Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Isabella's been having a tough time the last few days (and consequently, so have I, dammit). I took her to the vet, practically a drive-by, to have blood drawn. In and out. No appointment necessary. No big deal. Or so I thought.

Then the next day she stopped eating and started looking all mopey. Now I admit it takes me a while to catch on, but I finally noticed the pattern: go to vet, cat gets sick. Three out of the last four times. I sort of assume that the stress makes her (as yet undiagnosed) chronic pancreatitis flare up. This time I didn't worry so much. As part of a conversation with the vet about how to possibly prevent this in the future I picked up a bag of fluids. A cat that won't eat can quickly become dehydrated, so it's a plus to have to fluids on hand just in case.

But I figured that she'd snap back quick and the fluid, tubing, and needles could stay tucked in the bag in the closet.

Wrong again. Four days later Isabella had still eaten very little despite the staggering array of options I put before her at every opportunity. She looked like crap. The bag of fluid sat untouched and I had to admit the truth: I was chicken. I knew she needed an infusion. I knew it was supposedly pretty straightforward. And in the name of all things holy, we know I've poked literally thousands of holes into that cat already. What was the big deal with one more?

The problem was this:

This 18 gauge harpoon is the tool I was given to get the fluids out of the bag and into the cat. Oh. My. God. I could not imagine poking that thing-- the size of a screwdriver for pity's sake -- through Isabella's skin and living to tell the tale. Much less getting her to sit quietly with it jammed between her shoulder blades for as long as it took for the fluid to infuse.

I repeat: Oh. My. God.

But I kept looking at my miserable cat and knew that I had something that would make her feel better close at hand. So I sucked up the courage and I did it. I set up the tubes and the fluids and harpoon. I arranged the cat. And I rammed that baby home. Isabella uttered a small squeal of protest, and then settled down and just waited. Didn't move, didn't cry, didn't even try to hurt me.

The fluid took about a minute, possibly the longest minute of my life, to flow in. When it was finally done. I pulled out the needle, so anxious to un-impale my cat that I forgot to turn off the fluid. The free needle sent a stream of lactated ringers across the walls, Isabella's back, and my front as I fumbled to find the squeezy valve. Isabella, naturally, tried to flee the deluge, and in my haste to get out of her way, I shoved the uncapped, very sharp, very thick needle into my thumb, adding blood into the mix of fluids flying about. Getting the fluid stopped at last, I yanked the needle off the tubing and sent it flying out of the bathroom and across the hall where it promptly disappeared. Nevermind that a minute ago it was a big as a fence spike, now that uncapped 18g needle was perfectly invisible.

Sigh. In the end, I think Isabella came out more unscathed than me. And I'm not looking forward to next time, even though I've now got some smaller needles.


Mary C said...

LOL!!! Been there, done that! (Or at least Heidi has with me watching) You see, I watched because I was too chicken to insert that monstrous thing into Avalanche. And the way you posted this episode I could visualize the entire scenario. I do hope your thumb is OK by now. And I hope the fluids helped Isabella.

Anonymous said...

Been there, done that too! Once in the reception area of the shelter (after a couple years without practice) - in front of a lot of people... blood dripping everywhere and trying to reassure everyone that the blood was MINE, not the cat's. The 22 gauge needles are a little less daunting, though they take longer.

Anita Thorn said...

Just found your blog - I share your thoughts, have been through much of the same myself. Loved the "Impaled" story..LOL! Wish I had read this back when you wrote it - I may have had an encouraging word for you on sub-q fluids. I prefer 20-gauge needles - takes a bit longer but doesn't hurt as much when you impale yourSELF on the damn thing. Glad to find another cat-lover out there!
My diabetic kitty, OJ, has his stories at catinthecabinet.blogspot.com