Saturday Mid-day I went to visit the Victoria RSPCA cat shelter. Before, because of my bonding with cats which would then be gone, first 50% then 100% of them gone, I had a hard time going. It was confusing for me: Where was Jasmine? Where was Rose who sat in my lap and rode around? I thought enough time had passed that I would be able to find new cats to bond with.
It was a packed parking lot and far busier than expected, instead of the only ones there, families and individuals milled around. It was a bit much for me, much less a cat. We found some of the black cat kittens, which had been paired off, siblings. These two had very little interest in being petted or even having a treat (they liked batting the treats out of the cage like a batting game – see how far they could go!). But they were interested in playing. So I gave them one of the mice with string and bell.
First one would play with it, batting it back and forth before finally going in for the kill and carry. This all while the other one watched. Then the quiet black one took over, batting the mouse in the air, then going into a frenzy burying it under the carpet, before ‘finding’ it again (that pesky mouse trying to escape), and batting it about for the final kill. It took the mouse in its mouth and went up to the high perch, as the victor!
In one cage there were three siblings, two black and this aggressive white cat. You could not try to play with the black cats in one cage before this cat jumped in and in front of them. And if you didn’t play with it, it would attack one of the black cats (the older) and pin it and open the jaws at the jugular as a dominance ploy, then let it up, fight it again and do the same thing. I think whoever gets this ‘cute white cat’ everyone would say, was going to get a handful! The two brothers, black cats, became quite bonded as the older would fight the white cat in one cage (connected) so the younger could get treats or petting. I thought the younger was a much more shy and weaker cat. So much assumption when the white cat, after yet ANOTHER dominance, open fangs at throat decided to go after the black cat I was petting. In a split second, with professional wrestler type moves, the black cat flipped the white on its back, held it for a second and let go. The white cat ‘decided’ to stay in the other cage for while. Hmmm, not quite so bashful and weak after all. Quiet isn’t always weak.
I meanwhile had found Griffin, a black and white tame cat that leaned into petting and decided to ride around with me while I saw the other cats. It went over the bumps no problem, and in and out of both rooms. You can see Cheryl checking him out and petting him. Here, with the stomach exposed, stretching, afterward it wanted a stomach rub. I was surprised to find that level of trust in a cat here. I was getting happy. I hoped I was bonding.
We came back to rest, in the first room. I wasn’t actually petting Griffin but had my hands just above him. Cheryl was watching and Linda was petting this beautiful orange and white cat who sat by the window. She often stared out, waiting for someone to come. Griffin, without a tail twitch, without a raised fur, without a hiss, growl or any noise suddenly attacked my two hands quite severely, sinking fangs in multiple times and one time in to a significant depth, right on the vein. Then attacking the other hand, he jumped down, fur unrifled, and walked off.
Cheryl confirmed there were no signs at all and I later found that Griffin was not left or abandoned but removed (likely due to abuse) and for some reason had learned that the only way to leave anywhere was to attack as hard as possible! Considering this was a meek and loving cat, the combination of the surprise end made me wonder why it was loose where children and others were around, not in the back area getting some help working on changing that particular behavior.
I was staring down into my hand, literally, as Griffin’s largest fang bite went through my skin, the fat, the muscle and further, over half an inch drilled straight down. There were several other fang bites from the second and third attack that were already being covered as my hand swelled. I asked Linda to come over and take a picture. I was not so interested in the bite but the fact that you can see it is right on a vein and yet….no blood. It appears the capillary system of Hawaii and the diminished sweating since then has retreated my blood literally layers far down into my extremities. At no time was I bleeding beyond a drop or two. I had closed my hand to a fist AFTER Griffin had attacked and clawed open two fingers, and there were clawed rips up my forearm as well. But unlike a normal person gushing blood, the neuropathy meant I just sort of stared at it and the illness meant there was little to no blood.
Indeed I went on (after cleaning the hand) to pet the nice orange cat, who seemed so very lonely, you can see my hand starting to swell as the skin and white blood cells react to the saliva and claws of the cat. Then I started to feel very odd.
I was wheeled to the van, and was weakening very quickly. With some assist I got in the van but as we were driving back, I pulled back my hoodie sleeve to find that the skin on both arms, all the way to the bicep had instantly started shedding and sloughing off, all within 20 minutes of the bite. It was kind of creepy. But I didn't think about it as I was feeling so punky. I had washed the hand many times but somewhere near home I passed out, and then stopped breathing. And stopped breathing, and stopped breathing and Linda climbed up on me to give me mouth to mouth for a while (unknown) until I came to a little to fall into my wheelchair.
“Faster!” I mumbled, “Faster” as Linda wanted to know if I had to do a trauma pee, but no, I was feeling that ‘I’m outta here feeling” and started to have a seizure. After that I don’t know. I think it was an hour or so had passed. I had come to a little now then but not much but I was in the bed and breathing again on my own. And Linda took off with Cheryl to take care of me. She fed me and helped me to sleep. I did not check the computer or try to leave the bed. I was punk.
After an almost four hour nap, I awoke and though I was a lot better – time to get some packages done and then move on to do the postcards! Great. Only I was feeling not so great. I came back to the bed. I was talking to Linda and that’s all I remember. I was gone. I mean I was gone!
Cheryl repeated to me later that she said at some point she would have called for the hospital except for the rampant infections in ours right now. I don’t know if Linda or Cheryl worked on me in turns or how they kept me breathing but I was not responding to any of the typical or desperate attempts, even to catch and stop the carbon dioxide from leaving the lungs to make a cough or something. No, nothing worked. It was lights out.
I remember Linda saying my hand was black, one of those things I heard between being passed out. I heard Cheryl saying something, but it was far away and muffled. They worked on me for over an hour. I have good friends, friends who saved me. That’s more than family. It was, I thought, a good day to die, but Linda thought different and she wouldn’t give up on me.
My arm changed to yellowish, and got swollen, and I went into shock repeatedly. We don’t know if it was the bite, if it was the lack of food, the lack of sleep. We don’t know.
That night, I was scared to go to sleep. Part of what is causing the arguments about care giving and part of what is causing the increased fear is that before it was always that STATISTICALLY I could be dead in a few months. Or it was POSSIBLE. Now, the end of the road was in sight. Sometimes it was further away than others but it remained in sight. That day, that night, I didn’t want to sleep because I realized how much of a brink I stood on. How easy it would be to fall over. After that night, we both saw. Linda was scared too, I don’t know all of what she saw, but seizures, stopped breathing for extended periods, breathing only by assistance, by artificial means, it isn’t just oxygen in the nose. Still scared.
I learned that a bed day is not only possible but something I simply have to do now. Not because I choose to, but because I am unable and cannot risk getting out of bed. There were no postcards that night. I managed to do 13 in the morning, to make sure any new requests got one. Linda learned more specifically how I cannot take care of myself. Not a nice way of putting it but accurate. I cannot take care of myself, that is why I need care givers and that is why I need her, if she will help. She learned that there are some things I can’t power through, or will my way through. I am glad she went out and had a night out and that I didn’t have my worst crash until later but I wonder how much she will and I will be scared…..I am already scared – I thought the sweating would help me for a YEAR, but I don’t bleed with a puncture right into my vein only a month after Hawaii. I can see the end of the road and yet I still have so much to do.
Still will probably go back to see the cats. It wasn't Griffins' fault, but that doesn't mean I am petting him for a LONG while.
2 hours ago