It's not about the house.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


So a small part of the Psychotic Drama I referred to last week has to do with the fact that Boy Cat has been diagnosed with diabetes. You remember Boy Cat, don't you?

He was at the vet in February because he pulled one of his claws out (idiot thinks he can open every door if only he picks at it long enough), and at that point he came up positive for feline leukemia. Vet thought it was probably false, so she had me bring him back in two months for another test. That was two weeks ago. She was right about the false positive, but it turned out that in those two months he lost a pound and a half. He is still quite a porker, don't get me wrong: he could lose another pound and a half and still be a hell of a meal. But to lose so much weight so fast without an explanation made me wonder, so I asked the vet to test him for diabetes. She was hesitant. She said she'd never had a 16-year-old cat test newly-positive before, and if it was going to happen it likely would have happened years ago. But I insisted, and sure enough, his pee-glucose was through the freakin' roof.

I ought to be a vet, man. Seriously.

That's what I always wanted to be, as a matter of fact: a large-animal veterinarian. The kind that drives a beat-up old pickup-truck around winding country roads in shit-spattered coveralls, wrangling sheep to the ground and holding their heads down with one knee while pulling twisted lambs out of their other ends in driving rainstorms, face down in ankle-breaking, divot-covered fields.

In other words: when I grew up, I wanted to be James Herriott.

You wouldn't know it now, but I got myself off to a good start. For a couple years in high school I interned for a real-live Scottish vet of my very own. He was small-animal, mostly, but he got his degree at Glasgow around the same time as my hero (though he couldn't say if he knew him or not, because at the time no one knew Herriott's real name), and he used to let me do things he would have lost his license for if anyone found out.

I was never allowed to open or close, and of course I never did anything that took any measure of real skill, but pretty much all the routine procedures were fair game. He'd cut, then let me go in and excise and cauter off a she-cat's two-horned uterus. He'd screw the straight-edge on, then let me lop off the floppy edge of a Doberman puppy's ear. I gave shots on a regular basis, even in front of human clients (and these days the thought of the museum-quality steam-sterilizer we used on our glass syringes makes me cringe). And once he even gently made me, through oceans of innocent tears, administer the lethal dose to a white-gummed German Shephard puppy someone found at the side of the road, having been run over by a car. He was tender about it, but he was firm. If I wanted to be a vet, he said, I had to. This sort of thing came with the package, and there was no sense going through all that schooling only to find out I didn't have the stomach for the killing blow.

I have it.

Whether I had it when I entered the surgery that afternoon, I'll never know. But by the time my father picked me up, I did. Dr. McCracken gifted me with the stomach for the killing blow that dark and quiet winter's night, and -- although I never did become a vet, of course -- I have been grateful to him for it ever since.

Figuratively speaking.

I mean, I have not (to date, at least) literally shot my own dog, or smothered any recently-lobotomized rebellious mental patients with their pillows. But I could. And figuratively speaking, I'm an expert.

Ironically, for example, Dr. McCracken's gift is what allowed me to give up the dream of becoming a veterinarian when my G.P.A. put it on life-support (my grades were in the 3.5 range, thanks for asking, but for vet school you have to be better than 4.0). It's how I decided to leave the best job I ever had, before it got swallowed by Big Business and left me. And it's how I stood there at my mother's bedside while they shut off the machines, without a doubt that we were doing the right thing.

It isn't time to invoke The Gift for Boy Cat yet, but it is out there. And it's out there for a few other things as well. This blog, for one. At least temporarily. If you've been here lately you've noticed I'm not feeling it, and for the next month or two I really need to concentrate on other things. Chances are good that I'll get lonely and come back, and if you want to notice when I do, then just subscribe. You can always unsubscribe later when I get back to being my logorrheic self again.

But in the meantime, before we get overly maudlin (as if that ship is still in port) I'd like to share the last I heard of Doctor Mac:

He got arrested at the Scottish festival a couple years ago, for bending over and lifting his kilt on stage. Which he was wearing, as a true Scotsman does, with naught beneath. Here's a link to the newspaper story, if you don't believe me. There's even video.

The dear old perv.

Ooh, P.S.! It has been asked whether I will still be making facebook posts, and the answer is YES! Because that doesn't take any effort whatsoever! So if you are not my facebook friends but feel as though you will simply DIE without your daily dose of Me, then click on my facebook button-thingy in the margin there and be my friend! Do it! Now! Because I said so!

Also, I might be putting up some reruns to keep my seat warm. Tall order, that.