The Concerned Cat

I opened my eyes after a long nap on the sofa to see Bobcat’s big green eyes staring at me.  I weakly propped myself up against the pillows and took his furry face into my hands and kissed his the top of his head.  He came closer and “kissed” my forehead, then pulled back and continued his concerned stare.  “Bobcat, yes, I feel awful but I’m going to be okay—don’t worry sweetie!” 

Yet, I knew that something was terribly wrong with me, and so did Bobcat.  I could almost hear his mental chatter; the questions in his mind as he tried to understand why I rarely moved from my reclining position on the sofa, why was I sleeping so much and why was I up at 5:00 a.m. dry-heaving so often?  Maybe he thought I had a bad case of fur balls…

Like most of us, I was preoccupied with the pandemic and doing all that I could to stay safe and stay healthy, and thought I did so successfully.  So when my tight skinny jeans started to become baggy and my usual high-energy self struggled to get through the workday, I figured the weight-loss and unusual fatigue were related to stress from dealing with the COVID way of living—so did my doctor back in July over a zoom appointment. Her recommendation was to self-monitor and if my condition didn’t improve before my annual check-up on September 4th to let her know.

I experienced slow but continued weight loss despite efforts to add more calories into my daily food intake and reduce stress.  As my September appointment approached, I began to experience nausea, dizziness, increased thirst…sharp pains in my lower abdomen and relentless mental and physical fatigue.  After more blood work, doctor visits, diagnostics, and finally a referral to a gynecological oncologist, my fear of what ailed me became a reality. In early October, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I was careful not to get COVID, but social distancing and mask wearing doesn’t stop cancer.

Coping with cancer has debilitated every aspect of my being, but in the midst of pain, fear and shock, I found the blessings.  I have a compassionate oncologist and medical team at the Hoag Cancer Center; the cancer did not metastasize; my treatment includes only three rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the large mass; then surgery with an expected full recovery. I’ve had two rounds of chemo and with that, signs that the mass is shrinking. The enervating symptoms brought on by the cancer have been reduced to lingering weakness and mild fatigue.  Although it may be a few months before I fill out my jeans again, I’m starting to gain weight.

Bobcat’s mood is lighter as he senses the uplifting shift in my energy. I no longer catch him broodingly staring at me.  Now, on those tough days following chemo, he curls up next to me and looks at me through slow, comforting blinks that seem to be saying don’t worry, you’re going to be okay.

My gratitude for my support team of family and friends who have overwhelmed me with their compassion, generosity and love goes beyond what words can convey.

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Choosing Optimism Over Fear

“Some day, yeah / We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day / When the world is much brighter”
Lyrics to “Ooh Child” by Stan Vincent, performed by The Five Stairsteps

I’m starting to feel like myself again.  That crazy dark side has departed, I hope for good, and the crazy had nothing to do with my passion for felines.  The drastic shift we’ve all had to make overnight to adhere to the shelter-in-place orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 has been more difficult than I anticipated.  I thought I’d be more resilient to the fear, anxiety and shock experienced worldwide.  And I was, initially.  But the chronic worry of how this pandemic is going to pan out while having minimal interaction with human beings for the past month, and trying to efficiently meet demands of my job while working from home with constant computer disruptions has collectively wreaked havoc on my mental and emotional state. I’ve become extremely edgy, impatient and overly emotional.  The meaning in “We’re in this together” initially suggested to me strength in numbers—we’re not alone, we have each other.  Now this slogan insinuates that we are all suffering together in varying degrees.

Yet, despite my exhausted psyche, I am grateful. I still have a job, I’m healthy and I have my entertaining and loving Bobcat by my side.

My heart hurts for those experiencing truly devastating effects of the pandemic:  those who’ve become seriously ill, folks who’ve lost loved ones, and to those experiencing another kind of distressing loss – that of a business or job, and to business owners barely hanging on wondering how they are going to survive.

After six days of rain, the sun came out.  I walked the neighborhood and bird watched from my patio. I witnessed a mama crow preening her baby.  I’ve seen the barn owl take flight from the king palm tree in the yard twice this week, and I’ve stargazed. Venus has never looked so bright, and Sirius was seriously a gorgeous twinkling shade of blue last night.

Communing with Mother Nature helped to dissolve the negative emotions that assaulted my being—that and an attitude shift.  “Enough.  I need to start sending out positive vibes into the world.  That’s got to help in some way,” I said to Bobcat.  I’ve been talking to him a lot, and to the crows (Good morning, crows, how’s the baby?) Even to my Easter décor (Hello little lamby…whatcha doin’?).  I know, crazy, right?  My Mom told me she’s been talking to bumble bees, so it’s not just me.  I think talking to whomever or whatever is around even if these beings or things can’t talk back is comforting.

Of course, Bobcat speaks to me with his eyes…

When he’s not screaming demands at me.

I’m wishing everyone peace, comfort and good health.

Please let me know how you are doing.  Has anyone else been feeling a little cray cray?  Talking to the birds or inanimate objects?

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My Funny Feline Valentine

Curious about the origin of Valentine’s Day, I did a little research and learned that according to ancient legend, initially Valentine’s Day was a spin-off of a Roman fertility festival that was celebrated in February known as “Lupercalia.” This pagan celebration involved sacrifices and matchmaking to keep evil spirits and infertility at bay.  Apparently this festival did not involve sending flowers and chocolates to your heart’s desire.

Somehow along the way, it morphed into the celebration of romantic love.  And depending on which rendition of the tale you read, the evolution of Valentine’s Day involves a priest named Valentine persecuted for doing heroic deeds in the name of love.  By the Victorian era, sending love notes, or “Valentines” to your sweetheart became the Valentine’s Day celebration staple to honor the Saint who died to keep love alive.

And here I thought it was just an overly hyped Hallmark holiday, which has the capacity to make one feel a little left out of the celebration when single.

The way I see it, love comes in many forms and if a single person, such as myself, happens to be sans romantic love on February 14th, well, heck, then I say celebrate the abounding love that is all around you, which doesn’t have to be limited to the love of a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife.  The love we receive from and give to our family and friends should count.  And the love we give to and receive from our furry family members is sometimes the deepest love of all.

Lexington, I still can’t believe you are not of this world anymore.  I’m adjusting, but will love you always and miss you dearly.

Bobcat, my dear, this year, thank you for being…

My funny valentine

Sweet comic valentine

You make me smile with my heart

Your looks are laughable

Yet, photographable and my favorite work of art…

(a minor alteration of how the song goes)

Lyrics from My Funny Valentine by Lorenz Hart.

 I hope everyone had an enjoyable Valentine’s Day, romantic, or otherwise.

XOXO

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