Monday, January 26, 2009

Feeling Foggy

I'm finally coming out of the chemo fog from my last Thursday's treatment. I can't believe I've already been doing chemo for 1.5 months, it seems like time has gone by really fast but has been generally meaningless. A lot of feeling under-par and not fully able to enjoy any free time I've had. There's been a lot of sleeping and a lot of watching The Wire. I'll start Taxol at my next treatment, and hopefully that will be easier on my body and constitution, I guess we'll see...

I've been putting off picking up Trigger's remains for a while, but today Miles and I finally went to bring what's left of her former vessel home. It made me very sad and happy at the same time. I can't believe it's been 3 weeks without her. What an awesome kitty cat she was -- the best.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chemo #4 Done

Yay, Chemo #4 is done! That was my last round of AC. Now after a two-week rest, it will be on to Taxol weekly for 12 weeks. Today's AC infusion went much better than the last. They gave me Benadryl, Ativan and Tylenol before they even started my drugs... and that mostly just knocked me out. No allergic reaction, no immediate nausea. I am so thankful. Then I came home and slept for 5 hours right away.

Lately the worst for me has been shortness of breath that constantly comes and goes. Sometimes it's so bad that I start to panic because I can't breathe, and sometimes when it's particularly bad at night I can't sleep until I've downed a bunch of liquid mentholated cold medicine. My onc was not very helpful today in talking about it, and instead just referred me to see a lung specialist to make sure my lungs are functioning normally. Hopefully everything is okay. My clinical trial guy thinks it might be a side effect of Avastin, if it turns out I'm on it. All I hope is that the lung problems go away as soon as chemo is done.

My dad was here for a couple of days, that was really awesome. Then he and my mom drove back to Texas. It is weird not having my mom in town, she was such a vital part of "my team," but now that things are in sort of a groove & we're not out in the unknown anymore, it's alright.

It's been 2.5 weeks since Trigger. It's getting easier, but not a day goes by that I don't think about her. When I come home and walk through the dark hallway, I almost miss having to look for stray poops to avoid, and it makes me sad. I hope wherever she is, she knows I miss and love her dearly. I think she does...

Friday, January 16, 2009

No Title

Chemo #3 has been the worst so far. It's 8 days later, and I'm still completely fatigued. I had whole body aches from the Neulasta for a couple days, and I think the Neulasta is also causing shortness of breath which always seems to get worse at night. I'm also having a bad bout of insomnia, which obviously doesn't help with the fatigue. Overall I just feel pretty crappy and useless, and I've had instances of "chemo brain" as well. I'm looking forward to next Thursday being my 4th and last round of AC.

Last night I dreamed about Trigger for the first time. She came walking towards me and I noticed that her eyes were all messed up -- they looked cloudy, with cataracts, and bloody. I started freaking out, and then saw that one of her front paws was bloody and limping. Then I suddenly remembered that Trigger was dead and realized it was just a dream. But I stayed in the dream, and her eyes and paw were then fine. And I hugged and kissed and petted and loved her, and spent some time with Trigger, and told her how much I missed her. It was really nice.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chemo #3 Done

As much as I want to keep my 100 Trigger Things at the top of my blog, I guess I should keep blogging about cancer stuff since that's what I started for. Day by day it's getting a tiny bit easier without Trigger, but I continue to miss her so much. I love reading over the 100+ things I wrote, I love remembering all the little things that I'm afraid of forgetting...

Yesterday I had Chemo Round #3. The actual infusion went the worst of them all so far. I got the weird ocular migraine from the Decadron, and it lasted about 15 minutes. It kind of looks like this, only more sparkly and shimmering:

Then I got my Avastin (or placebo). Then came the Cytoxan, which gave me a really gnarly sinus headache. Last came my Adriamycin push. About halfway through I started feeling super nauseous, and the nurse also suddenly stopped pushing because she noticed some red spots appearing on my forehead. She said she'd only ever seen an allergic reaction to Adriamycin once before, so she was a little worried. She stopped and gave me a Benadryl and Lorazepam. Those helped my allergic reactions, but not the nauseousness. After about 30 minutes of feeling like barfing, it finally subsided a little, so she finished off the rest of the drug. I finally went home, ate some food, and went to bed for 18 hours.

Oh, and my pleurisy finally, finally went away on it's own. My oncologist thinks it may have happened as a bad reaction to Neulasta, which is a drug I inject myself with the day after chemo that is supposed to boost my white blood cells. I am about to give myself this round's Neulasta injection in about 5 minutes. I'm nervous that it will cause the pleurisy again, but here goes, I guess...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

100 Things I Love About Trigger

Here is a list of awesome memories and things I will miss about Trigger:

1. Our awesome cuddle and talking session the night before she passed.
2. How comfortable and content she seemed as she passed.
3. How she pawed at her food bowl to get a piece of food to flip into her water bowl.
4. How she sat in front of her water bowl for an hour alternately staring at and licking at the piece of food she managed to put in it.
5. How she flopped in front of heater until she got too hot, then walked over to the middle of the living room and flopped down with her paws stretched out.
6. How she laid against my chest long-ways so I could scratch her belly.
7. How eager and anticipatory she stepped around as I got into bed, waiting for me to settle down so she could climb on my chest.
8. How she climbed up and laid on my chest facing me within seconds of me laying down for bed.
9. How she barked for food.
10. How she barked back at me everytime I blew on the top of her head.
11. How she cringed everytime my mom said "bad girl" to her.
12. How she head-butted my face when I was giving her pets.
13. How her belly swung back and forth when she ran to me back in her heavy days.
14. How she started purring if her eyes locked in with mine.
15. How she hesitated at the edge of the bathroom because she knew the linoleum would be cold on her paws, but would come in anyways to hang out with me.
16. How grumpy she was to all the vet assistants, yet they loved her anyways.
17. How she curled up in a ball in deep sleep and covered her eyes with her paws.
18. How she tolerated Dumbjoseph's company.
19. How she was always the dominant one everytime Nutsy or Dumbjoseph picked a fight with her.
20. How she always stole the fabric softener sheet when I came home with clean laundry.
21. How she always laid on top of the clean clothes after I took the fabric softener away from her.
22. How she always wanted pets but never demanded them.
23. How she ran into the bedroom in the middle of the night with the aluminum ball in her mouth meowing out of control, then hopped up on the bed for congratulatory pets.
24. How she loved to drink water from the bathroom sink.
25. How she sat on the bathroom sink while I brushed my teeth even though she hated the smell of toothpaste.
26. How she closed her eyes and cringed when I pet her head while brushing my teeth, but would endure it because she wanted pets.
27. How she let me rest my head on her belly to listen to her purrs.
28. How she flipped over dramatically during head pets in order to get her belly rubbed.
29. How she always came to me when I was feeling bad because she could tell.
30. How she took back the recliner as "her spot" after a year of letting Dumbjoseph have it.
31. How she came running from anywhere in the house when she heard me tapping the top of the cat food can.
How she head-butted my face when I was giving her pets. (This one deserved a 2nd mention.)
33. How she lifted her head to greet my mouth when I leaned down to kiss her.
34. How she always spit out the water we tried to give her during medicine time.
35. How she buried her head in my arm every time we were at the vet (except the last time).
36. How she greeted me at the door when I came home.
37. How she and Nutsy would have lick sessions that always ended in a fight.
38. How she growled at Dumbjoseph every time he tried to straddle her.
39. How she peered over the side of the bathtub to say hello when I was taking a bath.
40. How she sat on the toilet or the sink during my showers.
41. How she sat patiently on the floor by the bed waiting for me to wake up and feed her.
42. How she liked it when I pet her in "basketball head" style.
43. How she was curious about what was outside the front door, but never tried to venture out because she knew she wasn't supposed to.
44. How sometimes when she brought the aluminum foil ball, she would fetch five times in a row til she got tired and flopped down.
45. How she liked being patted (not petted) hard on the butt.
46. How she
stuck her butt up in the air for more pats or pets.
47. How quickly she welcomed Miles as her other beloved human.
48. How she loved all kinds of orange junk food (Doritos, Cheetos, etc.)
49. How she loved fronch fries.
50. How brazen she became in her grandma years about stealing fronch fries from my plate.
51. How I heard her purr particularly louder when I spoke lovingly to her.
52. How she patiently let me take her IV bandages off her paw (even though I saw her nip at one of the nurses who tried).
53. How she looks like a turkey in the lion-cut picture I have of her.
54. How she always managed to find the patch of sunshine on the floor.
55. How I always knew what her multitude of meows meant.
56. How she was the sweetest creature I will ever know.
57. How her second favorite spot was the nook of my lap, with both of her paws stretched out over it.
58. How she had this habit of looking down and away when I wanted to take a photo of her.
59. How dirty her butt got in her heavy days when she couldn't reach it to clean it.
60. How clean her butt got in her later days when she could reach it again.
61. How good of a mother she would have been if given the chance.
62. How she was a "rare" female all-orange tabby.
63. How she loved the plush brown blanket, and liked it when I wrapped it around her.
64. How she stepped tentatively on the bathroom sink when there were puddles of water.
65. How she was never the snuggler with Nutsy or Dumbjoseph, but always the happy snugglee.
66. How she used to lay so cute with her paws stretched out underneath my radiator in the studio apartment.
67. How much she loved getting combed with the flea comb.
68. How she always came to see mama when I called her.
69. How for a long time she calmly came to get her subQ injections like she knew it was helping her.
70. How she squinted her sleepy eyes, but still tried to look up at us when we came in the back door and turned on the light when she'd been sleeping on the bed.
71. How she had some white whiskers and some black whiskers.
72. How soft her fur got when she was hydrated after giving her subQ fluids.
73. How some of her little kitty nipples had dark spots on them.
74. How big and expressive her beautiful eyes were.
75. How as she got older she got dark pigment spots on her gums.
76. How she mysteriously broke her tail but somehow retained movement in it without pain.
77. How she loved it when I scratched her chest.
78. How I could get her to flip over and give me her belly when I started scratching underneath her.
79. The little orange stripes on her forehead.
80. How she weighed a whopping 17 pounds at her heaviest, and how sad it was when she was down to 6 pounds at her sickest.
81. How she ran away in fear if I picked up a chair to move it.
82. How she taught Dumbjoseph to speak.
83. How before she passed on, she told Dumbjoseph he needed to be more of a lapcat.
84. How cute but sad her two little shaved IV paws were towards the end.
85. How she couldn't quite get her bearings inside the cat carrier when the cone was on her head.
86. How excited she was to see my mom and I when we visited her in the incubator the first time she got sick and stayed overnight.
87. How much she loved Miles and I with all her little girl heart.
88. How I had to request the groomers to "panty shave" her behind when she was heavy.
89. How disapproving of Dumbjoseph she was to start, which eventually turned into a grumpy grandma tolerance of a boisterous teenager.
90. How I could hear her purring from far away sometimes.
91. How she and her sister started as kittens in a country home in Texas before I brought them home.
92. How kitty-drunk she was on sedatives their first night in California after flying from Texas.
93. How she nommed my finger sometimes when Miles gave her intense butt scratches.
94. How she nommed and made weird chewing sounds for no reason sometimes, while staring off into space.
95. How she loved shoes, especially brand new ones or really dirty ones.
96. How she trusted me 100% of the time.
97. How cute she looked when she closed her eyes and looked so content when I scratched under her chin.
98. How she loved getting scratched under her paws where she couldn't reach.
99. How the tips of her ears got rough and scratchy as she got older.
99a. How she rubbed her cheeks on the edge of small fry laptop.
99b. How she loved laying on remote controls and cellphones.
99c. How she lazily chomped at a dangling piece of string without lifting a paw.
99d. How much she loved chicken flavor baby food when she was sick.
99e. How she loved curling up on the couch in the free spot between me and Miles.
99f. How she used to always get excited when I crumpled up a new foil ball before it became Dumbjoseph's thing.
99g. How she passed on to Dumbjoseph that he should hang out in the bathroom during my shower.
99h. How she let Nutsy drape her limbs over her during cuddle time.
99i. How much she meant to Nutsy because I can tell Nutsy is looking for her and sad now.
99j. How eagerly and ruthlessly she nommed up all the kitty treats.
99k. How sometimes she just sat in front of my face while I played poker on desktop, not in the way or anything, just sat there while I absent-mindedly nuzzled her.
99l. How she and Nutsy had an anxiety-laden meow exchange when I was giving Trigger her last bath.
99m. The intense feeling of her nuzzling my hand while I was meditating that one time.
100. How she was the awesomest, most gentle, sweetest, most understanding, cutest, and most darling kitty I will ever know. No kitty could ever replace her, and I will remember Trigger forever.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Bond With Trigger

I have a special bond with Trigger that I don't necessarily have with my other cats. Sometimes we just laid and stared at each other, communicating warmth just between our eyes. It may sound dumb to some people, but I always knew that I knew her in a deeper way, like she was an ancient friend that I'd known for longer than her time.

The last month of her life she fought so hard to stay alive. Her red blood cell count was repeatedly down to 5%, when the vets were telling us that as low as 10% was "incompatible with life." Her energy level that last month was probably only at 50%, so her quality of life was probably only at half. She didn't move around much and spent most of her time laying on the couch or the bed with us, sleeping or purring. But she didn't run around, she didn't play with Dumbjoseph, she didn't run into the bedroom in the middle of the night with her aluminum foil ball in her mouth meowing like crazy, and she didn't jump up to the sink to hang out with me when I brushed my teeth.

The night before her passing, she was laying comfy on her favorite blanket on the couch and was really responsive to me for the first time in a while. I laid down with her and we talked for twenty minutes. It was such a meaningful bit of time and I will cherish it forever. I spoke to her and she spoke back to me with her eyes. I told her how much I loved her and told her I knew how hard she's been fighting to stay alive. I told her I wished she could stay with me forever, and that I knew she wished she could too. But I also told her I knew she was tired, and that she didn't have to stick around for me if she was tired of fighting. I told her that if her body could no longer go on, that I understood and wouldn't love her any less and instead would love her forever no matter what. We really bonded that night, and I will never forget it. I am so thankful we got to share that time together. I covered her with her favorite blanket and left her purring on the couch that night.

The next morning I woke up to find her a complete mess. She had puked and peed on the couch, and pooped on the floor and there was blood in it. She was dirty and curled up on the floor -- motionless and completely unresponsive. That was the first time she'd ever gotten sick on the couch, always before she'd had the strength to jump down to the floor first. I knew this time was bad. I believe in my heart that she & I understood each other the night before, and this next day she was telling me it was time to go.

It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. But in the end, I don't think it could have been any more perfect or beautiful. When it happened, we didn't feel any fear or tension from her. Instead, she purred right up to the last second, and died with her head cradled in my hand. I couldn't have asked for anything more than to make her feel comfortable and loved during that instant. I miss her so much, and I'm sure she misses me. But I believe that our bond remains, and that I'll always be connected to her energy.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I Love You, Trigger...

Today Miles and I had to say goodbye to the kitty cat love of my life, Trigger. I've had her since she was a kitten in 1996. She spent her last moments laying across both of our laps, purring. As she passed, she had her head laying cradled in my hand, and through our loving pets she showed no fear or nervousness. It was all I could have hoped for for her.

I already miss her so much. Here is a photo tribute to her:

I love you so much, little girl. I will always remember you. Goodbye, sweetheart Trigger.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! An unexpected gift I received this year was pleurisy! An infection of the membrane surrounding my lungs, alright, just what I wanted! At least now I know what this shooting pain in my shoulder/neck is. The question now is how do I get rid of it?! My surgeon and oncologist have been trying to figure out what the underlying cause is. I've had a chest x-ray and a CT-angiogram. The chest x-ray looked normal, which ruled out any lung puncture or pneumonia (maybe?). I'm still waiting to hear back about the angiogram, but I'm hoping that no news is good news for any blood clots in my lungs. At this point I don't really care what is causing it, I just want it to stop. Unfortunately, treating it is a matter of treating the underlying cause, so I am still back to square one...

My hair is done falling out for now, and it's finally uniform. There are some hanger-ons all over, so now I look like a fuzzy elephant more than a serious cancer patient. I happily discovered most of my underarm hair is gone.