Celica Blue and Lymphoma: The Journey Ends
March 5, 2017 14 Comments
On Dec. 22, 2016, exactly six months after she was diagnosed, Celica Blue lost her battle with lymphoma. It’s taken me more than two months to finish her story.
She was the love of my life and brought the most incredible amount of joy in the two short years she was with us.
The bump in the road turned out to be a mountain down which we kept sliding. Her renal values jumped off the chart, the indication that the lymphoma was affecting her kidneys. Dr. Olmsted made the decision to switch her chemo treatment to l’asparaginase and, in case there was an infection, put her on zenaquin. We also took her to Branford Veterinary Hospital, our regular vet, for fluids.
We had another appointment for Dec. 15 at Central. But as I set the carrier down at hospital waiting room, Celica Blue started having a seizure. She was whisked away and they were able to stabilize her immediately with a small dose of Valium. But given that situation, she had to be hospitalized. Dr. Olmsted also said she was experiencing some neurological effects from the seizure, including tremors and vision loss.
Little did I know I would never be able to bring her home. It turned out to be a roller coaster of a week. Just when we thought one of the treatments was working, there’d be a setback.
I visited every day. We spent the time in a small room where I talked to her and gave her food from home and her favorite treats. She seemed better after a couple days. Her vision had improved and her third eyelid had gone down. To keep her engaged and stimulated, I made a point to let her walk around and look out the window.
Celica Blue was getting intravenous fluids to counteract the decline in her kidney function, while we waited to try a chemo that would attack the lymphoma in her kidneys. But then her red blood cell count started to go down.
Each morning, Dr. Olmsted’s phone call provided a bit of information – sometimes hopeful, sometimes not. Our goal was to get her strong enough to get the chemo and bring her home. I also gave permission for a blood transfusion.
Amid all this, she was on seizure watch and just when we thought she could be released – if anything to take her home to say good-bye there – she had two seizures in one evening.
At that point, it was time to make a decision. Dr. Olmsted assured us that we did everything possible, that she hadn’t been uncomfortable or in pain. Indeed, I was wondering if we went too far, but when the options were presented, how could we say no? She was only 2 years old and deserved every chance at life.
But Celica Blue had run out of time. We returned to the hospital the next day – a week after her first seizure – to end the struggle. The lymphoma had won.
First we had to take care of the business end… paying the bill for a week of in-hospital treatment – more than $5,000 for that alone – and choosing an urn for private cremation.
She was brought into the room, where we’d spent so much time with treatments and discussion, on a pile of blankets. I wished the lights in the room were dimmed. She was hardly conscious. I talked to her hoping she heard me. I tried to bury my face in her fur to “huff” her one more time, but I was too congested from crying.
The tech and Dr. Harley, who we consulted with in the very beginning, were sweet, and it was over very quickly. They asked us if we wanted to have a pawprint made, which, of course, we did.
Once we returned home, I realized that her presence was everywhere, physically and emotionally.
She was often waiting for me at the top of the cat tree by the door when I came home and followed me around the house. I would make up little sing-song rhymes, starting with “Celica Blue, I love you.”
In the living room, she often slept in the bed in the window – my favorite photo of her is in that bed, smiling. She also liked the ottoman and the overstuffed chair, which she used as a jumping off point for the top of the bookshelves; “Rocky,” a raccoon puppet I had forever, lived in a hatbox on the top shelf and Celica Blue took great delight in knocking it to the floor. She would go to the toys on the hearth and pull out ones she wanted she play with – she was great at fetch.
In the office, she liked to lay on the bed on the desk in front of the window and enjoy the sun and view. She didn’t hesitate to walk across the computer keyboard when she wanted attention… or a meal, especially before breakfast. She somehow knew when I discarded grape vine stems and would upend the can to snag them. She also enjoyed the cot beds on the floor and on the credenza next to the file cabinet. For some odd reason, she liked to hang out under the desk; I wondered if she was on mouse patrol.
In the kitchen, she often helped to make a batch of food, often dragging the plastic bag of base mix off the counter and sticking her nose in the batch of food as I was making it. She and Tekla always ate together on the counter and I loved to watch them interact, headbutting each other, walking back and forth tails entwined.
At night, she would often sleep under the covers between my husband and me, or on his side of the bed since Mollie would sleep on my side. And in the morning – one of the things I loved the most – she would come and lay on top of me for our morning commune. It didn’t matter how badly I had to pee.
We like to think the relationships with all of our cats are special. But we’d be deceiving ourselves if we didn’t admit that some are more special than others. Perhaps it was Celica Blue’s unique background – flying some 5,000 miles to me after a month of arranging the details. I do believe we had this deep bond, perhaps forged on the long ride home from the airport and the amazement that this one small cat came so far to be with us.
I also realized she was my anchor, a ray of light amid work, personal crap, and the turbulent political climate. I must add that the love and concern from my Facebook friends all over the world was nothings short of wonderful.
When I picked up her urn and pawprint a week or so later, I gave Dr. Olmsted and her team a framed photo of Celica Blue (the one above). She was thrilled. We chatted a bit (and cried) and she assured me once again that we had done everything possible in treating her.
She was with us for only two years, but she gave a lifetime of love.
Celica Blue. I miss you.
Read about Celica Blue’s Journey here:
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