Thursday, 26 September 2013

Bloody pets

Pets.  Who'd have 'em?

Little furry bastards worm their way into your hearts, stick their claws in and don't let go.

I'm currently a quarter of a bottle of red wine down and have more to go, I reckon.

I had to take Sylvester Bean to the vets today.  He hates going but I hate it even more because I'm more aware of it.

About 3 weeks ago, he was getting underfoot, lying on his back, sprawling on the floor of my studio.  I reach down to rub his belly and found a bulge.  Or a lump.  Or a lumpy bulge/bulgy lump.  You get the idea.  In his abdomen towards his back legs.

Oh god.  It's obviously cancer, isn't it?  I can't deal.  I ignore it.  I'm a bad, bad cat mother.

But he is 17 years 3 months old.  That's about 85 human years.  He'd old.  He's arthritic.  He has hyperthyroidism for which he has daily medication.  A major operation is going to be horrendous for him - general anaesthetic for several hours, stomach incision, the 'cone of shame' (perhaps - he can't really reach his stomach easily so that may not be necessary), the weeks of recovery - is it worth it for a cat that old?  Something's going to get him some day.  Oh god - I'm a bad cat mother.

He showed no signs of discomfort from it.  He was eating, drinking and pooping just the same as always.  Getting up and down the stairs as best as he could, as usual.  No vomiting.  Absolutely normal.

I mentioned the lump to TLH and we decided to leave it to see if it went away.

It didn't.

Last night TLH rubbed Sylvester's belly and was alarmed at how much bigger the bulge had got.

I'm now at that menopausal age that seems to have flipped my emotion switch.  I lost it.  I ended up sobbing for far too much of the evening.  He's been such a central part of our little family for the last 17 years that the thought of losing him was just more than I could deal with. But I knew I had to take him to the vet.  It might not be a tumour, it could, for instance, be a hernia, or an abscess, but we wouldn't know until a vet had had a look.

I made an appointment today and got him in for 5.10pm.  I'd rung in the morning, got the appointment and was pretty much useless for the rest of the day as I couldn't concentrate on anything much.  As the time for the appointment approached, I sought out my very small bottle of Rescue Remedy to try and still my anxiety.

I got him to the vet without any stress on his part.  He was a very good boy in the car and didn't complain once.  The very nice lady vet starting feeling his belly and said 'Ooh', which didn't really bode well.  She asked prurient questions, listened to his heart, took his temperature - all were normal.  She said she'd never felt a lump like it.  It was the full thickness of the muscle in his abdomen.  It was hard.  Abscesses are hard.  The 'front' end of it wasn't seemingly bothering him, but the smaller, 'back' end was.

She said that she couldn't tell what it was without a needle biopsy which would ascertain if it was an abscess or a cyst (not entirely sure of the difference) and, if enough cells could be extracted, if it wasn't a cyst, if it was a cancerous tumour.  Then we'd have to contemplate surgery, perhaps, with all that that entails for a cat of his age.  Alternatively, an abscess/cyst could be treated with antibiotics.

I decided to go for that.  If antibiotics worked, then, obviously, surgery would not be necessary.  The nice vet lady said she could give him an injection that would last for 2 weeks thereby obviating the need for giving him yet another pill of an evening (along with his Vidalta for hyperthyroidism).

So he got his £50 injection.  And we're hoping for major mojo from the universe that his lump responds to the antibiotics - she said that, if it was going to respond, she would hope to see results within a week and, hopefully, definitely within 2.

So that's it for the moment.  Bloody cats.  I've already decided that he's going to be our last pet (at least for the moment).  I get too emotionally invested in them - they are my fur children.  And it tears me apart when they come to the end of their too-short lives.

But at least we have Sylvester for another fortnight and I'm accepting of all the mojo anyone is willing to give.

The Wasp Factory

Many, many years ago - at least 18 or so - TLH and I had been 'courting' for about a year.  We were still at that massively loved-up stage of making mix tapes and buying favourite books for each other.

It was lovely.  I made him a cassette tape of some of my favourite songs (yes, it was that long ago, when cassettes were still common) and bought him, one Christmas, the DVD of Cleopatra with Liz Taylor.

He bought me, amongst other things, 'The Wasp Factory' by Iain Banks.  For some reason, I never read it.

Last week I finished reading 'Ragnarok' by A S Byatt (which I can highly recommend, by the way, and reminded me very much of how much I had enjoyed reading the myths and legends of other countries, especially Norse and Greek myths, when I was about the age of the girl reading them in Ragnarok) and needed to find something else to read.  Something not too long as I'm trying to read more books this year than last (if you give a toss as to what books I've read this year, click on my Shelfari link on the left hand side of this blog and they're all listed).  All the books I've got in my pile beside the bed, waiting to be read,  are hefty tomes and practically all of them are non-fiction - there are a couple of books about popular culture in the 1950s and 1960s; there are 3 volumes about the Third Reich, each of which are so thick that if you threw them they could stun an ox from 50 paces; The Kenneth Williams diaries which is about 2 inches thick; 'Swallows & Amazons' which, no, I've not read yet but didn't fancy just now.

So I went downstairs to our study where we keep some of our books (the rest are in several large bookcases in the garage - I don't want them in the living room because, well, I just don't, okay?  Don't judge me...)  I looked at the titles, actually looking for one of the several P G Wodehouses that I know I've got, but not locating any.  All my Nancy Mitford books were there, as were my Evelyn Waughs and, tempting as they are, I just didn't fancy them right now.

Then my eye fell on 'The Wasp Factory'.  I'd not read it, it was purportedly Gothic in tone and it was pretty thin - 'that'll do' thought I.

Then I opened it.  It's only bloody signed by the author, isn't it? Look -


I asked TLH about it and he had no idea he'd bought a signed copy!  And, what's more, Iain Banks has just sadly died from Pancreatic cancer so it might be worth a few bob in the future.  Unfortunately it's not a first edition but, hell, I'm not that mercenary about it!  We do have a few signed books in our library - there's a Spike Milligan, a Melvyn Bragg and (my favourite) an Al Shepherd (one of the Mercury Seven/Apollo astronauts) so once I've finished reading this, it can go with the other signed copies.

To be honest, I'm not entirely enjoying the book.  Animal cruelty upsets me tremendously and the book seems to have some on every page so I'm finding it hard not to throw it across the room.  I'm about two-thirds of the way through and I do kind of want to know what happens but I have very little sympathy for a murderous 16-year old who kills small animals (even if he had his genital bitten off by the family dog when he was 3) who is waiting for his psychotic older brother Eric - you know, the one who sets dogs on fire - to return home after escaping from a mental institute.  Basically it's a bloody horrible story but I will finish it.

Then find some lovely, soothing Wodehouse to wrap my soul in fluff as a reward.