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Freya's tale

Our journey starts with a single step on three legs

All is well in the land of the three legged three years and three months on

Filed under: cat,three legged — mschelleau at 12:47 am on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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Well, not a lot to report (which is fantastic) but thought I would do a quick update.

It is now 3 years and 3 months (nearly, but the alliteration was too much not to go for in the title) post amputation for Freya and she will be 12 years old next month. Wow time flies all around. She was so little when I rescued her and we were in a different state even. And here we are now, several moves later in the lovely Blue Mountains and the chill of autumn just peaking in after a rather prolonged summer spurt at the end of February into March.

I thought I would very briefly discuss ear scratching. Freya still tilts her head down to meet her missing leg and the stump moves madly but futilely. After three years she still does it and I have to assume that most kitties do. If I am near I go over and give a scratch where I think she wants it – and she quickly lets you know if you’ve hit the spot or not! It doesn’t seem to cause her discomfort in any way and if I can’t get to her in time she just shakes her head and usually rolls onto the floor and rubs around a bit – I guess to rub at the itch. In all other ways she seems to not notice the leg is gone, but she still tries to phantom scratch I suppose you could call it. Just an observation and not a concern. You can also trigger her stump with a scratch in the right spot!

She continues to love her cat tree and loves to loll around on her favourite level in the sun. Her calendar pose (she’s a model!) was on the cat tree and it was so appropriate. She is curled up on the couch asleep right now after a rather long grooming session, so all is definitely right in our world.

In all ways she continues to be my loving sweetie kitty and that missing limb is something that is no bother.

Take care

Freya’s mum

 

 

 


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Life is good – photographic evidence

Filed under: Uncategorized — mschelleau at 7:52 pm on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

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So there were requests for some photos and after some resizing issues, here are some photos from the last three days

Here she is curled on the couch - with bunny front paws

Here she is curled on the couch – with bunny front paws

 

And on her favourite platform of the cat tree - in the sun

And on her favourite platform of the cat tree – in the sun

Reminder that this is the cat tree and she gets up there by jumping on the first cat tree platform of the blue cat tree, then onto the half pipe of the cream cat chair (old bar stool) on the left and them up to the top part of the cream chair and then on to the blue platform above the blue pipe – it takes four stages but the results are lounging in the sun

Cat tree - with assists

Cat tree – with assists

 

And attacking the pole of the cat tree

And attacking the pole of the cat tree

She certainly attacks the pole with great gusto on a regular basis.

Life is good

Filed under: amputation,cat,three legged — mschelleau at 10:40 pm on Thursday, September 10, 2015

It is coming up to three years since I found that lump on Freya’s leg. Three years.

And I have to say – amidst the confusion of diagnosis and panic and despair  – amputation was the best decision and started a journey that continues to this day, and hopefully for many more.

I can only repeat that, as I sit here watching her curled up asleep on the chair she has jumped up to, it was the right thing.

It wasn’t an easy thing. Let no one tell you any different. Probably one of the hardest calls I have had to make.  But it was a good one.

Tripawds helped so much in my making the decision. Particularly the kitty blogs. My thanks to all those who helped with their stories, their advice and tips, their pictures and most of all,  the love they have for their furry bundles of fun.

Freya is good. I even sometimes forget when new people come over that she is just the tiniest bit different to their eyes.

  • She runs (albeit low to the ground)
  • She jumps (perhaps not as high)
  • She purrs (louder than ever)
  • She eats (perhaps a bit too much)
  • She sleeps (like a good kitty should)

Best. Decision. Ever.

 

Freya at her viewing posts

Filed under: Uncategorized — mschelleau at 12:03 am on Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I took this photo of Freya at the top of her northern viewing post tonight.  As you can see, a collection of boxes (and yes, that is a skull mask – it’s one of my halloween decoration boxes) and a cat scratching post that helps her get up to look out. It’s night here now so her view is of the dark, and the potentially scary, backyard.

P1080001

And this is her eastern viewing post (her cat tree) with assistance up the various levels ably provided by her very first piece of cat furniture – a modified bar stool (it’s almost as old as she is).

She jumps up to the bottom platform of the cat tree then up to the right support of the cat stool and then up to the top bar of the cat stool, she then jumps from that to the top platform (the large one, not the upper smaller one), where she lounges in the morning sun for ages on end.

P1080007Hope that gives some idea of how Freya gets around and enjoys her views.

Michelle and Freya

 

 

A year (and more ie 14 months) on and all is well

Filed under: cat,three legged — mschelleau at 1:28 am on Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hi all

It has been such a long time since I posted – I can only but apologise and say that life became a maelstrom of activity.

But to the important stuff – Freya is well and happy albeit…. it must be admitted …. a bit too rotund for a tripod kitty.

After the amputation she got better and better every day and I was more and more certain that the best decision had been made. I then had to make a choice about moving home and so in late March 2013 Freya and I made the move across town. The place we were moving to was single storey which I was quite pleased about as while she was OK at getting up and down the stairs I thought it would still be easier for her at one level. I liked the new place and in fact it reminded me of the Queenslander style homes I rented in Rockhampton and I recalled how Freya would regularly launch herself up the security screen door at our last Queenslander style house to try and get to geckos. And the new place had screen doors even  … although these ones were flimsy ie not security. All in all, feeling pretty good with the move.

And the actual move did go well  – Freya is experienced at moving around (with a big trip from Rockhampton in Queensland to the Blue Mountains in 2002) and she was enjoying the new place a lot. I had friends help out and it was good.  One really good thing was that the large cat tree I had was in a new spot (I had kept her from it after the amputation) and I set up a few boxes around it so she could get up to part of it and when my back was turned she managed to get all the way up to the top!! I was so pleased and feeling that the move was a really positive step.

One dark cloud came along shortly though, which was that a friend of mine visited over Easter (about 2 weeks after we moved) and accidentally stepped on Freya’s remaining rear foot (quite heavily) which resulted in a soft tissue injury which meant Freya began falling over on her rear leg – it was obviously sore and the look she would give me when she collapsed backwards – heart wrenching. It was really difficult to see her fall over, which she was doing all the time after the injury, and I was quite upset.

But, she appeared to be recovering from it quite well, and then the real bad thing happened. You see, I wasn’t the only one who had been reminiscing about Freya jumping up screen doors, it appeared she was too. So one evening, about two weeks after her soft tissue injury, she was looking out the screen door and jumped up. The problem, the screen is not security and so there was no support and she started to tear the fly screen material and so she did as she had done in the past, jumped off backward … but this time, instead of landing on two healthy legs, she fell onto her one leg which was already injured and so she went down hard. She curled in a little ball and hissed when I went near her – she was hurting bad.

I was devastated.  Dark cloud replaced by stormy weather with lots of tears .. I mean rain.

That night she eventually uncurled from the floor and actually jumped up on the bed, but as soon as she got up on the bed you could see she was really hurt and so she again curled up and didn’t move. I was so upset I had the next day off work and made an appointment with the vet. He confirmed that she had injured herself and that she was to be confined to a room where there was nothing for her to jump up to, and to keep her contained in that way until her leg got better and with a soft tissue injury, that could be a while. At my darkest moments in that period I imagined what would happen if she lost the use of her remaining rear leg, how would she cope, what would that mean and so on. Those dark thoughts did not make me feel good and so I had to make myself calm down and take it a day at a time.

So, I moved from my bedroom into the spare room, set up a mattress on the floor and for the next 6 weeks she was pretty confined to about two rooms. She would seem to get better and then she’d fall over again. I kept a record and when she had one full day without falling back onto her leg I’d let her access a bit more of the house. There were regular set backs of course and it took a really long while for her to get better but eventually I moved back into my own room and she was able to get on the bed and get around without falling over at all. It probably took about three to four months, so it was around June/ July last year when I’d say she was back to as good as she could be.

And then, because I obviously prescribe to some kind of sympathy pain, I began limping myself and was eventually diagnosed as having a knee cap out of alignment along with osteoarthritis. So for a while it was a great combo at my place – a three legged cat and an owner on a cane/crutch. And yes, the jokes from my friends and work colleagues did get a bit repetitive after a while. But I’m improving all the time and haven’t needed a crutch for months now.

So there you have it – Freya has had a few setbacks (soft tissue injury followed by a bad landing) but she getting around well and gets up the big cat tree (via another smaller piece of cat furniture) and all. I also have plastic crates set up beneath another window for her to get up easily and look out into the backyard. When I find my camera charger I’ll take some photos of her setups so you can see for yourself.

I also came up with a solution for the screen doors as, even after her injury, she would sit at the screen and look up – and you can imagine how that made me feel. I didn’t want to keep the doors closed all the time as I’d feel like a prisoner in my own home and yet I didn’t want Freya jumping up and hurting herself again. I theorised that if she saw something a bit further up the screen that it would stop her and so I took some heavy duty clear plastic wrap (such as gets put around newspapers) and taped it about a foot and a half off the floor across the width of the screen door. And it seems to work a treat. She still sits at the screen doors and looks out and of course she still looks up, sees the plastic and makes no move to jump up. I’ll take a photo of that as well – it might be something for others to consider as well.

The next challenge will be to get her weight down and then maintain it. Wish us luck with that.

So, here we are, some 14 months after discovery of her sarcoma and 13 months after the amputation and I have to say it has been a roller coaster but she and I have come through it. The initial diagnosis, without amputation, was six months but the choice I made has meant she is still here with me. The diagnosis also said that, if we got the sarcoma early enough, the removal of her leg could be a cure and as the months pass and no sign of any other lumps (and believe me, I check regularly) it makes me more and more certain that the decision for amputation, whilst agonising, was the best one.

 

 

 

Two months after amputation

Filed under: Uncategorized — mschelleau at 9:11 pm on Thursday, February 28, 2013

It has been such a journey since mid November 2012 when I first found Freya had a large suspicious lump on her left rear hock. It was as if I entered a dark tunnel that compressed my world and it was all I could do to make it from day to day. Then the operation and the recovery and then life seemed to become … normal again.

Freya is now a fully functioning Tripawd, although sometimes I walk behind her down the stairs (our morning routine as she knows there is food at the bottom and races me down) I see her different gait and the little hop she gives at the end of the stairs and I feel sad.

However, and I stress this, Freya is not sad. She might not be able to jump onto the kitchen counter anymore, or jump up on top of the toilet pedestal (both previous favourite places to go) but she can still get on the bed, the couch, and we have engineered a chair to help her onto her very own cat chair.  So, things are good.

Thanks to all who helped on the way and made the journey feel a shared one!

And for those about to embark on that journey through the dark tunnel – there is light at the end.

Our animal companions are strong, they are resilient and they can show us a thing or two about recovery and moving forward.

I’ll take a picture of Freya ten weeks after amputation and post it in the next day or two.

Thanks

Michelle and Freya

Happy 2 week Ampuversary Freya (and two days)

Filed under: Uncategorized — mschelleau at 10:24 pm on Saturday, January 5, 2013

It really doesn’t seem like a fortnight since Freya had her leg amputated – but it certainly has been, and two days extra even.

It has been going so well that I even had a night away on New Years Eve, although I was a bit anxious I must admit. I left Freya in the loungeroom with blocked off access, and set her up with lots of water, food, cat grass, litter trays, etc. When I got home I saw she had pushed the door to the loungeroom so hard that the folded stairs I had against it to keep it closed had fallen over. So she definitely wanted to be out of the room at some point. She was a bit miffed at me, but got all sweet again when I opened a can of food.

And then later that afternoon on New Years Day I removed the barrier to the stairs!

Now, I have been quite worried about the stairs as they are steep. So, I made sure the stairs were obstacle free (removed the candles and flowers that I have at various points along the stairs) and made sure there were assists for her to get on the bed (boxes and such) and sat back.

And waited ……..

And waited ………………..

And waited ……………………………..

Righto. Anti-climax. All psyched up and the cat couldn’t care less – she can be such a feline. Actually, I don’t know if it is a feline versus canine thing but I suspect so.

So after a while I head upstairs to bed (bearing in mind that it would be my first night back upstairs too, as I have been downstairs with Freya all this time – the sacrifices we make) and rationalise that if she hasn’t made her way up before I finished reading then I’ll put the barrier back up so I don’t have to worry. I’m nearly at the end of my reading when I hear the heavier pawfalls I’m having to get used to, and they seemed quite close. And there she was, in the room looking as nonchalant as could be.

The next thing was to see if she could make the jump to the bed. She didn’t seem keen initially and curled up on the floor, but not long after the lights went out I heard her moving and she went to the side of the bed and I looked over and saw her size up the distance, stretch up, dig her claws in and pull/jump up. Well, I was pleased as anything, she came over to me and settled herself down to sleep. She slept all night on the bed, which is what she normally does and which I have been missing. And the following morning as I went downstairs she came barrelling after me at some speed – which is not unexpected as her front legs are fine and they are what give balance heading down – plus food is downstairs! She also took the time to rub against me on the way down, a familiar ritual of ours!

I also got her a new box today (she loves to lie in a cardboard box filled with crinkly paper) as the one she used to use had high sides and she got into it once after the amputation but then got stuck and hasn’t tried again, even though I lowered one of the sides. So, I saw an excellent low sided cardboard candidate out shopping today and brought it home, filled it with paper and it was a success. Feeling pretty pleased. Substitution is not a crime if it makes our newly three-legged doggies/kitties happy!!

Also, I noticed one of her toys (a mouse attached to a short pole) was moved from upstairs to downstairs. This is something she did all the time – I’d leave it one place in the morning and when I got home from work it was somewhere completely different. She hasn’t done that since the operation and today it was moved, and again when I got back from dinner out, it was somewhere different again!! It’s the little things that can make such a difference.

In terms of assistance to get up to things, Freya seems to not want to use them at all. She is comfortable stretching up, sticking her claws in and then pulling/partial jumping to get onto the couch and the bed but that is it. Anything higher she isn’t really trying at the moment and she ignores any assists I leave her (boxes next to chairs, etc) but I’ll keep an eye on that.

Please note that I’ll probably post less frequently now as Freya continues to improve, but I will return to make my observations, never fear!

Day 10 AA

Filed under: Uncategorized — mschelleau at 11:11 pm on Sunday, December 30, 2012

Well, ten days after amputation.

I had a little scare this afternoon when I looked at Freya’s incision and there was a thin piece of what looked like dental floss sticking out from the middle of the incision by about a centimetre. Eek. It looked dried and not covered with any gunky stuff, but it was definitely there. OK – one hasty repair to an e-collar later and I put it on her and the sulks began (hiding behind the couch).

I then called the Vet on call as it was Sunday afternoon (not our usual vet but his associate) and after a bit of discussion it became clear that it was not an internal suture as she said they would be purple, but rather one closer to the skin that are used to keep the upper layers of the skin together – the fatty layers. She also felt it was not a matter for concern if the skin layers were still joined together – which they were (you can check out a photo from today below). So we agreed that the length of suture sticking out should be removed to avoid temptation and that the collar could go on when I’m not around to keep an eye on her.  If after observation I felt a trip to the vet’s was required we could do that in the morning. So, that made me feel a bit better.

I then went back to talk to my sulky cat and what do you know? The suture string appeared to have snapped off as it wasn’t there any more. I think maybe in the slight chase to get the cone back (and wasn’t that a golden moment in my life, lunging after a three legged cat with plastic cone in hand!) on there may have been enough movement to snap it off. No sign it was ever there really. I had said it looked really dry, not even like (now that I think about it) that it had even been licked by a cat recently.

Anyway, I examined the incision in a lot of detail as you could imagine and saw that the top part and the bottom part are healing really really well. The middle part is not yet covered by hair and has some little … bulges? … not yet healed over. I could see a little bit of what could be a suture stitch at the surface inside one of the bulges but it looks well settled in there. So given all that, the cone of shame came off and Freya forgave me ….. after some biscuits.

Then I thought, hey it’s Day 10 and I really enjoyed the comparison shot that was done of Fang at Day 3 and Day 10 (and again later comparing Day 10 to Day 21) so here goes, my comparison shot of Freya’s incision between Day 2 and Day 10, albeit not side by side but you should still get an idea.

Close up of internal suture incision - no exterior sutures or staples

Freya's incision 9 days AA

Freya’s incision Day 2 and Day 10

 

Looks good at Day 10 doesn’t it? You can see the bulges I’m talking about where the white patch on her belly ends at the right. But compare that area to Day 2 and it is amazing the progress that has been made. That area of bulge is obviously where the greatest pressure is and therefore will take the longest to heal over, but it is well on its way I reckon – loose bits of surface suture notwithstanding.

Freya also hopped up onto the cat chair again today. I worked out that she wanted to climb the leg and not use the wussy chair and so I shifted the chair that was in the way and up she went. She had been sniffing the air and all that and so clearly wanted to be up there that it was breaking my heart that she wasn’t able to – but of course she can!

Then it was another evening on the couch together. Excitement plus. But again, when I think how I was the first night after the operation when she was home, I’ll take lounging on the lounge together every time!

I’m off to work for the full day tomorrow, the first time since the amputation, but I should be able to come home at lunchtime to check on her (my guess, and you can work with me here, is ….. sleeping on the couch. Just a thought! LOL). I have made sure that I’ve had a few days where I have been out for half a day or so, or nearly even a full day (went to see the Hobbit at a 3-D cinema which involved driving an hour each way) but this will be the first full day. I’m pretty sure she’ll be fine, but we’ll see about me. When I went into work for half a day on Xmas Eve it was like I had a baby, showing off pictures and telling everyone how she was, and I expect tomorrow I’ll bore people the same way. Ah well, they can cope.

 

Day 9 AA

Filed under: Uncategorized — mschelleau at 4:18 pm on Sunday, December 30, 2012

Another day with not much to report.

I have noted that Freya seems not to be wanting to jump up to her cat chair, and that may be a matter of confidence? Not sure, but will observe. Mostly today (for Freya) was lying on the couch, with the occasional hop over to the food bowl. Freya’s appetite as usual is quite strong!

She did get into one piece of mischief as she was playing with an empty plastic bag and got her head (as sometimes happens) inside the handle – and off she took. moving quite fast for a three legged animal indeed. Needless to say the offending item was removed and all was right with the world.

I didn’t get a look at her incision today but she seems in no discomfort (but as we know our animal friends are good at masking).

Freya - feline of leisure on Day 9 AA

Freya – feline of leisure on Day 9 AA

Here she is taking life at a slow pace.

There was perhaps another episode of phantom limb pain but it wasn’t too clear. She was soundly asleep and then work herself up with  a start and a bit of a yelp, and that was it. She didn’t seem fazed by it at all.

So another day after amputation and another day with a cat snuggling by my side.

Day 8 AA

Filed under: Uncategorized — mschelleau at 11:48 pm on Friday, December 28, 2012

Again another day post amputation has passed. Today I made an effort to be around for the whole day (I’ve been out and about the past two days) to see how Freya is coping and what she is getting up too. Sleeping appears to be the order of the day. I did notice she is more alert and that her elimination after the pain killers and antibiotics have finished are now almost solid and that is great (the measures of success in my life have certainly changed since the operation!). I also noticed that her solid eliminations (or rather semi liquid ones if you know what I mean) were actually quite odourless and that now she is off those meds the ….. hmmm…… bouquet (?) that normally accompanies her deposits is beginning to return.  Her food intake is great, and she seems to be moving around with a bit more certainty.

The slight swelling and the liquid (very very small amount) I observed from the mid point of the incision yesterday appear to have sorted themselves out today. I spent a few minutes looking over the incision in great detail this morning and it is looking very good again. I have kept an eye out for a seroma as a number have suggested (nothing appears puffy today) but it does not appear to have been that, but it is worthwhile keeping an eye on it.

In terms of phantom pain, I think Freya had a little bit of it this evening. She was curled up behind my legs (I was lying on my side on the couch) and she made a bit of a squall/growl cross, no movement as such. I hurriedly moved around and petted her and she was quiet – it didn’t last more than 5-10 seconds really and thanks to posts here and elsewhere I pretty much knew what it was. When she looked at me her pupils were really concentrated slits and they remained that way for maybe a minute and then her pupils returned to their more normal circumference. I’m not sure she needs any pain killer as she has settled down well again, but I am pleased to know that I have it there if needed.

This evening we also had another return to one of our favourite positions – me lying on my side on the couch and Freya lying on me. She has been a bit hesitant making that move before tonight but sure enough she measured the distance from the floor and made it up and she settled down like nothing was different.  It’s these little things that really make each day a better day. In terms of other usual habits, she hasn’t been sleeping with me on the single mattress downstairs, but part of me thinks that is because it is a smaller mattress and that when the upstairs is open again that she will return to what was her normal behaviour before the amputation.

I’ve also decided to keep her from trying the stairs until at least 10 days after the operation, which is really only two days away!

Wow.

Was it really a week ago that I picked her up at the vet and brought her home? You know, it is. Did I anticipate I would be this calm and content in a week? Nope. I was pretty much thinking morose and gloomy thoughts for the medium term. My life after Freya’s diagnosis had constricted to this narrow, dark and scary tunnel and I could not see light at the end. And the tunnel smelt of fear – mostly my own. Everything I had read (and I read a lot – thanks Tripawds, and Fang and Jill in particular) had told me Freya would cope well and that the worst affected would be me. I cannot stress how true this is. If you are someone just approaching this decision and wondering if it will be for the best, I can add my voice to the chorus of ‘trust your pet’. Our companions are strong, bright, loving creatures and they have strength to cope and they have the desire to live. I read somewhere that they truly live in the now and they do not dwell on what was yesterday and from what I have observed first hand, that is so true. I know Freya no longer has her leg but Freya has (pardon the upcoming pun) taken it in her stride. It is confronting, it is radical surgery and it is scary ….. for us. For Freya? She knows the leg isn’t there but she does not dwell, she does not worry – she assesses new paths, new techniques and new strategies for getting around, but she gets around, she adapts and she appears to be thriving. Take a deep breath and know that many have made a similar decision before you and it has been a good decision for our pets and, ultimately, for us.

Because Freya has been doing so well, I’m thinking of going to visit some friends for New Years, which would mean leaving her alone for one night (11 days after the amputation) – but if there is feedback on that I’d appreciate it. I’d keep her in the one room and she’ll be a bit peeved at that, but it would give me peace of mind to know she is confined. If that is the case I might keep her from the stairs until after that, which would be 12 days after amputation. If I time it right I could head down 7pm on the 31 December and be back in the afternoon of 1 January, so less than 24 hours …… actually when I think about it like that I’m not so confident – 20 hours or so on her own? I’ll think some more on it but would appreciate knowing when others felt OK leaving their tripawd unsupervised for 24 hours.

Anyway, I’m about to go make a chamomile tea and then return to the laptop (might do a FB update) and my position beside Freya on the couch.  And so ends another day. Another good day.

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