The night before last Rocco, our family’s Great Dane, was laying on his bed underneath the TV. The 11 o’clock news was coming
on and I had decided to retire to my attic bedroom for the evening, as that’s where my parents have deemed I am allowed to sleep and keep my things. As always, I trotted over to our first dog, Weasley, who was on the sofa. I squatted down, I gave him a big smooch. I told him I loved him. I’m an animal talker, and the dogs had both been kenneled for five days, so I had a lot to say to make sure they knew how much I adored them! Here’s a picture of Weasley and I.
So then, after I told that fuzzy ginger he was a glorious puppy of epic degree I trotted over to Rocco. I knelt down, I started petting him, I began my goodnight speech, “My gentle giant, I am so sorry you had to spend Christmas alone,” I patted his head, “we love you verrrrrrrrrry much.”
Cue FEROCIOUS SNAPPING OF NOT SO GENTLE GIANT JAWS!
I withdrew my left hand, it was black, blood was pouring onto the floor. I occassionally have anxiety. This was one of those rare times I had a full fledged panic attack. WHAT IS HAPPENING! I fled to a corner, Rocco and my mother followed. I shrieked “GET HIM AWAY! AWAY FROM ME! AWAY FROM ME! OH MY GOD! GOD! GOD!”
“Would you shut-up?” My mother muttered, neither her nor Rocco retreating. In fact she was trying to peer over my shoulder to see my hand. I was having none of it, and pressed myself against the wall, clutching my wound,
“AWAY FROM ME! GET HIM AWAY FROM ME!” I couldn’t breathe, as those who have had a panic attack will know, it was like I was drowning in our living room. Every breath was a gasp for dear life.
Finally, my mother corralled the dogs onto our back porch and I rushed to the sink to watch my own blood pour down the drain as my Sephora blackened tears stained my shirt.
“What were you doing? Wasn’t he sleeping?”
“No Mother! His eyes were open! He doesn’t love me!”
“Don’t be ridiculous… but we can’t take you to the hospital. They might put him down!”
“No they won’t. Mom, my hand has a hole in it. There’s a hole in my hand! Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME!”, I waved the carnage in her direction incredulously.
So I went outside, my hand and the hole in my hand wrapped in a kitchen towel, to wait for her to bring the car around. We arrived at the hospital, no one was waiting so I was ushered to a room promptly. A nurse asked me to rate my pain.
“Ten. Definitely a ten.”
“Ten is like you’re dying, honey.”
“A solid eight. There’s a hole in my hand. This hurts! He’s huge! Rocco’s big! His mouth is so big,” I hiccuped back.
“Alright, an eight. And what happened?”
“My great dane was sleeping and I startled him,” I glared back at my mother, signaling that while I did not believe this charade I would keep it going for Rocco’s safety, “he’s been kenneled for several days so I think his startle response was much higher than normal.” I looked over my shoulder again, You’re welcome.
“Well, they are animals. I’m sure he didn’t mean it.” Nurse said, as he took my vitals, “Someone will be in to look at that hand. You probably need an x-ray,” Nurse glared at the immediate bruising. I had opened my towel to prove my level 8 pain.
Soon some sort of social worker came in and we played 20 questions about the incident and Rocco’s general personality. With my mother’s fear at the forefront of my mind I kept up the story. Gentle giant startled by the clumsy oaf! Idiot girl got what was coming to her! But I kept thinking, his eyes were open... he didn’t even bite the hand I was petting him with… I’m the only one who let’s him in my bed!… This is so unfair!
I could barely move my fingers, and my hand which I would describe as a “man hand” on a typical day had now swelled to the size of neanderthal club appendage. Naturally, x-ray nazi, made me do a hundred grotesque Dr. Mengele poses with it and blood began to flow freely onto her pristine x-ray table, “They haven’t bandaged that for you yet?”
I went back to my little room. My mother and I watched late night talk shows while ignoring each other until the Doctor arrived. My hand was not broken! Which I must say is more of a testament to the strength of my bones than the severity of Rocco’s bite. I’ve had so many bizarre injuries in my life without ever actually breaking anything that I’ve become convinced my bones are steel. I attribute this to a surplus of calcium due to my life long affinity for improving all foods by adding cheese.
The doctor, who looked not terribly unlike Gandolf, informed me that I was very lucky he hadn’t gotten my face. That I’d have to take antibiotics because I could get a really foul infection.
“Ummm, but, what am I supposed to do? I can’t use my hand? When will it be better?”
“Well, what do you do for work?”
“I type all day. I’m a customer service person.”
“Well, you won’t be doing that for a few days.”
“Really! How long?!” I couldn’t hide my glee at this sudden silver lining.
“I’ll write you a note for two days,” Gandolf now looked like Santa, “Anyway, you need to ice it, take the antibiotics, I’ll prescribe some Ibprofuen. Come back if you notice reddening of the wound, any puss, any sign of infection. That’s what we’re really worried about. Do you need something for pain?”
“YES” I wanted to crawl in Santa’s lap.
“What have you taken before?”
“Nothing!” I didn’t want to signal any drug-seeking behavior. I’ve run into trouble throwing around that vibe before.
“You’ve never had anything?”
“Well, I got my teeth pulled once. I think they gave me something like v… v..I don’t know.” Yes, Natasha, far from being an opiate hound, you don’t know what you want! Perfect approach! Whatever you do, do not start talking about that episode of Intervention with the fentanyl lollipops.
“Vicodin. Alright, well, someone will be right in with that.”
It was a good twenty-five minutes before Nurse returned bearing the cure for my level 8 pain. I could tell he didn’t think I deserved it. He irrigated my wound with fancy soap. I got some sort of anti-animal disease shot in my arm. He took my vitals again. He said they were much better. He said I was much calmer. Well, if you had treated me for my level 8 pain in the first place this whole experience would have been much calmer. Clearly.
The next day I had a come to Jesus meeting with Rocco. I sat him down on the stairs and showed him what he had done to me. I referred to my internet research as I began,
“Cujo, do you ever feel confused? Do you ever startle from a waking sleep to realize you’re not sure where you are or who you’re eating? Do you find yourself barking at our cat, Merlin, and forgetting he is part of the family now? That segregation is over and cats can now use the same water bowl as you? I know that you are very old Cujo, and times have really changed since your youth, but this is simply unacceptable behavior. I would never put you in an old dogs home, but you can’t bite anymore. I’ll sedate you and file your teeth away myself. And then it’s only pureed carnage and dog meal from here on out. Dementia is no one’s fault Rocco, but one more bite and your teeth are getting filed. Ok? Alright? I love you Rocco!”