Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Christmas 2019 from Hospice Care to Toddler Care

Christmas Tree 2019 


This Christmas has been an interesting one.

 I found myself being a Hospice nurse to my sweet, beautiful cat Bella until the day she passed away on December 13th and then a new mom, to the cutest little baby boy, who I named Nicholas for St. Nick , a week afterwards.

 I had thought this year would be filled with days of cookie baking, my best year decorating yet and wrapping all the gifts with pretty ribbons and bows, handmade with each family member and friend in mind .

It didn't quite go as I had planned and I really did try to plan this year out a little better than years past.

I had taken the first week of December off to get the house decorated and send out my Christmas cards so that , for once, I could be ahead of the game and perhaps be that "Martha , want-to-be" that I had always dreamed of.

Instead, I spent that week, administering homeopathic remedies all throughout the day, and sitting in the living room with Bella reading a book just so I could be near her. I spent most nights on the couch because she didn't want to make it upstairs. And one night I slept on the floor because she wanted to sleep in the center of the couch.

I couldn't think too much about Christmas. Hoping and praying for healing and more time with my beloved Bella was all I cared about.

The days until Christmas were counting down despite my nursing duties with my cat. At least I had gotten the tree , fresh from a friends farm the weekend after Thanksgiving and the lights were on with some decorations.

As I sat with Bella and watched her go from chair to chair in the living room, restless sleep, trying to get comfortable, I wondered if anything I was doing was helping her. The fluid in her tummy would build up, I would get it drained, my amazing boyfriend  and niece would come over and help give her sub q fluids to hydrate her and the cycle would begin all over again. The first few times she seemed to get better .

The last round of fluid draining and sub q fluids, she didn't quite bounce back.  My heart was aching as each day passed, we lost her brother such a short time ago. We only had a few brief months together, when Bailey passed away. Finally, my attention was all on her, we could play and snuggle without me always having to attend to Bailey.  I loved those few months - she just loved to play and lay with me on the couch. She christened the new living room furniture with her scent and posed for pictures like the perfect Halloween cat.     

The decision to euthanize an animal is never an easy one. When is it time? Who are we to make this decision for them? Is there anything else that will work? Your heart cried out inside knowing that the end is near . All I could do was give her homeopathic pain remedies.

I wanted Bella to die at home with me. Peacefully, surrounded by all that was familiar. Bailey had to go to the vet in his final hour, as he had been slipping away all through the night. I knew at 3am when I awoke from a sound sleep on the couch next to Bailey, that he was dying. I am convinced my mother woke me up to tend to him in his final hours.  I lit a candle and put on some peaceful, meditative music and talked to Bailey telling him how much I loved him and how grateful I was for all that he had taught me. Somehow, my heart and soul surrendered to a peaceful state, so I could be that way for him. I talked with him for four hours until the vet office opened. I wrapped him in his favorite blanket and we took our last ride to the vet.


Bailey was stronger than Bella, and I knew she needed something different. She would be frightened at the vets, I didn't want that for her or me.

So, I called Paws in Your Heart and talked with Dr. Dunne. She has the most calming, comforting voice. We scheduled the euthanasia for 6:30pm so my boyfriend and niece could be there with me to say goodbye . We all helped care for Bella in her dying days.

Bella rested all day in my bedroom not really wanting to be around anyone. She came downstairs twice to eat some ham from the deli, which she loved and then went right back upstairs to rest. I laid down with her as many times as I could trying not to cry. Hoping I was making the right decision.

And so 6:30pm came.  Dr. Dunne quietly sat near the sparkling Christmas tree while I held Bella. The tree sparkled with it's white lights and Bella passed in my arms. I still don't know if it was the right time. I still cry for both Bailey and Bella. We were together for 14 years. Dr. Dunne wrapped Bella in her favorite blanket and put her in a basket. She looked so peaceful. Goodbye my sweet little girl. I tried everything I knew how.  I kissed her one last time as Dr. Dunne carried Bella away.

The grief that followed that day was so heavy and so lonely. I haven't been without a cat in my house since I was 30 years old. The physical energy presence of Bailey and Bella no longer around was deafening.  It was unbearable.

I got up , went to work and thankfully Christmas called my attention , knowing there were more gifts to buy, a holiday meal to plan for and an Airbnb guest to arrive. The house decorations needed to be completed. So despite my grief , I carried on.  I went to get my salad at my usual place, Soup Herb in Williamsville and the new Healthy Pet Store sponsored by the SPCA is right next door.  I desperately wanted to see if there were any cats there, so at least I could pet them and feel once again, connected to an animal.  The intellectual side of me told me to stay away, but my heart and soul called me to the store.

And there was "Hal", a tiny black kitten so adorable and friendly! He came up and said hello and was talking and sticking his paws out to greet me. The store employees all loved him. I stayed for awhile  and needed to get back to work.

The next day I went back.

I needed to . I needed the connection.

It was helping me not feel so sad.

And "Hal" was still there.

And on December 19th, "Hal" came home with me.  I called my niece , Lisa and asked her if she would go get him with me. She was so sweet, agreeing to do this despite her suggestion to wait awhile to let myself have some time and space from being a pet owner.


"Hal" bounced all over my bed that night. Not able to sleep as he had been in a cage most the day.

So, neither of us slept.

My bedroom became "Hal's" safe place with toys, a litter box and yummy food and treats.

We started to play together each day and his little squeaky voice was so adorable .

I  went through a few names with my niece and within a few days, "Hal" became Nicholas.  So fitting at Christmas time. He was my Christmas gift to heal my grieving heart.

Nicholas has now graduated from my bedroom to my office, to the living room and he finally discovered the Christmas tree! He hasn't climbed it, but he has knocked an ornament off and wants to play with the lights.

He is a growing little boy who wants to eat all the time. His little face and cuteness grabbed the heart of my Airbnb guest and friend, Rob the day after Christmas when the two of them were sound asleep in the chair near the fireplace. Nicholas nestled in Rob's arms for two hours.

He sits beside me now as I write this piece . He has heard and felt my tears of grief over Bailey and Bella as I wrote this piece. He didn't quite know what to do.  He is my little companion, my little Christmas gift wrapped up in a furry little body of less than three pounds. His toys are in every room and he requires much of my attention to keep him out of harms way. 

Maybe it was too soon after Bella died, probably. But it's ok, because I do believe that there is a bigger spiritual picture to our lives. I do believe that both Bailey and Bella knew that Nicholas would come to their house after they had passed.

From Hospice nurse to caring for a toddler. Grief, sadness, hope and joy all mixed together.  Here is hoping we all find a little joy amidst the grief that life sometimes hands us.  I know I did and his name is Nicholas.

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Cat with Cancer, Hoping for my own "Mrs. Miracle" and a Miracle this Christmas

It's my favorite time of year , the time where we focus on giving to others, to adopting families, to buying gifts for our family friends, sharing food and decorating our Christmas trees, baking cookies. And endless Hallmark Holiday movies!

I love everything about this Holiday , this year however, I have a wrinkle in my Holiday preparation days.

Taking care of a cat with a cancer diagnosis. Some odd mass in the "mesentary", which is in the abdomen.

 How could this have happened? My little girl, Bella, so sweet, so full of love. She and I lost her brother in the Spring to some unknown brain issue after five months of  trips to the ER and many vet consults. Neither of us were fully over the grief of losing him and when I think of him , I still cry.

I can't imagine how she feels, especially being alone all day in the house while I am at work. But, we journey on together to face yet another challenge.

I had no idea what to do , how to handle this with a cat.

The internal medicine specialist said, "we have no idea how much time you have." No surgery will cure this. We have no treatment for this.  I walked away with tears streaming down my face , not again, I couldn't endure to lose her too. Not so close after her brother.

I waited to check out and  held her close, I immediately consulted the folks at Hampl, in Australia. An alternative vet who sells homeopathic remedies.  They are so incredibly kind and caring. They told me that they had a set of homeopathic remedies I could start trying to see if they will help her.

That was over a month ago now. She has been brave and strong, despite her weight loss, many trips to the local vet to get fluids in her belly drained. There have been 2am, 3am wake up calls to feed her and give her pain medication. There are days when I am not sure if I should - "make THE decision" and give up. There are days when I am so exhausted by it all both emotionally and physically. But the minute I see some hopeful sign - it keeps me going and hopeful that we will make it through this.

The folks at Hampl, in Australia are my angels from heaven, always there for me to help me with questions about their products and how to help her and I  along this journey.

It is a full time job taking care of her for sure. And I wonder how I will go back to work this week after being off for a week and focusing on her.

I pray for a "Mrs. Miracle" who will somehow come into our lives and help me so I can continue to work , pay for her care and buy some Christmas gifts for my family. 

Mrs. Miracle is a fictitious character in the Debbie Macomber Christmas books. She is an angel manifested in human form to help families believe that there is hope again in their lives and that miracles do happen every day.

Some may say this is a bunch of fairy tales and that miracles, angels and magic don't exist in the world. Well, I know what I believe.

I believe that Magic happens at Christmastime. That this is the time of year that a "giving" energy fills the hearts and spirits of people. This collective energy is felt throughout our planet.

So, my Christmas wish this year, is for a Mrs. Miracle to come into my life to help me care for Bella , help me keep my house cleaned up and ready for the Holidays and to bring both of us a Christmas miracle to help heal her so that we can enjoy a few more healthy years together. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Bailey - My Lover, My Teacher, My Friend - Our Story


I just found this blog post that I started in 2017 and I never finished it and now it calls to me. Bailey calls to me to write about our journey together.  It was a 13 year journey of  pure love, of frustrations, of multiple vet visits, remote phone conferences with vets in the US and Australia and many, many days of  just connecting with each other, of being still and loving each other.

Bailey was a handsome boy, he loved and still loves me unconditionally. He greeted me at the door everyday. He snuggled me each morning as I wrote . His favorite spot at night was to sit on my lap while I watched Hallmark movies.

He is a cat who came to me at 10 months old. The first day I saw him, he was feisty and playful and I knew he was the one to come home and play with my other little guy - Ben.

Our journey together began a little rocky as we visited the Emergency Room at midnight on his very first day home . He was diagnosed with calicivirus, otherwise known as the cat flu. Who knew what that was? I had no idea! Yet, the traditional antibiotic treatment was prescribed and home we went.

He got a little better, and the follow up vet visit brought more pharmaceutical drugs to the treatment plan. I can recall it was a bit complex, I had to create a little cheat sheet to keep track of the dosages, frequency etc.  I nursed him even through a major , unusual ice/snow storm we had in Buffalo in October, and he got better and grew stronger.

He got back to his playful self , enough to aggravate my 11year old cat named Creep and my little guy named Ben , who I believe was about 4 at the time, I don't recall exactly but Ben was pretty young still.

Bailey always wanted to dominate my furry family even at a young age but my older two were having none of that!

Christmas came and he was delighted with new play toys of  glass ornaments, jumping in the Christmas tree box with his sister Bella who I adopted at the same time and chewing on the artificial tree branches. Once the tree was all decorated with it's white lights and gold ornaments, Bailey would sit under that tree for hours.

The winter snow fell ,  Jack Frost nipping at your nose and Bailey started chewing at his front right paw. In fact, one particular day, it looked like it had been burned .

Back to the vet we went and at first they were uncertain as to what it was. After our second visit for the same issue, he was diagnosed with eocinophilic granuloma complex. What is that? Eosinophilic granuloma complex is a term used to describe three forms of skin lesions in cats including eosinophilic plaque, eosinophilic granuloma, and indolent ulcers. Its an auto immune disorder, that manifests itself as a skin disease.

The vet said there is no cure for this, just steroid treatments. "For how long?" I asked?  For the rest of his life was the answer. I agreed to give him an initial dosing to help reduce the inflammation from this flare up but I didn't agree to a life time of steroid treatment. I would not do that to him. Just like humans , long term steroid treatment reduces the immune system and complications could arise from other health issues.

Bailey did get a bit better but this wasn't the end of our story for the eosinophilic granuloma diagnosis. We were referred to an allergist as this "complex" typically stems from allergies.
The appointment with the specialist was pretty quick, based on the fact that she wanted to knock him out to take some samples and then decide what drug treatment was best. She never asked about his food, what was happening in the home , does he go outside, what chemicals I use to clean around the house. None of those questions were asked just more drug treatment was recommended .

I looked at the doctor and said, "thankyou, please give me my cat back" and I declined any treatment.

I knew there had to be an alternative vet somewhere in Buffalo, or in the world and I was determined to find one to help my little boy. I had been a studen of alternative medicine for myself for severe PMS and it really helped and I knew this is the path we needed to walk to find healing.

Stay Tuned..for more of our story..