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.