I'm sure most of you, if not all of you, have seen the recent story in the news where a Siberian Tiger at the San Fransisco Zoo killed a person and mauled two others. There have been conflicting reports and no one seems to know exactly what happened. I'm sure as time moves on the true story will unfold.
I was talking about the story with a few co-workers this morning, not realizing that, I too, would be the victim of a cat attack just a few hours later. Not a Siberian Tiger attack mind you, but a 6 lb cat attack. Let me give you a look at my day.....
I must say that most days in my job aren't easy, they are a challenge. But I see this challenge in a good light and find it quite rewarding. If you think about it, there aren't too many jobs out there that are easy, and if I wanted an easy job I definitely wouldn't have become a vet tech. But somedays you just have one of those days. Sometimes it broad sides you unexpectedly and other days you can see it coming just by looking at your schedule, and knowing what type of workforce you have on your side.
Going into today I knew it was going to be hellacious. The schedule was packed full, even before opening, with surgeries and sick animals. In addition, I was one person short with a co-worker being on vacation. I don't normally look at my day-to-day schedule this way. And I hate to start my day with such a negative attitude. But on the flip side if I recognize it's going to be a hard day and deal with it before it happens, when the day starts I just put my head down, get myself and gear, and plow through the day. In the end the "hellacious days" tend to be "not so bad of days". Today I wasn't so lucky.
As expected, the morning started out pretty rough. Our first surgery drop off was late, meaning in 15 minutes I would have 2 drop offs at the same time, feeling the rush. I dealt with it and moved on. That's when the sick animal cases started to pour in. All you can do is say, "bring 'em right in." Thankfully I have my system down with surgery days (Tuesdays and Thursdays) where I get most all preparation done before our doors even open in the morning. This helps when you have the unexpected situations arise in your day. Everything's set up and ready to go. Charts are written up, all I need to do is plug in numbers, do their blood work, draw up injectables, pre-med the animals, and go. I even get their go-home information ready and medications set to go so I just have to put the finishing touches on it when we're all finished. It's still hectic, but every little bit helps. The actual surgery is the "easiest" part of the case. It's all the formalities in preparation and post-op that seem to eat up your time. But these are things that must be done for a multitude of reasons including the pet's well-being and laws. So even with the unexpected sick cases we ended up keeping good time and just figured we'd start surgery later than planned and more than likely be performing surgeries all the way until we started evening hours (which by the way were already full with non-routine cases). We quickly ate lunch and headed into surgery.
I got the first case down with no problems and got Doc all set up in surgery. My co-worker stayed with Doc while I headed to the next case. I was going to get a cat, begin induction, and get it all prepped and ready to go. I headed to her kennel, pet the cat, and began walking to the treatment room. The cat had a good temperment previously, and although she had already had an injection of pain medication and a sedative to calm her down, I still had a good hold on her. As with any animal you have a specific way of holding and transporting them, just to be on guard and safe. I had her by the scruff and was holding her back legs, with her front legs free. All set to go back to the treatment room. That's when she realized she had different plans. Out of the blue she growled, hissed, and using her front paws grabbed onto my head and attacked me. To give you an idea, picture a video of America's Funniest Videos where a cat attack a person. Trust me, not so funny. I didn't let go of my grip but at the same time was helpless. She continued to growl, her front claws were dug into my skull, and she kept biting my head. While all this was happening I had my eyes closed, trying to figure out how the heck I was going to get this cat off of my head, without getting seriously injured...actually I was already seriously injured. My adrenaline had kicked in and the bites/puncture wounds didn't necessarily hurt but I was well aware of each time she took another bite. I just didn't want to lose anymore of my face than I already had. I didn't want to make any sudden movements, because anytime I did, she either dug her nails deeper or attacked me more. I quietly but sternly said, "Help.....Help. Please. Help" My co-worker came to help, not knowing what to do. In the process of her trying to help, she got bit and the cat continued to get madder, and continued to bite me in new spots on my head. At that point she cried out for more help and our office manager came running. She was able to get the cat off of my by unhooking the claws, of course after pissing the cat off even more, and it digging several more punctures wounds in my head. The cat fell to the ground and was corraled in a net. That's when I realized all of my blood on the ground and rushed to the sink to douse my head with water, making myself bleed more, to flush out the wounds. I also found that she not only had attacked my forehead and skull but also had gotten my nose, including the inside (yeah, you try to get your nose to stop bleeding from a cut inside the nose, that is so painful it makes your nose water...impossible). I couldn't believe what just happened. Looking back the cat had continued to attack and was attached to my head for no less than 2 minutes.
All I could say was, "Jesus...." and "Holy...." repeatedly. My adrenaline was still going and I was feeling lightheaded and that's when the tears came. Tears of emotion ranging from scared, embarassed, pain, to rage. It was chaos. And remember, while this was all going on we still had Doc in the surgery suite performing a surgery, wondering what the heck was going on. I knew I had to go to the hospital to get checked out, and also knew I couldn't drive myself in the state I was in. I also knew that no one at the office could take me since we were already shorthanded and still had 2 other surgeries to perform. I made a quick call to David and was unable to reach him. I then called my mom and dad. Thankfully they were at the mall, which is right around the corner. They raced over and drove me to the ER and I got all checked out. I got all scrubbed up, took some meds, got prescriptions, and was sent on my way. My co-worker also ended up at the ER due to the fact that she's allergic to almost every antibiotic so she had to have something prescribed specially for her. Cat wounds are vicious. They puncture your skin and the skin heals so fast that it can't seep, causing the infection to fester and making a BAD infection that travels fast, and may require some serious IV antibiotics or even worse, surgery.
The 'rents drove my co-worker and me to my house and I took a quick shower (per the ER doc), mom greased up my head with some triple antibiotic ointment, and we headed back to work. That's when the Darvocet started to kick in. Oy. When I got to work I found that they weren't expecting me back for the day, the cat was finished, but the last surgery would have to be rescheduled. The treatment area was a mess with all that was left from surgery being finished, and another coworker was so graciously heading in to work (she's on a set schedule due to having a child and only having the ability to have daycare 2 days a week. So for her to come in was definitely a hassle, but I was ever so thankful.) I made a call to David to be picked up (mom and dad had already left and taken my car so I wouldn't drive it home with being under the influence of pain killers). In the meantime I made sure all the surgery cases had been charted correctly and their go homes were ready. I tidied up the treatment and surgery rooms as much as I could and told my coworker to leave if for me for tomorrow morning. What a mess. David and I picked up my meds at the pharmacy and I couldn't even keep my eyes open as we went home. I think the pain meds were working.
As of now the pain meds have started to wear off and my forehead is showing some bruising. There aren't too many noticeable scratch marks since most of them were puncture wounds. I don't even want to know what my forehead and head are going to look like tomorrow, or the discomfort I'll be in. Thankfully I have more pain medication, including some extra strength Motrin to take the edge off. But you can be sure I'll be back at work tomorrow. Cleaning up the mess that was left today and taking care of all the animals that need care.
It's the weirdest thing when something like this happens to you. As stated above, you go through a range of emotions, and it's the type you can't control. You cry, you laugh, you feel as though you're going to pass out. Sadly, I've been through this type of situation before. Never this bad..once a cat bit me on my thumb, causing a pretty bad infection, and another when a 66 pound dog bit me face. (Why must they go after my face??) It's kind of one of those things that comes with the territory. You look back on the situation in hopes of learning from it. However, oftentimes no matter how careful you are, animals will be animals.