Saturday, May 23, 2020

Out of Bed, Back to the Woods

 Does this li'l pink-nosed, marshmallow-pawed cutie-pie look like a killer to you?  I sure would never have thought so, myself, until a tiny nip from his tooth found me hospitalized this past week to prevent a systemic, possibly fatal infection.

Mickey is our rambunctious 10-month old cat, and last Tuesday morning, while playing kind of rowdy with him, his sharp tooth nicked the back of my hand. The wound was tiny, but it was enough to draw a wee bit of blood. I washed my hand and thought no more of it, until late afternoon, when my hand had swelled so much I couldn't close my fingers without intense pain. Concerned, I googled "cat bites on the hand" and learned that I needed to seek medical help as soon as possible, in order to prevent a possible system-wide infection like sepsis. Apparently, cats' mouths harbor germs that are extremely infectious, and the particular anatomy of the hand allows for infections to spread rapidly through the bloodstream. Too late in the day to visit my primary doc, I went to our local Urgent Care facility, and as soon as they saw my painfully swollen hand, they sent me immediately to the hospital, where I was admitted that night. I had to receive several infusions of intravenous antibiotics, spaced far enough apart that I was kept there for two days. I'm home now, on oral antibiotics for several days more, and my hand is very close to being back to normal.

I share this sad tale to warn all my friends: do not ignore a painfully swollen hand, especially if a wound was inflicted by a cat's tooth. Even a cat as adorable as our (normally) sweet Mickey.

Although my hand is now well on the mend, I still feel a little bit wobbly from it all. But a friend's photo of some Early Coralroot Orchids (Corallorhiza trifida) blooming in a nearby wetland got me right out of my convalescent chair and off to see if I could see them for myself. (They don't call me a wildflower "nut" for no reason!) I could drive right up to the edge of this wetland, and the walk wasn't very far or strenuous before these tiny greenish orchids came into sight. A whole bunch of them, all in one clump!


In past years, these tiny orchids were found in several spots along the edge of this swamp.  But this year, my friend reported he could find none in their usual spots and had almost given up on them, when he came upon this abundant clump.  I, too, would have despaired of finding them had my friend not told me I'd find them near a big patch of Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia).  And he was right! I did find the orchids (that's their photo, above), and I also got to enjoy one of the most extensive patches of Fringed Poygala I'd ever seen.  So pretty!

There were few other wildflowers blooming today in this wooded wetland, except for hundreds of the tiny star-shaped white flower called Goldthread (Coptis trifolia). These flowers didn't grow in massed patches like the Polygala did, but were strung out across the forest floor as constellations are across  the night sky.


The Furry Gnome said...

Glad you survived your vicious cat!

greentangle said...

Guess I got lucky all my years roughhousing with my cats. Now I know, if another one joins me. Glad you're OK. He looks very cute.

Woody Meristem said...

I've found fringed polygala extremely difficult to photograph since its color doesn't reproduce well. A friend's wife died of sepsis of unknown origin, but they had five cats so a bite from one of their semi-wild cats is a good candidate. You were fortunate to catch it early.

threecollie said...

When my kids were small I lost my very best friend to this terrible sickness after she was bitten by a cat while trying to save it from a dog. My heart still misses her terribly. I am so glad you were quick to recognize the danger and to react appropriately. And so glad you are back to the woods and the wild places.