Saturday morning was Marge's annual check-up at the vet's office. Marge is a very good kitty for the vet. There's virtually no struggling, no yowling, no scratching. Oh, she voices her fury when I put her in the carrier, but once we're out of the apartment building and she smells the fresh air she gives up the protesting and just sits grumpily.
With the doctor, she submits to the probing and poking and rather rough handling, even the time the vet clipped her nails too close and made her bleed. She just sat there with her ears slightly back, looking pissy but resigned. Marge is always discharged with a clean bill of health, and When we get home there's lots of petting and kisses and Who's such a good girl? Margie is!
This past Saturday, we noticed that Marge has lost 1.5 pounds since her last visit. That's significant, and I recalled that there had been a little less than a 1/2 pound loss the previous year. At that time, it didn't seem to be a cause for alarm, but I did recall that during 2003 to 2005, her old vet in Manhattan had recorded a slight weight gain each year. In Nyack, it seems to have reversed.
Since 1.5 pounds is enough to set off alarm bells, the vet took some blood from her neck. I couldn't watch. G was with us, and he stayed in Marge's sight, telling her how brave she was, empathizing that this wasn't very much fun but it would be over soon, etc. Marge's blood was apparently thicker than expected, and it took two tries to get a sufficient amount for testing. I'm not sure what that means. Right now I'm not interested in speculating.
At this point the Doctor came in, and palpated Marge's belly. "Meow!" Marge protested. "I know," the doctor soothed, as her fingers prodded. "I feel something not good," she muttered. "Let's do an X-Ray."
Sure enough... there on the X-Ray was a large mass, next to her liver. The damn thing is the size of her liver. It may be even bigger - you can't see much in an X-ray. Of course, what we might be looking at here, although it's really too soon to tell, is cancer.
The vet started saying things about how there are other tests we need to do to determine whether there's anything in her lymph nodes, whether the mass has attached itself to other organs... blah blah blah. All that got through to me was "Ultrasound," "Biopsy," a bizarre and upsetting discussion of possible environmental causes (including Indian Point nuclear power station located just north of us), and the phrase "You might have some time with her." I'm not sure when I started to cry, but I managed to halt the flow of tears until we got home.
After we made an appointment for an ultrasound, we got our baby girl back to the house, where she proceeded to stalk off angrily to the bedroom and sulk on the bed. G placated her with some grooming, and I talked myself through what I had just experienced.
"I don't think I gave my cat cancer by moving her to Nyack!" I growled.
At some point, G went outside to do something. Marge was happily purring on her favorite couch cushion, relaxing with sleepy eyes in a bright sunbeam, looking happy and healthy as the day we met, and ten times as pampered. I got into the shower to wash off the fur and dander she'd stress-expelled during the whole vet ordeal.
In the shower, I cried. I cried until I couldn't cry anymore. Then I got down to the business of washing my hair and self. When I got out, I put on comfortable clothes. I had some work around the house to do, and a birthday party to attend that evening. Besides, NO DIAGNOSIS HAS YET BEEN CONFIRMED. Calm down, girl! I chided myself.
Think positive. We don't know anything yet. THINK POSITIVE.
The birthday party effectively removed the entire concept from my mind. I sang Karaoke and laughed with friends for hours, then came home at about 2am and crashed.
I don't really rememer much about Sunday. I know I was at the mall for awhile, dropping off some shoes to be re-soled and buying a red shirt on sale. Oh, that's right, in the evening I colored in my Tropical Fish coloring book while Revenge of the Sith played in the background on Spike TV. While Marge yawned on the couch next to me. Like any other night at home.
In all truth, the very thought of losing her is devastating. I'm exceedingly attached to her, my love for this animal has completely saturated my heart ever since her last owner moved to Chicago and sent her to live with me in late 2002.
I didn't have a cat carrier, so I brought her home with me in a box, an eight-year-old shut-in of a cat, meowing her head off until I let her out. Then she hid behind a furniture piece for almost two days. During the blizzard of 2003, she and I moved to the two-bedroom in Manhattan and I took her to her first vet appointment since she was spayed as a kitten. Five years later I can't imagine life without her, and frankly, don't want to.
I have been telling myself we are on borrowed time for the last two years. When Zenchick had to say goodbye to her cat Reggie, I remember how grief stricken she was. It was then that I took out a pet insurance policy for Marge... I was having a hard time financially, due to the divorce, and the horrible job I was trying desperately to get out of.
Reggie was 12 when she passed. Recently, my dear friend Jenn lost her 12-year old cat to cancer. Granted, my childhood cats all lived to be 17 and 18, but I know how unusual that is. Marge is 14. I am a realistic person. Death is a natural part of life, and a healthy acceptance of it is something I've become all too familiar with over the last five years.
I think I've done everything I can to prepare myself, and I'm trying VERY HARD not to over-think this… but I am having a rough time focusing on things today.
Tomorrow I'm taking her for an ultrasound, and hoping for the best. I will not speculate. I am taking this one step at a time.