Posts Tagged ‘health’

Well I know my little baby, she’s gonna jump and shout…
Lord I’m trouble, trouble on your mind.
– Harry Manx, 2001


All it takes is an open gate.

Have I described to you my little house in the Berra? It’s a weatherboard cottage, renovated some time in the past 15 years, oddly arranged on a corner block (as so many corner houses are here) so that all the yard is either front yard or side yard. One’s business, like my washing line, is out there for all to see. And like all rental houses, it has quirks the tenant finds hard to understand: like the way the house is enclosed by a pool fence.

It looks funny, but I suppose it’s an efficient way to keep rugrats or pet dogs in, and there’s evidence of both in this house’s recent past. It’s also a good way to keep passers-by out – if one closes the gate.

Well, after driving home from lunch, we didn’t close the gate. Caro, Ricky and Dom are recently back in the Berra after Caro’s 12-month tenure in Slobart expired, and they are as happy as Larry to be back on the mainland, not to mention in their own home. Happiness of course is best celebrated by stuffing one’s face, and we did just that at yum cha for Sunday brunch.

One of the curious things about the Berra is some inexplicable cultural cross-cultural cross-polination. Apparently the three or four best yum cha restaurants are to be found in culturally specific clubs. We tried the one at the Croatian Club in Deakin. Yum cha with the Croats? Don’t shit me.

My scepticism was busted – the fare was a pretty good example of its genre. The carts held a broad selection of steamed and fried dumplings and miscellaneous items, the best of which were the fried calamari tentacles and stuffed eggplant; even chicken’s feet were offered (we politely declined). Lunch was a flat rate of $16.85 per adult head, a price which both gives license to gluttony and acts as an incentive to the competitive. What value.

This has but whetted the appetite, of course. In about a month (or, when we finally feel hungry again) we’re heading off to the next yum cha on the list – I believe it’s at the Hellenic Club in Woden…

Anyway, a long brunch later we rolled home and didn’t bother to close the gate behind the car. Which was fine until a couple of hours later when we heard the sound of chaos on the front deck. I went out and found a large Irish setter loping down the steps, in pursuit of a streak of white lightning. I shooed the ugly thing away – it was collared and tagged but did not have an owner nearby – and rescued Schroeder cat from the top of the back fence, to where she had retreated, clearly unhappy.

It wasn’t until a few hours later when she came out from under the bed that we realised the dog had scored a bite. Schroeder was limping and bleeding freely from her left flank. Being about half past nine on the Sunday evening of a long weekend, I was resigned to cleaning her up and consulting the vet during daylight, but noooo, the Bald Man (Schroeder’s best friend and greatest apologist) had to find a vet TONIGHT. And after cruising the Yellow Pages we found one which took emergency cases until 10:30pm, and was just a few streets away.

Needless to say Schroeder was underwhelmed by our Good Samaritan efforts. She didn’t like being in the cat box, she didn’t like the car, and she didn’t like the vet. At the vet, she didn’t care for the painkiller injection, she didn’t like having the fur shaved away from her flank and tail (there are at least two wounds from a dog bite), and she really didn’t like having the punctures irrigated with disinfectant. When the vet had us hold her down to shove an antibiotic capsule down her throat, Schroeder decided she had had enough and bit down – on my left thumb.

I yelped, pulled free of her fangs and took a look. There was a substantial cavity to one side of my thumbnail, which had a wad of white fur jammed in it; I pulled the fur out and the wound began to bleed freely. More dark blood dripped from the pad of the thumb (there are at least two wounds from a cat bite). The vet grabbed my hand and dunked it in a kidney basin of disinfectant that had recently been servicing the cat; as she pressed a cotton pad to my bloody hand the surgery went all funny colours and I had to go sit down with my head between my knees.

Schroeder felt very sorry for herself. Not at all sorry for others.

Schroeder felt very sorry for herself. Not at all sorry for others.

The vet eventually dosed the cat with the help of The Bald Man, and she also got a bite for her efforts, so the vet and I bandaided each other while Schroeder sulked. She’s not a biter, The Bald Man pleaded, which is true, but the vet glared at Schroeder and told her that better animals had been put to sleep for less. I totally understood.

We took the cat home and began cruising the Yellow Pages for medical centres open at 10:30pm. And you know what? There aren’t any. In the Berra, pets in pain are better serviced than people. If you aren’t at death’s door and prepared to front up to Emergency, then you go home and wait.

Now I don’t want to sound too much like a sook, but my hand really hurt. It actually required painkillers with codeine to get to sleep. So the next day, we found a doctor open on the public holiday, a good 20 minutes away in Belconnen. He looked at my swollen digit and prescribed antibiotics and a tetanus injection. As he rolled up my sleeve and swabbed my arm, I remarked that the last time I had a tetanus shot I got a localised infection that caused my upper arm to swell up into an angry red balloon, requiring more antibiotics and greatly exciting my then doctor who said it was a once-in-a-thousand occurrence.

Rubbish, said this doctor, as he jabbed my arm. He flapped the used disinfectant swab at me. These don’t do a thing except make the patient feel better, he said. Certainly don’t stop an infection.

How did he explain my arm, then? Probably allergic to the tetanus shot, he said, depositing the used syringe in the bin. I goggled at him. So what am I supposed to do about that? I asked. He shrugged; stop taking more tetanus shots. Then he gave me a half smile and said, doesn’t matter what happens now, this one’ll last you for ten years.

It’s about 36 hours since that unedifying experience; as I type, my thumb is still swollen and throbbing, and my upper arm is starting to swell too; looks like the doctor was right, I’m allergic to tetanus. What a stupid thing to be allergic to. Why not peanuts, or seafood, something sensible like that? And the antibiotics are either taking their time to kick in, or they’re not the right ones, or I’m resistant, or I’ve got a terrific multi-resistant-cat-bite-tetanus-shot case and will have to be put in a tent and shut away from humanity for my own survival…

… watch this space.

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