Saturday, 14 March 2015

Our Dick Whittington Trip

My proper laptop is finally home and I can now type away and post pictures to my hearts content. I'll try to get most of my recollections of Magic's surgery and recovery 'journey' into posts for you but I think I'll probably try to break her story into less lengthy chunks. This is our personal experience but I also want to share any information that I've gathered that might be of use to another owner possibly facing this same condition. Please just remember I am only an owner and not a vet so any information is based on my subjective understanding.

Before we start, as I know this is the most important news, is where we are at the moment. My darling Magic is now 1 month and 12days days post-op. She has had her first check up at our local vet school and is doing beautifully. We are so, so grateful to everyone who has left supportive comments and kept us in their prayers. A huge and very special thank you goes to darling Summer for her very kind mention. To date, it appears that everything is headed in the right direction and I am cautiously utterly delighted that her blood sugars are sitting in the non-diabetic region of 3.7-6.6 mmols/l pre-prandially. There are some renal and thyroid issues that need correction but these are in hand. As I write up our story Magic is curled up on the sofa beside me which makes my heart sing. So, onwards with what happened.

Planning the Journey to London

Knowing we were headed to the RVC for surgery in the New Year I booked my train tickets early. First class on the way down for Magic on the Wednesday as I hoped the extra room and table service might be helpful if needed as I'd never travelled this far with her. My return ticket was for bog standard 'cattle class' on the way back on the Saturday which shows where my priorities lie!


Magic's pre-assessment, to make sure she was fit for surgery, was carried out two weeks before we left and she had a chest X-Ray, abdominal ultrasound and various bloods and urine tests. To distract me for the couple of hours while she was having these, and sleeping off the sedation, I sat crocheting and listening to an audiobook till it was time to go back and hear the results.
It did feel like ages to wait as it was still getting dark early 
Thankfully the news was mainly good. She had some renal impairment but that was felt to be as a result of her condition and unlikely to improve till after the tumour was removed.

I'd trialled her new harness which I wanted to use to link to her carrier and asked the vet to check it was applied correctly. Laughingly, she suggested giving it a bit more slack as it seemed it was more straightjacket than harness. Magic was pretty under impressed with it the first time I tried it on her and she did a very impressive Michael Jackson Moonwalk backwards. I failed to capture this on video as I was too busy laughing at her outrage.

Just before we left we were forecast quite a bit of snow. Poor Magic came to the door to greet me when I opened it after popping to the shops to make sure we had provisions in case the snow got worse and was quite mystified by this new white stuff.
Being a good owner I scooped her up and took her outside and let her see the falling snow while talking softly to her. Then being a bad owner, I gently plopped her down ONTO the snow and laughed as she gave me a filthy look and shot indoors! At this time I didn't know whether she was going to survive the surgery so her skinny little snow paw prints in this picture felt quite bittersweet. Luckily although it snowed around the trip, and a little while I was in London, it wasn't a problem.
For the trip I'd bought a new wheelie carrier as I could not have carried her. No matter what weight your cat is within minutes of carrying them in a box you think you might just have picked up a great dane by accident. I eventually chose the Trixie carrier on amazon and found it excellent for the car trip to the Glasgow Vet School and the long London RVC journey. I'll review it in another post in case this is of use to someone looking for a light wheeled pet carrier.   
Though I questioned myself frequently about whether I was doing the right thing and how would I cope if it went badly I could see she was just getting sicker and sicker as time went on.
 Often she was just so exhausted with constantly food seeking that when she slept she looked quite pitiful. Her coat was coarse and ill kempt and you could see the toll her illness was taking on her when you looked into her eyes. We were both exhausted as she was up multiple times over night and very unsettled from the effects of her disease. It was clear the neurosurgery was major but we were really out of viable options and I felt we had to go forward as positively as possible and try not to think what could go wrong.
Off to London
Our train journey on the way down turned out to be brilliant. Magic was a total star and charmed everyone we met.
The downside of the Trixie carrier is that I hadn't realised how much it looks like ordinary luggage.
In the lounge prior to boarding the train it tipped over, probably as I had my handbag over the handles and Magic was moving around. I apologised, told her to let me get up again to sort her out and made sure she was ok. I then sat back down to resume eating my fruit platter. About five minutes later an elderly lady opposite said in surprise to her hubby "Oh, look! there's a wee animal in there, oh its a CAT!". I was gobsmacked and said "Did you ACTUALLY think I was talking to my luggage...?" and she just replied "Weeellll, you know.....". So clearly I not only look like a crazy cat lady but I look like I talk to my luggage! It also says how resilient and accepting Glasgwegians are when people display unusual behaviour! Her hubby did go on to explain his wife talks to herself all the time as "she likes the answers she gets....!".

Travelling weekday first class was very nice as I was plied with a cooked breakfast, juices and coffee.
Pulling out of Glasgow Central Station and crossing the Clyde, relieved we are on our way but no turning back now.
Our booked seat was in a single facing a dour looking business man but the train steward found us a much better double seat in the next carriage.
I was able to pop her on the seat beside me. At first she was a bit concerned looking...
...but she quickly relaxed and was happy watching what was going on.
  Once she looked a bit more settled I opened the top of her carrier and let her decide to look out or not
She does not cope well if she is kept in the dark and is prevented from scoping out her environment. She has always been my wee protector and hates not being free to be beside me.  
 For this reason the harness clipped to a lanyard in the carrier was perfect.
Though she did test how far she could go as she quite fancied checking out the rest of the train
 As coincidence had it my friend and her mother had a carers respite week's break and had managed to book a last minute break to London. We were texting and realised she was on the train an hour behind! I'm glad we weren't on the same train as their's broke down in the Lake District! They had a lovely break and did some wonderful touristy trips including the London Eye and stayed in a lovely hotel. We didn't meet up as I was back and forwards to the RVC but it was very comforting knowing a close friend from home was nearby all the time I was there.
Arriving in London was ok and thanks to the guard at the Tube we were directed to an easier route avoiding the stairs to go via Kings Cross.
 to take us to Potters Bar
then onwards to the RVC by taxi.
If anyone is going out to the RVC and arriving via Potter's Bar then its worth remembering that there is a student shuttle bus that runs quite frequently during the week. Brookman's Park train station is actually closer to the RVC QMH but there is no taxi rank there so Potters Bar is the best place to arrive.
 All in all the journey from leaving home took about eight hours.
Magic was admitted and her first consultation and hand over of care took place with her critical care vet. Plans were made for her CT scan the next day and I was allowed to just spend some time cuddling her and saying goodbye for the evening. I headed off to get a taxi to the Day's Inn at South Mimms Service Station which was comfortable and had access to a mini Waitrose and fast food outlets next door. Note this is the room before I had all my junk strewn about!
It had been a very long day by dinner time and I enjoyed my Harry Ramsden's fish tea. However, I couldn't wait to get back to the hotel with some fresh milk for a coffee and the rose shortbread I'd picked up in the mini Waitrose.
I think they might have been in advance of Valentine's Day but I just love rose scented foods and milky coffee
I'd planned to get read for bed, take some painkillers for my protesting knee, watch a film on my tablet and do some crochet.
 Good use for a spare ball of wool
This kind of worked except I'd forgotten my nightie, so I had to repurpose one of my tunic tops as bed wear. Don't worry no piccies of this! I didn't last the length of the film and for the first time in months I was able to sleep undisturbed through the night. This was blissful and totally out of character as I can never normally settle somewhere new on the first night but I think exhaustion and the painkillers probably won the toss.
If you've lasted this long well done but I think this is a good place for a break. I'll write up the next instalment and get it posted soon. I'll also be able to pop round and not just read everyone's blogs but actually leave comments now my laptop is back. The tablet didn't seem to cope with different email accounts so was rather restrictive.