19 September 2013

Great News, Sad News

Feline and canine companion news.

I'll start with the sad. The day after Dizzy's surgery, our super handsome Ben cat passed away. Ben spent fourteen and a half of his fifteen and one-quarter years with me. He was never truly good in the behavioral sense, but he was always handsome, and he shared a lot with me and, in recent years, with me and Dave and the dog. He traveled with me to Washington DC when I went there on my postdoc fellowship (twice). He was the first cat I ever owned, and convinced me that a house without a cat is lacking a certain something, and that certain something is not the scent of litter box.

Ben was very sick a year and a half ago. We went through tests and worried that we were losing him and then he seemed to recover. Bottom line, the last year and a half felt like bonus time. True to his mysterious and sophisticated ways he sickened and weakened and got to his last day giving only the barest of outward signs. He was still playing and interested in stuff and bossy even as he was on his way out. Because of that we were able to be fully present and make the decision to let him go humanely. We were both there with him when he passed. He didn't suffer much and he was peaceful when he went.

My favourite photo of Ben.
The last week has been a lot about sadness and the terrible task of putting away or dealing with cat paraphernalia. At the same time, we've been waiting to hear back about the dog's lab analysis with that special mixture of fear and exhausted anxiousness you feel when you've just dealt with a worst case scenario and you're not sure you can handle another one.

Which leads us to the great news. Dizzy's lab report came back and it turns out that the mast cell tumor wasn't. The original needle aspiration was a misdiagnosis. The lump was a sebaceous adenoma, a benign skin tumor. It was rupturing periodically so it was good that we had it removed, but long story short, my dog doesn't have cancer, and never did. We are breathing massive sighs of relief over here. This has been a hideous time and we are glad it's over.

Part of me wonders if the dog and cat didn't have some secret collaboration going on, like the dog summoned up this bizarre and apparently dangerous physical symptom so we would put all our attention on him. That way, the cat could complete his shamanistic death ritual in peace. We will never know for sure.

I am looking forward to things easing off a bit in the next little while so I can, you know, start doing that writing thing again. I hope you all are settling into a good fall routine. Thank you to everyone who commented or sent me private messages on my previous posts. You guys are the best.

12 September 2013

Dizzy Report

First off, thank you for all your support and well wishes for Dizzy. He had his surgery yesterday. Everything went well and he is in mopey recovery.

The positive news is that the tumor, which was small a couple of weeks ago, had slowly but steadily shrunk to less than half of its original size. While mast cell tumors do change a lot (it's one of their traits), they tend to shrink and grow rapidly, rather than just shrink.

Our vet Dr. Kate noticed that the tumor had shrunk, so she was able to modify her original plan and do the surgery under sedation and a local anesthetic rather than sedation plus gas - much easier on Dizzy. The incision is on the back of his neck and about two inches long - not as big as we thought it would be based on some information we read, though still sizable on a little guy.

The staffers at the office reported that once Dizzy woke up, he clucked like a chicken to get attention. I am not totally sure which of his many noises that would be. He makes the strangest noises. It is a little unearthly. It's possible (probable) that he came up with a whole new noise just for this occasion. Apparently everyone fussed over him. They even took a post-op picture because, and I quote, "He looks like a flower!" I suspect that they slipped that green towel into the cage to make "leaves."

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I tried to take more pictures once we got home, but he got tired of having his photo taken right away.

Ben-the-cat is keeping a close eye on things. He doesn't usually get too close to the dog but he checked him out thoroughly when he got home. Never one to be outdone, Ben is back on antibiotics for an apparent lung infection. It is a festival of sad around here. When I stopped by to pick up the cat's drugs today, I told the receptionists at the vet's office that I was really tired of seeing their sweet faces.

Basically, the next step is to wait and see what the pathologist has to say. Typically results take a week. Fingers crossed for a good result. As usual I'm happy to receive any good vibes, healing thoughts, prayers, mojo, or whatever you've got.

05 September 2013

Scary News from the Vet: Dog Mast Cell Tumor

Okay so. Yikes news today, involving this familiar face:

Portrait of the Dog as Young Dog

About three weeks ago, I noticed a weird lump on the back of my dog's neck. It didn't look like much, maybe an infected insect bite or a strange sort of pimple. Using the powers of the internet, I learned that you should ask your vet about weird dog lumps, since some of them can be serious.

I know. Adorable.

Meanwhile, because everything happens at once always, my elderly cat, who has been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, decided to go into super cough mode. I ended up taking both dog and cat together to the vet when we got back from our brief trip to the cottage.

Ben Rarely Allows Himself to be Photographed.

Long story short: the cat is basically okay, although hopped up on steroids for the time being. They took a cell sample from Dizzy's lump and it turns out it's a mast cell tumor. On the good side, it is recent and it is tiny. This type of tumor ranges from relatively benign, treatable with surgery alone, to terrifying death sentence. Dizzy's going in to have the lump removed this coming Wednesday. I'm not happy about the fact that my dog needs surgery, but I am happy that I caught it so early and that I didn't brush it off as nothing because it's small.  After that, it's a wait to hear back from the lab (1) to confirm that they got it all and (2) to tell us how serious it is.

I am trying not to freak out but I am freaking out quite a bit. Dizzy is under six years old and, besides a history of allergies, he's a pretty healthy and tough animal. I'm hoping it will be okay.

He Knows When You've Been Bad or Good

FYI: I am working with a holistic practitioner as well as with a conventional vet on this, i.e., working on it from all angles of which I'm aware. If any of you have experience with this, please let me know if you know anything beyond what a vet would tell you, or even just let me know how it went for you. Well wishes and generalized good vibes will be much appreciated.

02 September 2013

Best Horror of the Year List, 2012

So I made Ellen Datlow's long honorable mention list for best horror 2012, as did my story submissions role model, Deborah Walker. Alongside, you know, those Stephen King and Joe Hill fellows. Not to mention that Joe R. Lansdale guy. And Tanith Lee. Among other absolutely incredible writers.

I am feeling especially name-droppy right now, clearly.

Off to celebrate!