Beltane Portia, 30Apr2009

We will miss you our sweet girl.

The heart & soul of our happy home has been torn from us this year. Portia Pie, Her Royal Pieness, Our Sweet Girl, succumbed rapidly to an illness on the evening of 23 April forcing us to hospitalize her. She endured shaving, catheter needles, ultrasounds, surgery, transfusions and feeding tubes over the course of the next week in a fight to keep our girl alive. Our Warrior Pieness’ valiant fight was ultimately fruitless and we are bereft that our beautiful girl’s final days were away from home in a kennel instead of home with her family where she may still be today, albeit on borrowed time. To the end, despite the drugs, pain and fear, she was still our sweet girl, showing her true self to us at every visit.

Only one month & 17 days past her 6th birthday, she was too young and too beautiful to be taken from us so suddenly. Every aspect of our home had Portia in it. Her nickname should be Visa, because she was everywhere you wanted to be. Social to everyone who visited, constantly underfoot and overheard with her characteristic ‘bark’, not a moment of any day was without her love and affection. From before the sun came up, she was in bed ‘bonking’ her chilly nose and warm forehead against your face. Throughout the day she let you know when it was time to take a break, get a snack, share some time or give her treats. At the end of every day it was a race up the stairs to the bedroom and onto the chest at the foot of the bed.

Every moment of every day since her hospitalization was difficult because she was such an integral part of our world. Every moment since her passing, with the full realization that she will never again be where she is expected, is agony. Our pain at her loss has been so overwhelming at times that we are numb with grief. It is hard to imagine what life will be like without her and I know the first day that seems ‘normal’ will earn a mental chastising, but all grief must eventually come to an end. Even so, I doubt we will ever truly be without her in our hearts, for to do so would mean losing that piece of our hearts and souls. Portia is survived by her fraternal twin, Oberon, her adopted siblings Rhu & Aja, and so far as we know her mother & father Cali and Sojo.

To say she will be missed fails to do justice to her memory. Without the words to express it otherwise, however, we can only say that we will miss you dearly, our Sweet Girl, our Portia Pie.


Email from Sister Moon to our friends & family on 25 April 2012

We had to take Portia to First Regional Animal Hospital on Monday night, and we wanted to update you all on what’s happening in case you don’t hear from us or we’re unresponsive to calls or e-mails over the next several days. I’m sorry this message is kind of long. Even with all that’s here, I’m skipping over a lot of details.

Portia was behaving perfectly normal all through Monday afternoon. That night, we went out to run some errands and grab a bite to eat, and when we got home, she was slumped on the floor outside our bedroom door, acting very sluggish. She felt hot, and we couldn’t get her to respond to any of her favorite things (treat time, water bottles, etc.). We waited until late in the evening, and then decided we should take her to emergency care. Something just wasn’t right.

When we got her to the hospital, she had a 105 degree fever, which is high for a cat (normal is about 102). She also registered some discomfort when the vet tech prodded her belly. They ran a full diagnostic and said she had a urinary tract/bladder infection, as well as a high white blood cell count and some dehydration. They recommended an ultrasound, which could not be done until the morning. In light of the high fever, we decided to leave her overnight so she could be monitored, and they would do the ultrasound first thing in the morning. They immediately started her on some fluids and antibiotics.

The ultrasound revealed fluid in Portia’s belly and irregular inflammation of her bowel, in the area where the large and small intestine meet.  They feel it’s important to do a biopsy to determine what’s going on in there (potential cancer), but unfortunately, because of the location, it’s not something they can do with a needle. They need to operate. It was more or less decided that she would have surgery today, but they wanted to see if they could get her fever down and get her to eat, because she’s been nauseous since they started her meds, and she hasn’t wanted any food or water. We went in to see her yesterday and, even with all this going on, she was loving and feisty. She’s a strong-willed girl. :)

They were supposed to call us this morning and settle details for the surgery. Obviously, we were concerned about putting her under the knife because of the infection and fever. We were wondering if it might be better to treat her bladder infection first and hold off on surgery until she’s stronger. The specialist didn’t seem to feel the surgery was urgent; she just said it would be necessary to give us a thorough diagnosis.

So this morning we wait until 10 a.m. No call. We call them. The doctor says Portia is doing better. Her fever has come down and she’s lively. She suggests we might bring her home and see if we can get her to eat, because she’s clearly agitated with being at the vet. She said after a few days, we could see how she does and schedule the surgery then. We make arrangements to pick her up at 3, very excited that we’re going to have our little girl back.

A few hours later, the doc calls and says Portia has taken a turn. She still won’t eat and is now drooling, and she’s having diarrhea. She’s concerned. She says we should go down and see her and decide if we still want to take her home. So we go to the hospital. Today, Portia is clearly very upset, yowling incessantly, even with her mom and dad in the room. She’s wet from a bath, which has also agitated her. And she’s high on pain meds, which is no doubt making things worse. While we’re visiting with her, she pees herself, poor thing, which isn’t helping the situation. Now we’re completely freaking out, and she’s freaking out. And the doctor is not being particularly helpful. (Long story there, but in short, the doctor gave us bad advice in the morning, and was being defensive about it. We should have moved forward with surgery today, but she convinced us it wasn’t immediately necessary. After seeing Portia today, we have to disagree. Now her recovery has been delayed unnecessarily.)

In short, we ended up leaving her at the hospital and are trying to schedule a surgery for tomorrow. We have no idea what will happen. The surgeon has a full schedule but will try to fit her in. If all goes well, Portia will still be at the hospital until Friday, possibly as late as Sunday (and that’s if things go well).

The surgery is very invasive and risky. Best-case scenario, the doc goes in, does the biopsy, sees nothing to be concerned about, and stitches her back up. Other possible scenarios: The doc sees something she DOESN’T like and removes a piece of Portia’s colon. They’ve warned us there could be cancer. Also, their could be complications during or after the surgery. In short, we have no idea if the surgery will help her at all. But if we don’t do it, she may continue to suffer and no one will know how to help her.

The cherry on the top of the cake? The bill for all this right now is sitting at about $7,000, of which our pet insurance will only cover a small sliver. And it could be more if there are complications. This is, of course, the least of our concerns right now, because all we want is for Portia to get well. But it certainly isn’t lessening our anxiety.

Anyway, please say some prayers for our little girl. We’re a wreck right now, but we’re trying to be positive for her sake. Portia turned six years old last month, so she has youth and her spunky spirit on her side.


Email from Sister Moon to our friends & family on 27 April 2012

Thanks so much for all the love and support. We really need it this week. Here’s an update.

Portia had her surgery yesterday. The surgeon scrubbed out to call us during the procedure because she needed us to understand the risk. Once she cut her open, what she found was a large angry lesion in her colon, and a lot of inflamed tissue. She said she would try to cut it all out, but it was risky, because the tissue she needed to remove was right up against a critical artery. Her plan was to remove the top part of the colon, then hand stitch the small to the large intestine. Very intricate procedure. She said it was possible Portia would not survive it, but it was her only chance of survival. We gave her the go ahead.

Three hours later, we learned that Portia had survived surgery. All went pretty smoothly, except she also has a thrombosis (vein blockage) in her rear quarter, which could be a real problem. She couldn’t tell to what length the vein was affected, as it surpassed the scope of the surgical site. This may or may not cause more complications. We just don’t know yet. They’re giving her a drug to help alleviate the thrombosis, but the drug creates a risk of hemmorhage at her sutures. And there’s already a high risk of infection with this particular procedure. She said we should let Portia recover and see what happens, and that the first 12 hours would be critical. Let’s just say it was a long night for us at home.

Well, no phone call during the night, so that was a good sign, and we called for an update first thing this morning. The doc called us back at about 10 to let us know that Portia is doing well so far. Her vitals look good, she’s resting comfortably, and they were able to remove her catheter. They’re giving her nutritional supplements, but they’re going to try to get her to eat this afternoon. We’re by no means out of the woods, but there’s reason to be hopeful. We even get to visit her later today.

Even without the issue of the thrombosis, the doctor told us that the first week is a very tenuous time. We just have to watch how she does and pray for the best. That’s all we know right now.

As to what caused the lesion, they’re not sure. They said it could have been pre-cancer, or it could have been an infection due to a virus. We intend to press them more on this later, but right now, we’re just focused on the immediate problem.

So that’s the scoop for now. Thanks again for all the good energy. Portia thanks you, too!


Email from Brother Wolf to our friends & family on 30 April 2012

It is with a very heavy heart that we send this last update out. Portia had a long, hard week with many ups and downs, but when we saw her Sunday afternoon we still had hope that we would see her again today. Sadly, the vet called us at 1:45am to let us know that Portia had stopped breathing and gone into arrest at 1:40am. The tech was still delivering CPR when they called and they let her rest at 1:50am. To say we were in a state of disbelief at that moment is an understatement. We still don’t officially know the cause of her illness. The biopsy results were due today and we’d know if it was an infection or if it was cancer. All we know if that despite the blood transfusion for her low red blood cell count, her little body just wasn’t trying to repair itself. This seemed so contrary to when we actually got to see her. Through the pain meds and everything else, we still saw our Portia peek out at us through the haze. Her head butting, her purr, her railing dangle, all manner to strong personality traits came out during our visits which continued to give us hope despite the trial she was being put through. The doctors have explained to us that while the procedures she underwent are common enough to expect recovery and life afterward, she was a special case in that her surgery was far more extensive than any they had known.

Of course, our sweet girl was always a special case. She was the bright spot in every room, and I do mean every room since she never let you stray very far from her. Our social butterfly would interact with anyone, a trait she showcased for the vets even during her week long stay. Everyone said she was such a sweet, willful kitty. Right now Teri & I feel like a piece of our soul has been carved out. The house already feels like a very different place without her. We are filled with regret and guilt. Could we have done something more, something different? Would we have, should we have? Should we have just brought her home Monday night, or Thur afternoon before the surgery when she seems so much herself? Teri & I both figured we’d be 50 before we had to say goodbye to any of our babies and it wasn’t something we dwelt on. At 6 years, 1 month & 17 days, she was far too young to be lost to us. Every indulgence we denied her seems like a knife to the heart. Oberon seems very lost, pacing from spot to spot looking for her, like she might be in the closet or something. Aja & Rhu can sense the mood as well.

For now, T and I need time to grieve. In one week we have been delivered a blow one can never truly be ready for, but to be so sudden and without warning we simply don’t have the words. Monday morning she was right as rain, before the next day she was in a hospital and before the week was out she was taken from us. We thank each of you for your wishes, thoughts and prayers. They meant the world to us and we wish they had been enough to rally our girl and get her home.

  One Response to “R.I.P. Portia 2006-2012”

  1. [...] 12 weeks of itchy hell. During that time we were also forced to deal with the loss of our beloved Portia, which I have written about. No sooner than we had come to grips with mourning her when we were [...]

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