Monday, September 25, 2006

Doin' "That"

I’ve been hearing people tell me “I couldn’t do that” for a lot of my life. The latest instance is the occasion of needing to have an IV rig hanging from my closet shoe rack. More on that in a moment.

I think we have inflated notions of our own fragility. The guy who sawed his own arm off is a hero of sorts, yes, but your body will enjoin your mind to make decisions like “I could either die here, attached to my arm (which is crushed under this huge rock) or I could survive and leave the arm.” He may never go unmolested through airport security again, but that’s a different kind of pain. Ask any ten mothers at random whether there’s a moment of “Get it out or give me a scalpel” and you’ll probably hear “yes” at least eight times. When it comes right down to “Will you do what it takes to continue your life or the life of someone you love, can you do whatever ‘that’ is?”

My cat’s behavior has been “off” lately. As I told the vet, “I don’t have any new scars, scratches, bites, or scrapes on my arms and hands, so no, she hasn’t been herself.” I pretended not to see the little grin on the vet’s face; she must be a cat person.

The really alarming moment was when I realized the beast wasn’t eating. That’s unheard of. This cat used to weigh 23 pounds; not eating is anathema to her self-concept. She was also drinking a huge amount, and yarking about half of it onto my floor each time. Blech.

When I took her in, the vet wanted a urine sample. “I haven’t been a vet tech in twenty years, and I don’t remember how you get a urine sample from a cat; sounds like a rodeo to me.” She laughed and told me I could either fill the cat box with aquarium rocks, and then bring in the damp contents, or they could use a needle. I chose needle and they took the cat away. I was worried more for the poor techs than my cat. She is the dangerous one.

A young woman brought her back a few minutes later. I think I have a new scar just from the evil cat-glare that said, “I have been SO personally violated and it’s all YOUR fault.” I suddenly had an insight of how fathers feel in the delivery room, and began to worry about waking up with a mouthful of damp cat litter some random morning.

Two days later, the vet calls and tells me the cat’s kidneys are failing. Shit, I know she’s old, but I didn’t need physical confirmation of same. They tell me to come in for a “fluid demonstration”, what is this, physics?

The tech rolls in with two bags of lactated Ringer’s (sterile hydration solution) on an IV tower, the tubing rig, and a bag of (18 gauge!) needles. For comparison purposes, most human injections are done with a (smaller) 25 gauge needle, as an 18 will both hurt and leave a rather unsightly hole in one’s outer integument.

Oh crap, they want me to do this, at home. I turn to the cat, who is looking rather peaked, and look at the tech, holding out the needle, and sigh. I’m not getting out of this.

Luckily, subcutaneous administration in cats is pretty easy. Their skin is rather baggy, so you grab a fold (between the shoulders blades is ideal) and pull it away from the body, inserting the needle in the resulting space below your fingers. The hard part is getting her to sit still for the five minutes it takes to run 100 mL through the needle.

When I’m done, I release the cat, who now has a huge bolus of fluid over her shoulders. She looks like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein, mostly because when I comment on her lovely new addition she gives me a look that says eloquently, “What hump?”

However, the other evening, after the third treatment, she jumped onto the bed and wanted to play, “attack the moving thing under the duvet”. If the result of my sticking her with a needle twice a week, is having my favorite evil nemesis feel up to attacking me again, then yes, I can do ‘that’.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Good Night, Funny Woman

Today, America has lost one of the great ones. She was never President, she was not a millionaire, she was simply one of the classiest, hardest-nosed, most ethical and funniest women on the planet this side of Helen Thomas.

Dorothy Ann Richards was born September 1, 1933 in Lakeview Texas. If you ever wondered what kind of parents could raise a woman like that, Ann said of her father, ““I have always had the feeling I could do anything and my dad told me I could. I was in college before I found out he might be wrong.”

She was the governor of Texas from January 15, 1991 to January 17, 1995, a time of economic growth in Texas, against a backdrop of national decline. She reformed the prison system, and instituted a state lottery to shore up school funding.

However, it was her mouth that made her famous. From the wry “I thought I knew Texas pretty well, but I had no notion of its size until I campaigned it” to the profound, “I'm really glad that your young people missed the Depression. I'm really glad that your young people missed the Depression and missed the big war. But I do regret that they missed the leaders that I knew, leaders who told us when things were tough and that we'd have to sacrifice, and that these difficulties might last awhile. They brought us together and they gave us a sense of national purpose,” she could come to the heart of things, and quicken its beat.

Unlike the 24/7 vitriol chunkspew of today’s political climate, she could finesse an insult with the best of them “Poor George (W. Bush) he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

She gave credit where it wasn’t often considered due “I have a real soft spot in my heart for librarians and people who care about books”, and made sure to include her former profession and colleagues, “Teaching was the hardest work I had ever done, and it remains the hardest work I have done to date.”

I’ve recently become fond of her trenchant observation ““I've always said that in politics, your enemies can't hurt you, but your friends will kill you,” although I don’t restrict it to politics.

Just in case we have failed to mention it, since she left office she had campaigned for many a Democratic candidate across the nation. If, as Molly Ivins says, “You got to dance with them what brung you” Ann tripped the light fantastic graciously, backwards, and in high heels.

If every so often she trod on the Republicans’ toes, she did it with such panache that even they had to smile. So, Ann, you will be mourned, missed, and warmly remembered. Rest peacefully, knowing you fought a great fight, and did not falter.

See below.
Ann Richards on How to Be a Good Republican:
1. You have to believe that the nation's current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but yesterday's gasoline prices are all Clinton's fault.
2. You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.
3. You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time.
4. You have to believe that AIDS victims deserve their disease, but smokers with lung cancer and overweight individuals with heart disease don't deserve theirs.
5. You have to appreciate the power rush that comes with sporting a gun.
6. You have to believe...everything Rush Limbaugh says.
7. You have to believe that the agricultural, restaurant, housing and hotel industries can survive without immigrant labor.
8. You have to believe God hates homosexuality, but loves the death penalty.
9. You have to believe society is color-blind and growing up black in America doesn't diminish your opportunities, but you still won't vote for Alan Keyes.
10. You have to believe that pollution is OK as long as it makes a profit.
11. You have to believe in prayer in schools, as long as you don't pray to Allah or Buddha.
12. You have to believe Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde were really faithful husbands.
13. You have to believe speaking a few Spanish phrases makes you instantly popular in the barrio.
14. You have to believe that only your own teenagers are still virgins.
15. You have to be against government interference in business, until your oil company, corporation or Savings and Loan is about to go broke and you beg for a government bail out.
16. You love Jesus and Jesus loves you and, by the way, Jesus shares your hatred for AIDS victims, homosexuals, and President Clinton.
17. You have to believe government has nothing to do with providing police protection, national defense, and building roads.
18. You have to believe a poor, minority student with a disciplinary history and failing grades will be admitted into an elite private school with a $1,000 voucher.