awfulhorrid: (Over the Shoulder Bella)
My Bella passed away this morning. She had three of her humans - [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm, [livejournal.com profile] tarrestrial and me - petting her and hopefully comforting her. I don't think she suffered and I'm glad she was here with us instead of the emergency animal hospital, surrounded by strangers. (We'd considered that as an option, but finally decided that it would probably not help much and we'd rather she be at home with us.) I don't wish to dwell more on her death, so I'll focus instead on her life.

As anyone who ever met her could tell you, she was an opinionated little cat and she never hesitated to tell you how she felt about a situation. She was our little furry supervisor in the kitchen or in the office. She sat here with me at my desk and 'helped' me with uncountable school and programming projects, papers, and games. She spent a great deal of time laying on top of Fran's computer - we're pretty sure she liked the warmth and vibration, but also just the hanging out with her humans. She was the smallest cat in the house - her "brothers" outweighed her by around 2x for one and 3x for the other, but it was very clear just who was in charge. She loved her morning half-and-half when I had my coffee and her weekend serving of cream cheese when we had bagels. She understood English better than most any other cat I've ever known and would often demonstrate that she knew entirely more words than she really should have. I don't think I could have spoiled her any more than she was and I honestly don't regret a second of it.

Bella on Fridge

When she first came to us, she wasn't really used to dealing with more than one or two humans at once, but it wasn't long before she became our little social director kitty. I know I'll never forget that Yuletide celebration where she was falling asleep sitting up on the futon in the living room because she didn't want to miss out on all the people who were visiting.

(Edit to add this paragraph): She loved to take naps with me and almost always slept with her humans. When we'd go to bed at night, she'd usually go under the covers and curl up between my ankles while I read until I turned out the light. At that point, she'd come back up and snuggle up against my side as close as she could possibly get. In warmer weather, she'd settle for on top of the covers, often between me and my partner. I think when I started having to keep my left arm wrapped around a pillow for support, she was more than a bit upset that she couldn't get as close to me when we slept.

Goodbye my sweet little Bella girl. Words cannot begin to say how much I'm going to miss you.
awfulhorrid: (Worship the Coffee)
Edit: Original subject line was Stop digging to China Australia! ... but then I noticed that subject lines don't support the strike through tag.

The other day Lorenzo was participating in one of his hobbies, namely digging wildly in the downstairs litter box. I made the off hand comment "Lorenzo stop digging like that; you don't speak Chinese!" (Or words approximate to this, at least.)

Of course I spend a lot of time playing with world maps and have a fairly good grasp of geography. I immediately realized that even if my lovely feline could dig that far he wouldn't come out in China since China isn't an antipodal point from our location. I wondered briefly where exactly he would come out, but aside from estimating somewhere in the South Pacific, I didn't follow up on it at the time. Today, I fired up Google Earth and entered an inverse of our geographic coordinates to see where he'd end up. As it turns out, I was off by a bit. He wouldn't end up in the South Pacific, but rather the Indian Ocean, almost in the Southern Ocean. Specifically he'd end up between the South West coast of Australia and the French Southern & Antarctic Lands. Allowing some drift towards a large land mass, I'll allow that he might end up in Perth, Australia. While I do have a friend that lives in Perth, I'd rather not call her to ask her to send back my cat.

How about "Lorenzo! Stop that digging, you don't need a kangaroo!"
awfulhorrid: (Bella on Computer)
I thought I was making a stand for my routers and some other computer equipment. (Essentially I'm trying to reduce the footprint of some of the equipment and give myself a little storage space to boot.) However as soon as brought it in from the garage I found out exactly what I had made:



Although really this should come as no surprise to anyone.
awfulhorrid: (College Dog)
Quick update on school: Things are going really well, so far. I'm settling into a nice routine and aside from one homework assignment at the very start of a class, I haven't missed anything yet. (I wasn't the only one that missed that; the layout of the page made it look like part of a lab that we'd finished in class. Still, I feel like it was my responsibility to find it and do it, so I've resolved to not miss another one.) Of course a large part of getting homework done is having the right study buddy ...

Brace for the cute )
awfulhorrid: (Pyrite)
I've been holding off writing an eulogy to Pyrite at least partially because it's been painful to even try. This entry isn't to announce his death, but rather to talk about his life and what he meant to me. Before I do that, I need to thank everyone that sent us condolences, both here and elsewhere. Your words and actions mean a lot to both [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm and me.

Cut for length )
awfulhorrid: (Pyrite)
Some of you already know, but we got a final test result from the vet late last night. The spleen aspirate was inconclussive, but the masses on his lung and spleen are probably malignant tumors. His thoraxic cavity is filling with fluid to the point where they drained 200+ mL on Monday and additional fluid on Tuesday. They rate his condition as bad ... meaning he's very unlikely to survive surgery even if they though it would help. [livejournal.com profile] clark_parker and [livejournal.com profile] merseine0613 came up early this morning and went with us to pick him up from the AECT and will be taking us to Wolf-Merrick hospital this afternoon.

He's obviously not feeling his usual self, but he's comfortable as we can make him. He's spent most of the day so far under the futon in the library with [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm and I nearby, but he's snuggled down between us for a few minutes. He's purring and knows he's loved. Right now, he's actually out from under the futon and is up on top with [livejournal.com profile] clark_parker. That's my beautiful boy ... a charmer to the end.

Thank you all for the kind words you've sent. Our family of choice has really helped us out with this. As much as this is tearing [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm and me up, I think it would be ten times worse if you all weren't there for us.
awfulhorrid: (Big Kitty Yawn)
Thank you all for the well wishes and healing thoughts. I wish I had better news. I really can't tell you how much I wish I had better news.

We got a call back from Dr. Fox at the AETC yesterday. He'd gotten the results of the blood work back and it showed signs of kidney and liver problems in conjunction with (or perhaps because of) everything else that's happening. He recommended an IV treatment be added to the other procedures he was getting today unless we wanted to bring him in last night in which case they could start it earlier. Since earlier is better and likely to be more effective, we packed him up last night and took him to the AETC around 22:30. It hurt to leave him there, of course, but I knew they could look after him better there if something went wrong than we could at home.

Our call this morning ... well, the good news is that he's comfortable, purring loudly and being affectionate to everyone who comes near him. Yep, that's my beautiful charming Pyrite kitty alright. The bad news is that he's already accumulating more fluid on the lungs and the ultrasound shows the mass on the spleen is pretty large. They took the aspirate of the spleen, but have to wait for the lab results which should be sometime this afternoon at the earliest. They may not be able to determine if it's definitely cancer or not, but if it's indeterminate the next step would be a biopsy ... which would involved putting him under and he's not really in good enough shape for that. (The words "he's in bad shape" were used at least twice in a fairly short conversation.) I know some other phrases were used to describe problems with his lymphatic system and indication in his spleen of internal bleeding in the past few weeks, but I was a bit numb by that point and really crying entirely too much to absorb it all.

At this point, I guess it's just a matter of time. He's still at the AETC right now. We're going to wait for the final test results to come in and talk to the doctor again, but I'm really out of hope at this point.

For those that want to see, I've put his pictures on Flickr into a single set. The caption on the first is "Pyrite Loves Everyone" and I think that's about as good a summary of him as I could ever give.

Pyrite

Jan. 4th, 2009 12:45 am
awfulhorrid: (Pyrite)
A few weeks ago I took Pyrite to the vet to have several teeth extracted. About a week later he started acting a little lethargic and not quite his usual self. He was scratching at his chin a lot to the point where he started drawing blood. My lovely [livejournal.com profile] isolde_deely was visiting at the time and went with me to take him to the vet. This seemed to go over well with him since he could stay on my lap and "hide" under the cape-like drape she was wearing. We came home with some cream for his chin and for the next ten days [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm and I medicated him twice a day. He didn't like this too much and we though his diminishing appetite was due to the smell or taste of the cream.

He got the last of the medication on Thursday morning so we expected he'd be eating normally by the next day. He turned down almost all of his food on Friday, although I convinced him to eat two bites of ham, something he normally devours with relish. (He could have had more, but walked away from it.) This was an obvious bad sign and we decided that we should take him into the vet this morning (Saturday.)

The vet at Wolf-Merrick took an X-ray and ... well, the words on the report are "Pleural effusion." In other words, fluid on the lungs. They lacked the equipment for the recommended follow up lab work and ultrasound, and recommened we go to Animal Emergency & Treatment Center in Grayslake, IL. We stopped by the house to grab my insulin, called [livejournal.com profile] merseine0613 to let her know what was going on so she could pass along the details to our friends at a wedding reception we were supposed to attend.

I won't detail the waiting and the ups and downs, but there was a lot of crying and a lot of anticipation. They placed him in an oxygen cage, gave him a mild sedative and drained a total of 340mls of fluid from around his lungs. The vet identified nothing in the pleural fluid at the time, but sent a sample off to the lab, along with a blood sample. The ultrasound shows a small mass on one of his lungs and a larger mass on his spleen. There's a good chance it's a form of cancer. He was able to come home tonight, although we're keeping an eye on him as he comes off of the sedative and decides he can leap for the top of the cat tree. I'm taking him back on Monday morning and leaving him there for a few hours so they can perform a splenic aspirate.

Surgery has been mentioned as an option, although we'll know more after the aspirate. At this point we're mostly trying to find out how much to do that might prolong his life without degrading his quality of life. I'm not going to keep him alive just to keep him alive, nor am I willing to put him through lots of surgery if he's only going to gain a few months. Right now, we're keeping him comfortable and making sure he knows we're here and that we love him.

I still cried when I felt him purr against my fingers as we coming home.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] isolde_deely for calling me and to [livejournal.com profile] clark_parker, [livejournal.com profile] merseine0613 and [livejournal.com profile] rileybear67 for visiting us. You all really helped me and [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm. Also thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm for being there with me today and helping me in particular when I was getting information overload.

I love you all.
awfulhorrid: (Big Kitty Yawn)
OK, not quite. I took Bella and Pyrite to the vet a few weeks ago for their annual checkups. They both needed dental work -- or extractions as they're called when you're dealing with cats. (Irony of ironies, I find this out the same day as I was going to the dentist to get fitted for a crown.)

I decided to spread the misery out a bit, so I took Bella in last week. She was listed for two extractions and came away with three. After a week, she's mostly forgiven me the trip in the car and the abandonment at the vet -- she's fine and dandy and is getting the last of her clavamax tomorrow morning.

I took Pyrite in today for his one tooth extraction. With his pale blue eyes and quiet 'mew,' he's actually better at inducing guilt than Bella. I know I'm doing the right thing when I drop them off at the vet for the day, but it still makes me feel guilty when I leave them there alone. About 13:00, I got a call from the vet: Pyrite was all done and he was doing fine, but they had to pull five teeth in total and he might be a little sore for the next few days. Five??? Poor kitty.

The vet is telling me that while this sort of tooth decay is fairly common in cats, it's not very well understood. It could be genetics or it could be something dietary that they're missing. Not something that we aren't feeding them, mind you, but something that cats in general are missing. It's likely that Pyrite is going to lose more teeth in the coming years. I guess it's a good thing he likes gooshy food.

Tomorrow, like last Friday, I'm working from home so I can be here with the patient. He's already been cuddling up to me and seeking comfort. I just wish he'd wait until the anaesthesia wears off completely before he starts climbing around on the things on which he's allowed to climb!
awfulhorrid: (Big Woof)
So last night before dinner we both decided that if the snow was as bad as they were predicting we were just going to just say "screw it" and stay home today. We then did our best snow dance in the kitchen much to the combined amusement / horror of the cats(*).

Bah! I say, Bah!

While there was a few scant inches of snow on the driveway, the roads weren't nearly bad enough to justify staying home this morning. My commute took about the usual time; road conditions lowered maxium speed, but with lighter traffic the average speed was actually much higher than usual. I did slid one time, but it was when I was turning into the driveway here at the client site ... hardly anything to get excited about.

Still, I think I will be leaving early today. It's best to be safe, you know?


(* - Bella in particular was really unsure of this whole dancing thing, especially since I had scooped her up so that she could participate. She didn't flee in terror from the subsequent bouncing and singing, but she couldn't quite decide if she liked it or not.)
awfulhorrid: (Big Woof)
I was home for about five whole minutes when the local "tornado alarm" went off. For those that have been to our home from the South on Route 45, that's the one that's in the field next to the bar near the turn for 196th ... so it's much less than a 1/4 mile away and it's very loud. I was just changing out of my work clothes so I was down to my pants and dress shoes. I very quickly changed into jeans and a t-shirt, grabbed a sweat-shirt (which I never actually got around to putting on) and donned my boots. Then I spent the next hour alternately watching TMJ4 to find out exactly how close the tornado touched down (seriously ... and it turned out to be tornadoes in a few different spots) and going outside to listen or scan the skies and check the condition of our cellar. (Mostly dry; I squeegied the small puddle of water into the hole with the sump pump and watched it drain away.) Somewhere in there I threatened to stuff the cats into carriers if the siren went off again and hadn't quite made up my mind if we were going to the cellar or the small closet under the stairs.

Luckily it didn't have to be either one, but it sure was an exciting hour, wasn't it kids? Then [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm came home and I calmed down a lot. I guess a lot of it was I didn't know where she was out in this mess. (Hey, what can I say? Dogs worry!)

From a TMJ4 newscaster talking to a rep from WE Energies: "Brian, can you go over some safety guidlines ... if people are out and about and happen to see downed power lines, what do they need to do?" My first thought: "Leave the f*cking things alone, you moron!" Luckily for the viewing public, the rep had a calmer head about such things, but possibly my reply would have gotten through better.

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