Aby-a-Day – 24 Augusti 2020: Three years ago today…(Medical Monday Memory)

Three years ago today, my life changed: I was bitten through the finger while giving Pyret a pill.

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Being new to the Swedish medical system, I stupidly went to the local clinic (Vårdcentralen), even though I was well aware of how serious a cat bite is, especially on the hand. I just thought that’s what you were “supposed” to do. The doctor I saw was Spanish, and spoke little English. I tried to tell her it was serious, but she waved me off with just a prescription for penicillin.

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I didn’t know that I could go straight to the hospital. I thought, then, that you had to be referred by Vårdcentralen (although, to be honest, that worthless “doctor” should have known to send me there straightaway). Now I know I can go to the Akuten (emergency department) if I need to. Twenty-four hours later, I woke up screaming in pain so badly Björn almost called an ambulance.

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They bundled me into a room, pumped me full of antibiotics and morphine, and got me into surgery as quickly as they could.

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This is me just after the first surgery. Within a week, I would have two more operations to flush the bacteria out of my tendon sheath.

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I also had a lot of morphine. The pain involved with repeated hand surgeries is insane.

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The brightest part of my week in the hospital was the two evenings Björn smuggled Logan into my hospital room.

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One time when a nurse came in, we hid him under my blanket.

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He was good and held still; the nurse never knew he was there.

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After a week in hospital, I was released, but still had several wound checks and dressing changes. When I first got home, my hand was in a plaster cast. I was also still on penicillin and painkillers. It seemed to be healing nicely, but on my last wound check, 20 September (the same day Alfred was neutered), the nurse noticed my finger seemed red and hot. She sent me back to the hospital, and they determined that, despite still being on antibiotics, the infection had managed to return. They wanted me to have surgery immediately, but I had to go to pick up Freddy, who was literally at the other end of the bus line.

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It took a really long time to get him (I ended up taking a taxi for part of the return trip), gathered my things and got back to the hospital just before 17:00. Apparently, I took too long to get back and they weren’t able to do the surgery until the next morning.

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This last, fourth surgery was the most painful. They put more stitches on my palm than on the previous surgeries, and the skin seemed to have been stretched more than the other three.

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It also bled a lot more than the other three operations.

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A month after the first anniversary of my bite, we were at a cat show in Västra Feölunda and ran into Göran, the recovery nurse after my first surgery. His sambo breeds Cornish Rex, and we (used to) see them at shows frequently. He asked to take a look at my hand, and I made a comment about being lucky I still had a finger.

“You could have lost more than that,” Gören said. “I could have lost my hand?” I asked.

“You could have lost even more than that,” he responded. And that was how, a year later, I learned that I could have died from this bite! Even with as much as I know about cat bites, I never thought it could have been fatal.

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This is how it looks today. It’s still very stiff and it sometimes aches and feels crampy. I’ll never have a normal hand again.

So, again, the moral of the story is: If you are EVER bitten by a cat on your hand – and especially your finger – GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM as soon as you can!