Freya’s asleep in the little pink cage that sits on the printer stand next to my desk. It’s her temporary home during each afternoon so we can be together while I work and so she can enjoy the sunshine that often bathes my office.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Freya in her pink cage.
I can’t believe that Freya’s surgery may happen a week from today. I’ve already booked my hotel and tomorrow I’m getting my car checked out so the drive to Boston, to MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Hospital, will be as safe as possible.
It’s been a long journey of more than 8 weeks since I first offered to foster Freya “just for a few days.” Those early days were very hard on me. The amount of care she required basically caused me to shut down Kitten Associates because I could only just do the basics for all our other cats, then grab a nap when there was time. Feedings were every few hours because she was so young and she needed loving care so I had an air mattress in her room and spent many hours just holding her while we both rested in the early hours before dawn.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Freya thinks Spencer is her mother.
These days things are much easier and Freya has a schedule of cleanings, feedings and play time that isn’t as taxing on me. Freya still needs to be bathed many times a day due to her birth defect (a recto-vaginal fistula-you can read more about her early days with me Here) but she’s used to it now and lays across my hand as I rinse off her back end and legs. She’s doesn’t seem to mind and in fact she licks my fingers when I clean off certain areas. She even purrs during cleaning, but sadly some times she cries out, too. Passing stool through her “lady place” has to be painful, if not for the most part impossible. It’s all she’s got until surgery next week.
On Friday we take her final radiographs and do blood work. We don’t know if she has any other abnormalities and the blood work is a vital part of her surgical pre-screening.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Not sure what direction Freya is looking in but she's ready to pounce on something.
A few days ago we also did radiographs after I discovered that Freya had far looser stool than normal and had been vomiting. I rushed her over to Newtown Veterinary Specialists where Dr. Potanas examined her. We assumed it to be a virus of some sort and the hope was that she would clear it fast enough so it wouldn’t make her surgery impossible. Since it had been weeks since her last radiographs it was important to rule out that she was so FULL of stool it was causing the vomiting.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Silly monkey.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Yes, Freya also sports black and pink "jellybeans."
With surgery day approaching we REALLY lucked out – knock wood –Freya cleared her virus in a day. I can’t let her near my cats any longer. If she does well and the surgery is a success, then if she’s up to it maybe we can get back to being with cats again. I really hate doing this to her. She needs other cats and she already loves chasing Fluff Daddy around the house (and vice versa). I have to balance being careful with making sure every day is a happy one for her.
Freya has gained 1 pound, 10 ounces since she arrived weighing 1 pound, 2 ounces. She’ll be a bit over 12 weeks old, which was our goal for doing the surgery. The problem I face is there are so many unknowns that won’t be revealed until we’re in Boston that it’s hard to know what to think or what to be worried about. Maybe that’s a blessing?
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Last set of radiographs. This surgery can't come soon enough. Look at that BIG mass of stool inside her.
We’re to see Dr. Michael Pavletic on Monday, Nov 10 at 11 AM. That’s when I will find out IF he feels Freya is a candidate for surgery and if so, WHEN the surgery will take place. It’s likely it will happen on Nov 11 (11/11!). But…he could say no..he could say he can’t help her…he could say he wants to wait longer. I have no idea. I’ve also thrown a wrench into the works by suggesting something that is pretty much bleeding edge technology.
What if we used 3-D printing to help Freya?
For those of you who don’t know what 3-D printing is, it’s basically taking a flat, 2-D object and creating a product in 3-D that is printed out using small strands of hot melted plastic (or other materials like FOOD-yes FOOD can now be printed). This allows designers to create pretty much anything from a car to a cart for a handicapped dog that fits that dog perfectly because it’s based on a scan of the actual dog. They are creating more and more things using 3-D printing even valves for human heart repair!
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Freya also has deformities in her spine, back legs and is cross-eyed.
The idea is: make a 3-D model of Freya’s anatomy so Dr. Pavletic can better plan out the surgery OR maybe there’s a way to fabricate a mold that is the perfect shape of the thing Freya doesn’t have-a rectum. Maybe that mold could be made out of other material that would work in place of the real thing? I just don’t know, but I did reach out and found some help.
There are two master fabricators at UPenn who have worked with Vets before and have the 3-D printing equipment we need. I’ve asked them for assistance and they are eager to help. I’ve reached out to Dr. P. and though he doesn't need a model (but would like one if I can swing it), I want him to understand that anything I can do to help make this surgery a success I’m going to do, even if it’s nutty, cutting edge technology or bordering on absurd. It doesn’t hurt to ask, right? So what if Freya has a robo-anus? She needs to survive this surgery and live a good life. I don’t care how it happens.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Her eyes are so radiant, it's tough to capture their true color.
So, 3-D printed body parts, trips to Boston, revered surgeons..may it all come together beautifully and perfectly all For Freya. And frankly, if I can just maintain a reasonable level of calm going through this I would really be grateful.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Freya being Freya.
It’s Sunday. Tomorrow is THE day-the day I drive to Boston with Freya. Time’s up. Blood work has been done. It showed an abnormality with her blood platelets, which can result in a high risk of bleeding during surgery. I’m told that the test can easily have a bad result if it’s not done right. We will re-do the test and hope for better results once we arrive in Boston.
Although there's a team ready and interested to do the 3-D model we just don’t have time to pull it off. It’s NEVER been done of soft tissue before and we’d have to get a CT Scan (expensive among other things) and there’s software needed to translate the CT Scan into data the 3-D printer can use. I don’t know IF there IS software that can do this yet.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Dr. Potanas, Freya's surgeon here in Newtown who has been overseeing her care and will take over once we get back from Boston.
I’ve already started packing the car. I have Freya’s pink crate on the front seat so I can keep an eye on her during our trip. I’m trying to get everything ready but as always there are bumps in the road. I smelled some nasty burning chemical smell coming off my car last night so now I’m wondering if I have a leak and if my car is going to break down. I’m at the point where I feel like whatever happens I will get to Boston tomorrow even if it means renting a car. Part of me can’t wait to get going and part of me is so busted up about it I fear a total meltdown once I finally meet Dr. Pavletic.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. On our last day together before the surgery, with Sam sick in bed, Freya got to help him feel better as she got some tips from Spencer on how best to do that.
You can’t quantify love, though I think everyone tries. They might say they love their foster kitten, but not like they love their own cat. Maybe there are “flavors” of love that we reserve for certain situations, I don’t know. All I know is I’m sitting here thinking about Freya. Her pink crate is gone from my office. It feels cold and empty here even though the same sunlight still shines into the windows. I have come to love Freya with all that I have and all that I am. I want her to LIVE and LIVE happily and well and it’s breaking my heart to know there’s a very strong chance it won’t go that way.
Please help me find the strength to do this-to be there for Freya-to not fall apart no matter what happens. Please let Dr. Pavletic have a really really good few days where he feels great and is happy and can help our little kitten. Please, Freya, know you are so loved, not just by me and Sam, but by the world who has come to know you, too. Let that love keep you strong and may that light inside you continue to shine brightly as you face the biggest challenge of your young life.
Visit Freya's Facebook page and leave her a message of love & support. Maybe it's crazy but we're hoping for 1111 loving & supportive comments (in honor of her surgery on 11/11) and with your help we can do it!
©2014 Robin AF Olson.