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:
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.
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: 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:
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

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.
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!