Saving my life

I took Alexander to the vet today to have him treated for a new wound that occurred due to his poor physical condition.  It has been eight months since the vet informed me that Alexander is blind and has a brain tumor.  I haven’t made the terrible end of life decision for him as he still appears on time (and always ahead of his brother and sister) for breakfast and dinner.  The cancer is not yet affecting his appetite.

As I was leaving the clinic, I remembered another incident that occurred there about ten years ago.  Richard and I had taken one of our cats to the vet for a visit when Richard announced to the vet that I had suffered a cat bite while volunteering at the local animal shelter.

I didn’t think about mentioning it – but I usually forgot important details when I saw my doctor when I was ill.  Richard always remembered the things I forgot to tell the doctor.

When Richard told the vet about the bite, she was alarmed and asked me about the incident at the shelter.  I followed with my story about the bite incident.

A woman arrived one Saturday morning to surrender a feral cat to the shelter.  While I was handling the cat, it got away but not before badly biting my hand and knuckles. The cat was never found and was presumed to be living amongst the feral colony outside the shelter.  My hand and knuckles became badly infected and required treatment by my doctor.  But I never filed a report about the bite.

After I finished my story, the vet told me that since the feral cat was never found, I should be treated for rabies as the cat may have been infected.  She further explained the slow progress of the spread of the infection from the bite location to my brain via my central nervous system might take several months to one year.  When symptoms became present, it would be too late for treatment.  She suggested that I go to the hospital for rabies treatment and vaccination.

I dutifully reported to the emergency room for several rabies treatments and finally for vaccination for future animal bites.  I never felt any concern about the possibility of rabies infection but Richard was a worrier and it made him feel better that I had rabies treatment.  And my fellow volunteers soon joked that since I was up to date on my rabies vaccination, that they weren’t concerned about my biting them!

I lost Richard to cancer just one year after the bite incident, and sometimes I think about him reporting my bite to the doctor and wonder – did Richard save my life?

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2 Responses to Saving my life

  1. jackcollier7 says:

    Even in England we need to be careful over animal bites. Since the introduction of the pet passport we have all kinds of cats and dogs entering the country, some from places where rabies still exists. Any rabies scare in the UK leads to a terrible slaughter of everything from cats and dogs to crows, ravens, magpies, (why the birds as they can’t get rabies?), foxes and bats. As a matter of fact bat bites can give you all kinds of nasty stuff. Luckily Pyewacket, (big black cat) is still the picture of rude health, even at his advanced age.

    • Natasha says:

      I have to admit that although I was regularly bitten and scratched by shelter animals, I never thought much about rabies. I always wondered if I had been infected by the cat described in the incident and I was saved because of my husband’s concern for my safety. I’ll never know though if the cat had rabies. I thought recently about rabies when my neighbor had raccoons nesting in his roof and I warned the other neighbors to stay away from the raccoons.
      As for Alex, I think the vet is surprised he has lasted so long with his condition. He did give me a scare though when his skin split open on the side of his body. I was afraid that the wound might become infected.

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