Thursday, January 13, 2022

when life plain ol' stinks

This new year has not started out well. Monkey has had breathing issues for two-three months. We noticed back in October or November that he sounded stuffed up and would sometimes mouth breathe. We took him to our regular veterinary practice and they thought perhaps Monkey had a nasal polyp. They did a basic X-ray of his head down to his chest and didn't see anything. He was put on antibiotics which didn't do any good. In fact, he seemed worse. I took him back to the vet. Again, they couldn't find anything...his lungs were clear, his heart sounded good. The vet suggested because Monkey was born with viral herpes which sometimes affected his eyes, that the inflammation perhaps caused a polyp in his sinuses. They gave Monkey a shot of Depo Medrol for inflammation, which did help a bit. We were then referred to an internal medicine vet.

Unfortunately, the internal medicine vets at the specialty animal hospital were all booked until this past Monday. That's when Monkey saw Dr M. Monkey went through many procedures and tests, including a CT scan in which he had to be put under general anesthesia. We weren't worried at first. We just figured they'd find the polyp, possibly remove it, and that Monkey would recover well at home.

 We were shocked when the vet called us (we were not allowed in the building the entire time due to Covid...we had to sit in the car and wait) and said the scan showed that Monkey had a large mass in his nasal cavity. They did a biopsy and shipped it to Cornell University. As a side note, the wonderful vet tech that took care of Monkey said he was one of the sweetest and gentlest cats that she's ever taken care of and that if all her kitty patients were like him, it'd make her job a lot easier. That's my sweetums! 

The minute Dr M said they found this large mass, I knew it was cancer. I came home and looked up information about nasal masses in cats, and found they are usually lymphoma or carcinoma. They only make up 1% of tumors in cats.

I got the news from Dr M today confirming my fears. Monkey's mass is lymphoma. 

My days since bringing Monkey home from the hospital on Monday night have been a blur of heartbreak, worry, sadness and pouring out extra love and attention to Monks. He's been very needy, wanting to rest and sleep on me a lot. I am putting everything else on the back burner for right now and obliging him. We never expected our 11-year old cat who had been in perfect health up until now, to cross the Rainbow Bridge before Clementine, his mother, who has had Chronic Kidney Disease and a chronic skin condition for over four years.

Cats can have radiation for nasal lymphoma, but we have declined that treatment. The treatments would be every day for three weeks. And the cat has to undergo general anesthesia for the treatment every time to prevent movement. Can you imagine?! There is no way I'm putting him through that. I also read on a veterinary site (Iowa State University, Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center) that the side effects can be significant due to the long course and site of the radiation. Changes to the skin, eyes, and inside of the nose and mouth are typical side effects. And if the eyes are in the field of radiation, cataracts or corneal ulceration are possible. After all this, the average lifespan of the cat is only six - twelve months. Some oncologists also recommend chemotherapy on top of the radiation. Not happening. Dr M said he totally understood.

Monkey is now on Prednisolone which relieves the inflammation of the mass and keeps him comfortable. All we can do is take one day at a time until we know it's time to let him go. It will be sooner rather than later though. Cats don't live long with this type of cancer. It could be a week, a month, we just don't know. He's still eating all his meals and using the litter box and walking around the house. If he shows any signs of worsening breathing or stops eating or can't use the litter box, we will not let him suffer any longer. We will be using an in-home euthanasia veterinary service, just like we did with Zippo a few years ago.

{Monkey in his favorite spot ~ his nest ~ this morning}

I know that self-care is important, especially when going through an extra hard time. And since today was 39 degrees which felt like a heat wave compared to the single digit temps we'd had lately, I knew I had to get outside to get fresh air and exercise. I've felt so sluggish and tired these past few days. It was sunny when I first started walking but then the clouds moved in. The view at the lake is truly bleak this time of year. Matched my mood.

But you know what? The fresh air and exercise felt great. It was just what I needed ~ physically and emotionally.

I know there are those with far worse problems right now. I am not comparing my heartbreak to what anyone else is going through. I've been through far worse...with the worst thing of all being the death of my oldest son in 2009. Nothing ~ absolutely NOTHING ~ could or can compare to that pain and loss. 

I am only speaking of what I'm going through in the here and now. If you're an animal lover like me ~ and I know a lot of my blogger friends are ~ I know you'll understand this post. 

Dang, it really hurts.


  1. Hi Melanie. I am so sorry to hear about Monkey. This is a hard thing. I know how much it hurts to lose a dear animal friend. We are cat people too, and lost three, and after the last one, I had to take a break from being a "cat mom." Too hard when they pass on. There are lots of hard and sad things in life, and no matter what we have gone through before, the hurt we feel right now is still painful. Sending tender thoughts and prayers your way, my friend.

  2. Sweet Monkey, just so sad to know his days are numbered, however so glad he has such wonderful, caring you and Brian who will make his journey easier and pain free. Our pets bring such good times to our lives, but sadly they often leave us too soon. You are sensible not to want him to suffer - until the day arrives enjoy him as best you can and know he is grateful for all the care and love you've shared.
    You are in my thoughts dear Melanie.
    Mary x

  3. I'm so sorry, Melanie. Our pets love so unconditionally, and it feels unbearable when they are hurting. How wonderful for you and your fur baby that you've had each other. No matter what our hurt has been in the past or what it is compared to someone else's, it doesn't make it any less real or less painful. You are in my prayers, as is your sweet Monkey.

  4. I'm so sorry for you and your beloved Monkey ~ we went thru much the same thing with our beloved Duncan. My heart goes out to you and all who love him ~

  5. I am so sorry Melanie. It doesn't matter that others are going through worse or the same this is your heartbreak and loss. I am glad you shared with us so we can leave a kind word and let you know we care and we are saddened by this news. We went through this with Cooper our Basset Hound. We kept him going until he let us know it was time and he was not feeling good about life anymore. I know Monkey will be with you as long as you all need to make it through this part of his journey. Prayers for good days ahead to enjoy him until it is time. Big hugs sweet friend. Kris

  6. I am so sorry to hear about Monkey. Sending you hugs from afar.

  7. Please don't feel compelled to compare your suffering to anyone or anything right now. Your pain is valid, regardless of the circumstances.
    I am so sorry, Melanie. I know how much your pets mean to you, since I, too, am a pet lover.
    If you want to go for a social distanced walk or have some coffee, I would be honored to serve as a distraction for you.

    Love you, my friend.

  8. Melanie, I am so very sorry. You are a true animal lover and you always do what's best. Don't worry about bigger concerns in the world. This is YOUR suffering and it is valid and tragic. I'll be thinking about you. Yes, be kind to yourself.

  9. I am so sorry to hear about your cat Monkey. I adore cats and when they pass on, they really leave a big hole. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. I am so sorry to hear this about your sweet baby. Sending you all lots of love and a big hug.

  11. I am so sorry to hear about Monkey. It brings back memories of when we lost our 7 year old kittie last January - we also had to wait in the car outside of the animal hospital due to COVID; also thought she would definitely outlast our older cat who is now 20 years old. My heart goes out to you Melanie. Try to think of what a good life you have been able to give her - years of attention and love. My prayers are with you and Monkey.

  12. Oh Melanie, I'm so, so sorry. I agree with everyone else here who is saying that your feelings of deep sadness are valid and real and you shouldn't worry about comparing them to others. Loss is awful and painful no matter the circumstances. I'm sending you (and Monkey) big hugs...xo

  13. I am so, so sorry. Just before Covid hit in 2020 we found out (totally a fluke) that our beloved dog, Shiloh, had cancer. We opted not to treat for the same reasons - difficult and not much life expectancy anyway. Like you, we just kept him comfortable and spent a lot of time with him until we knew it was time to let him go. Our vet is a family friend and we've known her since she was 15 months old. She came to our house when it was time to let Shiloh go. All that to say that I truly feel your pain and sorrow. (((hugs)))

  14. I am so sorry about your sweet Monkey. Yes there are people that have it worse, but that does not matter because your beloved Monkey is ill. You are allowed to be sad, and mad or whatever else you feel. The loss of a pet is a very difficult thing to go through. Be sure to take care of yourself and your sweet little Monkey.

  15. I am sorry to hear about Monkey. That must have been a huge shock and definitely a sad start to the new year. Our pets become such well-loved important family members. It is so hard to lose them. You are in my thoughts, Melanie.


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