calming the beast

calming the beast

it’s pretty clear to us now that those first pretty bad days were pretty bad mostly because of the biopsy. understandably, since essentially a piece of spike’s tongue was cut out and taken off to biopsy.

that doesn’t mean, however, that all is well now. though spike has seemed better in the last few days, eating a ton, attacking us like he loves us, sleeping warmly and soundly, leanne has spoken to the vet about all the (lack of) possibilities and dr. bloom has confirmed that the tumor is simply continuing to grow. spike’s even bleeding again more since his visit to the vet on saturday; i guess they cleaned his mouth out (he obviously swears too much).

at the vet, they removed his pain patch, and leanne has not put a new one on him yet. i think she’s just sort of waiting to see when he declines. in the meantime, he seems pretty happy (though obviously uncomfortable and bleeding…). the tumor’s only going one way…

at least, as of yesterday at last, the sun has been out after days of grey rain – so hopefully he has been able to get out onto the roof to enjoy the sun.


mighty spike

mighty spike

it seems like spike is adapting to the alien growing inside of him – or maybe the alien is calming down a bit. at any rate, last night, i caught him swishing furiously through the catnip, and later he attacked both leanne and me, which we took as a tremendous sign! he was even cleaning himself at one point. and the sun is out intermittently today, so perhaps he is able to take in some fresh air and sunshine.

so it seems we have ourselves a little respite of false security. though in reality, he can’t close his mouth because of the size (and general discomfort) of the tumor (and looks a little looney with his toungue lolling out), he keeps drooling blood, and we keep seeing this large nasty tumor when we go to stuff pills and pain liquids down his mouth. he is clearly uncomfortable, but he is super spike, and seems almost to be adapting.

spikewatch II

spikewatch II

spike curled up next to us all saturday night to sleep, then we went home sunday to spend the night with wanda. we were back at otivo again last night. spike was quite energetic before bedtime, rubbing up against my art project on the floor, purring like himself and eating LIKE A HORSE, enjoying a nice comb-through to try to clean up his coat (which he can’t clean), and even jumping on leanne’s lap — but not for long, certainly not able to cuddle like Our Spike.

then while we slept last night, he stayed distant, blending into the black fleece by the door. today he doesn’t seem to feel as well.

it was dreary and rainy yesterday, and it’s dreary and rainy today. usually i love the rain. yesterday, we went to look at houses and there was the unspoken difference now: we don’t need the outside access. there is a family member now missing from our plans.

neither leanne nor i feel much like working today. spike has been leanne’s steady companion for his entire 11 years. i wish i could fully be there for leanne but he’s been my companion for 6 years, and i feel this demise acutely. so many of us do; the whole otivo crowd. others who don’t even know his predicament yet will be touched by this. i think of kesin: to him, spike and wanda are a unit – just like leanne and moya – they don’t exist singly.

i know every cat owner in the entire universe thinks their cat is more unique, clever, and special than the rest, but in spike’s case it of course really is true. spike is the only cat i have ever known to go on walks with people. he used to walk leanne down the street and then wait all day for her to return to that spot when they lived on bainbridge island. he would walk me down the block in noe valley. he pants like a dog in the car. only he hasn’t struggled nearly as much with his recent trips to the vet. it’s as if he knows it’s different now.

it’s in the back of our minds, all the time, this horrible thing ahead.



yesterday, spike started eating again and he hasn’t stopped since. first, he chowed down on a leftover prawn, and then moved on to the leftover thanksgiving turkey. we figured he could eat these chunky things and not the turkey and tuna purees we concocted for him because he can bite and chew but not lick. the tumor gets in the way of any serious tongue action; but even the chewing did that and he gets all bloody and mucousy when he eats. eventually, leanne was able to get him to eat the a/d wet food sent home by the vet. in addition, she tops this with a high-calorie vitamin supplement and spike just eats and eats and eats. he’s got most of his voice back and can yowl and call with his gravelly voice again, and we even spotted him cleaning his drooly face off with his paws.

all of this, however, is bittersweet, since his is obviously in pain, and leanne just got the biopsy report and it confirmed squamous cell carcinoma. dr bloom has spoken with the expert in the area, dr jane torell in pacifica, and there doesn’t appear to be any option for treatment. now, it seems all about managing his pain and determining when it is time for him to go. she’s taken spike back to presidio way to get a patch put onto his leg that should measure out pain medicine for the next five days or so.

to pick ourselves up, leanne and i went to see “love actually” at amc van ness yesterday. a sappy feelgood love story. i left the theater bawling.

simply spike

simply spike

sleep brought a semblance of peace and spike curled up next to us all night long which felt reassuring since the night before he hadn’t. but he hasn’t eaten a thing since we force-fed him 1cc of pureed tuna water yesterday morning. he walks around as if he is simply spike but he is clearly in such pain.

leanne is playing finlandia on the piano.

thirty days

thirty days

yesterday, leanne took spike to the vet because his hair stank and it seemed to be coming from his mouth. he had also stopped eating. he had been drooling for a couple of weeks — but this was hardly anything odd. (temperamental) lovebug that he is, he always drools when you knead his neck and he sort of burrows in under your chin or high up on your sleeve. just last week after i had sat with him outside for awhile, rubbing his purring neck and behind his ears, him latched onto my coat sleeve, i walked away with a big wet patch on my soft brown faux-suede where he had nuzzled.

leanne was shocked when dr. bloom revealed a tumor the size of half a thumb glued under his tongue. squamous cell carcinoma, what he fears, in such a position in a feline, gives spike only thirty days more, at best. but he doesn’t look so good at all today and we don’t know if it’s the biopsy and the healing from that (his mouth was bleeding when we brought him home last night) and all the medicines or the tumor, the cancer, itself, but he is just tucked low to the ground, nose bowed down, occasionally bobbing his head up and down like he is in pain.

the tumor in his mouth particularly sucks because it only hurts him more to try to feed all the pills, which maybe only make him sick to his stomach, and he is not able to eat at all. we are sleeping at otivo to try to take care… of him.

today, it is thanksgiving and we brought fresh turkey from vacaville to otivo. i put a little under his nose and he went to devour it like he was really really famished. only he could barely even lick the bit of turkey and couldn’t take it into his mouth to bite or eat at all. he walked away, head bowed, looking sick to his stomach. we pureed the turkey in the blender with water and put the bowl next to him. he walked away from it and lowered his nose to the carpet, looking totally defeated.

he is so uncomfortable. he jumps in and out of the litterbox but it’s not clear what he does there. he can’t clean himself, so his fur is rough and smelly. he tries to nuzzle up to us like we are all used to him doing, and he purrs but he clearly can’t make himself comfortable. he can’t eat; he must be terribly hungry. he can’t meow… and that makes it so quiet here.
oh spike! what can we do?

we expect the real results of the biopsy tomorrow or saturday. but he is not lasting thirty days like this. we are worried about him suffering. i so don’t want to lose spike; he is such a part of our plans. he is what we think of when we try to find a place to live. will he be happy? will wanda and spike be able to reunite here? i am so sad i am beside myself that we could lose him so quickly, though that would be better than any long suffering. i am worried for leanne; i so don’t want her to shut down but this is what she does, she holds herself together and doesn’t let go; she went through such pain for so long when nooka had her cancer, usually just keeping it inside, even at the end. i so hope we can pull together through this though i hate to think of him leaving.

the passing of nooka: office mammal

nooka made a sweet sunset for us this evening.

on her way to her appointment, she vomited in the backseat of my car, as if to say just how sick she’d become and just that it was the right decision. but still it feels so bad to be part of laying her on her side, inserting the needle, holding her paw till the doctor said ‘that’s it.’ she didn’t look any different at all. her eyes were open, and she lay there quietly, as sweetly as she had been doing all the time she was sick.

i feel i’ve been a part of something bad. but nooka would have sweetly told us it was the right thing to do.