Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Life in Da City! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Splinting a Cat, And the Lesson I Learned….(Not What I Had Expected!)

A long, long time ago, in a Blue Hive not so very far from here, I was a street medic for Da City. (Gasp, NO! Say it isn’t so! I…I..never suspected!) I was working nights, attending nursing school days, and attempting ti triage my weekends between school projects, studying, sleep, and having a social life. Oh, yes. AND working.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and, having concluded a rollicking night of same, I entered my apartment. The building in which I lived had been built circa 1910, and had seen sporadic maintenance since then. This is particularly relevant given that I observed my cat, imaginatively named Mr. Cat, seated at my front window.

It was summer, and I had left my windows cracked. My cats had taken to lounging in the window, both to take in the scenery as well as to bask in an intermittent breeze. This was OK, until in one particular window, in which Mr. Cat had been loafing, the sash cord, which held the window open, failed, sending the window crashing closed.

Mr. Car’s “catlike reflexes” were sufficient to enable him to avoid being entirely trapped by the weight of the closed window, but he wasn’t quick enough to entirely extricate himself. His one front paw was held as if in a bear trap, and he greeted me with a look as if to say, “I say, old man, could you assist me? I appear to be stuck, and it is becoming tiresome.”

The cat-length semicircle of destruction spoke to his efforts to resolve his problem on his own.

I opened the window, and he promptly removed it, and began to clean his paw, as if dust were the only problem. When I observed that he did not appear to want to walk on it, I corralled him, sat down, and began my secondary survey.

I could not palpate any discontinuity in his bones in the affected paw, but he was very reluctant to have me confirm that appraisal with a repeat examination. His breath sounds were clear, and his heart sounds were rapid, but regular with no murmur. (Of course, how much “rapid” was kitty baseline, versus pain versus irritated cat, was difficult to discern.)

He continued to limp, and so I gathered up materiel, and set to fabricating The McFee Cat Splint. I cut out cardboard from a box, wrapped it about the injured limb, and secured it (or so I had thought) with roller gauze.

He, unimpressed, shook his injured limb until the splint went that-away, and he went this-away, and he limped off. Sigh.

I re-corralled him, and we wrestled him into The McFee Cat Splint Mark II. This version featured several wraps about his torso, so as to slow the shake-this-thing-into-next-week response that he demonstrated once I had released him. Good news? It did not head off into a far corner. Bad news? Well, howzabout YOU attempt to explain the concept of “no weight bearing” to a cat, and let me know how well that works?

Sigh.

So, we collaborated (for certain values of “collaborated”, particularly if those include one handedly immobilizing a non-compliant cat, placing a New! Improved! McFee Cat Splint Mark III upon said cat, and then, again, single handedly, securing same upon the same non-compliant cat) in splinting his foreleg, again. This version extended beyond his paw, so that, crutch like, the weight that he would usually place upon this paw was transferred to his chest wall/”armpit”.

Kinda like rodeo, without the clowns. Unless you included me, that is.

I began to put my crap away for the morning, but he persisted in not bearing weight upon the formerly trapped paw, and I soon determined that it was time for an assessment by someone who knew their way around a cat. Against Mr. Cat’s protestations, off we went to the veterinarian.

I had not, in all the excitement, changed out of my EMS uniform that morning. So, there I was, once I had registered Mr. Cat, and requested a “walk in” visit (“Be patient, no telling when a slot will open up.”), seated in one of the chairs, cat in lap, uniformed, sleepy (although, that was kind of my ground state in those days), next to a grandmotherly Black woman at the vet.

She asked me what had happened to my cat, noticing the splint he still wore, and (score!) pretty much as I had designed it. I told her the tale, truncated a bit for the waiting room retelling, and she made sympathetic noises. We conversed a bit about pets, and how they fare in our absences, and so forth, passing the time.

Her name was called, and she looked at me, and at the vet tech summoning her, and then she performed a no shit act of Christian charity. She said, “His kitty has been injured, please take him before me, I can wait a bit longer”.

If you have read more than a couple of my posts, you likely realize that I am generally a cynical bastard, a curmudgeon. I commonly have low expectations of people, and they commonly fail to meet them. This tale took place something on the order of forty years ago, and, retelling it now, I am tearing up. This woman, who I had never met, showed herself to be more giving, more compassionate, than I was. She showed me that individuals can be beacons of community, of respect, of sympathy, for folks that do not look like them. She took pity on a white guy, and his cat, because she could.

Because she was capable of empathizing with another, not of her “tribe”. And, being capable, did so.

My cat recovered from what the doctor determined to be a sprain, and lived a long and (cat) happy life.

I moved out of Da City, married, got divorced, remarried, watched my children grow, and have families of their own.

And, today, I offered a prayer on behalf of that woman, my neighbor-in-fact, who bathed me in her compassion, and for whom, today, I cried.

Ma’am, thank you for that lesson.

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Protect and Serve

A different view on policing, from the prevailing media narrative

Against my will, I have been aware of the news reports of many, many protests over the circumstances surrounding death of George Floyd.
Against my will, I have been subjected to the noxious virtue signaling malarkey from many quarters, braying about how anti racist they are (“acta, non verba!”).
Again, against my will, I have been subjected to the chant of racist, violent police being The! Single! Greatest! Threat! to black men, In! Da! World! (notwithstanding the 24 fatal shootings in Chicago just the weekend of May 30-31)
( see https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/6/1/21275944/chicago-weekend-shootings-most-violent-weekend-2020-may-29-june-1)


I request that we all keep in mind that we are all fallen, all imperfect, all in need of improvement. Police are part of that set. And, like some of our neighbors, some officers do felonious things. Mr. Chauvin appears due to get his day in court, which, should things work out as they are supposed to, will bring to light evidence supporting, or refuting, the cloud of assertions surrounding these events.

Tl: DR summary: Lotsa heat, little light, Facts will come out, and theories and bullshit will be tamped down.

Now, that I have stepped off of my soapbox, let’s hear a story of “Protect And Serve Policing”, of the sort that I have seen repeatedly myself.

Observant readers will note that this is a re-run.

Patient Care Is Everywhere!  (small town life)

I had the opportunity, a couple of years ago, to speak with an police officer who personified the
 “Protect and Serve” mindset. An elderly, very confused gentleman, with a baseline mentation 
deficit, was brought in to the hospital at the instigation of the officer. Having been dispatched 
for a "welfare check", he found this soul confused, and in the officer's estimation, "looked sick."
 We evaluated the patient, and tried to (start to) fix his medical issues.  While waiting for the lab
 results, the officer and I chatted. The officer related to me that he was an officer, “not for the 
attorney with a 150,000 dollar car and a nice house: he doesn’t need me. That guy, over there: 
he depends on me to do the right thing. He is why I took that oath.” 

Once we had finished caring for the gentleman, and were ready to discharge him, another 
officer from this same (yeah, rural) department came and took him home, seeing him safely 
into his apartment.

Another occasion, same rural police department, same officer. This time he  accompanied an 
EMS transport. This soul was in custody, so the officer parked himself outside the room, to 
keep an eye on his charge. During their stay, in the room across the hallway, was a child, who 
was very dubious about the entire "going to the hospital" thing. This officer was approached by 
the fearful child, who momentarily had his fears overcome with curiosity about a live-and-in-
person police officer. This officer was very engaged with the child, producing wide eyes 
interest as the boy lectured the officer on the ins and outs of frogs, and minutiae of their lives in 
the wild. He (the officer) offered a few frog insights of his own, and the two of them had an 
animated conversation there in my ED hallway. 

The rest of my encounter with the boy was made considerably smoother, when the officer 
asked the boy, "Are you behaving for my friend Reltney?  Yeah, he may be a doctor (well, a PA
 at this point, but, ya know...), but he's pretty nice.  Give him a chance, wontcha?"

My point? There has been come conversation of “Officer as social worker” becoming part of the
 police toolbox. This theme is not new, although it used to be called "walking the beat, and 
knowing your beat". Some officers, who are each a credit to their profession, have been 
employing that tool for a long time. And, in some regards, to steal a phrase from the American 
Nurses' Association, "Patient Care is Everywhere!"  Some of the practitioners are not formally 
licensed in health professions. And, some of us simply see it as being a good neighbor. 

			
Gratitude

WuFlu outcomes: a coupla thoughts

As I loll away my days of enforced indolence, I contemplate things. Of course, the WuFlu/Wuhan Coronavirus/Novel Coronavirys/C.O.V.I.D. (Wait! Wasn’t that the name of a Bond villain?) is on my mind. It’s easy to see over reach, as well as dilatory responses. All of which illustrates the fact that governors and mayors have a sort of “stool smorgasbord” of options, wherein every choice that they make, every action that they will take, will be wrong. If they lock the state down hard, people will die of depression, untreated addiction, consequences of delayed diagnosis, treatment and management of illnesses ranging from cardiac disease to cancer. If they leave things open, settling for public service announcements of individual mitigation measures we each and all can take, people will contract the illness, presumably in greater numbers than they might in other circumstances, and some of them will require hospitalization, and some of them will die.

So, the negatives are easy to see, and folks are out there who will cheerfully bring you up to speed in the event that you do not wallow in sufficient negativity.

I’d like to illuminate a potential upside to this pandemic scare. I have seen, here and there, genuine gratitude. Folks being thankful for truckers, who deliver EVERYTHING that we take as if granted to us.

Folks being appreciative of physicians, nurses, and everybody else who keeps any and every hospital operating.

People performing small, and heartfelt, acts to help protect others (I’m looking at YOU, all you home mask crafters. As well as y’all shopping, so elderly/vulnerable neighbors don’t have to go out.) And very one of these acts touches the vestigial organ where my heart used to be.

Folks being grateful for the efforts of grocery clerks.

Dare I hope that we learn to appreciate everyday small blessings, out of these changes?

Fun And Games Off Duty

Backpacking Changes your Perspective

So, when I was younger, I enjoyed backpacking. In the Midwest, unless you are going to travel several, several hundred miles east (Appalachian Trail), or west (Rockies, or their foothills), or north (Northern reaches of any of the Canadian provinces), Isle Royale is pretty much a zenith destination.

Two other medics and I shared this enthusiasm, and we planned on a trip along the Greenstone Trail, after a detour south along the Feldtman Ridge Trail. Traveling from west to east, we planned to wind up at Rock Harbor, where we could shower, get a room at the lodge there, and catch the ferry back to Michigan.

Our first day called for 8 or nine miles of hiking. (remember, we were all south of 30, and pretty much in peak shape. I would bicycle 50 to 100 miles a day, a couple of weekends a month, for amusement, for example). We anticipated the daily mileage would be a challenge, but no tremendous thing.

We read, voraciously, trail guides, commentaries, and articles in the various outdoor magazines regarding Isle Royale. The consensus was that we ought to cut ounces, as over time ounces add up to ponds, and pounds add up to pain. So we turned to freeze dried foods.

After much prep work, and detailed planning, we arrived on Isle Royale, starting our trip at the western end of the island, at Windigo. After registering, we set out, arriving at out campsite after around 8 miles, at Feldtman Lake. We set up camp, washed up with filtered water, and prepared supper.

Our consensus was that the freeze dried meal was superior to not eating, but not by much. One of my partners summarized things: “This mess tastes like salty cardboard!”

In the morning, we set out again after eating and packing up. After another day of up hill and down slope, we arrived at Siskiwit Bay Campground having made around 10 miles on the trail. We set up camp, washed up, filtered water for dinner and the next day, and ate.

We reviewed dinner, afterwards. “This mess still tastes like salty cardboard!”

The next morning, awakened, packed up, headed out. If you are familiar with backpacking, the daily routine is, well, pretty routine. The payoff can be found in multiple areas. There is the being outdoors aspect, very attractive to those (such as me) who find being outdoors to be attractive. There is the scenery to be found as you stroll through nearly pristine wilderness. There is the enjoyment found in physical activity.

So, we walked our next day away, again arrived at our camp, set up camp, filtered more water, cooked supper, and appraised it. “This shit tastes like salty cardboard. You gonna finish all that?”

Again, slept the sleep of the righteous, awakened, breakfasted, and headed out, once we had packed up.

Another day, more beautiful vistas from the Greenstone Ridge Trail, Reaching our campsite, we again set up, filtered water, cooked dinner. For our last night on the trail, we provided another gastronomic review: “This shit tastes like salty cardboard! And, the portions! They’re so small!”