Thursday morning, when I fed Walter and Harvey, I dropped some kibble on the floor. When Walter was done eating his food (which takes about 10 seconds since he inhales it), he ran around the counter to get the stray kibble. I wasn’t paying close attention, and in that minute, Harvey got very pissed off that Walter would intrude on his food space. He grabbed Walter around the neck, growling and biting with menace. Although George has repeatedly told me not to get between them when they fight, I grabbed Harvey’s color with my right hand and his jaw with my left so that Walter could escape. Since Walter weighs about 21 pounds and Harvey almost 90, to me, this was a matter of life or death, and I was much more concerned about Walter than my hand. Walter ran off and hid in the closet while Harvey went back to eating his food and I was left to deal with my injury.
My first clue that I was in trouble was the lack of pain. I figured it hurt so much, I wasn’t processing it. Then there was the blood. And the swelling. And the discoloration. I knew I had to go to student health–groan. But later that night, I had to teach, so I couldn’t leave New River until I became somewhat presentable. At student health, I was seen quickly. First, they soaked my hand in Betadine and warm water for what seemed like an eternity (and made me late for a meeting with Peter). The doctor said that he didn’t want to give me stitches so the wound could breathe, but he wasn’t too optimistic: “You don’t have an infection, yet.” He put me on antibiotics, had the nurse put a splint on my middle left finger (the site of the worst puncture), and asked me when I’d last had a tetanus shot. I was desperate to think of a time recently when I’d had one, and I could feel myself becoming faint. Alas, I couldn’t come up with anything except in 1994 when Anna and Steve took me to the University of Chicago Hospital ER after Socrates, the iguana, bit me. I told the nurse that I was feeling faint, and I lay on the table. At that point, with some irony, she said, “I like your tattoo.” I responded it was a little silly for someone who had tattoos to be scared of shots, but there it is. Luckily, the shot was in the arm, not hip, and it was very quick.
In the office for only an hour, I had to abandon the splint–otherwise, I couldn’t work on the keyboard, and that is absolutely essential. Now, two days later, I am beginning to feel less pain, and I think I may be able to hold jewelry pliers tomorrow. (For now, gripping hurts too much.) I am taking pain killers and the antibiotics and wondering when my hand will be back to it’s normal transparent chalky white instead of dirty green-blue.
I tried to construct a viable tale for George so he wouldn’t kill Harvey, but I’m not a good liar. As expected, George is furious with Harvey and furious with me for getting in the middle.