August 23, 2003

Things start off like any typical Saturday morning. Katie (12) and Matt (9) are watching cartoons and I'm outside getting ready to run the edger down the sidewalk. It's a few minutes after 10 and into the driveway comes one of Matt's buddies on his bike. I yell to Matt that Ethan is here. By the time Matt scrambles to get outside another buddy, Conner, pulls up on his bike. The 3 boys are now ready to start their Saturday adventure and it lies just across the street. Across the street is the next best thing to Disneyland to a nine year old boy...a vacant lot where they have just begun the construction of a new house by digging the basement. This big hole in the ground has been entertaining them for days. They waste no time in running across the street. A few minutes later they have started a contest to see who can throw a dirt clod/rock and hit a wooden stake on the other side of the hole. As those of you with clay based soil already know, clay dirt clods baking in the heat we've had this past week are every bit as hard as a rock. At least they aren't throwing the clods at each other, as they have been doing the past couple days (despite numerous warnings from Missy and I to quit throwing at each other or someone will get hurt).

Anyway, I start working again. After about a half hour I go inside to get a drink. While inside I walk over and look at the door to see the 3 boys, each standing at a separate corner of the newly bug basement. Guess what...they are throwing clods and rocks at each other. I'm later told this is a game they call war (please don't forward this on to the democratic presidential candidates as they may blame Bush for this as well). Missy is on the phone talking to Conner's mom (Linda). As I watch I see Conner toss a clod/rock towards Matt... I see Matt duck... I see Matt grab his head. I turn around shaking my head and say 'Matt just took a dirt clod to the head' to whoever cares to be listening. I see Matt start running for home and I walk back down the hall just waiting for him to come running through the door crying and I can give him the fatherly lecture about 'I told you not to throw rocks at each other'.  I then see Matt come running into the house screaming and blood is running everywhere. He has his hands on his head and blood is running down his arms and dripping all over the floor. His arms and face are covered, his shirt is soaked in it.

I yell to Missy that Matt's head is split open and that he probably needs stitches. This announcement does several things:

        1. Missy abruptly ends her phone call by quickly saying "I gotta go. Bye"
        2. Katie bolts from her spot in front of the TV, takes one look at Matt and starts crying.
        3. Matt hears the word 'stitches' and promptly turns up the volume on his cries.

Missy grabs a towel and we apply pressure to the head wound as I escort Matt into the bathroom to wash blood off his hands and arms. Missy grabs the phone to call 911. Katie is still crying thinking her brother is going to die. In the bathroom I hold the towel on Matt's head. He's terrified. He's never seen so much blood and now he is looking at himself in the mirror. He is shaking and telling me he doesn't want to die. I tell him he's going to be ok. Missy has the cordless phone and dials 911. No answer. She hits the off button and then tries it again. No answer. She tosses the phone. We decide to rush him to the hospital ourselves.

We head for the door and the phone rings. Katie somehow regains her composure and answers it. As I'm headed for the door she tells me it is the Sheriff on the phone. I take the phone as Missy takes Matt out to the truck. It seems Missy's 911 calls did go through, she just didn't give them enough time to answer. They called back. Missy and Matt are in the truck as I tell the sheriff what is going on and that we are taking him to the hospital. He tells me that we should remain at the house and that he can get medical attention to Matt quicker by sending an ambulance. We decide to wait for the ambulance.

By now Linda has arrived to see what is going on. She and Missy are in the back seat of the Durango with Matt comforting him. I notice that one of Matt's friends, Ethan, is long gone. I guess he didn't care to see the outcome of this mess. The other, Conner, stuck around and is now in the back seat of his Mom's car. I run back in the house to check on Katie and to get a cold pack for Matt's head. I notice blood all over the hallway floor (thankfully it is hard wood floors). I hear Katie upstairs sobbing loudly. I holler for her and tell her it is going to be ok. I give her the ice pack to run out to Mom and ask her if she can clean up the blood after that....I know, I know, probably not the best thing to ask the hysterical sister to do. She runs out the cold pack.

She comes back in through the door which enters from the garage. I'm sure several of you also have doors like this that have springs built into the hinges so it shuts on its own. It doesn't just shut, it slams shut. And as many of you know, if you have windows open or another door open, it creates a wind tunnel effect when that door is open. Now it not only slams shut, it slams shut with a lot of force. Anyway, Katie comes through the door and Kobe, our 9 month old cat, sees the door open. Let me just say that Kobe loves to go outside and he can be amazingly quick when he sees that opportunity. He sees the opening and bolts for the door. Any other time he probably makes it. Today we have windows open and the door closes too fast. We hear a blood curdling scream unlike any noise we've ever heard a cat make. My initial thought is 'Great, now I have to catch the cat'.  I head out to the garage and find him under the car. I chase him around the garage a bit before catching him and then toss him back into the house.

Now back to see how Matt is doing... the blood flow has slowed quite a bit. A police officer arrives and I begin giving him a statement of events (leaving out the cat stuff). Missy is wondering where the ambulance is... it arrives shortly. The EMTs look at Matt and inform us that the blood flow seems to have pretty much stopped but that a Paramedic is in route and would look at him as well. The paramedic arrives and she starts to look at Matt. A second ambulance arrives... then another paramedic arrives. So now we have Linda, a police officer, 2 ambulances and 2 paramedics in our driveway. I'm thinking that things must be pretty slow in Pleasant Hill today.

In the meantime Katie comes back outside crying and saying that Kobe's tail is all mangled and that it looks broken. I tell her that he's fine. That he just got it caught in the door and probably scratched it up a bit. That'd be a lesson learned for him (I'm just full of fatherly wisdom).  She's crying louder as she's crying about Matt and the cat now. Linda comes over to hug and comfort her while I go look for the cat. The cat sees me come through the door and runs to the other room. I follow and then he runs upstairs. I don't have time for this game so I go outside and tell Katie that Kobe is fine.

The paramedic feels that the bleeding has stopped. We decide to take Matt to Blank hospital to have them look him over. I sign off on a refusal of an ambulance ride to the hospital and then we drive him there ourselves. Matt seems fine now and not as scared. Katie stays home. Conner's sister Amanda keeps her company. At the hospital they give Matt an electronic Frogger game... a smart move on their part. He never put that game down the whole time we are there. They are scrubbing his head and he is grimacing in pain and yet he keeps on playing... what a trooper. The nurse notices and asks him how he is doing. He tells her he's having trouble getting to level 3... he's making his Dad very proud. The doctor looks at the wound and asks what happened. Matt tells her about his friends throwing rocks at each other. She comments that those are 'quite some friends he's got'. The wound has closed itself... no stitches needed. Matt is happy about that. We head home.

Back at home, Katie tells me again that the cat's tail looks broken and mangled. She's crying again because it is her fault. I tell her it is not her fault, it is the cat's fault. I tell her again that he will be fine. I go find him. He seems fine as he is wrestling with the other cat. I pick him up and notice that the tail has an indentation that looks just like the corner of a door. It's also bent and bloody. Now I'm thinking that maybe it is broken.

It's now about 1:00 and Missy calls our vet. They are out of town and we are referred to the Animal Emergency clinic in West Des Moines. I take the cat and head for the clinic. At the clinic I look at Kobe's tail closer. It's bad. It looks like someone tried to skin the cat's tail. Several inches of his skin has been peeled back off the tail, nearly all the way around the tail. The vet looks at it and dismisses himself. He returns to tell me that most likely the skin will die from that point all the way to the end of the tail. He recommends we amputate the tail just above the injury. I ask if there is anything else we can do... is there a chance it could heal itself? He says the chances are very small with this extent of injury and that by trying to let it heal we risk infection. I agree to the amputation and he tells me it will cost $425... ouch. I leave the cat there and go home.

At home, Katie goes into round 3 of crying when she hears that part of Kobe's tail will be cut off. It's all her fault, at least according to her. I have to return to the vet in a couple hours to pick him up. In the meantime, I figure I'll finish that edging job. Missy is on the porch and sees this and says no. She explains that with our luck today I'd probably cut a toe off. I agree to just relax and take it easy the rest of the afternoon.

I pick Kobe up around 4:00. They removed about 4 inches of his tail. The entire tail is heavily bandaged and he is wearing an e-collar. For those of you unfamiliar with this device, it's like a lampshade tied around his neck. It keeps him from tearing off the bandages. He's heavily sedated and groggy. When he gets home he just lays on the floor. A few hours later we check on him and he has the collar off. I put it back on him. A little later, he's got it off again. On again, off again. I call the clinic. They insist it needs to be on. I put it on again and put him in his carrier. I put the carrier in the bathroom with the carrier door against the shower. Ten minutes later Missy and I are outside. We look up and see Kobe sitting in the window sill watching us...with no e-collar! I head back in. The collar is inside the carrier and the carrier door is now broken.

By now, whenever Kobe sees me he runs. He's associated my presence with that e-collar. I eventually catch him and tie it on as tight as I can without choking him. I loop the ties around his neck twice just to be sure. He lies docile on the living room floor. Missy and I sit watching him. Missy feels sorry for him. I figure he's finally given up. Wrong. He explodes to life in a series of kicks, leaps and flips. I've never seen anything like it. I move away from him so he doesn't slam into me. After a bit he falls to the floor panting. YES!!! It held. Now maybe he will give up. Five minutes pass and he explodes again. This time it is worse. He rolls under the coffee table and leaps up crashing into the bottom of it several times. Then he rolls out and does a couple more jumps and flips before flinging himself backwards, crashing into a small table with glass doors... breaking the glass. Missy's seen enough. She unties it and frees him. He's gone.

I go call the clinic again for suggestions. They say to bring him in again. I take him back. It's 9:30 pm. They add more reinforcement to the tail, just in case he gets out of the collar during the night and starts chewing... at least it will be harder to chew off. His tail is so heavy with bandages that I swear I could use it as a wiffle ball bat. They also give me some new string to tie the collar on with.

I take him home and reattach the collar. We put him a bathroom to isolate him. Time for bed. I lie down and 5 minutes later we hear this crashing sound in the bathroom. It lasts about 30 seconds and stops. I go to check on him. He's panting in the middle of the floor, but the collar is still on. I go back to bed. Around 2:30 in the morning Missy is waking me up. She has Kobe. The collar is half off but hanging on due to the double tie job I did. Missy has had enough. She wants the collar off. I untie him and we turn him loose. He's quick to disappear. I've had enough too and go back to sleep, hoping he won't rip off the bandages by morning.

Sunday morning comes and Kobe is acting like his old self again, and the bandages are intact. A day later and he still hasn't tried to tear them off. I guess we put him through enough misery with the collar that he decided to leave the bandages alone.  He goes back to the vet tomorrow to see how things are healing. I'm sure he's looking forward to that.

Anyway, Matt and Kobe are doing fine. I thought I'd share our Saturday excitement with everyone. As a visual aid you will find a couple photos below.

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