Right when I picked up the phone and heard so-and-so client’s voice I thought, “You are going to be a pain in my a$$ today.” This particular client always comes with shenanigans: Bringing a dog in to our feline-exclusive clinic, taking contagious cats out of the carrier to run loose through the lobby, not paying–it’s always something with this one. But she said she had an “emergency,” so I told her to bring it in.
I don’t get too riled when a client says emergency–often that person’s idea of an emergency is very different from my idea of a critical patient. Also, I don’t get too worked up when someone says their cat is fractious for the same reason. I see the whole situation, then, if it is warranted I’ll go into emergency mode or get extra safety equipment, as the case may be.
I was cautious, but the kitty let me take all the vitals. She at no point really fussed, or got super-excited. She had been a sweet cat, but the pain of picking her up or touching her belly made her bite. She let the doctor do the exam with some gentle restraint and only lifted her head to bite when the belly was pressed. She was hardly intractable at any point. X-rays were warranted so I had to pick her up off the counter. I used a towel, and the initial picking up seemed to hurt her, but I thought we were in the clear until I had to set her down again. I thought this was a reasonable assumption, because I had already picked her up to get a weight, and picked her up a second time to get her off of the scale, and she fussed initially, but let me do it without incident. I took exactly one step out of the exam room, and somehow she found my left hand through the towel and clamped on to where the middle finger knuckle attaches to the top of my hand–one tooth on each side of the joint.
I wouldn’t have done anything different. I think the bite was mostly bad luck. I WAS wary, I was careful, I deal with much worse on a daily basis. I can handle myself around a fractious or painful cat on most occasions. She gave no vocalization, no indication (after I picked her up) she would attack. Just bit and refused to let go for what felt like the longest time.
I try not to make a scene when I’m injured at work. It’s disruptive and counter-productive, doesn’t instill trust in the clients, my co-workers, or my boss, and can get you hurt worse. Startle an already biting cat and you just might get some more sharp-edges. So I quietly set the cat on the back treatment counter and tried to pry her jaws off my left hand with my free hand. Nope, wouldn’t budge. I calmly called out the other tech’s name once–to no avail. I thought maybe putting the cat in the sink would change her position just enough that she would let go of me and try to run away. No luck, she was still clenched around the middle knuckle of my left hand. The receptionist came back, and asked what I needed.
Remember the cat is under a towel, so the jaws of life was happening out of view. I didn’t want the receptionist to make any sudden movements, so I slowly told her to come over quietly and do what needed to be done to make the cat release my hand. I under no circumstance wanted to upset the cat more and sustain chops ALL over my hand and arm. Cats can bite really fast when they want. I didn’t know what she did until later, but I guess she just gently touched the cat, and it let go of me. Then she put on the gloves and told me to wash my hand. I opened a kennel for her to put the painful biter in.
The funny thing was, I could tell the bite went pretty deep, and was in a joint which is the worst for later infection, but it didn’t look bad. I mean, I never show the pain as I feel it. I never bruise, never have a bad, bloody stump, my injuries are never looking as bad as they feel. But this was an especially meager specimen in that regard. It never even bled at all. And it just
looked like two small dots where the teeth went in–I have old scars on my hands and arms that look worse! It also wasn’t all red and swollen–it looked fine, actually. I scrubbed the hand with Betadine. And while I rinsed it, I knew I was about to pass out. Which is a funny feeling. You notice it in your stomach first, then in your head. And then my knees buckled so I was leaning heavily on the ledge of the counter. I knew I was about to pass out and I should sit down first, yet my body didn’t really move in a quick fashion. My boss came walking out of the exam room, and said something like, “Are you about to pass out?” To which I (cheerily I thought, considering the situation) responded, “Indeed I am, you called that one.” Or some such nerdy phrase.
I never went to pieces though. I didn’t scream, cry, or yell. And I don’t think I acted dramatically. But I knew this would likely be infected so I needed to get antibiotics. I’m usually anti-medical, just because it costs money, takes time away from work, and usually I don’t get sick or hurt in ways I can’t just deal with on my own. But I knew I’d get the red line (indicating infection) if I didn’t. I had already planned to use my school loan money to pay for the visit, and was pleasantly astounded when my boss mentioned workers comp. Sometimes small, private business discourage making a claim and either make you pay if you go to the doctor, or will pay you back later. I called Cool, because careful to tell her not to be alarmed. She tends to panic if I say I’m ill/injured because it generally takes a LOT to put me out of commission. She was nice enough to pick me up–though it took a long time because of construction (so she said), because I didn’t wanna pass out behind the wheel and total Rusty. No need to make a bad situation worse. So I went (on work time) to urgent care, picked up my prescriptions, and ate a sandwich since I knew I wouldn’t get an additional lunch break and we would probably be really behind when I got back to work.
We were this-close to my work, and I was anxious to get back and try to help catch up, when my glasses slid down my nose. These are my old pair that I use for work, because I know they will get all junked up with ear cleanings, abscess goo, etc, etc. . . I went to use my left shoulder to push them up–since my hand was out of commission–and the lens fell out. This happens from time time time, and I took off the frames in order to pop the lens back in. It had not fallen out at all, the frame had broken in 2, un-salvageable pieces! So just as we got to my work, I had no vision. We had to drive all the past, work to our apartment, so I could get my other frames. Then, I saw for myself just how slow the construction was–it was on every route we could have taken. And tedious. It took what felt like forever to get back to work. It was the kind of thing that was true, but I felt others would think was a lie–so I felt weird. But it’s totally true!
And as soon as I did get back to work–they said, “We just called your co-worker to come work for you.” So I didn’t actually have to go back at all. Which they had actually told me before I left. But I wanted the money, didn’t want to mess up everyone’s schedule, and didn’t leave because the hand HURT. I have had much worse bites, a lot more in number, some combined with scratches, ones the got very swollen and red and ugly, and the pain is usually a 5 on the pain scale, with the last bad bite in Seattle climbing at a brief 11 when I touched ice to it. So this was pretty mild, pain-wise. I just needed the antibiotics (and anti-nausea drugs). So I planned to finish the day.
I didn’t TAKE the antibiotics, because they make my belly ill. And my anti-nausea drugs are supposed to make me sleepy. I didn’t want to go back to work only to barf all afternoon. But the vet said I either take the afternoon off, or take a dog-sized Amoxi we have. I told her if it made me barf I was going home and we agreed. So I took an amoxi–which turned out to be easy on my belly. Would have saved a lot of trouble if she had given me that option for the Rx instead of sending me to the doctor. But I guess that’s bad, bad, bad and not legit–even though I find it helpful.
And that’s all I want to type, when my hand probably will stiffen up to the point that precludes typing at all. I’m off to other internet places. With me a useful hand and calm belly!