Monday, December 26, 2011

Postscript to My Christmas Story

Well, it isn't quite over yet. Both Christmas Day and the day after--known as St. Stephen's Day by Catholics and Boxing Day by our British friends--were pretty exciting for Van Gogh and me.

When I left off yesterday morning, I'd removed Van Gogh's Elizabethan collar. For the past few days, he had been trying to rub the top of his head on furniture and anything with a protruding edge. I took that to mean that his nerve endings had revived and he was itching. I thought that if he could scratch the top of his head, he might leave the almost-closed wound alone.

Alas, it was not to be. After about an hour, fearful that he would scratch the healing hole in his head open again, I put the collar back on.

The day was nice and peaceful until about 9:30 last night. I was in bed reading with Bob when I heard a god-awful caterwauling coming from the hall bathroom. I jumped up and ran toward the noise. Van Gogh was screaming in what sounded like horrendous pain. For one incredible moment, I wondered if something had gotten into the bathroom and was attacking him.

When I tried to enter the bathroom, the door opened about half an inch and then stopped, blocked by something. I banged forward without success. I slammed my shoulder into the door, trying to move whatever was stopping me but bounced off.

The bathroom went silent. That scared me more than the screaming had. I ran toward the den where I keep a flashlight. Grabbing the portable lamp, I ran for the back door without bothering to stop for slippers or a robe.

I stood on tiptoe on the cold patio concrete, peering into the bathroom window.

No cat, but I could now see what was blocking the door. The bottom drawer of the bathroom vanity was pulled out about eight or nine inches. Since the door opens inward, the drawer served as a very effective barricade.

I returned to the hall outside the bathroom and examined the door. The hinges were on the inside.

For the next two hours, I tried everything I could to move that drawer. I twined metal clothes hangers together, I tried various knives, I inserted a potato masher under the door. If the object was thin enough to go under or around the side of the door, it wasn't strong enough to close the drawer.

By midnight, my patience was at an end. I decided to break in the double hung window outside the bathroom.

The upper half of the small window is safety glass (go here to read about my adventure which ended in replacing the glass). Therefore, the only way into the room was through the lower half, which was still ordinary window glass.

I was in better shape than during my previous adventure. I had tools and other conveniences that were not available when I had been locked out of the entire house in February. I changed into a set of warm sweats, put on shoes and retrieved some knives and a five-foot ladder from the garage.

My goal was to remove the glass without breaking it. I didn't want to be messing with a knife while standing on an unstable ladder so I worked from the ground reaching up. I started by removing the edging that framed the window.

Bob had followed me outside and stood nearby, chattering like an insane Greek chorus. He clearly remembered the last time I had tried to enter the house through the window and did not approve of a reprise effort.

I held my left hand above me to support the glass when it came free. What I did not expect was that the glass would pop out after I had slid my knife along only two edges of the window. The glass came crashing down, pausing only to hit my nose hard on the way down. Of course, it shattered to pieces on the concrete patio.

I swore in a most un-Christmas night-like way while Bob shouted, "I told you so!" in feline. But the window was now open. I pulled one of the wrought iron patio chairs over to the window and climbed up on it. I carefully threaded the five-foot ladder through the window. By leaning inside, I was able to set it up on the bathroom floor.

I had not as yet seen any sign of Van Gogh. Now I crooned to him, "Hey, guy, I'm here. Come on out."

As I had suspected, he was hiding in his cabinet. He came out immediately and, with my coaxing, climbed right up the ladder and into my arms. I jumped off the chair and carried him into the house, leaving Bob standing outside on the patio.

I brought him straight to the laundry room where I could put him on top of the washing machine and examine him. My suspicions were confirmed.

The drawer pulls on my bathroom vanity are the ornate metal kind used in houses built in the early '60s. There is a long twisted pull which extends out about an inch from the perpendicular pieces that hold it in place. My guess was that Van Gogh tried to scratch the top of his head on the pull, got his wound caught in it and then yanked the drawer open while trying to get free.

His wound was a mess. He'd torn it open about half an inch in both directions, and it was bleeding all over the place. I cleaned it up as best I could, using the first aid kit from my suitcase since I couldn't get to any of the stuff in my medicine cabinet.

By the time I was finished, it was after 1:00 AM, and I was drained both physically and emotionally. I set up another litter box (fortunately there was an extra in the garage) with a water dish and deposited Van Gogh in the guest bedroom.

I decided to leave the bathroom window as it was for the night. If a tall, skinny burglar got in, maybe he'd open the door for me. I did pull the ladder out of the room--no point in making things too easy for the burglar.

After collecting a very-ticked-off Bob, I tumbled into bed. Like Scarlett O'Hara, I'd worry about the rest in the morning.


Maria Zannini said...

Why do our lives mirror each other so much? I should've known when Van Gogh entered your life to expect some pet chaos of my own.

Murray is past the critical stage. If he goes another week without relapse we should be home free. It's been a very LONG holiday week. I thought for sure I was going to lose him, but he pulled through.

Hope you had a good Christmas.

Maya Reynolds said...

Maria: I'm sure it was your good care that saved Murray from his bout with Parvo. Happy New Year!

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