Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Long weekend.

Did you barbeque this weekend? Did you see a few friends? Go to the beach? Get ready for the new school year or just sit in your back yard and marvel at the speed at which the summer came and went?

Well, didn’t you just miss out on all the fun.

Saturday afternoon, Daughter and I went to visit a friend who is also in the cat rescue game. She and I were talking when Daughter went to a cage in which there were five kittens. Without asking permission, Daughter opened the cage, reached in and grabbed the most adorable. I was about to say something obvious like “Please don’t do that without asking permission” when the kitten dashed through the opening. Daughter leapt upon the kitten, grabbed it, and put it back in the crate. She then burst into tears and ran to me, holding out her hand. On the back of her hand was enough cat hair to knit a fur maxi-coat, and a filament-thin line of red.

“She scratched me!” Daughter said, torn between indignation and horror.

Daughter has a few simple rules for getting through life: all meals should include desert; strict bedtimes are the product of a diseased mind; and nothing which is on the inside of one's body should ever be seen on the outside. Even the slightest hint of red paint dribbled on her skin has been known to set her off. I examined the hand, brushing off a cumulus cloud of hair before staring at the scratch.

“You’re fine,” I said briskly. “Please ask Kate nicely if she will disinfect your hand.”

Note to readers: I am not quite as callous as I appear. I didn’t just negate my daughter’s pain and foist her care off on a friend. Not exactly. Daughter, much like her mother at that age, can make an opera out of a stubbed toe. Any sympathy from her maternal unit ratchets up the emotional opera from “Carmen” to “The Ring Cycle”; that is, it increases its length eightfold. If I give the injury a quick triage and hand her to someone who doesn’t trigger this dramatic reflex, she feels better that much faster. This works nearly all the time.

Kate disinfected and bandaged while Daughter pointedly stared at the ceiling and groused about ungrateful kittens. Convinced Daughter could handle my presence without collapse, I walked over to observe the proceedure. Kate pointed out two small holes in the pad of her thumb which I hadn’t seen upon first examination.

Slightly less sanguine now, I asked, “Kiddo, are you sure you weren’t bitten?”

The mouth of a cat is exciting, especially if you like lists of bacteria that can run a few pages long.

“I’m sure," she said firmly. "She just clawed me when I tried to pick her up.”

Kate attended the two holes even more thoroughly and allowed Daughter to pick out the Band-Aids of her choosing. Three minutes later, Daughter had the satiated expression of the blood-phobe who has been allowed to put seven Band-Aids on one hand. The only thing which would have made her happier would have been a full arm cast, in My Little Pony pink.

I commended Daughter on her bravery. Daughter noted that the traditional gift for bravery was being allowed to adopt two new kittens. I countered with dinner at her favorite neighborhood restaurant. She countered with dinner and an ice-cream cone at her favorite neighborhood restaurant. The contract was signed. Dinner was a pleasant and lively affair, made notable only by Daughter’s taking her Band-Aids off and on repeatedly to inspect for any rogue bodily fluids, and then being surprised when the Band-Aids no longer adhered.

Very late Saturday night, Consort and I were called to her room.

“My hand hurts,” she said, still half asleep.

I turned on the light. The cut on the back of her hand was pretty much unchanged, but the area around each puncture wound was red and swollen. Consort was dispatched to the 24-hour grocery store to get Epsom salts. Daughter got a kids' Tylenol and soaked her hand for an hour or so -- about twenty minutes of which was actual soaking; the other forty was Daughter and I squabbling about whether the water was too hot or just right. After the soak, the hand appeared somewhat less swollen, and Daughter was coaxed into going back to sleep.

The next morning, the hand was swollen again and there was pus leaking from the two holes. I stared at it and waffled. Pus is bad. Or is it? Doesn’t that mean the immune system is doing what it’s supposed to be doing? The Epsom salts worked. Or did they?


Daughter had a point. Either she was healing or she wasn’t, and prodding her palm like a blob of bread dough wasn’t helping matters. We Epsom salted for a second time and I put Neosporin on the wounds. That seemed to help. I re-bandaged before Daughter had a chance to notice she had a whole new inner fluid on the outside.

For the rest of the morning her mood was cheerful and lively, so Consort and I decided to take in a kid’s art program downtown. We walked around and looked at the art in the museum; which is to say Consort looked at art, Daughter looked for the gift store, and I looked at her hand. I had reached the stage where I had lost any sort of perspective and was now wallowing in measuring the immeasurable. Was the palm a fraction redder than it was two minutes ago? Did the thumb look a millimeter larger than the other thumb? Were her fingertips slowly turning black, indicating necrotic tissue?

Maybe watching a “House” marathon on DVD isn’t the best idea for someone like me.

The museum had transformed their outdoor courtyard into an art studio for children. Daughter gathered up all available supplies and settled into creating something magnificent. I watched her hands move this way and that, deciding upon one particular length of yarn and not another, grabbing for the glue, cupping her palm protectively around the glitter jar she saw another child eyeing. That's when I saw the inside of her wrist in bright daylight for the first time since we'd arrived.

There was a definite red line running from the puncture wounds down toward her wrist.

Tomorrow: more.


Blogger Judy said...

Ahhhh! I cannot WAIT until tomorrow! Is she okay!?!

My son stepped on a 'jack' once. Two days later he started walking funny. Yup. He had a red line.

He recovered quickly. As you can tell - twenty years later - I still have not recovered.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cat bites can be VERRRRRY nasty and a lenghty heal. Stay on top of it.

Once at a birthday party, I gave out boxes of bandaids for party favors. It was true genius if I do say so myself.


6:21 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

oh lord.....

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gaaaa! This is leaving your readers in nearly as much suspense as the whole of Japan felt while waiting this week to learn the gender of Princess Kiko's baby. (A boy would delay the battle over changing the law of succession to include women, as the current Princes have only had daughters; the baby turned out to be a boy.)

I hope your daughter is OK!

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OY, this post has more suspense than the first 20 minutes of "Psycho!" Those red lines scare the bejeesus out of me. I trust all is well, but we need details!!

5:18 PM  
Blogger Karen of TX said...

I see we have the same daughter. Bandaids, shot phobia, and all. Healing thoughts coming your way, and thank you, God, for Alexander Fleming.

Now. I know you don't want to hear this, and double check with your doctor if you want, but that kitten needs to be checked for rabies. Not quarantined; quarantine is for vaccinated animals. It's rare for kittens to be incubating rabies, but not impossible, and the only way to know for sure is to check, which would mean the kitten would have to be euthanized and sent off. At least that would be the law in Texas with an unvaccinated animal and human exposure. Again, check with your doctor (or vet; sometimes the vets are more up on the zoonotic issues) but please consider it. I know you don't want to see the kitten sacrificed (and this will never ever be known to your daughter, it goes without saying) but it's a serious issue.

3:34 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Karen,
I am the softest-hearted person in the world when it comes to animals, but if there is any doubt, anywhere, in a vet or a physician's mind, the kitten would have to go.
Thanks for the heads-up, and I will call the owner later today and clarify the situation.

6:51 AM  

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