Hi everyone. I sincerely hope you’re doing as well as can be. My apologies for missing one of my fortnightly blogs but I’ve been rather preoccupied with my dear little Pixie.
I know some of you follow me over on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook but many of you only keep up via the blog. I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I always am at all of the support, friendship, sharing and caring you so freely afford me. Another apology… I’m so sorry I find it so hard to keep up with replies but please do know that I read everything. An exception to this is when I get hundreds of comments. I try to keep track but, inevitably, I will sometimes miss some. I want you to know this is not personal and is just a result of me still running all of my own social channels. There’s just one of me but thousands of you lovely people. You are appreciated more than you know.
Those of you who are animal lovers, like me, will relate when I say that pets become family members. I’ve always loved animals. We often had pets as I was growing up, but cats always seemed to have an extra special place in my heart. My feline friends have been too many to mention but their memories all remain with me.
Pixiecat and Popsiecat are sisters who joined our family around 13 years ago. For at least the last two years I think I’ve been saying they were 10 years old but when I recently looked at their vet records, I see that they’re actually getting older than I thought.
They have their own funny little ways. Popsiecat has always been very timid and her friendship and trust have to be earned when you meet her. I know her so well. Prior to stroking her I know I must first hold my hand near her so she can grant or deny permission. She sniffs, then pauses, then it’s either an obvious refusal as she turns her head away and her expression tells me “I don’t feel like being touched right now” or she will rub her face along my hand and let me tickle her chin and purr like a jet engine! So, so sweet.
Pixiecat, on the other hand, is one of the most laid back, placid, easy going cats I’ve ever known. She’s never been bothered about vet appointments or strangers. When I was doing lots of building work on the house she could sleep through diggers, pneumatic drills and angle grinders without a care in the world. To be fair to Pops, the building work didn’t bother her, either but a trip to the vets in her cat carrier do. Pixie lets me shake her paw and do ‘triangle face’. Triangle face is hard to explain but I’ll try. I put the palms of my hands either side of her head and smooth the fur on the sides of her face with my thumbs. Because they both have very furry faces, they look very round but when I smooth the fur down Pixies face looks like a little triangle. I don’t know if that makes sense, but she loves it and so do I. Triangle face ends with a little head ‘boop’. This is where our foreheads meet for a very gentle bump. It’s like a little kiss. She melts my heart.
Despite regular, daily triangle face sessions with Pixie I failed to notice a marble sized lump on the side of her head. I felt very guilty about this at first, but I realise it wasn’t actually in the path of my thumbs when I stroke her that way. It also was very easily missed due to her puffy fur disguising it. My wonderful son, Tom, was the one who pointed it out to me.
I immediately booked an appointment with our vets. I have always loved our veterinary surgery. They are a family run practice. Our vet, Andy, his wife and their daughter are all vets there. I’ve since heard some very sad stories from people who haven’t been as lucky with theirs but ours are wonderful, kind, compassionate and responsible people whom I have unending respect for.
Several years ago, Pixie had a lump removed from the middle of her nose which turned out to be benign. Andy’s demeanour was very different on that occasion. He had told me how it was up to me if I wanted it removed as he felt pretty sure it would turn out to be nothing to worry about. To be on the safe side I decided to go ahead. This time his face said it all as he returned Pixie to me. Due to social distancing we are asked to wait outside in our cars, and they come and collect and return our animals to us. I hung on his every word as he told me he didn’t think it looked good.
A few hours later she was having the mass removed under general anaesthetic. When I collected her Andy told me the lump was growing into the bone and took away as much as he could. The histology report would take a week or so to come back. We went back for the post op check and her results were in.
Andy looked very sad as he told me “I’m afraid it’s not good news”. Pixie has something called osteosarcoma. In other words, bone cancer. He told me there was no treatment due to where it is. Had it been a limb, amputation would’ve been an option. I asked about referral to someone such as Noel Fitzpatrick, aka supervet, and he said in truth he wouldn’t recommend it and explained thoroughly the reasons why. I asked how long she might have left, and he said he’d like to see her again in three weeks and didn’t want to put a number on it. I pushed him a little more and asked “months?”. His reply was “maybe”.
Obviously, I was devastated. I looked down at her little face, so innocent and unknowing of her situation. The tears flowed as I drove home wondering how I’d break the news to my son and daughter. They’ve not yet suffered a bereavement and have shared around half of their lives with our dear Pixie.
I pulled it together and prepared myself after a quick call to my bestie, Steven. It was very sad to have to share the news and feel. Of course, I discussed how it’s sadly all a part of life. Death is as much a reality as birth. We just don’t discuss loss as openly. Some of you know that I’m a proud ambassador for The Good Grief Trust, a bereavement charity run by the bereaved for the bereaved. I feel passionately about communication. If we can talk about things, we can get through them together. If you’ve suffered a bereavement of any kind you may find it useful to visit their website.
Despite the fact I have known the love of so many little furry friends throughout my life, the one thing I’ve never had to face is the responsibility of their fate. For various reasons I have had to rehome a couple of cats over the years, but they went to loving homes and it was the best decision for them at those times.
Any pets I have ever lost through them crossing the ‘rainbow bridge’ were lost when I was a child and, therefore, I was shielded from some of the more difficult realities of their passing.
This time it’s down to me. I have been researching thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly. From knowing when pets are suffering to what to expect when they take their final sleep and even what choices there are for their final resting place. I brought her into this family, and I’ll be there for her all the way through to the end and beyond. I want to be prepared so I can be the very best I can for her throughout. With love and without fear of the unknown.
Having said all of this, I have since contacted my vet again and asked if he could refer me to his veterinary oncologist, whom he rates extremely highly, just so I can rest easier knowing I have at least had a discussion with them. He was very gracious and characteristically kind and immediately arranged it. We have an appointment booked for next Monday and we are on a cancellation list in case anything comes up before then.
In all honesty, having done copious amounts of my own research, I’m almost certain their findings will amount to the same as dear Andy’s. Even if it’s just to confirm what I think I already know I feel it’s worth a few hours of our time. I’m actually being pretty pragmatic about the situation, and I will certainly not be putting her through anything which is more for my own benefit than hers. Believe me, I take the weight of this responsibility very seriously and any decisions will be fully informed and with her very best interests at heart.
It’s not all doom and gloom, Pixie brings us joy on a daily basis. She’s utterly adorable and I refuse to waste the precious time we have left by being miserable. I am beyond grateful that she is a part of our family.
I am hugely thankful that she is showing no signs of being in pain. The only thing she’s not keen on is the buster collar or ‘cone of shame’. The vets gave us a rigid plastic one, which she really disliked. A very good friend and colleague, Stacey, has a gorgeous cat named Monty. He also disliked the traditional hard collar, so she bought him a soft, flower shaped one. I decided on her recommendation to do the same for Pix. She seemed a lot more comfortable in it. One day, I put the new flower cone in the wash, so she had to have the original one back on again. To my surprise she has decided she prefers that one now! Funny little fickle things, aren’t they?
Popsiecat is being very sweet and staying close to both Pix and myself. I’m having a bit of time off at the moment but will be back again soon.
I’d just like to share a couple of things which are going on at QVC right now. Firstly, three interest free instalments on Elemis and Ultrasun by using codes ELEM3Z and ULTRA3 respectively at the checkout. For full terms see here.
Secondly, look out for a gorgeous offer coming up from Ruth Langsford. It’s a midi dress Today’s Special Value offer for Saturday the 20th of June but it’ll be available to buy ahead of the day. I love Ruth’s style and have bought many of her clothes, myself, so I thought you’d appreciate a heads up.
Finally, June is Beauty Month, if you didn’t know already. We are featuring some exceptional offers so, again, worth taking a little browse.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and please do look after yourselves. See you soon on the tellybox.
Lots of love,