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’.


Post a Comment

<< Home