Patrick always seems to have weird health problems. He tends to get rare diagnosis that are hard to treat and that veterinarians aren’t 100 % sure of how to treat them. This, of course, has created a lot of anxiety for David and I, particularly since there tends to be a lot unknown about the conditions that he tends to get and the prognosis of them.
He has been struggling with inflammatory issues his whole life, which I’m guessing has resulted in a lot of his current problems. His issues really started when he was diagnosed with inflammation of the liver of unknown causes a few years ago. The veterinarians never were sure exactly how he got this; it could have been due to an allergic/inflammatory reaction, or it could have been due to all of the medications that he was given for his allergic reaction. After this, we started him on allergy shots, and it turned out that he needed to be on a really low dose for them. We found this out because he had a reaction to a shot and had to go to an ER vet, where we also found that he had bladder crystals, his blood sugar was high due to a corticosteriod he was taking, he had an infection in his tummy, and his arthritis was really bad. Due to all of this, we started to change his food around and to avoid certain medications.
About a year later, he had a stroke. David found him one morning unable to sit up and howling in pain. But, it took about four vet visits before a specialty clinic found a diagnosis for him, which happened because he had to stay at that vet overnight due to dehydration and issues that he was having with the painkillers he was taking. He was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, and the reason why it took so long to diagnosis is that his atrium was enlarged. Usually, in cats with cardiomyopathy, the ventricle is enlarged (Marmalade actually had this type of cardiomyopathy). But Patrick, of course, has a rare form that was hard to catch.
He has had a couple of strokes since and has made it through every one of them. It has been quite scary to go through. Luckily, he hasn’t suffered any long-term effects of these strokes. Because of this and all of the conditions that he’s survived, the vets always talk about what a trooper he is and how he always makes these quick, sort of miraculous turn arounds whenever he is sick.
After all of these strange diagnoses and issues that Patrick seems to have (that sometimes happen all at once), I actually was not too surprised when Patrick was diagnosed with intermediate cell lymphoma, which is a pretty rare type of lymphoma. But, this diagnosis was tentative, because he didn’t even present fully as intermediate cell lymphoma or any other type of known intestinal lymphoma. Because of this, the veterinarians have not been able to give us a clear idea of what will happen to him (it just isn’t known with his case). This itself has been stressful.
The difference between small, intermediate, and large cell intestinal lymphomas in cats is that large and intermediate cell lymphomas grow faster and tend to have obvious masses. Small cell lymphoma is found more in the tissues of the intestinal track, rather than in masses, and can move very slowly. The treatment for the latter two types of lymphoma tend to be more aggressive forms of chemotherapy. Marmalade went through one of these types of chemotherapy when he was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma. It helped his symptoms but even so, he only lived for about 5 months after diagnosis even with chemotherapy. So, when I found out that there was a possibility that Patrick might have another form of lymphoma that can be aggressive, I was concerned.
But, because he did not have any actual tumors or masses (Marmalade’s was so big that you could feel it), we decided to go with a less invasive form of chemotherapy that you can actually give at home with a pill. In other words, he was treated like he has small cell lymphoma with a wait-and-see prognosis and official diagnosis. Although his symptoms are worsening somewhat, it is happening very slowly and he has not shown any signs of cancer growth since starting chemotherapy about 8 months ago. Because of this, his Oncologist officially diagnosed him with small cell lymphoma yesterday and told us that he obviously has a very slow growing cancer.
This is great news to me. Cats with small cell (slow growing) intestinal lymphoma can live a couple of years after diagnosis. I’ve even heard of one who is still living four years after diagnosis who is on a similar medication regimen that Patrick is on. I am feeling better now about our situation with him and know that there’s a good chance that he will be with us for longer than I thought that he would.
We also are changing around his medications again to try to prevent him from drooling. I tried one of the changes last night, which was to dissolve two of the pills together with water and to give them together rather than one at a time. Because of his drooling, when I gave him these pills I had to wait half an hour to give him the second pill as he drooled after both of them. So I gave them together last night, and even though he still drooled, it was one less time than usual.
I’m feeling pretty good about how Patrick is doing. He still has plenty of energy, loves to cuddle, and loves to talk to me through different kinds of vocalizations. He really is quite the trooper, just like the vets say.
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