When you live with a death deity, you get used to receiving input regarding situations where death is a possible (even if unlikely) outcome. For example, when I overdosed Corbie on his heart meds last year, both Jo and I got a very distinct “He’ll be fine” from Odin. (In other words, “He still has congestive heart failure, but he won’t die from this overdose.”) Even though it was difficult to believe what we were hearing while the crisis was still going on, He was insistent on the matter, and even ventured to add that Corbie would survive 2014—which, of course, proved to be accurate.
In cases where there is no such reassurance from Him, we know to prepare ourselves. For example, when Sassy (my 16 year old Maine Coon) began her final decline a couple of years back, He didn’t say “she’ll be fine,” but instead, “I’m sorry.” She died of kidney failure. (Correction: we made the decision to put her down when it became clear the alternative was to watch her starve to death.)
When Grim stopped eating the other day and we called the vet out to take a look at him, once again my Husband offered no reassurances. Instead, His comment was, “You will need to decide how far you are willing to take this.” He also called my attention—via a flicker of memory—to the tumor-riddled stomach of my keeshond, Orion, who we had to put down immediately prior to our move out west. (We had taken Orion to the vet to get him pet mover-approved when she discovered the tumors. Orion had a pot belly, so we never noticed anything, and the tumors were inoperable by the time we knew they existed.)
No, not reassuring at all. But then, my Husband has never, ever, sugar-coated the truth to make me feel better. (That would be a lie, and He doesn’t lie—not to me.)
So. It turns out my Grim Greyling has a tumor roughly between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball in his abdomen. He is a chubby, pot-bellied cat, and according to the vet these tumors grow quickly, so the fat has likely been replaced by tumorous mass within the span of a week or two. It is now so large the vet could feel it, and when he put my hand in the right spot, so could I. Like most malignant tumors, the feel of it is hard and immovable.
The thing is, apparently with cats tumors such as this are about 95% cancerous.
So, that’s the verdict. The vet also did a blood test to rule out an infection, and it came back showing cancer markers. The most likely variety of cancer is lymphoma, which has a very poor prognosis—a conservative life expectancy of maybe a month or two. The vet is recommending a biopsy to confirm exactly what type of cancer—but, since knowing that won’t change the treatment, we’re on the fence about whether to bother putting him through it. Chemotherapy is an option, but the best case scenario is remission of 6-15 months. My mother was in chemo prior to her death; I’ve seen how miserably sick it can make a person, and am reluctant to put Grim through it in order to lengthen his life by a tiny amount of time during which he would mostly be ill, nauseated, and listless. Subjecting him to that for the sake of wringing another year out of him—at the most—feels unfair. It seems like it would be mostly for my sake, to postpone having to say good bye—not for his. For this reason, we are going to talk to our regular vet (the vet who examined Grim was her new business partner) to see if there would be any real benefit to him from the biopsy procedure. If there isn’t—if it won’t change the treatment and won’t relieve some of the pressure and make him more comfortable—we aren’t going to do it. (This is what Odin meant when He commented that I would need to decide how far I was willing to go with this.)
The treatment he is on now consists of prednisolone tablets twice a day. They will retard the growth of the cancer and shrink it slightly, but not get rid of it, And they’re working: after the first dose Grim started eating again. Today, he’s back to acting like his usual self—except that the vet made it clear this would be a temporary improvement. He’s giving him about a month as a conservative estimate—enough time for us to say goodbye, and come to terms with things. In theory, anyway.
In happier news, today was my first weekday working at FiberWytch full time. “Don’t be nervous,” my Husband said to me this morning, pulling me into His arms. “The boss has a soft spot for you.”
Both sides of my life feel very surreal right now—both the fantastic and the…not so great. My way through it is to put my head down and just keep working. Most of this week will be spent making a whole boatload of new jewelry for the shop, since we’ve already spent a fortune at the vet and will be spending still more. One way or another. I’m also looking forward to being able to write real content for this blog again, now that I’m able to come up from the black hole of working 16-18 hours per day and scale back to a more reasonable 10-12. (Oh hell, who am I kidding? Probably more like 14—at least until I’m caught up on everything.)