Friday, April 13, 2012


Why The Gilded Cat?  That's a really bizarre name!

It's a fusion of my business's name The Gilded Butterfly and my artist pseudonym Catlickfever.   This blog is for both of those so it seemed appropriate.  

Okay, so what's with Catlickfever?  That's really weird too..

It's a family joke.  We had a cat when I was a kid who would lick the ice cube trays and my dad always said "Better wash those or you'll get cat lick fever!"  I couldn't decide on an email name when my dad was helping me set up one of my first email addresses when I was a teenager and he put catlickfever as a joke but it stuck.  So there you have it.  

What kind of art do you make?

Mostly digital art (digital painting), sometimes digital mixed media, traditional media (I don't usually post those online), jewelry, and I dabble a lot in many different things.  I have also done lapidary work and metal working.  :)

What do you sell at your business?  

Jewelry, journal jars, and art prints.  

(Jewelry and other gifts here (one print up as well more to come very soon!)-

(Art prints here-

How did you become an artist?

That's a really good question.  I never really felt like I "became" one.  I just was.  I've been told a lot by family members that I was always very creative and imaginative.  I've always had beautiful pictures in my head and now I'm learning how best to put them out in the world where everyone else can see them.  They don't always translate how I'd like so that's why I'm always learning.  I'm not an authority on anything and can't speak for everyone so these are my thoughts on this topic.  An artist is something you are.  You have to have a heart for it.  I'm not saying you have to have great technical skills a tall.  You can be an artist and only be able to draw stick figures.  If you're making things, putting it out there, and creating things congrats you're an artist.  Technical skill is not always inherent and there's no shame in that.  If you have a heart for it the rest will follow with a lot of hard work an patience. 

I'm an artist because I have a heart for it and I pursue it wholeheartedly.  

What program do you use for digital art? 

Adobe photoshop CS5

What do you draw with digitally?

Wacom intuos 5 tablet  

What camera do you use?

GE X500

Where else can I find you on the web? 

Refer to the links on the sidebar.  :)   


If you want to contact me you can do that via facebook or email me at (for art/print related inquiries) (for jewelry/shop related inquiries).  

You say you're a survivor what did you survive?

A spinal ependymoma.  It's super rare so as one doctor put it I "hit the genetic lottery" with that one.  (more about ependymomas here).  

Why a jewelry/art business?  

With damage done to my spine/vertebrae from the tumor I have chronic pain and I'm not very strong.  I can't stand or sit upright for very long so I have to find a way to make a living that doesn't involve that.  I love art, I have ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon.  I love crafting and anything creative really!   

What happened with your tumor?  

Well, it was misdiagnosed for several years and I got to the point where I could barely make it across a parking lot, my knees gave out at random, and sleep was almost impossible.  I was by all appearances aside from the pain a normal fifteen year old so my doctors never dug into it deeper thinking I was making it up or exaggerating.  One even went so far as to say I was being "an over-dramatic teenage girl."  I did, however, have one doctor who said we should pursue this further because he felt something was wrong.  I was ready to give up ever trying to find out what was wrong at this point because I was starting to believe I was insane.  

My parents basically dragged me to appointments because they knew something was wrong.  This was right after we moved to Texas.  The first doctor I saw nearly brushed me off but my mom told him he needed to watch me walk.  He did and he immediately changed his tune saying that was certainly not normal for me to be hobbling and hunched over.  So I went to see yet another doctor who was a nerve and muscle specialist.  She did x-rays and found I had scoliosis so then I was sent to a scoliosis doctor.  He was one of the first doctors I'd had that showed me true compassion.  He put his hand on my shoulder and said I will get you an MRI today with anesthesia (at this point I was in far too much pain to lay on my back).  So he did and we finally found a massive tumor.  Then two weeks later I was in surgery with a doctor who specializes in spine surgery.  

The surgery lasted 12 hrs and the tumor was 12 in long and as big around as my spinal cord at this point.  The doctor was extremely doubtful I'd ever walk again.  What followed were weeks of excruciating physical therapy.  Initially I was so worn out and discouraged I didn't believe I'd ever walk again either.  My mom stayed with me the whole time I was in the hospital.  One night she was up after I was sleeping praying after what was an especially bad day for me and God told her something.  He told my mom I'd chase butterflies again.  When I was little I loved to chase butterflies and catch them in my hands so I could look at them closer.
I had such wonderful nurses, techs, therapists, and doctors during this time.  I can never truly repay the kindness they showed me.  They did everything in their power to make what was the most horrific and trying time of my life easier.  I spent five weeks in the hospital before I was released.  My mom was with me the entire time.  She watched and learned from my therapists, techs, and nurses how to care for me so I could go home sooner.  Once I was able to use a walker enough to shuffle across a room and back I was released.  At this point I was only mobile with a walker and needed help for everything.  I had months of outpatient physical therapy.  I started off using a walker for very short distances and a wheelchair for longer distances, then a cane, then eventually walking entirely on my own.  

May of the next year I had a second surgery to try to remove the rest of the tumor.  My mom took me and my siblings on a trip down to The Gulf to give me some nice memories before I had to go back in for treatment.  One of the best, most joyous, rewarding moments of my life was feeling the sand between my toes at the beach.  It was something I thought I'd never get to feel ever again.  I was overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness.  

The second surgery was supposed to be less severe in that it would only be a 6 in incision instead of 12 in.  Unfortunately they had to do 12 in again because of the angle of the tumor.  It was less severe in that the recovery wasn't nearly as brutal as the first time around.  The first surgery when they had me stand the first time I collapsed and then nearly blacked out from the pain.  This time I was able to walk across the room and back with a walker.  I had to relearn how to walk a second time with this surgery.  My mom stayed with me the entire time that time as well.  Blessedly I only had to stay in for two weeks instead of five like the time before.  My mom already knew how to care for me from the first time around and a lot of the new techs and nurses I had thought she was a nurse because she was so knowledgeable and good at taking care of me.  haha  I had more physical therapy this time as well but it wasn't as intensive because the surgery didn't do as much damage as the first and I'd recovered a lot from the tumor damage as well. 

Since there were still bits of tumor left radiation was the next step in the process.   I had radiation that September and ended in October.  That was hard too but I was thankful it wasn't surgery again because I didn't feel my body could handle another surgery and it wasn't nearly as bad.  Basically I'd gladly take radiation over surgery any day.  The radiation made me exhausted and sick but in my eyes it was more than worth it if it meant no more surgery.  My mom got me expensive lotion to put on my back to keep me from getting burns.  It worked amazingly.  I never once got burned from it.  Itchy and a red yes, burned nope!  Radiation isn't too skin friendly.  

I had a great doctor for this one too and I've been incredibly blessed to have doctors who are not only the best but very compassionate and kind.  Having had the bad doctors I had prior to my diagnosis has made me all the more appreciative of great ones.  I remember my doctor said we should do one more week of radiation to be sure, I was absolutely crestfallen.  I was ready for it to be over with.  My mom reminded me that one more week of it was more than worth making sure it was over with.  I remember on one of the last days of my radiation the monarchs were migrating.  I saw over a hundred of them on over the span of a couple days.  It reminded me of what God told my mom and it gave me peace.  More surgeries meant more damage which ultimately would mean not being able to walk.  

It's been about four years since radiation, four since the second surgery, and five since the first one.  I'm still stable.  There are still those little bits of tumor but there's been absolutely no progression in all this time.  The surgery and radiation worked.  I started out getting MRIs every 3 months, then 6, this next one coming up will be 9 months since the last one, and after this only once a year will I need them.  My doctors are very optimistic that it's going to stay stable and so am I.  My radiation doctor's PA said I should always trust my gut and my gut says it's over with.  

I have chronic pain now, but I can walk.  I'd take that any day over not being able to walk.  I've lost the ability to walk for a time and I'm incredibly grateful for it now because of that.  My pain levels and what I can do on a given day are pretty unpredictable so that's why it's so important for me to get my business off the ground.  I want to be able to make a living for myself this way since I can't go out and get a job.  My mom has been a really huge support to me and my faith in God has kept me sane throughout this.  I couldn't have done this without either of them.  I felt I should close this by saying that.  <3  

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  

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