Monthly Archives: October 2012

An Update On Nixie

Nix came home with me again this afternoon.

The vet examined her and quietly showed me that there were multiple masses, mammary tumours, and that in cats such masses were generally malignant. I’d done my research and I knew the numbers, so it wasn’t a shock. He said in theory they could be removed… but, I pointed out, they’d already regrown once, probably twice, and he couldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t regrow yet again. (In fact, he said, “This mass has been here for a while, it was here the last time she was in, wasn’t it?” and I said that no, that one had been removed. So not only has a new one grown back in these past four months, it now has friends.)

Is it cancer? Probably. But to be sure they’d have to do tests and biopsies, and really, even if it was confirmed, there’s nothing anyone could do anyway. So I said I’d like to take her home again to be with us as long as possible until the quality of life dictates otherwise. We worked together to develop a treatment to hopefully heal the wound she created by licking and chewing away at her fur–topical antibiotics, antibiotic pills, and cortisone, plus more bandaging–and the last treatment is love, lots of it.

How long do we have left with her? Who knows? In general, my research has indicated that four to six months is common after the masses show. Except we found and dealt with the first one about three years ago (it was nowhere as extensive as these ones, though), so really, your guess is as good as mine. If it is cancer, it will be a shorter time than a longer one. But every day is precious. She is a strong, healthy, ten-year-old cat, other than the undetermined masses. We will watch her with love and make the decision when it is time, or when she asks us.

Trudge Trudge

I am struggling with a bout of being non-social. I’ve drastically reduced my use of social media, and as you can see I haven’t been blogging much. Part of that comes from not having the time–I’m doing the mum thing all day, and when the kids have been put to bed I sit down at my computer to work–but part of it also comes from fatigue. I don’t have the brainpower to write anything. And if I did, a lot of it would sound the same: Owlet is bouncing off walls and chattering and being cute. Sparky’s current obsession is Angry Birds. HRH and I are tired. I’m the one who’s losing out, of course, since I journal for my own reference. So here’s a scattershot of what’s been going on.

Work-wise, it was independently confirmed by my copy chief that editors are so happy with the work I’m doing on the novels that they’re starting to ask for me by name, which thrills me. I’m pretty much doing a two-week assignment, then I get a week off, and then I do another two weeks of work. So it’s steady.

We had lunch over at the Preston-LeBlanc household on Sunday, and it was so nice. Owlet wandered around completely overcome by all the things to look at and touch, and enjoyed Pasley’s potato-apple-carrot soup immensely, as well as an apple she plucked from a fruit bowl, the first she managed to bite into with the peel still on. Tamu and Pat and Flora stopped by the previous weekend and we delighted in watching BebeFlo and Owlet play together (especially the peekaboo game with a blanket at the end, where they both ducked under it and stood there giggling at one another). We got out to MLG’s fortieth birthday evening at Hurley’s before that, which was also fun, because I hadn’t seen everyone in ages.

HRH installed the new range hood this past weekend, and it’s a definite improvement over the last one. It no longer sounds like an aircraft taking off, as my father-in-law put it when he gave it to us. The only thing left to do is cut a hole in the kitchen wall for the new exhaust pipe. We’ve been without a fan since the attic was converted into the office, as the old exhaust pipe went up there and lay along the ceiling crossbeams on its way to the exterior exhaust vent. Once a floor was laid, there was nowhere for the duct to go (cutting holes through the ceiling crossbeams isn’t such a good idea, you know?), so a new vent needs to be made. That will happen this weekend.

I dyed fibre and spun it for a fellow Raveller, who won it in a draw for prizes in our Ravellenic Games team that she captained, and I’m quite pleased with it. I hope she is, too. It was my first time dyeing more than a bit of fibre to mess about with. I used Ziplock microwave steaming bags (which was an interesting experience in itself), and did the four ounces of fibre in four one-ounce batches. She requested raspberry and tangerine, and I blended a very nice colour for both from my Jacquard acid dyes, which of course blended and subtly altered when I spun it up. I did a DK/light worsted two-ply yarn, and I gt at least 300 yards out of it. It plumped up beautifully after a wash. Canada Post tells me that it’s out for delivery in her area right now, so she may have it today!

I am currently sewing the Halloween costumes for both kids, and mostly enjoying myself, although doing it in fifteen minutes here and fifteen minutes there is a bit frazzling. I lose my train of thought and a sense of what I’d planned to do next, or how to do it. (I am working without patterns for both of them, because I don’t have enough stress in my life.) I made a lovely pair of polar fleece pantaloons for Owlet, complete with two deep lace ruffles on the legs, and they’re possibly the most adorable things ever. I used polar fleece for warmth, because nights at the end of October around here are usually quite chilly. I made her a mob cap as well with polar fleece on the inside, but it’s smaller than I thought, so I need more deep lace to sew around the edge so it looks less ridiculous.

The last bit of current news is the worst. Today Nixie goes to the vet, and I suspect that she is not coming home. I am spending as much time as possible with her today. At the very least, the large, weeping, overgroomed area on her chest has become infected; at the worst, the overgrooming is directly related to a possible recurrence of the mass that was removed as part of her surgery this past spring, which makes the third appearance of it, and as something like 80% of feline tumours are malignant, even if we get it removed it will just happen again. We don’t have the money for tests and biopsies in the first place, nor treatment if the worst is confirmed. Sparky and I had a hard cry this morning when I reminded him that she was going to the vet today and she might not come home, and he railed against the injustice of it all: “I don’t want Nixie to die! I want her to come home! She is the best cat!” Of course you do, sweetheart; we all do. No one wants her to die. But things die, and we can’t stop it. It doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, and our hearts hurt so much, but it is a truth, and something we have to face, either now or in a few months, or a few years. When I dropped him off at school he met his friends at the schoolyard gate and stopped there, and I wondered why he didn’t go all the way in. And then I saw one of the girls put a comforting hand on his shoulder, and I understood what was happening: as soon as he’d arrived told them that Nix was sick, possibly too sick to come home, sharing his grief and his hurt, and they were sympathizing with him.

At best, I am hoping that they will be able to prescribe antibiotics and come up with a solution to cover the wound so it can heal properly, because everything I’ve tried has failed. At worst, I have to make the decision that every pet owner hates to make. Somewhere in the middle lies the “we can’t do anything but make her comfortable” diagnosis, and if that is what happens I will probably bring her home again until her quality of life deteriorates to unacceptable levels. Because right now her quality of life seems good: she is still eating well, moving in her usual fashion, using the litter box, purring and enjoying the occasional cuddle, and I am weak, and it feels wrong to say goodbye when she seems so normal other than the infected wound. Her energy hasn’t changed at all, and with every other cat we have known when they were tired, ill, and suffering, even though all of them were stoic they way cats are, because we are attentive and sensitive to that sort of thing. Nix doesn’t project any of that. Knowing when to make that decision is the hardest part of this whole process.

I’m so tired. I think the fibro is starting to creep back, as I’m having trouble focusing on things, lacking the energy to be happy and enjoy my hobbies, the body aches and weak hands are here again, sleep is not restful, and my appetite has vanished. Part of this could be attributable to the time of year, but I suspect that the fibro-quashing pregnancy and year of postnatal adrenaline and hormones are finally done with, and my body is slowly creeping back to normal operative levels. It is not fun. I am trying to find joy in small things, and it is very difficult. I don’t have much time to read, or spin. I can sometimes knit for a row or two. But most of my baby-nap time is taken up by cooking or baking or tidying or work or errands. And it’s all very well to think that this time next year she’ll be in daycare, which is exciting because we know she will love it, but that does not help me now.


We are thankful for making ends meet (it’s happening, and it’s only going to get better as we catch up), our lovely little house, our children, our family, our friends (near and far, in person and those we know and love thanks to the wonder of the Internet), our health, and the beautiful world around us.

And for leaf piles!

Sparky picked Owlet up and dumped her right into the middle of the pile of leaves that he’d raked up with his Nana, then rolled around with her. She loved it. Initiation into a Canadian fall tradition: complete.

Owlet: Fourteen Months Old!

All hail development! Someone has finally figured out the putting-things-inside-other-things game! It’s a nice change from the dumping-things-out game. I gave her an empty Kleenex box this morning, and she put her Fisher Price Little People inside it, one by one. Every time she dropped one in, she’d stand up and clap, looking at us so we’d clap too.

We have words, too! Some of them were one-shots, but in her regular rotation are up, down, meow, woof, moo, neigh, owl, whoo, bye-bye, hi, all done (“ah dahn,” said with a hand motion), peekaboo I see you (adorably rendered as “peeabooh, seeyoo”), banana (“‘nana”). Sometimes we get a very clear “thanks” or “taa ewe,” but it isn’t consistent yet. She said “kitty” very clearly when talking with her Nana, which was a surprise because we don’t use it (we say “cat” instead). And the other day, the surprise was “rass berr ees.” I’d asked her to come to her chair so she could eat her toast and raspberries, and she started walking toward me, her head down looking at whatever she was playing with in her hands, and she said it so casually and clearly. It’s so odd, hearing perfect words come out of tiny mouths you’re more accustomed to uttering babble and jargon and weird twisted pronunciations. My other favorite is “’gin,” her way of saying “noggin,” which is what we say when we gently bump foreheads (it’s from the Crush and Squirt scene in Finding Nemo).

She adores Gryffindor, who is so good with her. She can lie right on top of him and he just stretches out and purrs. She often gets too excited and starts bonking him with her fist or whatever she’s holding, but when we say, “No, no, gentle, softly,” she says, “Soh, soh” very seriously and pets him very carefully. Gryff gets lots of Owlet-cuddles, which she does by laying her cheek on him. That’s a very common way she shows love: she lays her cheek tenderly on a cat, a parent’s knee, a favourite book. She kisses things a lot, too.

She has a word or sound she says over and over: Bao, bao, bao. She lengthens it a bit, so it’s kind of like ba-aho. It sounds a bit like her “meow” word, but it’s a very different sound at the beginning. We’ve been trying to figure it out for ages. She doesn’t seem to be aiming it at anything in particular, and sometimes just wanders around saying it, so we thought that it was just a sound she liked. The other day HRH suggested that she was saying “book.” We’re still not entirely sure, but it’s very possible, seeing as how there are bookcases everywhere, so no matter where she is she can see books. It may also be bird. Who knows?

One of the awesome developmental things is how she can now follow directions. And not just one-step directions; directions that have several steps implicit in them. For example: “Where’s your spoon? Can you get your spoon?” She looks down into the pocket of her bib, sees the spoon, looks up at me to confirm that she has found it, then reaches into the pocket and pulls it out. And, “That’s Sparky’s toy. Can you find Sparky and give him his toy?” Watching her look down at the toy in her hands, turn it over and over, then look up and locate her brother, walk over to him, and push the toy at him is just incredible. (Then I have to gently remind Sparky that in order to reinforce what we’re teaching her, he needs to take it even if he doesn’t want it, and say thank you to her, too.)

We’ve been trying to get her to use utensils at supper, and while she’s very happy to hold a spoon, she’ll eat with the fingers of her free hand. The other day I bought a set of metal cutlery for her and showed her how to spear things with the fork. Suddenly it was so much easier! She very proudly ate a piece of penne she’d speared by herself that first night. We applauded her. She’s been so frustrated with the clumsy, thick, plastic spoons, because they just don’t pick up anything other than yogurt very effectively. Meals are generally a fun time, because she loves to eat. It’s fun to watch her attack a grilled cheese sandwich, which she usually peels apart first. She motions for a napkin or her damp washcloth when she’s done eating, and wipes her mouth and tries to wipe her hands.

Let’s see, what else does she do? She loves to drink cool tea from my mug, and alternates between sticking her fingers in then licking her hand like a cat, and tilting the whole mug up to slurp it. She has become much better at handling paper books, paging through them relatively handily. The pages do get creased or crumpled when she gets excited, but at least she doesn’t tear them out. She is mimicking how we touch pictures of things when we count, and counts on her own by striking her finger against the pages of her Pride & Prejudice board book. (Enough people have cooed over this idea that I am sharing the link with you. The whole series is fun.) All brushes are for hair, including clothes brushes and toothbrushes (even when they have toothpaste on them, ahem). She likes to push chairs around the kitchen.

The evil upper molars have finally appeared! They were huge, swollen lumps up top, no wonder she got cranky last month. The right came through first, followed by the left about a week later. She had a dreadful cold last month, too, her nose streaming thickly for about two weeks straight, all snorty and snuffly, waking up at night unable to breathe. The double whammy of teething and the cold dampened her usually sunny disposition.

We dress her in tights or leggings and jumpers over t-shirts, and she’s just the most adorable thing ever. Her soft curls around her ears and the base of her neck are killing. Her lovely blue eyes have greys and greens to them, like her dad’s. Her face has changed in the past month, slimming down and becoming even more like a little girl’s. She can just barely see above the top of the kitchen table now (uh-oh). She’s fearless; I am having to fend her fingers off while I cook, and that makes me nervous. She loves to duck between people’s legs, and the taller she gets the more awkward and hilarious this becomes. The other morning she opened the pantry on three separate occasions and helped herself to crackers, organic corn puffs, and fruit puff stars. Coincidentally, cupboard locks and other safety stuff was 25% off at Toys R Us. So off we went after lunch, and there was a minor meltdown. Apparently we have reached the age where we now understand that a toy store is full of toys, and we want all of them. (Yes, the pantry is now locked.)

She has taken to spinning slowly in place on locked legs, giggling as she makes herself dizzy. To dance, she shuffles in place, occasionally throwing in knee bends and bobs, or one of those stiff spins, sometimes holding her hands up by her shoulders with palms cupped toward the ceiling. The easiest way to get her to dance is to put on the Tangled soundtrack. As soon as she hears the opening guitar of “When Will My Life Begin?” she starts bobbing up and down and shuffling her feet with great concentration

The secondhand fitted diapers that we’ve been using for the past year are finally biting the dust, the cotton just wearing out and falling to pieces after being washed every two days. (And to be fair, Owlet is the third child they’ve been used for, so they have had very good return indeed.) So I scraped the money together and ordered fourteen pocket diapers. They’re cheap pockets, but we really needed them. I’ve never used pockets before—I’d discounted them from my options because they seemed so much less adaptable than prefolds or fitted and separate covers, since you have to wash the whole thing plus the insert every time—but by day two I was a total convert. They come out of the washing machine after a second spin practically dry, and only need an hour or so on the rack, which cuts down the amount of actual doublers/liners/stuffing things that go in the dryer by over half. I’m thrilled. I may order another set of fourteen, since I only paid just under $3 per diaper (yay, direct from manufacturer on eBay!). And as the pocket diapers are so much trimmer than the cotton fitteds or all-in-ones that are part of our rotation, she can go back to wearing size 2T pants (although the 4T jeans we picked up at the thrift store last week are handy when she does wear the AIOs.) I’ve had to sort through all her clothes again, and bring up the 2T fall clothes.

She is such a happy child. Along with this developmental leap her sunny, laughing nature returned. The teething and nasty cold are past; this level-up has been accomplished.