Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bad News

This has been a tough post to write. I don't even know where to start.

First of all, Friday we came back to Birmingham because our house is still for sale and we are trying to sell it ourselves without a Realtor. Every two weeks are so we have been doing an open house and we also arrange to show it to anyone who has called during those two weeks and want to see it.

That's one reason we came to Birmingham. The other was our cat, Phantom. After the last vet visit that showed his kidneys and thyroid to be fine, but his blood calcium level was high, we still didn't know what was causing the problems, which also involved his heart. Our vet found out that Michigan State had a better blood test that could hopefully rule out cancer or thyroid problems and we would know how to proceed from there.

The plan was to drop Phantom off at the vet this morning to take blood that would be frozen and sent to Michigan and our vet would do another physical with more x-rays to look for any abnormal growths that would indicate cancer. I had no idea how much all of this would cost, but pulled money out of a mutual fund, hoping it would be enough because I planned on doing whatever it took to help Phantom get over this thing, whatever it was.

Sunday I got up early and ran with my friend L, a hilly 13 miles on our usual course that I love. Then the Murph and I had the open house Sunday afternoon and got tons of people and a couple seemed really interested. A few asked about the intercom system that was put in the house when it was first built in 1979, you know the ones.

"Time for dinner! Over and out!"

"Hellooooo! Anyone home?"

The ones that are rarely used especially now when everyone carries around a cell phone. The Murph has never used it since he moved in the house 20 years ago. They use to put them in houses in the late 70's I guess. I'm not sure if they put them in houses anymore. We have them all over the place. It's kind of funny.

Another Realtor came by today to see the house for her and her husband. She brought cupcakes from Dreamcakes Bakery, the bakery that did our wedding cakes - strawberry and red velvet. I really think she was just looking for a listing. I can't blame her. I've thought of doing that myself back when my real estate license was active. It's a real pain trying to get listings. Everybody always knows somebody in real estate and that's who they usually list with.

I dropped Phantom off at the vet this morning at 8:30a.m. thinking I would have him back by 11a.m and we would be on our way back home to Pensacola by 2p.m. Around noon the vet called me and said he saw a growth in Phantom's abdomen on the x-ray. It had been there in an x-ray a couple of months ago, but when he saw it then, it looked like it was just poop in his intestines. Since the same thing was still there in the same spot, he thought it was a growth and wanted to do an ultrasound to make sure. He also told me that the cost to ship the frozen blood to Michigan was not $25 but $125 since it had to be kept frozen. That would make the total cost over $300. 

No problem, because like I said before, I would do anything for Phantom.

I waited and waited. I tried picking Phantom up at 3p.m because that's when the vet originally said he would be done with the ultrasound. The receptionist said Phantom was finishing up the ultrasound and that the vet needed to talk to me about the results, but he wasn't done yet. They would call me.

 I had a bad feeling about it all at that point as I left the vet. I knew it wasn't going to be good news.

I called the Murph and we decided that since it was so late at that point that we would wait until in the morning to head back to the beach. Phantom had been cooped up at the vet all day and didn't need to ride another 4 hours cooped up in the cat carrier in the back seat. While I waited for the vet to call me to go over the test results, I went to the drugstore to get Phantom's heart medicine refilled, filled the car up with gas, stopped by the Sprint store to find out why my phone wasn't ringing and I was having to look at it every 5 minutes to see if the vet was calling (the little switch on the side was flipped to turn the sound off) and then I went to the grocery store to pick up something to eat tonight since we were staying and had no food or cat litter.

That's when things started falling apart. With all the anxiety over Phantom, I totally fell off the healthy food wagon. So much for trying to give up processed foods, like crackers and cookies.  I got greasy fried chicken for dinner....

With biscuits and not even home cooked biscuits, but enclosed in plastic, no telling how old they are, biscuits.

I am embarrassed to even admit to my stress-induced cookie consumption the past couple of days. All this consuming of sugary, greasy comfort food reminds me of the days when I first got divorced and my son, who was about 10 years old at the time, would go to his dad's for the weekend. Boy did I miss him!

On Friday after he left, I would hit up the grocery store and buy every kind of food that was bad for me, both sugary and salty, and pig out all weekend in between four hour bike rides and 3 hour runs. I was so worn out and bloaty by the end of the weekend but before I knew it, Sunday would be there and the Boy would be back home from his dad's.

By the time we got Phantom, the Boy was 12 or 13 and I had gotten use to the weekends without him. By then, he was home most of the  weekends anyway. I'm still addicted to cookies and crackers. They are to two processed food items that has been tough for me to stop eating even though I'm trying to stay away from high fructose corn syrup and preservatives like BHT. It's in EVERYTHING! 

By 4, when I had already finished up doing all the damage at the grocery store, the vet finally called.  I went to hear the news, hoping it would be good.  

It was not.

The vet said that there was not only a growth in Phantom's abdomen, but it had spread to Phantom's liver. The worst possible news. 

Phantom has cancer. 

The vet said that at this point there was no reason to send the blood to Michigan State. From the looks of the ultrasound and xrays and the heart issue, he is 99% sure Phantom has Lymphosarcoma, the most common cancer in cats. At this point, he told me the only thing we could do is make him as comfortable as possible, treat whatever symptoms may develop, continue the Lasix and the Atenolol for his heart and enjoy every day we have left with him.

I asked, "how long do we have?" He said it could be a week, it could be 6 months. It's hard to say, but once again he told me to just enjoy everyday we have left with Phantom. How many times I've heard that over the past 4 months. So now there's nothing left to do. I felt defeated.

When I got home and was taking pictures of all the junk food I purchased at the store, I noticed, behind the crackers and cookies, the cat spoon holder that I got years ago because it reminded me of Phantom and behind that a cross that was given to me as a Christmas present from the girl who originally told me about Phantom and arranged for me to get Phantom when he was a kitten.

And of course then there's the bike wine holder. Biking, one of the things I do when I get stressed besides running or eating cookies.

Coincidence? Not so sure.

Or another reminder to enjoy every day I have, not only with Phantom, but with everything I love and just life in general. Love life and live and enjoy everyday. They will not last forever. We don't know what will happen tomorrow or even if there will be a tomorrow, but whatever happens, enjoy the day the Lord has made.

So I brought Phantom home, I will continue to give him his meds, he will continue to come back and forth with us while we try to sell our house (the Murph calls him our real estate cat because he greets all the people that come see the house and thinks they have come to see him), and I will try to enjoy every day I have left with him. Right now I'm keeping Kleenex in business and Phantom, not understanding why I'm all red eyed, but trying to comfort me as he's done all his life when he's seen me cry, which is a lot over the past 8 years.

I haven't told the Boy the bad news about Phantom yet although the last time he was with us I told him Phantom may have cancer. He texted me last night saying he needs a suit because he has an interview this week, but didn't know what day. Typical of the Boy! I just hope he gets a hair cut before the interview, but that's another story!

I got a suit out of his closet and sent it UPS to him since I am here and not there. I think I will wait until after his interview to tell him about Phantom. Maybe in person. That would be better. It's not going to be easy. 

 - This is the day that the Lord has made for us, let us Rejoice and be glad in it.  
                                                                                       Psalms 118: 24

-There is no coincidence... only the illusion of coincidence.
                                                                    Alan Moore- V for Vendetta


  1. Kristy-I am so sorry about Phantom! Cancer, no matter in an animal or human, just SUCKS!! My hope is that he can stay comfortable and happy!

    Good luck telling Murph! :(

    1. Thanks Elyse. Yes, cancer does SUck! When I was younger in hs and college all my cats died of leukemia by age 4. I was determined these cats wouldn't get that and have always vaccinated them and regular vet visits. This blindsided me. Wasn't expecting this to be cancer at all. I hate it when Phantom doesn't feel well.

      The Murph is my husband so he knows. My son is at college so he doesn't know yet. Well, he kind of knows I guess.

  2. Poor you, and poor Phantom. I think you are right in waiting to tell your son the news. I've lost pets before, and it is so hard to watch them while they ae sick.

    You are a good Mom and a good cat Mom too.

    1. Thanks Hope! Watching them while they are sick is the toughest. Just awful!

  3. I am so sorry to hear that, about Phantom. I know your heart is breaking. You are so right about cherishing each & every day we are given. I will be thinking of you & you know you can call me anytime. (love & hugs)

  4. Kristy, I'm so sorry. I remember when you first had Phantom, hearing about him, and what a little (now big!) character he was. You are right, all around us are reminders to enjoy every moment because life is short. I know this was a difficult post for you to write. Wish I could give you a big hug. xo

    1. Thanks Steph! Phantom is a character. You should see him when people come to see the house. He especially loves the little girls.