I have day-in-the-life days marked on my calendar for months in advance. Because they always fall on the equinoxes/solstices, it’s probably not necessary, but my memory needs as much help as it can get these days so there it is. Last Friday was no different and, as you can probably guess from the fact that I advertised day-in-the-life day on Instagram, I had every intention of doing it.
And then life happened.
Our cat, Camilla, has been sick for a few weeks now, beginning with vomiting, anti-social behavior (I know the non-cat lovers out there will scoff at that), as well as not eating, drinking, or using the litterbox. As I wrote on Instagram, when you have a 20-year-old cat, any kind of illness or negative change in behavior is “the end,” so we were prepared to say goodbye to her. However, after a trip to the vet with a clean bill of health (other than an elevated white blood cell count) and a shot of antibiotics, she was back to her normal old (meaning lethargic and deaf) self the next day.
But then the vet called back later in the week to let us know that they examined her x-rays again (there was a fear that she had eaten some pine needles, so they got an x-ray) and found a mass in her abdomen which they suspected was lymphoma (complete with gratuitous “I’m so sorry to have to tell you this” condolences, etc.). We got an ultrasound on Friday which confirmed that there was a mass but were only told that it “could be” lymphoma and that it “might” rupture at some point. The only options they really offered were a biopsy to confirm that it was lymphoma, then a subsequent surgery to remove the mass or…… ? Or dot dot dot? Put her down? Wait it out? What? Needless to say, we were very discouraged and a little frustrated by their lack of guidance. Honestly, putting her through surgery at this age is really, truly not an option. So we decided we’d just wait it out and let her give us the sign that she was ready to go.
Then she stopped eating on Wednesday of last week and kept on with that for two days. Other than having zero interest in food (she wouldn’t even look at her plates), she was actually acting like her normal self. She always sleeps at the foot of the bed at night, or curls up next to E’s head and these things didn’t change. She also came down to the family room and sat on our laps when we watched TV at night. Sometimes she even came out from under the bed during the day to lay on the comforter for a while. She just wasn’t eating (except for sardine and tuna juice and lots of treats).
So we called the same place we had called when Muse was sick (to have her euthanized in our home) to come and look at Camilla. They also do hospice (what they call “pawpsice” – har 🙂 ) care for terminal pets. Even if she didn’t have a potential diagnosis of cancer, her age alone probably puts her in the terminal category, so we scheduled a home consultation for Friday afternoon to see if there was anything that could be done or if this truly was the end.
I wanted to offer this backstory (and the above image) to explain why I have next to zero pictures for the day. I started out strong, but then my phone died at various points and I was so distracted with Camilla and life in general, that I forgot my DSLR when I went out as well. I thought about actually just skipping posting it all together, but then decided that this is supposed to be a record of how life is at a given time and the lack of pictures reflects just where I was…where we are right now. We’re busy and overwhelmed and stressed. That pretty much sums it up. 🙂
So here’s last Friday….mostly in words.
E’s alarm goes off at 4 AM. He started doing this a few months ago so he could get into work earlier each day and have more uninterrupted time in the morning. Unfortunately, my daily time of highest anxiety is first thing in the morning so as soon as his alarm goes off, I have a very difficult time getting back to sleep (which happens most days). I’m sandwiched between both kids in bed (they usually come in at some point during the night), so I very gingerly ease myself out of bed to talk with E for a bit while he gets ready to leave for work.
Because he’s getting up so early these days and I’m not too keen on frying up eggs at that time of day, I’ve started buying yogurt cups and making a bunch of hard-boiled eggs for him at the beginning of the week so he has something for breakfast. We also bought a programmable coffee pot as well which I set up the night before to brew in the morning while he’s in the shower. He gathers all of that while we chat about Camilla and how the appointment in the afternoon might go. I actually suggest that he works from home that day because leaving her alone makes me nervous, but he thinks she’ll be okay (at least for a few hours) and decides to go in anyway.
I head back to bed after he leaves at 5 AM and manage to fall asleep for a little while, which I’m thankful for.
At 7 AM, my alarm goes off. Today is our homeschool co-op day and we have to be out of the house no later than 8:30 to be there on time. This is my first time bringing both kids, so I’m a little nervous as to how that will go as 3.5 has proven to be an absolutely HORRIBLE age for C. I also check to see if Camilla has eaten at all (and that she’s still breathing) but of course, she hasn’t. I get her some fresh food and she does come out and drink a little water and use the litterbox which is encouraging.
I then get a quick shower, get dressed, and lay out clothes for the kids before I wake them up. I start breakfast at about 7:45 and make up their lunches while eggs are cooking. We have our normal rations of eggs, avocado, sauerkraut, and bananas which we all scarf down at 8 before hurrying around to pack things up and get out the door on time. My phone is ready to die, so I spend a few minutes looking for a car charger with no success. We leave the garage at 8:33…..we’re going to be late. Sigh.
We arrive at co-op (and I turn off my phone to preserve the 9% of battery I have left for the ride home), which has already started, at 9:05, so we sneak in and join in the opening meditation before we start our individual “classes.” I absolutely love our homeschool co-op and I was so excited when we were accepted into it. It’s been so good for B as it allows him to interact more with other kids, as well as me to have some face-to-face social time with real, live people over the age of 7. 🙂
Our co-op lasts from 9 until around 12:30 and consists of several different “classes” that last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Because we have a very large group (25 kids including the ones under school age), we have several “subjects” where we split them up by age. B’s schedule (for Form 1) looks like this:
- Morning Meditation (usually this is a Bible reading and/or listening to sacred music as well as opening prayer) – 10 minutes
- Hymn (right now we’re learning Fairest Lord Jesus) – 10 minutes
- PE (this term is croquet 🙂 ) – 20 minutes
- Shakespeare (we’re currently reading through The Bard of Avon) – 30 minutes
- Snack Time (this has been a little weird for us as we don’t normally have a snack in the morning) – 20 minutes
- Picture Study (we’re learning about Rembrandt this term) – 20 minutes
- Nature Walk (we walk around the property of whoever happens to be hosting co-op that week and find something to paint in B’s nature notebook then all of the kids share their artwork) – 35 minutes
- Composer Study (we’re learning about Lully this term and we watch part of one of his operas on YouTube this day) – 20 minutes
- Handicrafts (we’re working on origami which fits in well with the handicraft we’re doing at home which is paper sloyd) – 35 minutes
- Folk Song (we’re learning Marie’s Wedding for the first half of this term) – 10 minutes
Because we’re new this year, I’m not teaching anything and really just observing to see how things are done. However, in the future, it’s expected that each mom teaches at least one subject so next term will look different.
Our co-op time goes relatively smoothly aside from a few interruptions from C when I have to take her outside for a bit. I turn my phone on just once to see if E has made it home yet to check on Camilla (no reply). Normally we’d stay and have lunch with everyone else at the end (the high school students have advanced science classes in the afternoon so some of the families stay all day), but because of Camilla’s vet appointment and because I’m anxious about her, we head out and the kids eat lunch in the car (well…C eats whats left of hers – we normally eat lunch at around 11:30 so I started offering her cheese around that time).
We get home at about 1:20 and the kids head into their rooms for quiet time while E and I eat lunch and talk about…….Camilla. Surprise. We’re both a little nervous about the appointment and not really feeling very hopeful that there’s anything we can do for her. I’m also a little doubtful that the appointment will be all that helpful since the vet is from a company that specializes in euthanasia and they charge quite a bit of money to do an in-home visit (where they can’t do lab work, injections, etc.). I suggest that maybe we should cancel and bring her back to the vet down the road to save some money for what will probably be the same information, but E wants to stick with the plan. At 2 I head upstairs to do some work at my desk.
At 2:30, the kids have a snack and I try and pick up the house a bit before the vet is scheduled to arrive at 3. E grabs a very short little nap in the basement and I send the kids outside at 2:55. The vet is here promptly at 3 (followed shortly thereafter by UPS with our new math curriculum which I’ve been anxiously awaiting) and we spend the next two hours talking to her. At the end of the visit and after we’ve paid a lot more than what a normal vet visit would’ve cost, we both agree that it was worth every single penny. Not only do we feel a lot more positive about Camilla’s current state (after seeing her, the vet said adamantly that she’s not ready for euthanasia yet), but we have more hope of keeping her around for a little while longer.
Where the vet down the road basically implied that it’s the end and there’s nothing to be done for her at this point, this vet actually gave us options in terms of pain management and inflammation reduction for the (maybe?) cancer (options which the other vet never mentioned) and how we can make life a little easier for her. She answered ALL of our questions and took the time to explain to us what we might expect and what her experience has been in cases with cats of Camilla’s age, especially those with unknown masses in their abdomens. She examined Camilla and said that based on her gait and especially because of her age, we might want to look into some kind of pain management for her arthritis which has never, ever been suggested (other than a prescription for Cosequin which she told us does nothing for pain) by any vet. She also suggested this might help her appetite. She gave us prescriptions for pain medications and called the vet down the road to ask them about giving her a specific anti-nausea medicine to help with her appetite. She also suggested some different foods we can try and told us she’d be in close touch with us to monitor her progress (at no extra charge). All around, it was an amazing visit and I’m SO GLAD he didn’t listen to me about just going to the vet down the road!
After she leaves at around 5 and we’re a little giddy with relief, we call the vet down the road to schedule an appointment for a shot of anti-nausea medicine for the next morning as well as fill a prescription for a pill form of the same medicine. We had tried to give Camilla a few treats while the vet was around but she refused, so I offer those to her again and she scarfs them down under the bed. Then we all pile into the truck to get a few things the home vet recommended might help at local pet supply stores. We also pick up pizza and dessert (because CHOCOLATE).
At 6:45, we’re back at home to eat supper and then start the bedtime routine. C gets a bath tonight, so I clean up her (disaster of a) room while she splashes around. By 8 she’s in bed and I do a few things on my computer while E does B’s routine. At 8:30, I head into his room to lay with him for a little while before saying good night.
I read and E surfs the news for a bit until 9 when I decide I should probably offer Camilla new food since her old stuff (which she hadn’t touched) was getting dried out. I mix up a little plate of pate and water for her and bring it upstairs (we’ve moved her food and water dishes as well as her litterbox to our master bathroom so she doesn’t have to climb the stairs unless she wants to) where she meets me at the door and follows me into the bathroom.
And she eats.
She eats and eats and eats and almost finishes the plate and I’m just about as ecstatic as I can be because we didn’t even have to stuff her with medicine or give her a shot or do anything, really, to get her to eat. We’re both so relieved. She eats a little more and then curls up at the end of the bed to fall asleep (again). E and I celebrate with bowls of ice cream before we call it a day at 10.
We ended up not having to bring her in for the shot the next day and things are looking better and better for her (aside from being 20)….which we are both very thankful for.
The next day-in-the-life day will (hopefully!) be December 21st. I’ll be posting the link-up for this one later this week!