Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Non-lethal Injection

I could never be a heroin or meth addict.

Needles give me the heebie jeebies.  They don't hurt. I've been poked many times over the years:  vaccinations, blood draws and tests, finger pokes. The injections are less freaky than the blood draws.  The finger pokes generally don't bother me too much either, though I still get a little faint at the sight of that drop of blood welling out of my finger tip.  That and I always dread the results even though I have no reason to.  Muscle shots are the easiest.  I got a steroid shot in my hip once that had me barely batting an eye.

The absolute worst, though, was the time I had to go and get my baseline hormones tested.  My doctor sent me to the lab to have vials of blood pulled so that they could sift through everything and find out just what exactly is wrong with me.  The phlebotomist pulled eight vials of blood.  I felt like he drained my body of a quarter of my blood supply.  I had to keep taking deep breaths because I felt myself sliding out of the chair.  By the time he was on the last vial I started hissing at him and holding up my cross.  Having my blood drawn doesn't hurt, even the initial pinch of the needle.  Blood itself doesn't bother me.  Anyone else's blood, my pets blood, even my own.  I missed the pit of an avocado with a knife one time and sliced my finger almost to the bone.  The resulting geyser of blood hardly fazed me.  It didn't even hurt.

There is something about watching my blood pour out of my vein and into a little glass tube that just makes me want to keel over in a dead faint.  I have to look away whenever I do a blood draw because I can't watch my blood collect into anything.  That combined with the needle just about does me in.

I could never be a vampire.  And interestingly, I'm dating one.

Just kidding.

Well, maybe a little.  He does think he's a vampire sometimes.

Bottom line, I hate needles.

So leave it to my precious Puckett to be the one pet out of four who needs injections.  I've said it before, that cat is going to drive me to drink. 

I don't play favorites with my animals, but Puckett does hold a very special place in my heart.  Ever since I rescued her pathetic hairless butt from the animal shelter I've been in hyper-protective mode over her.  She can't cough, sneeze, or hack up a hairball without me freaking out and whisking her to the vet.  I fall for it every time too.  Nine times out of ten when I whisk Puckett to the vet there is nothing wrong with her, and my vet indulgently assures me that my cat is not going to die. 

That tenth time gets me though.

Last month I had to take Tess in for her shots.  A week before her appointment Puckett started throwing up.  Every morning she would eat her breakfast and then promptly yak it up on the floor.  Once she yakked, she was pretty much done.  She didn't throw up every time she ate and she didn't throw up continuously.  It was just that initial meal.

Of course the little darling always had to make sure she was on the carpet when she barfed.  I have mostly hard floors throughout my house, but Puckett finds the two rooms with carpeting and throws up there.

At first I thought it was just because she was bolting her food.  Since I can no longer leave food out to free feed my beasts, the time between 9 PM and 7 AM is apparently so long that kitties start feeling faint with hunger and reaching paws out to me with weak voices saying, "Feed me!"  By the time I serve breakfast, Puckett and Percy descend on their bowls like ravenous wolves.

By the sixth day in a row of puking after eating, I became concerned and called the vet to ask if I could just bring Puckett along with Tess to her vet appointment.  They had no problem with this. 

My vet is pretty awesome.  I don't know if they treat me with special treatment because I give them roughly half of my yearly salary, or if they are generally just super nice people, but either way, they are the best.

When the vet called to give me the rundown of my pets, he started with Tess.  He sang Tess' praises so highly, spoke so eloquently of how she was in perfect health for her age, that I started to get nervous, knowing the "but" was around the corner.  I wanted to scream, "What's wrong with my kitty??" but I held my composure.  When he got around to Puckett he basically told me that she tested a low positive for pancreatitis.  I didn't understand everything, but "pancreatitis" always gives me a feeling of dread.  My first German shepherd had that.  It developed into pancreatic cancer.  The vet assured me that while it can be devastating in dogs, in cats it's not as serious and especially not in ones where the test is a low positive.  He prescribed a vitamin B12 supplement to help with the vomiting.

Now came the dilemma.  There is no way I can get medicine of any kind down Puckett's throat.  I tried pills once.  She spat them in my face.  The one time I tried liquid medicine it ended up all over her chest fur and my shirt.  Needless to say holding down a twenty pound cat who enjoys ten times my strength is impossible for a woman my size.  I can't hold down precious and force her jaws open at the same time.  She won't take pill pockets and she doesn't eat treats.

The vet suggested injections.  Oh, dear God.  He sent me home with four tiny syringes and instructions to poke kitty once a week with an injection, and we'd see how she feels after a month.  Needles freak me out bad enough when someone is poking me.  When I'm on the other side of poking I damn near pass out.  I pulled out the first syringe and uncapped it, staring at the needle point and wondering how I was going to wrestle Puckett to the ground in order to stab her and push the plunger in less than a second.  I figured that's how long I would have before she beat the shit out of me and disappeared under the couch.  I nearly passed the needle over to California Guy who used to be a vet tech.

I know what you're thinking.  How can I ever consider working with animals full time if I'm such a baby about needles?  Well, my plan there is to grin and bear it.  And grin and bear it I did.  I grabbed a handful of Puckett's scruff while she stared at me with mushy eyes and purred.  She's used to me massaging the nape of her neck while petting her, so she was unaware of anything untoward.  I quickly rammed the needle point into her scruff, pushed the plunger home, and pulled the syringe out. I braced myself for punishment.

Puckett didn't even flinch.  She never stopped purring.  The only evidence that I had assaulted her was the tiny hard knob the needle created in the skin of her neck.  She threw her head back and rubbed her chin against the wall, and continued to give me mushy eyes and purr.  I proceeded to slam back a glass of wine.

The good news is that Puckett has not puked once since she began her injections and switched to ID food.  She is back to her happy, healthy, fat self with the occasional bouts of allergies.  Me, I will need a Valium the next time I need to poke her, but let me tell you, it's so much easier than trying to force a pill down her throat.  I think all cats should be medicated with needles.  They cause much less drama than pills or liquid.

I never thought I'd say this, but I actually like needles now.

Of course, that still doesn't mean I'm starting that heroin or meth addiction.

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