Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Powder

In October 2005, I came home from work one day to find my mom watching tv. She looked at me and said, "We saw a pretty white cat today with the most beautiful blue eyes for adoption at Petco. She reminded me of Puddy." Puddy was my mom's favorite white cat when I was growing up. I asked her why she and my dad didn't bring the cat home, and she just huffed and said, "Yeah, right!"

A couple weeks later my parents and I went to get our flu shots together, and I needed some crickets for my tarantula, so we stopped at Petco on our way home. Lo and behold, the white cat was still there. I liked her instantly (this is no surprise to those who know me) and I urged my parents to bring her home. My mom said no, because we already had three cats. My dad, however went over to take a closer look. It turns out that she was a nine-year-old cat with special needs that had been put up for adoption three months ago after her previous owner got married and gave her up. My dad and I felt bad for her, so we took her home. They reiterated to us that she had special needs and we said that it wouldn't be a problem because two of our other three cats were also special needs. My mom didn't put up a fight about us bringing her home, and actually helped show the new cat our house. Powder had come home.

We got Powder caught up on medical treatment that she needed (she was in dire need of a dental cleaning, and had to have some teeth pulled). She did very well at our house for a year, just having an occassional problem here and there due to her "food allergies" (that was the special need the people told us about). Then, in December 2006, she decided to eat some tinsel off the Christmas Tree and she threw up a lot. I took her with me to work (I had just started working at a veterinary clinic two months before, so that was good timing). We did an ultrasound to see if she had anymore tinsel stuck in her belly. She didn't, but the Dr. said that she did have an abnormally small kidney and some inflammation in the GI tract. She said that it was very likely that her "food allergy" was actually Inflammatory Bowel Disease or possibly cancer. The only way to know for sure was to open her up and take biopsies of the GI tract. I opted for a less invasive approach and got her a special food for cats that have IBD. It may seem strange to some people, going through all this for a cat I'd barely had a year, and hadn't had since she was a kitten, but those of you who know me well know that when I have a pet, I become attached extremely fast and I fall for them hard. Pets are my passion. Also, this happened just a couple weeks after my grandpa died from Alzheimer's disease. I had just lost him, I wasn't going to loose Powder.

Powder did well for a few months on the new food. She and I bonded even more: she would come down to my bedroom at night and lie on me and just purr. She had a very musical purr. It was a loud purr that seemed to have a higher pitched hum with it. It was very pretty. She would also nibble on me, and chase my feet and hands under the cover. During this time I had to put my cat Gus to sleep (his special needs were kidney problems), and Powder cuddled with me. However, this was May 2007, and she was starting to throw up and have diarrhea often. By September 2007 she had lost 1 1/2 pounds, which is a lot for an eleven-year-old cat. She also started hiding a lot and wasn't as playful with me. I was starting to get worried and I knew that something needed to be done quickly.

I took Powder in to my work again. Nothing showed up on bloodwork or x-rays, so there was only one way to know definitively what was going on, and that was doing the surgery that was recommended to me in December. We had a newer veterinarian at this time who wanted more experience doing exploratory surgeries (it's a good thing to know how to do quickly). I talked to Lindsay Yo (one of our best technicians, now our head technician) about assisting in the surgery, and she agreed, so I set up a date for the surgery. Powder was prepped and operated on, and they took six different biopsies from her GI tract. I was a nervous wreck, and poor Powder was very sore and miserable. However, we got the results we needed: Powder had Intestinal Lymphocytic Lymphoma. Yeah, cancer sucks.

So, Dr. Maloof and I started Powder on a chemotherapy regime that wasn't as invasive but had good results in other similar cases. We put her on Prednisolone daily, and she got Chlorambucil for three days every three weeks. It was oral medicine, so I was able to give it at home. She started eating more, and vomiting less. We did a Complete Blood Count on her every month and checked her every month. She became very popular at my work. She started putting on weight again and became playful again. She still had an occasional bout of diarrhea and vomiting, but not as much and not nearly as often. Dr. Maloof took great care of her, and I tried to spoil her. Powder took up permanent residence in my bedroom, with her bed on my bed, and she purred me to sleep every night. I even brought home a new cat (again this was an abandonded adult with special needs) and Powder teased her mercilessly. She was clinically in remission and I was amazed at how well she was doing.

Ten months after being diagnosed and starting treatment, she started to go downhill again, slowly but surely. The diarrhea was starting to come back more often, and she started vomiting a lot and there were some days that she wouldn't leave my bedroom, not even to eat. She was relapsing. Dr. Maloof did research into rescue treatments and gave them to me to research. I considered it, but ultimately knew that it wasn't worth it. She would only get a couple of extra months and it involved intravenous chemotherapy that can be harsh on the body, much harsher than the chemo she was already on. I felt bad, but I decided not to put her through that. She was getting more ornery every time I took her to the vet and poked her, and I couldn't put her (or myself) through that difficult treatment.

Last night, August 13, 2008, I had Dr. Maloof put Powder to sleep. I held her while the injection was given, and I knew right when she was gone, before the dr. was even done giving the shot. It was a difficult decision to make. She was starting to get sick with upper-respiratory problems, and I knew that her immune system wasn't doing so hot. She was vomiting more. She didn't eat for almost two days before I decided. When I weighed her last night she had lost a little bit of weight. The dr. and I agreed that it was the best. Do I think she could have gone on a little longer with a decent quality of life? Sure. But I couldn't stand watching her slowly deteriorate, knowing what pain and suffering was in store for her while she did. I couldn't stand watching her go through that. Maybe that's selfish of me, but I just couldn't do it.

I don't regret for one moment treating her cancer. She and I had an extra ten months of good quality life together. The hardest part was saying goodbye, and going to sleep alone last night. The room was too quiet. I missed her musical purr.

Goodbye Powder, my beautiful girl.

1 comment:

The B Glad Family said...

Steph I'm so sorry for your loss. I know you love animals so much & that this is the hardest thing for you. I hope you start feeling better soon. We should go out to dinner & catch up. Just send me a message or call me. We'll set something up.
~Lissa