Blindness and laser therapy

We spent almost the entire day Thursday at the vet clinic with Piccolo, our (now) eldest cat. He was recently (last month) diagnosed with spondyloarthrosis, a joint disease of the vertebral column. It’s a very painful, degenerative condition…

Thanks to my research online, however, for the past two weeks he has been having laser therapy at the vet clinic, three times a week. These sessions have proven to be extremely beneficial: he’s no longer in pain, which means he’s able to walk around the house, stairs included.

I’ve also been giving him a daily dose of cortisone and, until a couple of days ago (when all hell broke loose, as you will read below), a bit of curcumin, the same C3 Complex that I take, mixed in with his food. I will resume the curcumin this evening, now that things have settled down a bit…

Okay, so here’s what happened: about a week ago, perhaps a bit longer (it seems like a century ago to me!), I noticed that he didn’t seem to be able to focus on anything. He wouldn’t look into my eyes, for example, not even when I was at eye level. In short, he didn’t seem all there. In the beginning, I thought it might be because of the pain from his spondylosis…but when this “space cadet” condition persisted, I asked the vets to check his eyesight.

A few days ago the vet ophthalmologist confirmed my suspicions, unfortunately: Piccolo is completely blind in one eye, his right one, and almost completely blind in his left eye; he sees just enough to avoid obstacles.

But that isn’t it. The following occurred just a few nights ago, Wednesday night to be precise: Piccolo began walking in circles. Stefano and I knew something was terribly wrong, so we took him to the vet clinic first thing in the morning. Our vet did a few tests and confirmed that it must have been caused by some sort of neurological problem and set up a CAT scan for the following afternoon.

The good news is that the scan was negative for brain tumors or anything life-threatening. In fact, the vets found very little that would explain Piccolo’s sudden (and almost complete) blindness. They suspect it was caused by something like a TIA or mild stroke that might heal a bit in time, and that is definitely good news, of course. Since there is really nothing wrong with his eyes, nothing that would explain the blindness, according to the ophthalmologist, it is in fact possible that some day he might be able to regain a bit of his sight. Or not.

His blood tests have also improved since July. Definitely good news, there.

An aside: we spent so much time in the vet clinic on Thursday (eye tests and blood tests in the morning, and then the CAT scan and his laser therapy in the afternoon/evening) that we came to know some of the furry or feathery patients…and their humans, too, of course.

And some of the stories we heard on Thursday made me realize that, in spite of these difficult furry times, we have been very, indeed VERY lucky. Unlike other folks, in fact, we’ve never really had to deal with any major health problems with our cats until recently. Well, come to think of it, there have been a couple of things in the past (mainly with Piccolo, as it were), but we managed to get past them without too much heartbreak.

Anyway, case in point: on Thursday afternoon, at one point, a distraught young man came out of one of the examining rooms holding his adorable 11-month-old kitty. I heard him utter the words “chemo…useless…transfusions haven’t worked…” After he’d left, we learned that this poor little kitty had a fulminating type of cancer (blood cancer, I daresay) with a dire prognosis. The kitty had already had three blood transfusions…I forget now if she’d had some chemo, too, but at any rate, nothing had worked. But since she was still so young and alert, and in fact she looked just fine to me, poor dear, her human had made the decision not to have her euthanized. He took her home…to die. I asked the clinic’s secretary if the kitty would suffer. She said, no, that wouldn’t happen.

So sad…

Unlike this young man, at least we’ve had many happy years with our beloved cats. No cancer, no horrible deaths at a young age, blablabla. And, as I said, Piccolo, who is now more than 14 years old, will probably get a bit better, in time, with curcumin, cortisone, and a specific brain neuron-healing product that contains, among other things, fish oil and resveratrol…eh.

I’d like to end my post with a positive note. Early this morning I woke up and found all the cats on alert because of a thunderstorm. Piccolo was restless and wandering around, too.  Well, to my surprise, he walked up to me, resting his head against my leg, for the first time in days and then followed me around as I checked the windows to make sure it wasn’t raining in. I reached down to pet him and then spent several minutes rubbing and scratching him…He didn’t purr (he hasn’t purred for days, unfortunately), but he seemed content enough. And that is when I began feeling that we’d turned a corner. Finally.

He also slept a lot today, for the first time since we brought him home on Thursday evening.

One last, obvious thing: the world is full of blind cats, and Piccolo is not even completely blind. So I’m sure he will figure it out, and we will do our best to help him.

Everything is going to be fine…

The Daily Mail article on Dieneke, curcumin, myeloma…

I should have posted this link (see below) days ago, but ever since we lost our eldest cat, Puzzola, practically all my free time has been devoted to taking care of, and doing research for, Piccolo (the big black and white cat in my header photo), who, at age 14, has unfortunately been diagnosed with spondyloarthrosis, a very painful, degenerative condition of the spine…

But this will be fodder for another post, since I have a question for those of you who have pets…

Today my focus is instead on Dieneke, my longtime blog reader whose oncologists recently published her case study (see my May 30 2017 post). As a result of that, she was interviewed by a reporter from the Daily Mail (UK), and the article was published on July 24.

I was and am extremely pleased about this for two reasons:

  1. curcumin has really worked for Dieneke…and it always makes me so happy to think about all the blog readers who have benefited from taking this extract (or other things, too, for that matter…think of blog reader TAB, for example…).
  2. her recent “stardom” has enabled her to to reach out and help others…And that is wonderful!

Here is the link to the Daily Mail article (with photos), which, by the way, has been picked up by a slew of other news sources online and has thus gone VIRAL, how about that, eh…: goo.gl/wMzJ7e. Fantastic.

I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did.

And again, THANK YOU, Dieneke: you are an inspiration to so many, including yours truly! 🙂

The warrior mentality

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will know that I am a Democrat…a very liberal, reasonable (IMO!) Democrat, at that. But when it comes to cancer, to a cancer diagnosis, it doesn’t matter what I believe, what you believe, what anyone believes.
I was saddened to learn about Senator John McCain’s recent brain cancer diagnosis. As I mentioned, political views don’t matter, here.
I wouldn’t have written about it, though (like I didn’t mention Senator Ted Kennedy years ago, for instance), except that this morning I read a very interesting article that isn’t just about Sen. John McCain, but also about the words we use to describe cancer and cancer patients: http://goo.gl/RQP6Co
As a pacifist, I’ve always had trouble with the “warrior mentality,” which lives in expressions such as “cancer warrior,” “fighting a battle against cancer” and so on. They are very common in online myeloma forums and groups, so common that I might even have used the word “battle” to describe my own journey with myeloma, but I have never considered myself any type of “warrior.”
Excerpt from the article: “For me, having lost my husband, it’s frustrating to hear publicly people saying to John McCain, ‘If anybody can beat this you can — you’re so tough. Not that it’s intentionally hurtful, but it does leave those of us who’ve lost a loved one thinking, ‘Was my loved one not tough enough? Did he not fight hard enough?’
What do you think? Has the warrior terminology helped you get through some tough times? Or does it bother you?
By the way, I don’t even care for the term “cancer survivor.” Again, what do you think? I’d be super interested to get some feedback…
I also highly recommended this article to those whose loved ones/friends have just been diagnosed with cancer…You’ll find some good tips here…and, at the very least, quite a bit of food for thought…

Trying to do some research…

…and failing miserably, I should add (add to the post’s title, that is).
But this time it’s because of something positive, VERRRRRY positive.
Our (now) eldest cat, Piccolo, is definitely feeling better. He’s not out of the woods yet, but, e.g., yesterday, while we were having lunch, he suddenly showed up in the dining room, followed closely by his little black shadow, Prezzemolo (our youngest). He’d been refusing to come downstairs ever since we got back from the vet hospital, you see…
This seemingly small event was a HUGE event in our household, one that made us beam with happiness for the first time in days (we lost our eldest cat last Monday and have been absolutely miserable…)…I rushed into the kitchen to get Piccolo a treat…and a treat for the other cats, too, of course!!!
Today Piccolo has been downstairs twice. Boy, I hope this positive trend continues!
But what, I hear you ask, does that have to do with my research (post title)?
Well, in the past few days, whenever I go into my study, Piccolo follows me and gets up on the desk, using the cat tower hammock (see photo no. 2) to hoist himself up.
Once on the desk, he always positions himself between me and the keyboard, staring lovingly into my face. When he’s tired of being scratched behind the ears and cooed at, he lies down on top of the keyboard and/or the mouse.
Eh!
There’s no way I can do any work at the computer with Piccolo in the way, as you may be able to tell from these photos.
And so…no research.
Oh well, I guess I can take a break, although it seems like ages since I last wrote a proper research post…But tomorrow is my birthday, and I have plans to do absolutely…nothing…Just a romantic lunch out with Stefano up in the hills around Florence…
Tomorrow, by the way, I’m turning 56, an age I never thought I’d reach after finding out I’d progressed from MGUS to SMM in the fall of 2005.
That was almost TWELVE years ago, though, and hey, I did make it to 56, beating the statistics…
And I also plan to keep on going…at least for a while!!! 😉

Coffee drinkers, rejoice!

Ever since our beloved cat, Puzzola, died, I’ve been bursting into tears now and again for, well, really, for the dumbest things.
Yesterday morning, for example, as I was preparing my cappuccino, tears began streaming down my face because I realized that I would never be giving Puzzola a pill again. That was the FIRST thing I did every single morning–give Puzzola her hyperthyroidism pill.
Stefano noticed, came over, and held me close. He said, with a broken voice, “it’s because of the pills, right?” He knows me so well…
This morning it was time to change all the cat litter boxes, but after changing the ones in the upstairs bathroom, I had to stop and wait for a while before changing the downstairs one that Puzzola had used for the last time on Monday morning…I’d watched her gather all her strength to go into that litter box…and shortly thereafter we took her to the vet hospital…her final journey…oh boy…so hard.
And here I was, this morning, agonizing over the stupid litter box, as though I didn’t want to cancel all the traces of my Puzzola…silly of me, I know, because of course I clean the boxes at least twice a day, so there wouldn’t have been any Puzzola pee in there anymore, anyway…
But…there you go.
It’s the small, silly, everyday stuff that gets to me. Or friends calling to say they’re so sorry…that will set me off, too.
Stefano is in a lot of pain, too. This was his first cat, you see. Not that it makes it any easier if it’s your second or third or hundredth cat…!!!
Yesterday I read some stuff online about how to cope with the grief of losing a cat. And it led me to a post written by someone who’d had to put his cat to sleep, like us: goo.gl/3mKHAa The post makes a lot of good points, including this one: ” it’s about time we recognise the value, depth and integrity of many people’s relationships with their pets, and the veracity of their bereavement.” No kidding. Cats are part of the family. Period.
Anyway, today I’m feeling a bit stronger. And in part that’s because Piccolo is doing MUCH better (see photo…he looks a bit grumpy because I just woke him up).
He’s finally coming onto our bed in the evening, purring and looking for love and pets…In short, he’s almost back to his usual self.
When he was feeling poorly, in pain, he’d stopped “talking” to me. But in the past few days we’ve resumed our chats, which basically go like this:
Margaret: “Hello, my beautiful boy, how are you feeling?”
Piccolo: “Rau rau rau.”
Margaret: “Rau rau rau? Oh, that’s wonderful, sweetheart. Would you like some food?”
Piccolo: “Mao mao maooo!”
Margaret: “Mao mao maooo, okay. I’ll go get some. Rau!”
And so on.
I say “rau rau” and “mao mao” a lot, these days… 🙂
Oh, and he isn’t lying in the litter box anymore, which is a HUGE relief.
The only thing that worries me slightly is the fact that he doesn’t want to go downstairs. He sits at the top of the stairs and looks at me down on the landing, but he won’t budge. I’m not sure what’s wrong. I’ll begin coaxing him downstairs using his food bowl today. If that doesn’t work, I don’t know what will!
Incidentally, I’ve begun giving him curcumin again. And he also gets a daily shot of cortisone (administered by yours truly). Other than that, nothing. Because the painkiller medication had turned him into a zombie, the vet and I decided to forget about it. I hope the curcumin will help lessen his pain, coupled with the cortisone. Anyway, he doesn’t seem in pain, and I know the signs by now…
But I digress! As usual… 🙂
The MAIN reason I’m writing this post today is that I came across a very interesting CNN article. Well, well, it seems as though coffee drinkers are lowering their risk of dying.
Have a look: goo.gl/R9gEUT
Great bit of news for today, eh, for those of us who drink coffee!!!

Puzzola, 2001-2017

Stefano and I had Puzzola put to sleep this morning at the vet hospital. There was nothing more we or the vets could do…
We were with her almost until the end, until the vet told us to leave (the final stage can be hard to watch)…

So…my sweet girl is gone.


P.S. Even though Stefano took some photos of her yesterday, knowing they would be the last, I wanted to post a couple of photos I took of her in happier times…

This is how I will remember her:

1. I took the first photo in 2005. She really loved getting inside cardboard boxes, like most cats.

2. But hey, if you can’t fit inside the box (see above), no matter. You can squeeze part of your body inside, and leave the rest outside…Nobody will notice.
Year: 2013, the year she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

3. And if there aren’t any boxes around, the little sink in the little bathroom will do nicely, too…Year: 2013.

4. Sitting at or on the table while we ate was also one of her favorite things. And if we were eating something that she could eat, too, I would let her lick my plate.

Ciao, amore mio…You gave us so much joy…

Kitty update

First of all, many many many thanks to everyone who’ve sent, and are still sending!, best wishes for my cats’ recovery…on the blog, via private email, AND on Facebook. I appreciate it so much!
They’re both home. Yes, yes, that’s great news, but we’re still not out of the woods, yet. In fact, far from it. Let’s start with Puzzola, our eldest.
I brought her home on Wednesday afternoon, after just one night spent in the vet hospital. Since she’s become so dreadfully skinny, the vets wanted to do a bunch of tests on her, and it was just easier to have them done there, especially the early morning tests. But, duuuh, she was NOT happy there, at all.
When I brought her home the following day, you could almost see the joy in her face. She leaped out of her carrier like a kitten, walked–a bit unsteadily but purposefully–into the kitchen right over to one of the water bowls, and then she proceeded to drink like a camel after a month in the desert. I know, I know that isn’t a good sign. But after all, tests show that she has a UTI, so I hope her high kidney numbers will go down once we’ve treated that. And the drinking might be caused by the UTI…
But before dinner she gave us a BIG scare. Huge. She began walking around like a drunk person, and it seemed that she couldn’t keep her head up, so at one point her head was hanging on one side, then on the other. That was freaky!
After of bit of that head flopping, she almost collapsed on our cotto floor and stayed there for a while, motionless. We watched her like a pair of hawks.
She finally got up and walked over to us, I’d say semi-normally. She has had a few episodes like that since she’s been home, but they aren’t as frequent and don’t last as long. The vet says it’s a neurological problem that might be connected to the fact that she didn’t really get any sleep in the hospital. Hope so. I haven’t seen her do any “flopping” today, although she does collapse on the floor and play dead once in a while. I think it’s her racing heartbeat (caused by the hyperthyroidism…which has gotten a bit worse).
Otherwise, she’s fine. She’s very loving and wants to be petted often. And she jumps on chairs to reach the dining room table, so her will to live is simply amazing.
One important point: I asked the vet is Puzzola were suffering, and she said no, she didn’t think so. She added that this condition will make her tired, but that’s it. Okay, good.
Moving on to Piccolo, well, when he came home on Thursday evening, to be honest I didn’t think he would live very much longer. His liver isn’t in great shape, and then we have the problem of his spinal column, which is the cause of all his pain (at least, that’s what the vets think). The painkiller they were administering at the hospital had turned him into little more than a vegetable. However, he was in NO PAIN on that painkiller (a derivative of morphine), so I suppose there IS a positive aspect to being a vegetable…
After I brought him home, he went and lay down in the cat litter box (see photo, which I just took…). He’s been in and out of that specific litter box, and I don’t understand why, really. Of course I’m keeping it SUPER CLEAN. Anyway…I hope he will leave the icky box once he begins recovering a bit more. To think that he has so many comfy cat beds on the bed in the guest room! And of course we’d be super thrilled if he slept with us! Oh well…
After he got home from the hospital, he didn’t eat for almost 24 hours. The vet told me to stop giving him the painkiller, to see if he’d start eating again. Note: I’m giving him a shot of cortisone every morning.
Anyway, yesterday evening, Stefano and I still couldn’t get him to eat anything and had to force-feed him, using a syringe (without the needle, of course!) full of watery wet food. That was really not fun…not for him, not for us.
On a positive note, today went much better. 🙂
This morning he began eating on his own. I was close to tears, seriously close to tears…of joy, of course.
Now, I still have to take his food upstairs to him (he hasn’t been downstairs since I brought him home). Then I have to place the food right under his nose and coax him to eat it (sometimes using my finger…he will lick ANYTHING off my finger, normally), and this takes quite a while. No problem, I’m a very patient mom.
But hey, the good news is that he’s EATING ON HIS OWN…And drinking a bit of water, too, so I probably won’t have to give him an i.v. And I also don’t think we will have to force-feed him again. YAY!
I just don’t know what’s going to happen…Only time will tell.
One thing is clear, though: I will NOT let either cat suffer.
That’s what I would want for myself, too: NO SUFFERING.
But right now I really feel that I will be able to pull both of them out of this dark tunnel and back to their usual selves and routines.
Anyway, that’s the cat update…sorry it’s so loooong!!!
Take care, everyone!!! 🙂

Puzzola and Piccolo in the vet hospital

Piccolo
This is a post about our two eldest cats: Puzzola, who is between 16 and 17 years old, and Piccolo, who turned 14 in April. They’re both in the vet hospital right now.
It’s a long story, but essentially they both started doing poorly about two weeks ago. Piccolo slowly began losing his phenomenal appetite and spending way too much time motionless on his cat bed (on the guest room bed).
I took him to the clinic as soon as I realized that something was very wrong. The vets found that he has a problem with his spinal column (I forget the name of this condition, but it has to do with calcifications of the vertebrae), which makes it very painful for him to move around, poor dear. Also, about five years ago, Piccolo had a terrible bout of pancreatitis that almost killed him, and we were told that he would always have issues in that area. Now, in fact, thanks to an ultrasound, the vets have spotted some sort of lesion on his pancreas and a nodule on his liver. His liver is also not doing very well. In short, he’s a bit of a mess…
And Puzzola, who has been suffering from hyperthyroidism since 2013, recently began eating less and less, no matter what delectable foods I cooked/offered to her.
Puzzola
This morning I decided to take her to the vet hospital, too.
She is now in a cage next to Piccolo, so at least our two kitties are together.
We’ll know more tomorrow, after more tests are done on both of them. Puzzola is going to have a heart ultrasound tomorrow morning, and Piccolo is going to have a biopsy of that lesion…Yikes.
Heartbreaking for us. Our cats mean the world to us, but all we can do now is wait and hope that they will both pull through and be well again.
Fingers crossed…!!!

Testing a new blog theme

Because of a recent problem with my blog, which has now been fixed, fingers crossed, I had to change my blog’s theme. I will be fooling around with a bunch of different themes in the next few days, weeks, centuries, but I’d appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

My current protocol

I have been getting quite a number of requests from blog readers wanting to know more or less the same things: how much curcumin I take, how I take it (with a fat, with cocoa, etc.)…and so on and so forth…

Instead of replying to each and every one of you, which would take heaps of time, I decided to write a quick post today about this issue.

Dosage: Every day I take 8 grams of C3 Complex curcumin = the curcumin that has been used in the MM, SMM, and MGUS clinical trials.

As for brands, I prefer Doctor’s Best, simply because of its easy-to-take one-gram tablets, which you can sometimes find at a relatively decent price if you shop around online a bit…

Note: I am actually running out of the D. Best curcumin and will soon have to buy some from a local Italian pharmacy. The Italian curcumin will simply be C3 Complex (it won’t have a brand name, that is). I mentioned that merely to point out that for me the important thing is for my curcumin to be the C3 Complex, and that it come from a reliable source.

When I take it. I take TWO doses of curcumin a day: 4 grams around lunchtime, 4 grams around dinnertime. I simply swallow my tablets with a glass of water, usually. No fats, no quercetin (see below).

That’s the main part of my current protocol.

I also take Nigella Sativa (black cumin) every day. I grate the black cumin seeds over my food, using a simple, non-electric grinder (such as a flax seed grinder).

I ran out of quercetin some time ago and haven’t yet found a reliable supplier here. So I am not taking quercetin…haven’t for ages, in fact. Nor am I taking fish oil. This means that I’ve cut down on my daily supplement intake. I mean, at one time I was taking more than 20 pills a day…I guess we all need a break sometime! 😉 

Current experiment: Ganoderma lucidum, or Reishi…the “mushroom of immortality.”

Remember the 2006 study titled “Ganoderma lucidum causes apoptosis in leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma cells“? No? Well, if you are curious to learn more about it, do a Search of my blog for “Reishi,” using the handy Search box on the upper right.

Just quickly, though…I began writing about G. lucidum in July 2009. Because it sounded so promising, I decided to test it, but back then I didn’t buy enough extract for a proper test, at least that is what I remember. And I couldn’t get any more here in Italy. Well, things have changed. I recently found a reliable (at least, I hope!) G. lucidum product at my local pharmacy, and so here we go again, but this time I’ll have enough. I’ve been taking almost 2 grams a day, together with my curcumin…which means I divide it into two one-gram-ish doses.

Of course, I don’t know what the outcome of this curcumin/G.lucidum combination will be. I’ll let you know this fall, when I have more blood tests…

That said, I feel fine, absolutely fine…fit as a fiddle in fact…or rather, as fit as a fiddle can be in this horrendous Florentine heat! 😉

Now, just to add a little bit of silly-ish news: my Fitbit, which Stefano gave to me as a present a few months ago, says that I am doing “excellent” (!) in my, er, age (!) group. Way to go, eh!?! Yeah! (But hey, my AGE group? How dare they! 😉 )

I think that’s about it…oh, but I’d really love any comments from you…For example, what do you take, and how/when/etc. do you take it? How has your protocol worked for you? I would love some updates, especially from those who haven’t been in touch with me lately. I wish I could keep track of everyone, but I get so many messages on a daily basis…so…it’s impossible. Anyway, I’d really appreciate it if you could find the time to drop me a line or to leave a comment on this post. Thanks a lot!

Take care, everyone, and…see you soon!!!  🙂