Saturday, 20 October 2012

Stabbing the Cat

00:00:00 Posted by Ashley Lister , , , , , No comments

 By Ashley Lister

 This past week has been a learning experience for me. It’s been a week where I’ve learnt that what’s 'child’s play' to one person is not necessarily so simple to someone else.

As many of you probably know, Tracy has been taken into hospital with pneumonia. I won’t make any comments here about the incompetence of her local GP, Dr Malpractice, who said she just had flu and should go home and inhale warm water. This is neither the time nor the place to make such cheap jibes against incompetents.

I will say, whilst Tracy’s been away from home, I’ve been learning how to do those jobs around the house that normally fall under the rubric of her responsibility.

Most of this stuff was child’s play. I was able to watch soaps, whine and moan about the neighbours and park the car badly without any additional training or assistance. However, the real challenge came when I was trying to stab the cat.

Mo, our cat, is diabetic. He requires daily insulin injections. Administration of this has always been Tracy’s job since he was first diagnosed with the illness. It’s always been seen as best that she deals with this as I have a bedside manner that’s somewhere between Harold Shipman and Beverley Allitt.

But this week, because she was malingering on a respirator in the hospital, I needed to medicate the cat.

Mo’s dosage is relatively simple: 3 International Units each morning approximately thirty minutes after his first feed of the day. It helps that Mo is supremely good-natured about injections. He lies there and allows amateurs like me to prod, pull and poke as though he’s a stuffed toy. If anything, he’s suspiciously good-natured about injections. In a previous life I suspect he had some sort of substance-abuse habit.

Anyway, according to perceived medical wisdom, the correct way to inject insulin into a cat is to lightly pinch flesh at the back of the neck. The flesh should then be ‘tented’ so there is a hollow where the needle can be slipped. Holding the syringe parallel to the body, the insulin can then be injected.

It sounds so simple.

Written on the page it looks like it’s no more trouble than giving him his dinner.

In real life, it’s all laced with the worry that you’re holding a dangerously sharp needle, filled with a substance that could prove lethal if administered incorrectly. It goes without saying that the practitioner should have steady hands and the cat should have a steady body. And there’s no mention that the cat might decide to mess about instead of simply laying there.

It took me an hour on the first day.

It took two hours on the second day.

He hid. He ran. He jumped. He did everything to avoid being injected. At one point I thought I was going to have to hurl the syringe at him as though I was a darts player and he was a galloping dartboard. When I finally got the syringe near him I didn’t inject before plunging and had to refill my syringe with a fresh dose of insulin and then start the whole process again.

On the third day, empowered by experience and determination, it took less than five minutes.

I’m still not up to Tracy’s efficient skills at stabbing the cat. She can manage it in mere seconds. But not everything in life is child’s play. And there’d be no sense of satisfaction in accomplishment if everything was so simple.