It was 2 AM and kind of slow. Then a “twofer” comes up to the registration desk. Mother and son both need to be seen.
Emergency medicine lore has it that when more than one patient from the same household registers to be seen at the same time in the emergency department, the likelihood of there being a true emergency is inversely proportional to the number of people registering.
Didn’t quite hold true in this case.
Earlier that morning, a teenage son and his mother decided that their cat was dirty and therefore decided to clean the cat and trim its nails. The problem was that the cat did not want to be cleaned. Its claws protect it and it cleans itself just fine with its tongue, thank you. So the cat began hissing and scratching at both of them once it saw the bath of soapy water into which the evil humans were planning to submerge it.
Mother and son were undeterred. Showing the cat how they were the boss, son and mother were somehow able to hog tie the cat, duct taping the cat’s front and rear paws together. That will teach the cat.
As mother and son then proceeded with their plan to torture, er, um, wash the cat, they soon realized that they forgot to duct tape one other important area on the cat — its mouth. While the son was carrying the cat toward the bathtub, the cat bit the son several times on the hand to get the son to let him go. It worked. The son dropped the cat on the bathroom floor and then began swinging his hand around and hollering in pain.
The mother gasped in horror. She went to console her son. Then she looked down and saw the cat flopping all over the floor like a fish out of water. After all, it couldn’t run away since its paws were taped together. The mother then reached down to pick up the cat instead of checking on her son’s hand. The cat, apparently thinking that the mother was coming in for the kill, then bit the mother on the hand, too. This time, the cat reportedly wouldn’t let go, so the son had to bop the cat on the head with a pair of claw trimmers to make it let go.
Then mother and son used their uninjured extremities and a push broom to scoop the evil cat up in a laundry basket and take it to the vet for cleaning … and for duct tape removal.
After the vet appointment, they actually let the cat back into the house with them prior to scheduling an exorcism. The thing just sat on the couch the rest of the day hissing at them to “go get me some milk and tuna, yo.”
As day progressed into night, both mother and son were having progressively worsening pain in their hands. By 1:30 AM, neither mother nor son were able to sleep due to the pain in their hands.
So both mother and son presented to the emergency department with ballooney hands (see this Gizmodo post for a good story and pictures of a cat bite injury).
Both were started on IV antibiotics and needed to be admitted for surgical evaluation of their tenosynovitis and joint injuries.
And the cat’s probably at home smoking catnip and watching Animal Planet reruns.
This and all posts about patients may be fictional, may be my experiences, may be submitted by readers for publication here, or may be any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate. If you would like to have a patient story published on WhiteCoat’s Call Room, please e-mail me.