Saturday, September 22, 2012

OT: On Cat Bites, Wasp Stings, Memories and Other Things

 Cats eye

This past week was quite an adventure what with all the activity attendant upon getting ready for the final move to New Mexico.

Even though we've been gradually taking care of the myriad chores necessary during the past few years, there is always much more to do than we can anticipate in advance, especially when we've lived in one house for nearly 25 years (the longest, btw, we've lived anywhere.) Not only has a lot of stuff been accumulated, some of it was buried and squirreled away in odd corners, behind other things and what have you and was essentially forgotten. Coming across it has been like discovering buried treasure, and also something of a challenge, in part because at the point of discovery, everything stops for a while as the contents of this or that box are gone through piece by piece, the object -- whatever it might be (like a Chinese calligraphy set in a velvet box) -- admired and puzzled over ("Where did this come from?"), or various and sundry pieces of literature (a wonderful play from Australia, for example) are read or at least skimmed and pondered.

While removing the contents of a file box, I came across a cigar box I recognized but couldn't quite place. I opened it and said... "Oh my god." It was a box full of pictures and mementos from my childhood and adolescence, and even some things from my father's childhood. I have not seen these pictures, letters and other things for many years, decades I would imagine, so it was kind of stunning to come across them. At one time, this box also contained fool's gold and quartz crystals I had picked up during various mountain excursions into the Gold Country years and years ago. What happened to them I don't know; I probably gave them away. But many memories were triggered -- not all of them pleasant -- by the contents of this box. So after a cursory inspection of its contents and a bit of heavy breathing, I put it aside...

I mentioned the injuries a while back and pointed out that they were minor -- or seemed so at the time -- but one, at least, the cat bite, has turned a bit ugly. Yes, well. One of us was bitten -- it wasn't me -- while trying to do a good deed for a cat that moved into our garage after our former neighbor had apparently abandoned her. She'd been skittish though friendly enough, but our resident black and white cat had been harassing her and making her feel unwelcome for a year or more. She also has had what you might call motor problems during most of that time, sometimes losing her balance and having difficulty righting herself. That's what happened the other night -- over a week ago now -- when she was being fed. She fell and wasn't able to get up immediately, so, to help her, La Senora Ché tried to help and the cat panicked, biting and scratching her hand.

At first -- and until yesterday -- there was no sign of infection, and the wounds seemed to be healing fine. She didn't want to go to the doctor for several reasons, 1) we don't have health insurance any more; 2) the wounds appeared to be healing; 3) any sort of animal bite becomes a complicated issue with Authority; 4) bad enough the cat panicked, medical professionals can sometimes be worse.

Yesterday, however, one of the wounds developed signs of infection though at first we didn't know how severe. The wound had been cleaned and re-dressed about 4-6 hours before, and the dressing wasn't removed until we got to the doctor. What we saw initially yesterday morning was that her hand had swollen considerably and she was feeling more pain than she had before. After checking with a clinic where she couldn't be seen until October, we went to the neighborhood Urgent Care where she was seen within half an hour or so, and the bandage was removed for inspection of the wound.

Oh my.

Since being re-dressed a few hours before, her hand hand had turned an angry red and the wound was filled with pus. The doctor was alarmed -- to say the least -- but contained her panic (bless her heart) and went to work draining the wound and re-dressing it. She also provided a prescription for strong antibiotics and a recommendation that we go to the ER if there are any signs that the wound is getting worse. We also did a report to the health department and animal control. Which -- of course -- will lead to bureaucratic complications (let's hope not as extensive as the bureaucratic hoops I went through because of a misdiagnosis of TB).

Of course, we're a little concerned about rabies. There are plenty of wild creatures around here -- racoons, possums, squirrels, and even a river rat from time to time (no skunks that we've seen, though). As far as we know, the biting cat was healthy enough, though skittish by nature. She never showed signs of illness, just motor problems that she'd had for a year or so. We don't know whether she was ever vaccinated.

We haven't seen the cat for a couple of days, however. The last time, she seemed perfectly fine. But where she's gone since then, we don't know.

Even if the infection is controlled -- which it seems to be for now -- there is still a chance of requiring a rabies series if we can't find the cat. Human rabies, they say, is almost always fatal, and yes, we are more than a little concerned about it. Prayers.

Meanwhile, we donated our suddenly non-running car to the Catholic charity down the street, and during the process of its removal, a wasp-nest was discovered and disturbed, leading to some stings -- both to the man picking it up, and to my own self. I haven't been stung by a wasp since I was a child, and all I recall of it was that it hurt like hell. The tow truck driver was stung first and he said it didn't bother him. A few minutes later, I was stung. I didn't realize what had happened initially. Then I noticed I was surrounded by angry wasps. Oh.

Surprisingly, it didn't seem to hurt that much, and after the first few minutes, it was almost an exhilarating sensation. I don't know how else to describe it. Probably the venom had had a chance to circulate, and I was feeling some kind of odd wasp venom reaction high. It was the strangest thing.

I expected the possibility of an anaphylaxis reaction, as I have become very sensitive to certain stimuli and have gone into anaphylactic shock more than once. I got ready to take Benadryl if necessary, but there was no reaction beyond the interesting exhilaration. There was no swelling, only the slightest reddening, and even that went away within half an hour or so.

We received a call the other day from a friend in New Mexico who's been looking after the animals there and keeping tabs on the house. She said someone was using concrete blocks on the property to attempt to close gaps between the fence and buildings. She thought it was distinctly odd, especially when she heard a child's voice which she thought was coming from a house nearby, though she said she never saw the child.

She heard the voice saying that "They're killing your cats, you know." She said it unnerved her. She said she heard a lot of other things while she was at our place, but that was what stood out. There have been feral cats in the area for as long as we've owned the house, and their population grows and declines with the seasons. Some have been trapped and transported elsewhere (about six were taken to a lady's barn some miles away where they immediately set to work ridding the property of rats and mice.)  Some move on, some don't make it through the winter. We're not the only ones who feed them as a number of neighbors say they like having (a few) cats around. But there is one neighbor who doesn't like them at all, and at one time she was quite vocal about it. Now she's clammed up, refuses to talk to our friend or anyone else about much of anything. But if the cats are being killed, we suspect she has something to do with it. It's not a pleasant thought.

There are lots of other things going on; it's a very complicated period, but these are some of the things that have kept us on edge -- and kept me from doing much blogging.

It's likely to be like this for at least the next few weeks....

A little reprise of Clint Maedgen and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in honor of, well, everything:

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