Monday, November 30, 2020

Thankful Theo Tuesday

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

I've been super busy lately, so no wonder I'm a little late to the Thanksgiving party! It's a season of thanks, anyway, not a day - right?! So much to be grateful for this year, 

Theo time! 

I'm super, super grateful for a healthy Theo! He's doing fantastic!! He's much more of himself than I've experienced for some time. I could not be happier with how he is doing, it's truly a miracle. It's amazing what a little brain surgery will do! 

For years, we had a nightly ritual of Theo time. A few minutes after I climb in bed each night, he would have to make a dramatic jump into the bed, where he would climb up on my chest and cuddle. Then he stopped and I feared we would never do Theo time again. But, now it's a nightly routine again!! My heart is overjoyed to have Theo healthy again! Yah!!! 

Theo has been super agreeable with his isolation in the bedroom. He hasn't complained at all or tried to escape. That's made things easier for all of us. We started letting Nahum in at night for visits, tonight will be the first time Nahum stays overnight since Theo's been back home. We have his follow up appointment with the surgeon on Wednesday, I'm hoping we get approval to free him isolation so he can once again roam the house.

Sweet Rose having a bold moment

Pierre getting bold, letting me share the bed with him! 

Oliver, my Oliver 

Packing paper euphoria

Nahum has been super cuddly lately 

Meanwhile, house projects continue. Working on getting living room painted and ready to go! Hoping to get our Christmas tree this weekend, so want living room ready for that.

We spent Thanksgiving with my dad, which was quite enjoyable. Later last weekend, we helped stack firewood for him. That makes for a good workout! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Joy (more Theo)

 Another day spent with my Theo.

My heart goes gooey when I look at him. I feel so blessed and grateful to have this extra time with him. 

He continues to heal, showing more and more of his personality. 

He's being very tolerant for being in captivity. I'm grateful he's not fighting it. We put up a portable gate and then affixed plexiglass to it so he can't mash his head against the bars. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

resting (Theo update 5)

I decided to work from home on Monday so I could spend the day hanging out with the Theo. He's been doing really well, getting lots of good quality sleep. He spent most of the day asleep in my lap, which was lovely! It's really good to see him sleep so comfortably - such a big change from before. Theo seemed more steady on his feet today, that was awesome to see. I think the sleep is doing him a lot of good, he's looking better and better.

It's been a long time since Theo has been a lap cat. He used to like spending a lot of time in a lap, but then he would get so antsy, he would only stay for a short time. Today, he slept very soundly in my arms and lap. 

I'm grateful to have the option to work from home so I can keep close eye on him.

It benefited us both to spend the day together! So much so, that I decided to do the same on Tuesday! Yah!!!

I love seeing him sleep so comfortably!

Nahum has been missing his best friend. We've continued to keep them separate for now. Maybe over the holiday break we can offer them some supervised visitation. I'm sure both would enjoy that. Nahum is enjoying having the cat tree in the hallway where he can look out a different window and keep an eye on all the comings and goings in the house.

Sunshine asked about the cat insurance we use. Most of our cats are insured through Pet Plan. It's not cheap, especially as the cats get older, but it does give me peace of mind regarding situations like this with Theo. Coverage includes dental work and most stuff, so long as a vet recommends it. It doesn't cover annual wellness exams, vaccinations, or prescription food. Medications are covered and all of Nahum's diabetes supplies have been covered, including his expensive continuous glucose monitors and fancy readers. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Theo was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism before we started insurance coverage, so any treatment related to that condition is not covered.

Pet Plan allows you to select the coverage you desire, you get option to select the annual amount covered, the reimbursement rate, and the deductible (which is per condition). For example, Theo's coverage has a yearly maximum of $15,000 (which means total benefit for the policy year won't pay out more than this amount), a $200 deductible per condition, and his medical expenses are reimbursed at 90%. His annual premium is a little over $1,000. I believe the cat's age, medical history and of course the coverage options you select are factors that go into premium determination, so it increases every year. For example, Rose has comparable coverage as Theo, however, her annual premium is only $424, but we rarely have used her insurance coverage because she's never been sick.

We've had this insurance now for nearly as long as we've had our cats and overall I've been pretty happy with it. For me it provide peace of mind, that when it comes to diagnostics and treatment for big, scary conditions, cost doesn't have to be a consideration. People tend to prioritize getting insurance coverage for their human children, for me the cats are my children, my family, so this peace of mind is worth a lot to me. I view it like the insurance premiums act as payment plans spread out over years rather than be saddled with one huge bill at once. It makes it easier to budget for the expenses. Every so often I wonder if I should just be socking away the premium amounts into a savings account that I would use to cover treatment costs, but that wouldn't provide the peace of mind if several cats got ill at once, like we are experiencing right now with Theo and Nahum, thus depleting the savings. Some day, when I don't have much else to do (ha!), I will run the calculations to see how much we pay in insurance premiums versus how much we get reimbursed. Looking back, with Willow's brain tumor, Nahum's diabetes, Buddy's kidney failure and congestive heart failure, and now Theo's brain tumor, I'm guessing we come out ahead with the insurance. I certainly come out ahead with sleeping at night.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Theo's home! (update 4)

I'm thrilled to share that Theo is home!!!!!! I was so excited on the drive down, sooo looking forward to seeing my Theo again.

Theo on his way home     Nov 22, 2020

Theo did great in his last night at the vet. By the time we picked him up, his temperature was back to normal and no sign of any more seizures. He was relatively quiet on the drive home, as he rested and bathed. 

The vet said it would be best to keep Theo in a room where he won't have the opportunity to jump or fall down and hurt himself. They want him to stay pretty quiet and calm so he can focus on healing, that's a tall order for a cat like Theo! We transformed our bedroom into such a place by removing the bed and placing the mattress on the floor. We took out the cat tree and the window perch for now - everything is low to the ground and cushions and blankets are all over. Of course, Theo's not keen about being behind a closed door. 

He's not very stable on his paws, his back end seems to have a mind of it's own as he moves. His coordination seems to be off. That part is not too unlike how he was pre-surgery. He's definitely resting more comfortably now than he had been, he's no longer staring off into space, zoned out. He's either alert and engaged or sleeping, which is a big improvement. He's also not pacing, he's way more settled. It's delightful watching him sleep peacefully. He spent some time exploring the bedroom, sniffing everything, looking at everything, all in a room he's very familiar with. The way he was checking it out made me wonder if he was seeing/hearing/smelling it differently now. I suppose we will never know how that huge tumor was effecting his experience of life, it's hard to believe it wasn't causing significant impairment of some sort.

Now we get to do our best at nursing him to further health. We need to keep him separate from the other cats for a bit as Nahum would be prone to lick on him and that would not be good for his incision. Nahum is also apt to play kind of rough with Theo, which would also not be helpful for Theo right now. At some point, we will do some supervised visits, but for tonight, he can hang out just with us as he rests. 

We will follow-up with the neurologist in a few weeks and at that time we will get the results on the tumor. She believes it was cancerous and she's pretty hopeful about his prognosis now that the tumor is removed. We're hoping he's forever cancer and seizure free.

Welcome home Theo!!

It sounded like everyone who came into contact with Theo at the veterinary hospital fell in love with him. That's no surprise, as he's a delightful being, full of love and purrs. I was reflecting the other day about his temperament and it occurred to me, I don't think I've ever heard Theo hiss or growl.

I'm grateful to all the amazing veterinary staff at Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital. They were amazing at communicating what was going on, they were punctual to appointments - they were fantastic to work with. Dr. Silver and Dr. Bailey are very kind and skilled neurologists/neurosurgeons. 

Thank you again to all of you who have emailed and left comments, your kind, loving support has been such a gift through out this emotionally overwhelming experience. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Theo (update 3)

The emotional roller coaster of navigating challenging health issues continues. Thankfully, it feels like we are moving in a positive direction.

We received a call in the night from the overnight vet stating Theo had a mild seizure in the night. This is not the kind of news we wanted to hear, so when we received the morning phone call update from the neurosurgeon we were very apprehensive.

Theo image archive

Dr. Silver, the neurosurgeon, indicated all positive news. She said when she stopped by the hospital to check on Theo, he was looking great. He had climbed up on her and was trying to jump down, ready to explore the room! She was excited that he had licked his food bowl clean (classic Theo!) She noted his temperature was slowly decreasing. She suspected the seizure may have been from the brain being a bit overwhelmed with the sudden removal of such a large tumor. The tumor had been slowly growing for over a year, so his brain had plenty of time to adjust to the reality of the growing pressure from sharing space with the tumor, but in an instant it was removed. As a precaution, they started him on a anti-seizure medication, but she doesn't think seizures will an ongoing thing for him, which I was grateful to hear. 

Theo image archive
The neurologist intern called this evening and also provided a positive report, saying Theo didn't have any more seizures, he's very alert, bright eyed, eating well. Temperature is still a bit elevated at 102-103. The blood work and testing has ruled out the potentially concerning causes of the fever, so that's good news. She thinks the two days of anesthesia may have caused his body temperature regulation  system to get out of whack and she expects it will continue to slowly improve as he heals. 

We elected to have him stay one more night, Saturday, just so they can monitor him and make double sure he's good to come home. He's at a specialty veterinary hospital that is about two hours away from us and since we don't really have 24-hour care available locally, we want to make sure he's really good to go. We are planning to drive down on Sunday and pick him up in the early afternoon. We'll get one more call from the vet in the morning with the status report - we are hoping it's also a positive report!

I am grateful he's getting such great care and I'm grateful he's insured, as most of these costs will be reimbursed. Thank you everyone for journeying with us through this challenge. It's hard riding these intense emotional roller coasters and it really helps to not be alone, I know that you all can relate. Thank you! 💗🙏

Theo image archive

Friday, November 20, 2020

Theo (update 2)

Thank you again everyone for your continued prayers and purrs.

The vet reports Theo has been very lively today and eating well. He's also had a very high fever, which they suspect might be from infection. They are working to determine the cause. Also, they noted because of the two days of anesthesia and being on fluids, he is on the edge of congestive heart failure. Because of this, they have discontinued giving him fluids and are helping him shed additional fluid.

I'm scared about the fever and pray that he fully heals. No word yet on when he might return home.

Image from the Theo archive

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Theo (update 1)


Theo! (archival image)

Thank you everyone for your purrs, prayers, and kind words - I am very grateful. It has been a stressful day. All day I've not been able to stop wondering how Theo was doing.  I took most of the day off from work, because I just couldn't focus.

Nahum, Mr. Comforter, spent the entire afternoon in my lap.

They started prepping him at 11am with a CT scan so they could plan their surgery with more precision, then surgery started at 1pm and took two hours.

We received two phone updates from the neurosurgeon. She noted the surgery went very well, the tumor was massive, and that she was able to see in the cavity between brain hemispheres and didn't see any bleeding, which was her chief concern. Post-surgery, Theo was awake and sedated, looking around, licking his lips - all good signs. Then she called back a few hours later to report he is eating his dinner, a really good sign. (We've never known Theo to pass up food!) She said they all did the happy brain dance! Yah!!! Right now, he is slated to return home on Saturday.

It sounded like from what neurologist said yesterday that her biggest concern was possible bleeding between the hemispheres, but she feels pretty good that is not happening as she got a good look at that area. So, we are feeling hopeful and encouraged by this news. I'm sure he will have a long road of recovery. Vet said it may take him some time for his brain to settle back out, especially because of the size of the mass.

Yah! Go Theo!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Theo needs purrs

Here's the latest on Theo...

Our regular vet had done a bunch of diagnostic work and was thinking Theo had a cancerous tumor on his pancreas. She recommended we go see a specialist for a second opinion. We took Theo to the internist a few weeks back. She looked over everything and ruled out the tumor on the pancreas and instead was concerned about a possible neurological issue. She was also concerned about his heart disease and if it might not allow us to pursue neurological related diagnostics. She referred us to a cardiologist and neurologist for further work up.

Morning cuddles with Theo (Nov 18, 2020)

It's been hard not knowing what's going on, while seeing clear signs that Theo is not well. He hasn't been himself for awhile now. He typically was very athletic and agile and now he struggles to jump and sometimes trips when walking. He often climbs the stairs very slowly and deliberately. When he's not super clingy, always wanting to be held, then he's pacing and very unsettled. Sadly, we had to wait a few weeks before getting in with the neurologist and cardiologist.

This morning we drove down to Massachusetts at a veterinary specialty hospital outside of Boston (sadly, not Tufts this time). Theo did great on the drive, but was unsettled, trying to pace in the car.

Theo got an EKG from the cardiologist. The results were pretty positive, heart shows signs of heart disease but it's not major concern. That meant Theo could receive anesthesia so he could get a brain scan. A few hours later, the neurologist called and wanted to meet so she could show us the scans - we knew that wasn't a good sign. She showed us several images that clearly depicted a very large tumor (meginonomia) on the top center of his brain. The mass was alarmingly large. She notes it's probably been slowly growing for over a year now. Because it's growing on top, it's also growing in the space between the two brain hemispheres. She noted removing a meginonomia is often not difficult, but because of where it is, there is higher risk of hemorrhage. 

The options are steroids to try to shrink the tumor a little and would give us a little more time, however, the steroid treatment would worsen the heart disease. The other option is surgery to remove the tumor. She noted when she's done this surgery on cats with tumors in the location where Theo's is, sometimes it has gone well but other times there is hemorrhage and the cat dies. If the surgery goes well, then we can potentially have Theo for a number more years and he would be more of his usual self. She strongly suggested, if we opt for the surgery, that it take place right away.

After considering Theo's decline and remembering the experience of Willow's brain tumor, we elected surgery. He undergoes brain surgery tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. He's such a delight it's hard to imagine him no longer being with us. As you can imagine, we are both very worried about him.

Nahum cuddling with with Theo last night, like he does every night.

Please purr for him, that surgery would be successful and he makes a full recovery. I'll let keep you posted on his status. Thank you.