“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Your Brain on Hurt: Patty Cake’s Ordeal


 
I looked at the clock. It was 2:30 a.m., not too unusual. I walked around, went to the bathroom, drank water, the usual. I was back in bed and drifting off, when I heard horrible sounds from outside: “Dogs fighting in the back yard!” I thought. Snarling, growling, howling, the sounds of biting.
“I don’t hear cat screeches, thank goodness,” I thought, as Maggie and I went screaming out onto the patio, shouting, beating on the iron furniture. By the time Maggie got to the sounds, the animals were gone. I was frightened for Patty Cake, even though I hadn’t heard her.
Maggie and I went down in the back, whispering “Patty, Patty.” It was now 3 a.m. and pitch black; I couldn’t see up in the trees, but I expected her to meow if she were there. We walked around for a few minutes, and I felt relieved not to find her hurt.
The next morning I opened the back door, expecting to see her. I was horrified. She was bleeding profusely and limping. She came into the house and I shouted for my husband. I ran out to the utility room to grab the cat carrier. Joe Lee got a towel and put her into the carrier. I must have been at the vet in 5 or 10 minutes, it seemed, all the way across river into Northport. I ran in with her, and they got her into a room.
The vet came in, picked her up, looked at what he could see of the wound, and gave her a tranquilizer shot.
All this happened last Sunday night and Monday morning. A week has gone by. I still can’t get the hideous sounds out of my head.
On Tuesday, I saw the horrible damage that had been done. The sutures went from under her belly on her right side, around near the tail, and up nearly to the middle of her back to the right of her spine. The animals nearly tore her hind quarter off. On Wednesday I went back.  Dr. Russell at Tidmore Vet had a grim look. Patty was completely listless, with no “attitude,” as Dr. Russell described it. She had a drain inserted.
“We don’t yet know if her bowel or urethra were damaged. We can only tell from symptoms, and infection at the wound is very bad. She hasn’t eaten or drank. We need to keep her.”
It was not until Friday that he seemed willing to give her any chance of surviving this horrendous attack. “I think you must have gotten out there just in time,” he said. “But we need to keep her over the weekend.”
She lost teeth and claws fighting for her life. She has advancing necrosis of her flesh near the wound. Dr. Russell said that will get much more horrible before it gets better. The dead flesh will get grainy and crumble; then other flesh will begin to contract to replace it.
On Saturday she began eating just a little.

Emotions in Living Color
The sounds keep replaying in my head. When I wake in the middle of the night, the sounds and images created from fear haunt me.
Maybe it’s the consciousness working through the garbage the unconsciousness dumps into our minds. The most atavistic fears, those universal nightmares, like being ripped apart by a shark, or eaten slowly by a grizzly bear, or surrounded by wolves, or chased down by a lion, or crushed by an elephant, or even simply bitten by a snake, those images, Carl Jung said, are part of the collective unconscious, shared by humans since the dawn of time. Sharing the worst in the collective unconscious, as he explains in “The Effects of the Unconscious upon Consciousness” brings “the individual into absolute, binding, and indissoluble communion with the world at large.”
My immediate impulse is/was to shoot the animals. Kill them, for hurting my kitty and causing me such pain. Instead, I’ll keep processing and neutralizing.
This human impulse is, in my opinion, completely different from the one that makes people go on safari and shoot down magnificent animals with the help of attendants who will make sure Bwana doesn’t get killed if he misses the shot; or empty creeps getting into a helicopter to shoot down packs of wolves; or catching sharks to cut off their fins while they are still alive, then throwing them back into the water to drown – just to have a bowl of shark fin soup; or slaughtering whales in unimagined numbers to light your way or wash your hair; or to kill elephants to near extinction for a necklace. This unspeakable behavior comes from humanity’s deadest soul, its darkest, meanest, most corrupt, most repulsive nature. Decent people have a responsibility to fight this human streak.
One of the most breathtaking advances in human knowledge is neuroscientists’ ability to see, in pictures, the emotions like fear and anger, as well as to NOT see the empty soul that feels no emotions, inside the brain. My fear when I heard or now when I imagine the dogs or dog and coyote fighting or attacking would now be visible. In a PET scan, CAT scan, MRI, for fMRI, my brain would light up like a Christmas tree. The neuroscientist could tell me if I am experiencing fear, or anger, or disgust, or pleasure. Amazing.
The pleasure and laughing in watching a homemade DVD movie I made out of video taken of Patty and Maggie tussling and playing is visible. The sadness I will feel if Patty doesn’t make it is visible.
Imagining what could have happened to Patty being torn apart feels like my brain is reacting physically, like how a bruise feels when you touch it. Yes, neurons are firing, but we can’t really feel it. We react emotionally, and our brains register the emotions and send messages to our body to respond. All this understanding will not stop tears or quell laughter or make you act reasonably. You just keep processing.
If Patty survives, she will have a long, long, long physical recovery; I don’t know how the trauma will affect her. It takes a lot of trust for a cat to lie on its back with its underside exposed to the world. I wonder if she will ever be able to lie in her most favorite, but unladylike, position. I really doubt it.
I will likely know much more tomorrow.
For more information about the brain, The Dana Foundation has an interesting and bountiful Web site. A piece on How We Know is: http://www.dana.org/news/brainhealth/detail.aspx?id=10062.

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