When last I wrote, Tiger was about to start radiation therapy. I expected the weeks of radiation to be difficult for all involved, and for things to get easier after. While the radiation was challenging, Tiger came through with flying colors and I thought the hard part was behind us. I was wrong.
Tiger caught a cold. Then our other cat, Puck, started having health issues. Within a week, I thought we would lose both cats. Over the last month, I’ve spent many nights sleeping on the couch so I could provide medicine and food at all hours of the night, without disturbing Chris’s sleep. Tiger recovered and is doing fabulously. Puck passed over the rainbow bridge sometime last night. I will write a more detailed post about all of this, along with a slideshow tribute to Puck, in a couple weeks.
Driving and More Driving
Months before the cats got sick, I had planned an epic trip. I embarked on that trip this past Tuesday. The first leg of the trip was a 14.5 hour drive from Orlando to Greencastle, Indiana to visit my friend Stacy and attend The Fiber Event. My plan was to leave at 6:00 am, so that I could drive through Atlanta in the middle of the day when traffic is more likely to be light, and to drive as long as I remained alert. I expected to stop and stay in a hotel at some point.
I did leave my house at 6:05 am and arrived in Atlanta around 1 pm. I had no traffic slow downs in Atlanta — the first time I’ve had that happen when driving through the area. By 2:30 pm, I was in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and starting to feel too sleepy to drive. It seemed too early to stop for the day, so I pulled into a McDonalds parking lot and took a nap for 1/2 hour. I felt much refreshed, so I got back on the road.
I arrived in Nashville around 5:00 pm. I expected to be caught in rush hour traffic, but only slowed to a crawl once, when the road I was on split into two major roads. Once I was past the split, we were back up to the speed limit. At this point, I called Stacy to find out when she usually goes to bed. I started thinking I might drive all the way through.
I did end up driving all the way through, arriving at Stacy’s house at 10:15 pm. I had ideal driving conditions — a little rain in Georgia, but it wasn’t a deluge; the weather was beautiful for the rest of the trip; no slow downs in the construction zones, no accidents; no rush hour traffic. I couldn’t have asked for more!
Stacy and I have been doing some weaving on our rigid heddle looms. Tomorrow and Saturday, we will be at The Fiber Event. Monday, I’m driving to Kansas City, Missouri. I’ll be site seeing and visiting family for a couple days, then attending PLYAway, the first spinning conference put on by PLY Magazine. After PLYAway, I’m driving to Memphis to visit a friend, then driving home to Orlando. I plan to visit The Yarn Barn of Kansas, two Laura Ingalls Wilder sites (The Little House on the Prairie and the home Laura and Almanzo lived in for most of their lives), Graceland, and who knows what else.
I’ll be blogging as often as possible during the trip! I only brought my iPad with me, and I’ve discovered that the WordPress installation does some funky things when I’m using Safari on the iPad. As a result, the formatting of my posts might look a little different than usual. Hopefully, it isn’t too distracting!
One of my favorite things about fiber work is how you can always find something to work on that fits your current circumstances. Have lots of time and mental space? You can learn a new craft or take on a complicated project like colorwork or complex lace. Just need something mindless? You can crank out some stockinette or granny stitch or plain weave scarves. On the go? You can bring along a small project that can easily be put down if needed, like socks or dishcloths.
My current purse project is crochet dishcloths. I like how easy it is to put crochet down. You don’t have to worry about dropping stitches, so you don’t need to carefully secure anything. If I’m on the monorail from the parking lot to the Magic Kingdom, waiting for food at a restaurant, waiting in a doctor’s office, I can work a few stitches and when we arrive at our destination, the food comes to the table, or the doctor enters the room, I can toss the project back into my pocket or purse with no fuss.
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time in the waiting room of veterinarians’ offices. It all started back in December 2014, when my sister, in Florida for Christmas, first noticed that Tiger’s lip was red and slightly swollen on one side. I brought him to the vet in January 2015. They didn’t think it was anything terrible. “Change him from a plastic bowl to aluminum,” they said. “Sometimes cats react to plastic.”
We changed the bowls. The swelling seemed worse. In July, we brought him for his regular semi-annual appointment and pointed it out to the vet again. “He’s probably allergic to something,” they said. We went through a course of steroids, one pill a day. It didn’t seem to help. We tried two pills a day and he got very aggressive, so I stopped the pills and brought him to the vet. We tried every other day. No change.
So we did allergy testing. It turned out he’s allergic to corn, an ingredient in almost all cat foods. We found food that doesn’t contain corn and switched to that. The swelling was still there.
We tried another course of steroids, thinking that perhaps the problem was one of his other allergies (a variety of environmental things like molds and pollen). No change. By now it was December 2015. It had been a year of trying things. “Is there anything else we can do?” I asked. The vet recommended a biopsy, which would tell us what was causing his allergic reaction. So in January, a few days after getting back from Stacy’s wedding in Indiana, we brought him to our vet for the biopsy.
A week later, the results came in: Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor. Cancer. The vet was surprised; he’s practiced for many years and never seen this type of tumor present in this fashion. We’re lucky it is a low grade tumor and hasn’t grown much over the last year. Our regular vet referred us to the oncology department at the regional specialty vet, which fortunately is not far from our home.
We met with the oncologist. We weren’t sure if surgery would be an option, given the location of the tumor right on the front of his face, but one of the surgeons thought that the tumor was small enough that we did have a surgical option.
The oncologist and the surgeon both told us that after the surgery, Tiger would probably have to have radiation therapy. Radiation therapy would kill any microscopic cancer cells remaining after the surgery. When they do surgery, they take healthy tissue around the tumor, because the surgeon can’t see microscopic cancer cells. The theory is that taking tissues that appear to be healthy will make sure all the cancer is gone. The surgeon likes to get a least 1 cm of healthy tissue around the tumor. However, because of the location of this particular tumor, taking that much healthy tissue would mean Tiger would be disfigured. His gum would be exposed, which could cause it to dry out and that would be a problem. It was unlikely that the surgeon would be able to get a sufficient margin, and she might not be able to get all of the tumor.
A week after surgery, the pathology report came back. The surgeon got a minimum 5 mm margin, much better than she expected. With that much margin, waiting to see what would happen — if the tumor would grow back — was an option. So was radiation therapy. “If I’d gotten 3 more mm, I would tell you that Tiger does not need radiation therapy,” the surgeon said. “As it is, waiting is an option and so is radiation. None of us has a crystal ball; we don’t know what will happen. The cancer could be gone forever. It could come back in a month. Or in 5 years. It’s up to you what you want to do.”
We met with the oncologist again, so we could learn about the course of treatment. It’s 18-20 treatments, every weekday for 4 weeks. He must be under anesthesia for each treatment, but it’s a twilight level, not all the way under. He’ll lose the hair in the area of the radiation, but not over his whole body. His face will be shaved in the area of the treatment, even before the hair falls out. When the hair grows back in, it will grow back white. We’ll have to be careful every time he has his teeth cleaned for the rest of his life. He might lose his appetite, and might have to have appetite stimulants or even a feeding tube. He’ll probably require pain meds. He will develop the equivalent of a very bad sunburn in the area of the treatment.
We went home and agonized for several hours. It’s hard to imagine putting the cat through the treatment. But it’s also hard to swallow doing less than everything we could for him. You see, we love all of our cats and would do the best for them that we possibly could. But there’s no question that Tiger is our favorite. This is a cat just oozing in personality:
He’s the cuddliest cat I’ve ever met. If you aren’t paying attention to him, he’ll be sure to let you know when he needs some love.
He’s such a photogenic cat. Partially because he’s so pretty:
But also because he is so patient. This is why he often models my finished objects!
But most importantly, Tiger and Chris are bosom buddies. Tiger picked Chris as his person. Every day, when Chris comes home from work, Tiger runs to the door to greet him. Tiger follows Chris everywhere, even when Chris is pacing while talking on the phone. Chris might complain when the cat wants to cuddle all the time and is constantly underfoot, but there’s no doubt that he loves the cat. They are inseparable.
We decided to go ahead with Radiation Therapy. Tiger is 13 now, and in excellent health other than this tumor. If the tumor did come back at some point in the future, he might not be so healthy and able to endure surgery and radiation. And so this morning I found myself back in the veterinarian’s waiting room, dropping off Tiger for his first treatment.
I pulled out my current dishcloth and crocheted a few rows, finding solace in the familiar rhythm.
P.S. Just as I finished typing this post, the vet’s office called. He did very well with his first treatment and he’ll be ready to come home in about an hour!
Over the Martin Luther King, Junior weekend, five friends and I stayed in a condo right on the beach in Ponce Inlet, Florida. Another friend joined us just for the day on Saturday. It was glorious. We knit, we crocheted, we spun, we wove, we blocked, we discussed dyeing, we watched Marvel movies, we talked, we laughed. It was everything a knitting retreat with friends should be. Rather than give a long-winded description of this perfection, I offer you pictures. With captions, of course.
We had a fantastic time, and none of us were quite ready to leave. But our lives called, so Monday we all packed up and headed home. But we’ve decided that this will be an annual event. MLK weekend = local fiber retreat every year!!
I’m taking a time out from packing to write a quick post. Last November, I registered attend PlyAway, a spinning conference hosted by PLY Magazine. My friend Lorelle was planning to go too, but by the time registration came around, she knew she wouldn’t be able to attend. “I’d love to go to fiber events […]
I have not yet written crafting goals for 2016. November and December were pretty crazy around here! First was my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday on Thanksgiving Day. Then there was the Weavers of Orlando Annual Sale, followed the next weekend by the Holiday Party. Then we had Christmas festivities with my family. On December 28, I […]
American Spun: 20 Classic Projects Exploring Homegrown Yarn (affiliate link) was released on December 8, 2015. I pre-ordered it, so it arrived in my mailbox a couple of days before the official release date. This book is primarily a pattern book. If I had understood that, I would not have ordered it, which would have been […]
I haven’t updated my progress since week 29, back in July! Since we’re coming to the end of the year, it’s time to review my goals and start thinking about goals for next year. Anything that’s crossed through in the list is something I did not get to at all. If I did any work […]
It’s a busy time of year, what with Christmas coming up and my friend Stacy getting married on January 2. I have a long list of things to do, and a growing panic that I won’t get everything done. I don’t really have time to sort through all the weaving things I bought last weekend, but […]
OLAD = Obsessive Loom Acquisition Disorder. Weavers on Ravelry often joke about the way weavers tend to acquire a herd of looms. When they get a new loom, they say things like, “OLAD strikes again!” I don’t like the term, but it’s probably fair to say that it applied to me this past week. It […]
Weaving Shaker Rugs: Traditional Techniques to Create Beautiful Reproduction Rugs and Tapes by Mary Elva Congleton Erf (affiliate link) Erf is an accomplished weaver who has studied Shaker textiles for at least 30 years and has woven many reproduction rugs (and other textiles) which appear in Shaker museums. Her introduction describes the history of Shaker textile […]