Farewell, Old Friend

A week ago today, when we went to bed, I noticed my 19 year old cat wasn’t feeling well. He hadn’t been feeling well for some time, having bad kidneys and sore joints and just overall being old. But, something was off. He was moving really slowly, seemed anxious and wasn’t acting like himself.

The next afternoon, we went to the vet, who didn’t like the looks of him at all. He’d been dropping weight pretty steadily for the past few years. One tenth of a pound here, two tenths there, he was hovering in the area of 7 pounds the last time we were in. On Thursday, he was 4.7 pounds. As soon as I heard that, my heart dropped. I was in mega denial, but a part of me knew this was it.

His gums were pale, he wasn’t controlling his bowels or bladder very well, he had stopped eating, and he was weak and lethargic. She took some blood just to see where his kidney levels were, gave him some drugs to make him comfortable for the night, and told me she’d call in the morning with results.

I knew the results would be bad. The vet wasn’t hopeful, and couldn’t even pretend to be hopeful to help me feel better. So, when she called with the bad news, she said it was probably a good time to put him down. Especially since we had plans to leave town for the weekend: “You might not even have a live cat to come home to if you left him there. It’s that bad.”

I made an appointment for 3:50. And I tried to fit in some snuggles, but the hours seemed to fly by. Suddenly it was time to leave.

I didn’t bring him in a carrier, we thought bringing home an empty carrier would be too much. Instead I wrapped him in an old towel, and snuggled him for the car ride. I didn’t let him go at all, except when they put in the IV. I held him to the end.

The vet cried with us, and then she said, “I know it’s hard, but you did the right thing.”

And I know I did. But, I felt bad for choosing for him when his life would end. I don’t know, it’s strange. Of course I didn’t want him to suffer anymore, but some part of me wishes his body would have given out on its own first.

Anyway, here I am without my kitty that I had since I was 14. I can hardly remember a time without him. I knew this was coming. I mean, I started writing this post a year ago for Pete’s sake. But still, it comes as such a shock.

How can I even begin to describe to anyone the relationship I had with him? All I can tell you is that we were together for nearly 20 years. The most exciting / tumultuous / important 20 years of my life: half of my teens, all of my 20s and part of my 30s. I went to high school, graduated high school, went to college, got married, graduated college, moved halfway across the country and had children, and my kitty was with me for all of it. Graduations, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, celebrations, mournings, everything, my buddy was there.

That’s all I can tell you. And maybe you can feel 5% of how I feel about it. There are a lot of jokes and cliches out there about cat owners, and how crazy they are about their cats, and how they can turn into crazy cat people if left unchecked. But seriously, I would hope even the non-cat people could understand the idea of a constant companion, that adores you and wants nothing more than food and kindness from you (and, okay, they want you to scoop their turds), by your side for two full decades. Watching them go from bouncy little kitten to slow elderly gentleman seemingly overnight, which your brain can’t even process because in comparison, you yourself have not really aged all that much.

I had minor foot surgery when I was 15. The first few days of recovery were painful, and I was on some heavy-duty drugs which made me want to do nothing but sleep, and eventually nothing but vomit. Kitty, who I’d only had about a year at that point, was by my side the whole time. I mean, yes, I’m sure he got up to eat and stuff, but every time I managed to open my eyes and look around, there he was, a warm little fuzz ball curled up next to me. And that was him, always there, always offering a snuggle. Or a head-butt, he gave the best head-butts.

There was a period of about a year and a half between me leaving home for college and me getting my own place and being able to bring Nashua there to live with me (well, the landlord was a lot more clueless than my discerning R.A. so I brought him to live there even though looking back I’m sure I could have gotten my ass kicked out on the street). I missed him like hell and it was so fun finally having him back in my everyday life. After he’d been there only a few weeks, I remember running out the door in a rush to go meet up with some friends at one of the local bars, and when I got outside, I could see him looking out the window at me and I actually felt really bad for leaving him behind. And I made a mental note to always be there for him, and to be responsible so I could always be there. Original kid, I tell you.

And now, there’s a big space where he used to be. The house is so quiet, my lap is so empty. It’s hard to get used to. Bedtime is the worst. In the past year or so, I didn’t see much of him during the day. He was old and tired and spent his days sleeping and hiding from the preschooler. But he always came out at night, and when he could muster the energy, he’d hop in bed with us. Even the last night of his life, he snuggled all night on my pillow. Last night as I started to fall asleep, I thought I felt the familiar weight of him on my legs, where he always liked to curl up. This is going to take some getting used to.

I like to imagine him now in his own little slice of Nashua heaven: a huge, green, grassy plain to roam and munch upon; endless sunshine; a person’s open winter coat with the nylon lining to curl up on (he loved sleeping on them); endless supplies of ice cream and frozen waffles to dine upon.

No more rotting teeth, no more upset stomach, no more achy joints, no more dementia. Just a happy kitty again, finally.

I’m trying to remember him back in the day, when he didnt feel like a bag of marbles when you pet or held him, when he would run and jump and play with abandon, when he still had the energy to purr. That’s how I see him in his kitty heaven, or wherever those blessed pet souls end up at.

YOU GUYS!

What’s got two thumbs, slightly less of her leg, and is CANCER FREE?

THIS GIRL!

Friday afternoon, I was just doing my thing. Taking care of the boys, cleaning up around the house, waiting for Brien to get home. And out of the blue, my surgeon calls me.

He explained to me that while preliminary testing of the lymph node showed some cells that were a “red flag”, more in-depth testing determined that those cells were NOT from my melanoma, and were also NOT malignant in any way.

I asked, “So…that’s it?”

“That’s IT.”

No more cancer, no more surgeries, I’m in the clear!

Of course, I will still need to go back for checkups and do frequent skin checks, but that’s a small price to pay.

I will be more diligent about looking at my skin, about getting to the dermatologist regularly, and about getting scary looking things taken care of right from the get-go. And I encourage everyone reading this to do the same. And to tell all of their loved ones to do the same. Even if you just have one funny looking mole that you think “is probably nothing.” Go in, get it checked, it could SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Thanks a million times over to everyone that got in touch with me to show support, offer help, give encouragement, say prayers, all of it. I’m grateful and truly touched. The past 8 days of my life would have been a living hell had it not been for all of that love coming my way. Thank you thank you thank you!

Here’s to many more bloggy years to come!

My Last Friday With My Sentinel Node

Surgery is scheduled for Monday morning. It’s going to be a full day, starting with a check in time of 7 a.m. Then I go to Nuclear Medicine at 9:30 to get some kind of injection that is going to help the surgeon find my lymph node. The actual surgery itself will be around 11:30, and I’ll get to go home at 2 or 3.

It’s not the actual surgery itself that’s making me nervous these days. I mean, come on, I get to SLEEP! I’ll probably wake up more well-rested than I’ve been in 6 months. No, it’s the details of the post-op I’m stressing.

For starters, I can’t breastfeed for 24 hours. So, I’ve been pumping myself crazy for the past week to be sure Ferris has enough to eat. And, I’m going to have to bring my pump with me to the hospital to relieve some of the pressure throughout my day. And then I’ll have to pump periodically for the rest of the day. And night. It’s going to be a blast.

I also have to buy groceries to get us through the whole week. Lots of food that won’t spoil too quickly, that Bowie will eat, and that Brien will be willing to cook. At least for the first few days. Or maybe I’ll just plan to order in.

And then there’s the fact that the very next day, Tuesday, is Bowie’s parent-teacher conference. I know what you’re thinking, it’s just a preschool conference. But, when your child is one of the more…spirited in the bunch, well, let’s just say I just want to be on top of my game.

There’s also that crazy hectic purgatory while you’re waiting to hear lab results. I’m expecting to get good news, the doctors are expecting to give me good news, but there’s always that chance, ya know? It will probably take a few days, which will feel like a few years, to hear back. And I’ll just have to sit and wait. And wait. And wait.

Conveniently enough, this has all taken my mind off of Kindergarten. We find out which school we got in a few weeks. I was all-consumed with that whole process, and now it all seems so trivial in comparison.

Thanks to everyone for your support and kind words these past few weeks. It’s nice knowing there’s so much love out there for me and my family.

And cancer? You can pack your bags and leave. No one invited you. No one wants you. Take a hint.

This Just In

Random thoughts from my brain tonight:

1. Money sucks. Worrying about money sucks more.

2. I think the baby is sick again. I thought it was the same cold he’s had for a week, but today he seemed sicker, and I think he got sick again before he ever actually got well. See also: think he might be teething.

3. Make a list of things that bother you. About life on Earth in general. Now, cross off that list things that have never actually affected you on a personal level, double cross off things that are unlikely to ever affect you in the future. Then you’ll have your list of things you should *actually* care about and do something about.

4. I own exactly two t-shirts that fit me. And the weather’s starting to get nice here again. Where are the short sleeved shirts, retailers? WHERE ARE THEY?!

5. The kiddos at preschool sing this song every January, ALL January. And it’s a hell of an earworm. Now it will be in your head too. You’re welcome!

 

We’re all fine.

That’s basically all I want you to take away from this post. This is the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I started this whole thing. We’ve all been sick since Thanksgiving (well, not Ferris, breastfed baby immune systems FTW!) and I’ve been trying to cram in some holiday shopping. I’m usually done with all my present shopping before Thanksgiving, but this year I’m just getting started. YIKES. Family members reading this: your gifts are likely to be late.

Anyway, excuses, excuses. I’m here, I’m fine (or I will be when this runny nose and cough finally leave), I plan on blogging in the future. Hope everyone else is staying well, staying warm and having a great holiday season.

Glance Back at the (Past Couple of) Week(s)

Still blogging, I promise! Typing this with one hand while I feed Ferris. Here’s the haps:

1. As I wrote earlier, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight. And I had two t-shirts and a pair of jeans from my pre-pregnancy days that still (sort of) fit me, so it was off to the store for me to shop for a whole! new! wardrobe! Which would have been a whole lot more exciting if the stupid 80s and 90s weren’t back in style. I hate it. I hate it all. No, I will not wear skinny jeans and short t-shirts. No, I will not wear leggings and long sweaters. I saw a girl wearing stirrup pants the other day. STIRRUP PANTS! I managed to survive those trends once, I don’t want to go back. I was able to find a few shirts from Target, Old Navy and H&M that suit my style and didn’t break the bank, and I made the trek to my favorite Salvation Army for some jeans (I swear by it) but they didn’t have much that day. Also, heading to Sports Basement (local sporting goods discount store that has a pretty decent women’s “street clothes” section with surf company goodies.) But, I need more ideas. What are your go-to stores? Who’s having mega sales right now? Where can I get clothes that don’t make me feel like it’s 1990 again?

2. We recently received the bill for my labor, delivery and hospital stay having Ferris and MY GOD. It did not cost us (out of pocket) this much to have Bowie, and I am hyperventilating. I literally felt sick to my stomach after I opened the bills. Our insurance covered the bulk of the cost, but the leftover amount is very overwhelming for a one-income family living in San Francisco. The costs of things are so inflated, it’s astounding.

3. It’s already been six weeks and I can’t seem to get a handle on life with two kids. Things were good at first, but then Bowie hit the regressed, needy stage of becoming an older sibling. And Ferris is now eating a lot more and sleeping a lot less than he was at first. I’ve learned to manage, but it often involves leaving a crying Ferris in his bed while I deal with one of Bowie’s epic tantrums, or doing everything half-assed and with one hand while I hold Ferris. Ferris had a little tummy bug and had diarrhea for 2 days, which made him not sleep at all, and gave him a HORRID diaper rash. It was so close to being impossible, trying to deal with a fussy baby and a needy preschooler on 2 to 3 hours of sleep. By some stroke of luck, this all happened when my mom was in town, so I had an extra set of hands around. But, what if this happens again? Because who am I kidding, it will.

4. I thought we were safe from the peanut butter recall. I buy Kirkland Natural Peanut Butter from Costco. And while the jar we have right now was manufactured before the dates being recalled, the recall was expanded to include Kirkland peanut butter. I’m not even sure where we can go to buy good-quality, non-tainted peanut butter right now. Bowie’s not a superfan of sunflower seed butter, but he’ll have to learn to love it I guess.

5. As I said, my mom was here visiting. She was here for a week, and it was great. Nice visit, and also nice to have the help! Big thanks to her. She had the idea to have a sleepover at her hotel with Bowie. At first he was wary of the idea, but ended up spending not one night, but two with her. And he was really sad to wake up yesterday morning and find out I’d already taken Grandma to the airport. Thank goodness for Skype!

6. LET’S GO GIANTS.

Mother of Two

So. Yeah. Didn’t mean to ditch you there. That was the quickest week of my life. Wow. And just like that, I’m a mama of two. Thanks so much for all the love on Twitter and Facebook, welcoming my baby Ferris into this world. You guys are awesome.

Here’s a pic of me from earlier today, one week post partum (minus a few hours).

(You’ll notice I didn’t clean the mirror for you this time. That requires two hands!)

I feel so good. Compared to how I felt after having Bowie, I don’t even feel like I gave birth. Not that it was a whole lot easier this time. I mean, in some ways yes. 18 hours of labor compared to 6 hours of labor = amazeballs easier. But, epidural compared to no epidural = NO FREAKING WALK IN THE PARK. Overall, things went very well, and recovery is going great.

I will be posting the birth story here in a few days, after I gather my thoughts and can think straight again. Pregnancy Brain was pretty bad this go around, but I totally forgot how bad New Mom Brain is, wowza.

I just wanted to check in with you and let you know I’m doing so great. Learning to make Bowie’s lunch with one hand, nursing a baby in the other. Re-learning how to change a poopy diaper on a wiggly newborn by nightlight.

Our little family is adjusting perfectly to the new addition. And I am so, so, so looking forward to watching Ferris grow. (Just not too fast, ok?)

Here’s a super sweet picture my husband took at the hospital when Bowie first came to meet baby brother:

Love you guys. Stick around, there’s so much more to come on my journey through motherhood!

 

Glance Back at the Week

1. I thought this would be the week I get to meet my little guy. But, no. I am sitting here on Friday with a blog post to write, and I’m. Still. Pregnant. I’m at the point now where I can’t even pretend to be feeling ok, so I will skip all of that. I’m miserable, and ready to have this baby.

Mama at 39 weeks 5 days:

 

2. Update on Velcro: I spent $400 on a kitty who really didn’t need it, and won’t ever even be able to comprehend the fact that I loved her so much, and worried so much about her, that I forked over the cash just in case. Velcro’s diagnosis: stressed and anxious, with a skin allergy tossed in for good measure. Two things we already knew about her. So the next time she has blood in her pee, I have to force myself to wait it out for a few days, because it’s more likely to be that something freaked her out than that she’s actually ill in some way.

3. Bowie’s behavior has been pretty good, even the swearing, away from home. But, BUT, he’s still being incredibly defiant and disrespectful at home, especially toward me. It’s like a switch gets flipped in this kid, for realz! For the past three preschool pick ups, he’s a perfect angel, he leaves with no problems whatsoever. Wednesday, a fellow parent even helped me get him all the way to the car and she put him in the car for me, and he was wonderful and sweet and obedient. But, the second we pull away from the curb, it’s The Exorcist in the backseat. He screams swear words at me over the tiniest issue, he kicks the seat really hard, he stands on the street and refuses to go up the stairs into our house (most of the time he’s doing this in his underwear only, because that’s how he rolls at school these days). And the fit continues until dinnertime. I know that he’s holding it together at school all afternoon, so when he’s with me he feels “safe” to get out his pent up anger and frustration. I know this in my head. But, I’m exhausted, hormonal and anxious, and I don’t need the added stress. It’s been a very difficult week.

4. My young cousin Matthew is a Marine, and is stationed in Yemen. And although the TODAY show isn’t reporting on it, or anyone really, there was an attack on the embassy there too. So, keep him in your thoughts or your prayers or your good vibes, or whatever it is you send out there. He could use it right about now, I’m sure.

Not the most positive of weeks, sorry for that. But on the upside, the weather’s finally turning summery around here. And Bowie tried shrimp at dinner last night. And Husband is getting his old VW Moneypit Squareback closer to actual driveability. And I found a bunch of old favorite recipes on a long forgotten flash drive. Little things. Focusing on the little things.

Have a good weekend!

Glance Back at the Week

1. Our kitty Velcro is at it again. She always picks the BEST times to get sick, I tell ‘ya. Wednesday evening, I noticed a little blood in her pee, in tiny little puddles in front of the litter box. Her signature move when she’s got an infection. So, I take her in, thinking we’ll get the (expensive) injectable antibiotic, seeing as how I’m due to deliver a baby at any given moment, and we’d leave. Done and done. Well, wrong and wrong. She’s lost a pound since the beginning of the summer, and since a) her appetite has increased; b) her vomiting has MAJORLY increased; and c) she’s got another (suspected) bladder infection, they think she might have thyroid problems. So, they had to do a full senior blood panel, even though Lady is only 9 years old, and a lengthy urine culture to rule out other bladder issues. At least I was able to talk them out of the $200 x-ray I got suckered into last time this happened. $200 I may as well have thrown in the trash, as it came up showing nothing and her problem eventually cleared up on its own. This kitty. She is our problem child, no doubt about it. The vet tech made a comment about her “thick file” today. She’s been to the vet more than our 19 year old cat and our dog combined. More than our HUMAN SON has been to the pediatrician. I think of all the kitties who skate by on their good looks, she’s the luckiest to have been born so cute. She’d have been out on the street so long ago.

2. No baby yet. Not even a hint of baby. Well, at least up until this post goes to print. I know that I’ve got another week until my due date. And I know that Bowie came 8 days late. I just held out hope that the whole Second-Babies-Come-Sooner thing might hold true. I have stubborn boys, I guess. But, a fellow mama at preschool today did tell me, “Your baby is coming soon. You just have that look.” So, yay?

3. This post from one of my favorite blogs, Smacksy, brought up a pretty scary memory for me, one that I don’t like to think about but I suppose we should think about those kinds of things once in a while. It keeps us on our toes. It’s crazy being in charge of little people, being responsible for their well-being in every single aspect of their lives. Molding and shaping them with your every move, every second of the day. And dear God, I’ve got another one coming. PANIC. (But, no, seriously dude, you can still come out.)

Have a great weekend, and may my next Glance Back post find me the mama of two.

Glance Back at the Week

1. The preschool director had requested a meeting with me last week, to “discuss Bowie’s progress and where he is now”. And I sort of dreaded it, just unsure of what they’d tell me or expect me to say. I met with them this past Tuesday and, oh you guys. Amazing meeting. The teachers are completely floored by his behavior, and how far he’s come. The director said he’s “a completely different kid.” They applauded us for putting him in therapy and being persistent with him over the summer, and they said it has paid off in a major way. And they’d even like to use us as an example for future families who might be hesitant to seek help. I used to cry in their office out of frustration and embarrassment, and that day I was able to get misty out of pride and relief. I knew there had been a change in him, but I wasn’t sure others would be able to see it too. But, they were so surprised, and so happy.

2. So, if you’re a semi-regular reader, then you know I had a salmonella infection in 2006. It was a little bit traumatic, and I talk about it a lot, using my blog as a therapist (thanks you guys, you’re way cheaper than an actual therapist) and I like to get the word out about recalls and warnings. Because it was hell on earth, and I just don’t want to see anyone else get it. But I have to say that lately, I am pretty freaking overwhelmed with the news stories and warnings and recalls and possible contaminations and outbreaks. They are everywhere I turn. Peanut butter and mangoes and lettuce and spinach and canteloupe and tomatoes and ground turkey and MY GOD MAKE IT STOP. It’s enough to make even the bravest eater among us wonder if anything we ever put in our mouths is safe. And being pregnant makes it even scarier, because it’s not just about me right now, ya know? Funny story (also that you’ve probably already heard)–when I went into labor with Bowie, I actually thought I’d contracted salmonella again. The gastrointestinal distress, the abdominal cramping, it was all so reminiscent of my illness. I told my husband to take me to the hospital because I was sick and I didn’t want to hurt the baby. He could see through the crazy and knew I was in labor, but I was inconsolable, surely I’d somehow gotten salmonella again, and now my baby had it too. Wow, the crazy, looking back.

3. Since Tuesday, I have been having some mild cramping and lots of pelvic pressure. I’m sure I have a ways to go yet, but it’s nice to feel like things are progressing a little bit. I am SO hungry. All the time. It’s nuts. (Mmmm, nuts.) And between the peeing, the sore hips, the sweating to death and the insane dreams, sleep is a thing of the past. I’m trying to learn to cope with it, instead of complain about it, because I know I won’t be getting sleep anytime soon.

4. For your weekly dose of insane cute: Bowie found this outfit in the dress up area at school. It’s a witch’s dress, but some of the trim is green with spiders and spiderwebs on it. And he’s totally latched on to the thing, proclaiming it the “Nice Spiderman Princess” outfit. He wears it all afternoon at school, and the other night I just couldn’t get it off of him, so he wore it out to dinner too. And the the whole next afternoon at school, and following evening. It’s so cute and hilarious, and we can’t wait to show him pictures when he graduates high school.