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Not Nicky.

After my father killed himself in 1999 I figured nothing bad would happen for awhile, as if I deserved a “pass” from any more pain. Of course I was wrong. I got divorced four months later and lost my biggest client.

I realize that most things that happen during my life are not about me. My father took his own life. I didn't cause that to happen, but certainly it effected me deeply, and still does. The thing is I can't help but feel a bit, well pissed when one thing after another seems to go down the drain. I asked Sam if we were being foolish to think that things were going to get better “some day.” Maybe we should just realize that life pretty much sucks, is difficult, frustrating, heartbreaking and has moments, just moments of good stuff to keep us from offing ourselves, too.

Last month after Bob died, I thought that maybe we were done with long trips to Vet Oncologists, done with digging the deep financial hole to provide Bob with the care he needed, done with heartbreak over our cats. Bob was an old cat with FIV+, two kinds of cancer and half a liver. Our next youngest cat is eleven, so certainly they would be fine for many years to come. I really wanted to take a deep breath and relax, focus on the working out some behavioral issues with the cats and get the foster cats adopted.

Happy on the Bed.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky, this morning, getting ready to roll over and show me his belly.

I nagged at Sam to take Nicky to the Vet. I was fed up watching the cat urinate on the floor, right in front of his litter pan, often not caring if we were watching him do it. We knew it might be due to the stress in the house and the cats jockeying for position in the cat hierarchy with Bob being gone, but due diligence dictated that Nicky should be seen by Dr. Larry.

I honestly thought Nicky had a urinary tract infection or might be in the early stages of hypothyroid because he drank a lot of water (and I knew his blood sugar was normal so it wasn't diabetes).

The blood work came back and it indicated that Nicky might be in early stages of renal (kidney) failure. The next morning, Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat just posted an article by Dr. Darren Hawks about Kidney Failure that helped me understand what was possibly going on. It was devastating news, but since we caught it early, Nicky had a chance to live many more good years. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all?

Big Paw, Nicky.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. He always gives us "lovey-dovey" looks.

But Dr. Larry wanted to do a sonogram to look at Nicky's kidneys. Sam agreed and the procedure was done yesterday afternoon. I wasn't worried. I thought we had that pass to not get bad news-Nicky is just eleven, right? He gets a raw diet and fresh spring water not our yucky well water. Sure he had some kidney issue, but maybe he just needed some antibiotics?

I was sitting at my computer, working on a project. I'd had a lousy day. An acquaintance of mine died. He was only 52 years old. He had a massive stroke last week and died on Monday morning. I had some very interesting times with him and I liked him even though he seemed to bring out the worst in my childhood friend, MaryEllen, who was dating him in those days. Now she's planning his funeral. I couldn't help but feel the weight of the ticking clock of my own life. How much time did I have left? I'm only two years younger than he was and a lot of people don't even get to be my age. I can't take it for granted I have tomorrow. It gave me pause.

Shaved Belly.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rub Mah Belleh.

Sam stood in the doorway to my office. He didn't look so good, but we've both been in fairly bad moods for lots of reasons lately. He started to talk about Nicky. He must have just gotten off the phone with Dr. Larry. They found a growth on one of Nicky's kidneys-which were both showing signs of degeneration. They found lymph nodes that were enlarged, but it wasn't renal disease, it might be CANCER.


Mesenteric Lymphoma. The same thing that JUST KILLED BOB.

When I heard “lymphoma” my head buzzed and my stomach flipped. I felt like I couldn't breathe for a second. No. No. NOT NICKY. NO!

They can't be certain until they do EXPLORATORY SURGERY. Maybe it's something else? Maybe it's some sort of reaction to something else? I don't know what else it COULD BE other than some sort of cancer!!!

Belly UP.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky's view of the world is often upside down.

For the handful of you who've met Nicky, you know he's our BIG 20 pound boy who would rather lay in your arms, belly up, like a baby or get tummy rubs than do just about anything else at all. Nicky is a big sweetheart who LOVES everyone. He and his sister...and then I thought about Nora...are inseparable. She wouldn't survive without her big brother. Oh my GOD..what is happening to my cats?! We found this out just because Nicky was drinking too much water and peeing outside the litter pan. That was all we had for symptoms.

Nicks belly_sm.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Skritches from mama.

I really thought we had more time. Now we have to scrounge for money. Nicky must have the surgery, but we are tapped out. We gave all that we had, and more, for Bob, thinking we could recover in time for the next cat health issue, but we were wrong.

Sweet Boy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. We love you, Nicky!

Later that night, after we picked up Nicky from the Vet and brought him home, I half jokingly said to Sam that I was feeling suicidal and asked him if he was, too, and he said, yes. Then he said, gesturing to the cats, but they would suffer if we died and I answered simply, we'll just take them with us when we go.

I guess we didn't get that pass we were hoping for. We'll do our best for Nicky. I don't know what that means. It's one step at a time. We need to confirm that it's lymphoma. We need to sort out what Nicky's options are and how we can provide for him. These are dark days indeed and this is just the beginning of a very sad journey for one of our beloved cats.


Robin, so sorry to hear about Nicky. I hope when they do the surgery that they find out it is not cancer. I know you and Sam have got to be going out of your mind since this is happening so close to Bob's passing. We will be keeping you, Sam, Nicky and the rest of the gang in our thoughts and prayers.

I'm so sorry you have to deal with all this crap. I just lost my big sweet ragdoll mix boy to f'in lymphoma on 9/28. He was only 12 1/2. My husband and I say that cats are the only reason we are still here, so I can understand where you are at. Praying to all the powers that be that you guys get a break!

I am so very sorry for Nicky's diagnosis....we lost our 10year old cat to cancer 8/27/11 and post mortem found out she was FIV+. We adopted her at 2 1/2 and never had any reason to suspect it. Not that it changed anything...then 5 days later we had to put our newly adopted foster cat, an 8 year old Himalayan that was diagnosed with very bad end stage renal failure. We think he was dumped because of his illness. Monday one of my foster kittens died, and 2 of her siblings are 1/2 the size of their sister and not exactly well. I'm not sure how much more I can handle either. Cherish your time with your furbabies....Laura

I am so sorry to hear about Nicky. I am a devoted follower of your page. And I am deeply happy that the world has someone like you in it to help take care of these precious creatures. I know how you feel. My baby Peekaboo, who is 16, has high blood pressure so I worry about him. And my other Billie, who is 14, has high blood pressure and hyperthyroidism. Since both are on medicine they are doing better and gaining a little weight. I will keep Nicky and you in my prayers.
Thank you for everything you do!
Megan, Peekaboo and Billie

Small wonder that you and your husband are depressed. Losing loved ones and now, finding out that Nick is terribly ill would do in anybody. But please know that there are people out here who care about you deeply, Robin, and would be devastated if anything happened to you. If there is anything I can do to help, just ask! I know that I'm far away in Nebraska, but my thoughts and prayers are going out to you, your husband and Nick.

Will pray for you. I lost my dog to cancer too and I know it is a difficult process.

Hi Robin, I ready your blog this morning, I am sorry to read about Nicky. I am hoping for the best outcome. Nicky has a plus on his side, he is only eleven.
I think setting up a Chipin for Nicky would help you and him.

I am so sorry to hear your news. DO take care of yourself, first - so many people and pets depend on you.

I am so sorry. Put up a chip-in. We'll find the money to help.

Thank you for your kind words. Sam and I appreciate it very much. I wish all of you didn't have to suffer the loss of your beloved pets. It sucks. It really does. I wish I could take away that pain. It's so brutal to lose one..and many of you have lost more than that in a short time. My heart goes out to all of you. Some of you asked about a ChipIn for Nicky. I feel creepy putting one out there, so I'll just post it on the sidebar and if someone wants to help, we would be honored and grateful. I don't know how much the surgery is. Bob's was over $3000.00, but Nicky doesn't need as much done, so for now I will set the ChipIn to a moderate amount and lower it if we don't need it. I never would want to waste a dime from anyone or ask for too much. Anyway...the feeling of love I get from all of you is priceless and it helps us get through these dark days. THANK YOU. Love to all of you, Robin

So sorry Robin. It does not seem fair for all you do.

Hi Robin,
I was so sad to hear about what's going on with Nicky. About 10 years ago I faced a similar predicament. Two of my three cats, my babies (raised from kittenhood) died within days of each other. They were all elderly and around the same age. One from kidney disease, the other from liver problems, the other had a tumour and died about a month before. I was left reeling, unable to process so much grief all at once. Then nature did it's thing. I became "numb". I find this happens whenever our emotions are overloaded. it's kind of a safety net. During this numb period I was able to carry on with daily living, and I did my best. Then about two days later a kitten was delivered to my door, a little ginger tabby. My neighbour had kicked him out and someone heard I was a cat person and decided to see if I could help. I fostered the kitten, and long story short fell in love with him. He literally sustained me through my grieving period. To this day I still marvel at the timing of his arrival. It was such a dark period and here was this little ray of sunshine, who snuggled up to me every lonely night and purred.
Looking back, I know it was the worst time of my life, but somehow things all fell into place. I was not a positive thinker at that time, but I am now. Have faith in a higher power that will sustain you and even send you comfort in the strangest ways. I will pray for Nicky in the meantime. Please remember both Bob and Nicky have been blessed to have you as their "human."

Hi Robin,
I'm relatively new to your blog having started reading during Bob's last days. (I think my boy Niles went of the same thing back in May, he was 15 1/2). Check earthclinic and curezone for pet ownert discussions re treating cancer. I would immediately suggest essiac, shark oil capsules and tumeric...I would definitely get the book 'Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats : Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Healing Techniques from the Nations Top Holistic Veterinarians' [Paperback] by Martin Zucker and look at the range of cancer treatments listed there. There are options for cancer, stop vaccinating Nicky, never again, and he has a raw diet and good water so he has a chance, of course he does! But I know how it hurts when they start to go downhill. And howling out your grief only freaks out the other cats. Regarding a happy, calm, positive future, if you can't imagine it, you won't get it. We create what we focus on. As this regards to our pets getting illnesses, they have soul journeys of their own and we have to respect that and be honoured they choose us for as long as they can. anyway, email me if you have any q's or want any other info.
Believe the best is possible; then have a cry, blow your nose, and believe the best is what you deserve. What have you got to lose?

I'm so sorry to hear about Nicky. That is very devastating to happen so quickly after Bob. But I am also concerned about your talk of suicide and obvious depression. Have you heard of Postsecret? It started out as an art project and has turned into a global phenomenon. People fill out anonymous postcards with their secrets on them and mail them to this guy Frank Warren in upstate New York. Amazing stuff. Here is the url: I bring it up because it is someplace to connect with other people who also have serious problems and concerns and secrets. It is a way to not feel so alone. Frank's wife also committed suicide and he has a strong desire to support those who feel suicidal.

I also encourage you to call the suicide prevention hotline. It is free and gives you a chance to talk with someone for a while. I was suicidal myself on and off from the age of around 9 (when I was being molested by a neighbor) until my late 30's. What stopped those feelings for me was the realization that I was so unhappy about life because I loved life so much. I love the smells and the sights and the exquisite joy and pain of living that feeling the bad parts was so difficult. But when I realized that I really loved life so much, which is why it hurt so bad, I stopped wanting to die. That is just my experience and no reflection on what yours might be.

Please talk to someone. Here is the url for the international suicide prevention wiki. It lists suicide prevention numbers in each state and all over the world.

Please take care of yourself. You are special and unique and no one in the world before or after will be you. You give so much to others, please take care of yourself.

That's fucked up. It's one thing to talk and think about taking your own life. But taking your cats with you? Screw that. You are supposed to be helping these cats, not killing them. If you decide to end your life, place your cats in another home or in a shelter first.

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