adventures of beck

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pragmatic Fury

"Can you help me get my cat out from under my car seat," questioned the woman with splats of blood on her shirt. "He got hit by a car last night," she further explained as one of the techs got the snare rope and a thick pair of gloves, " and he's bleeding. I didn't think he'd make it through the night." She and the tech then disappeared around the corner to retrieve the cat, while I tried to understand why you would wait until morning to get medical assistance for what you believed to be your possibly mortally wounded cat. Perhaps she could not afford emergency room fees? Perhaps she did not know the cat had been hit until this morning? Perhaps she could not leave certain human family members to fend for themselves? Perhaps she did no have a car? No.

"I'm very pragmatic about these things," she chattered, as her blood-encrusted kitty was laid on the stainless steel examining table. Again, "I'm very surprised he made it through the night." The techs were eerily silent to her chatter, and I realized that it was for the same reason I was speechless. They were afraid that if they were to open their mouths in any response, they would end up dispensing a sizable piece of their minds upon this strange woman. The kitty had some "road rash" on his noggin, between his ear and his eye, and a gash about 3 inches long on his side. He was fairly compliant, and a tech explained that he probably had a big concussion. Doc gave the cat a merciful pain-killing injection, and the techs set about cleaning and debriding his wound. 'Debride' means to remove dead tissue from a wound. Chattery woman piped up when she saw the gash, "oh, that must be why he bitched so much when I picked him up." My toes curled in my shoes at this last remark, and my fingernails dug into my palms. Bitched? Bitched? How about 'cried out in pain,' or 'whimpered?' Honestly. The woman skittered away when needles appeared, giving me a chance to test the water.

Before I could work out my perfect phrase, a tech beat me to it. "Gosh, wonder how many lives you've got left, kitty?"

Doc answered, "well, he used up two-one for the original collision, and one for lasting through the night on his own."

So it was true. The woman had put the cat in extra danger by not getting him medical attention right away. I could have come to this conclusion on my own, of course, but to have a veterinarian say such somehow made the point much more forcefully.

The woman later went on to chatter about how she swore she had 'counted noses' last night, and how her other cat had also been once involved in a car collision. She cited this other cat's name and reflected on how it was 'never the same,' and 'walked funny.'

I longed to pose several questions to this ridiculous woman who thought she was so 'pragmatic.' I wanted to ask her how pragmatic she would be had she herself been struck by a car. I wanted to ask her what made her think that if one cat could so easily be struck by a car, why another could not? I wanted to ask what exactly she meant when she told her cat, in front of us, that she loved it. What kind of love is that, to not even care about another's safety and well-being enough to seek medical care at the time of trauma? There's a reason that Medics in the Army have red crosses on their helmets, and a reason the hippocratic oath tells doctors to "first, do no harm." It is for this same reason that sworn enemies have dropped eachother off at emergency rooms, and it is the reason emergency rooms exist at all. To leave your cat suffering through the night from unknown injuries is a condition even a hunter wouldn't wish on his prey. To call that love is blasphemy.

To round out the day, another woman and her husband brought in two rabbits, for "grooming." This grooming was needed because the rabbits were Angora rabbits (long hair,) and their excrement had become matted into their fur, creating a 2 lb ball of feces, urine, and fur that was causing the rabbits extreme agony. They had to be anesthetized, all of their fur removed, either through shaving or plucking. Their bodies were scalded by their own urine, the skin red and angry and swollen. The tissue pulled away in some areas beause it was so necrosed. These people, too, acted concerned and worried about their pets. They made me very angry and I wanted to throw the ball of feces and fur at them as they sat in the waiting room, wanted to shake them, to ask them that every day when they took a shower while their rabbit sat locked in a cage, why they would not clean it, give it a bath, not let it sit in its own filth, getting burned by its own urine. One rabbit's tail nearly tore away as we tried to pull away the fur, because his tail was so necrotic. It was very sad. But the people were not sad to realize their rabbits had been in agony, they were only worried if their rabbit would be ok, would survive. The guilt, the shame should have been crushing, to realize an animal had been in such pain, all because of your own neglect. But like someone very wise once said to me: you have to do the things you have to do in order to the most good for the most animals. Throwing balls of feces would have me removed very quickly, and that would not have allowed me to do the best job I could applying ointment to the rabbit's body, so that when he woke up he would most definitly feel better than he had before.

A side note: I also learned today from the cat's gash that animals have superfluous, loose skin so that when they are gashed or cut, the gash is less likely to reach their muscle tissue. Humans do not have this advantage. Animals are far more likely to survive a bigger gash without treatment than humans, because a gash of just the skin will bleed less, the skin can cover the wound better, and won't hamper their movement like a gash to the muscle would.


Anonymous Jenni said...

Good job keeping your cool. My facial expressions would have given me away immediately.

2:38 PM CDT


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