but then again, I’m not real active either, and probably with all that surgery and stuff, my tum isn’t quite up for it yet.  After all, I’m the household cat who is the usual suspect when someone around here has got to up-chuck.

****

Mom is back home and it is now dark out.  CeeCee is still not here.  This is probably just as well — the vets shot me up with time-release pain killers and I’m still not wanting to be active.  I mean, face-planting is so embarrasing — although it seems when I move now I am able to stop myself before my face hits the floor.

I like to sleep on my side that still has an arm.  I do shift around ever so often.

Mom has gotten into a “physical therapy” mode.  Sits me up in the bed.  Gentle scritches.  (Not near the incision but near the other legs.  I mean my existing legs.)  Brings me over to a chair and puts me on her lap and massages me.  Then, she cruelly puts me on the floor.  Sooner or later I do whatever it is I do to “walk” back to my bed.  She finalizes this by scritching, or maybe it is massaging me, while I’m back in my bed.

She is upset, though, that I don’t appear to have used the litter pan while she was out working today.

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Day Three, Evening.

February 9th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I got home yesterday, and I was all about exploring.  But…

I can’t walk.  I got limits.  I’m just going to lie here.

I’m told that since I was fully able to use all four of my legs prior to amputation, it will be harder for me to adapt to living a three-legged life.  Yes, lifting up in extra-ordinary positions on that bad leg pre-amputation was hard, but I could certainly WALK.

Mom feeds me kibble and I have a good appetite for that.  If she brings it to me.

Unfortunately today I don’t have much of an urge to move from that really nice, soft and comfy bed mom bought me.  She picked me up earlier in the morning and plopped me on that kitty pan with the 1-inch lip and I did a whole-hearted Number One, and even balanced up on my remaining forelimb for the occasion.  She just tried it again, but I’m not interested yet, and so I stumbled  back to that nice bed on my own power.  Mom was somewhat happy in that at least I was moving.  I eat all the kibble she leaves within reach, and I shift around often in my bed, but … I was active yesterday.  I face-planted.  I didn’t like that.  I don’t feel like being active today.   Maybe I’ll find my missing limb tomorrow?  I am SO not active today.

I am glad CeeCee is being boarded until Thursday.

My incision looks okay.  It’s pretty long, but re-looking at Fang’s and Jill’s, on their blogs, its really about the same length.

 

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How I Got Here.

February 9th, 2015 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I am not certain when the tumor came on, but I was boarded with my twin sister, CeeCee for most of the month of November, 2014.  My human mom’s Dad was having serious health problems out in the Midwest (he eventually passed away from these on November 17th, at the age of 91 and after a truly full life).   At any rate, the vets called mom up and asked her if she knew anything about a growth on my left forelimb.  No, she’d never seen it.  When she got back to take CeeCee and I home, she checked me out, and gave permission for surgery and biopsy within a few days.

Rory and CeeCee

Rory and CeeCee, 2014.  I am at top.  Of course.

The vet right up front said there was no way she’d be able to capture all of it.  A cat’s forelimb is very thin, and there are several major blood vessels in there.   But we could grab as much as possible, biopsy and then plan what to do.

So, that’s what happened, and I came home that night with my very first Elizebethian collar, which I spent most of the next couple days trying to back out of.  Worse yet, my sister CeeCee decided that I looked so unhappy that she felt quite justified in tormenting me.  Once I escaped from that collar, I paid her back!!  The other thing was I kept flipping it the wrong way around, so it was hard for me to eat.

Don’t get me wrong — she and I love each other, but she’s always been one for instigating things.  I’m mellow, but at the end of the day, you have to be top cat.  Or she’ll keep at it.

Anyhow.

The biopsy came back as “extramedullary plasmocytoma”, which is a tumor not well-understood in cats, but which in dogs (why oh why do I live in a dog-centered world?) is usually “benign”, which means while it may grow fast, it doesn’t tend to go systemic.

I saw a specialized oncologist on 12/23/14.  We did a draining lymph node aspiration and a urine analysis, and bone/chest x-rays.  (The x-rays were actually done back at the regular vet, but the vet here analyzed the bone work-up.)  Mom declined the sonogram.

The urine analysis would determine if there were markers for systemic cancer.  This turned up negative.

Lymph nodes collect stuff from circulation — draining lymph nodes are those which are near the site of infection/tumor/what-have-you.  They’ll be the first affected if a tumor is beginning to go systemic.  (Mom actually is a research immunologist by trade, so even though oncology is not her field, she understands the basic biology.)  So, you have to go find the lymph nodes that reside near the armpit, which in a living cat is sometimes difficult or impossible.  Nothing could be determined in my case.

The bone scan of my forelimb showed no tumor development in the bone.

I was given three options:  Radiation therapy, amputation, or palliative care.  No one asked me MY opinion, which would have been a Deux ex Machina perfect cure without a single side effect.

Mom opted for radiation initially.  The incision has to heal up a bit before it can be done — radiation damages skin.  By this point the tumor had started to re-grow.  She got down to the radiologist mid-January, taking the afternoon off from work to do so.  To be told that the appointment date and time she’d immediately written down was Wednesday at 1:30 pm instead of Tuesday at 1:00 pm.  And no, the referral doctor wasn’t in today….

It’s a 40 minute drive one way to the vetinary radiation facility.  Mom couldn’t return the next day.  She set up the appointment for the following Monday and got written confirmation.

Meanwhile my tumor was growing, and growing.  I think I could actually Watch it grow.

The following Monday we got slammed by snow and ice.  I didn’t make it then.  Mom made an appointment for the following Monday.

But on that Tuesday, she took a good look at me, noticed an ulceration, and a vast amount of new growth.  Suddenly, amputation was back on the table.   I went back in on Wednesday to the local vet.

If I had an amputation, my choice (well, mom’s choice) was the local vet or the oncologist I’d seen back in December.  Both seemed competent and had done this operation often before.  Mom went with local.

Mom planned on seeing the radiologist with me the following week, anyway, but weather intervened again.  He’s, however, been in consult with the other vets during this process.  I do recommend keeping everyone in the loop as you can.  Don’t just get one viewpoint, or just one option.  And do lots of web-surfing, keeping your BS-detectors in high gear.

Why mom went with amputation over radiation at the end:

Her self-serving reason:  radiation is a weekly process of at least six weeks.  Since the facility is 40 minutes away, this would mean having half-work-days for six weeks, on top of what any heavy storms might throw at us.  It being winter and all.  And the Driveway from Hell.

Her biological reasons:  Six weeks is good for a cat or other creature with a moderate re-growth.  This was aggressively-regrowing.  I also had the development of ulcerations, which adds to the problems with radiation and skin damage.  And, third, if this thing hasn’t gone systemic, I probably stand more of a chance of the tumor re-developing — considering this aggressive re-growth and the thickness of the tumor, by going the radiation route rather than the amputation route.

Even so, the amputation is no guarantee of success.  Some tumor cells may well have escaped over to my body at large.  My last x-ray, two days before the surgery, showed no lung involvement — a lot of systemic tumor cells rather like to migrate over into the lungs.  Not much is really known about this particular cancer in cats.  That’s why palliative care was offered as an option at both my regular vet’s and at the oncologist’s.   Plus, it is a viable option if you can’t swing the funds, or if you think a nine year old cat won’t get much benefit out of this.  (If I, Rory, were 12, the chosen option would have been palliative.  Or so she thinks at the moment.  I don’t see her being that heartless…)

Operation:  2/6/2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day Three, Morning.

February 9th, 2015 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Mom set me down on this nice new very soft bed yesterday, and I haven’t gone far afield since.  Just too much bother to try to walk, plus I’m feeling awfully subdued.  My bed is in the hallway, right outside of the bathroom.  I get my own bowl of water on my nightstand.  Er, nightfloor.

About as comfy as I'm going to get right now.

About as comfy as I’m going to get right now.  Oh, apparently you have to click on the photo to see my water bowl.  Mom doesn’t want to go resize the photo.

No, I didn’t sleep with Mom last night — if I decided to go wandering, her bed is higher up than average, and I’d probably fall and hurt myself.  I’m still in early stages of healing, after all.

I didn’t want the chicken she offered me — to tell you the truth, I prefer cat food to human food.  My kibble is just fine, thank you.

Oh, here’s my spiffy new litter pan!  She’s put litter on it, of course, and put it in our shared bathroom.  I’ll use it until I get the hang of having one less leg.

$8 at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

$8 at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  One-inch lip all around.  A lot less complicated than cutting a regular litter box for handicapped access.

Mom’s going to Work from Home today.  The snow (she says) is a mess and still coming down, even if not deep, and she figures a day with me might do me good anyway.

 

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