Monday, February 23, 2009

this little kitty needs a home

like i said in a previous post, when people pass away it is a paramedic's job to place the ecg on the patient to ensure that there are no signs of life and pronounce death. even if it is so painfully obvious, i show up, print a strip, look at my watch, and officially give a time of departure... which leads me to this little tale.

so a while back the tones go off, the computer screen lights up, and i'm called to a shitty little residential hotel for "the obvious doa." there are two cop cars outside of the hotel, and as i walk in i see a police officer fanning his hand across his nose giving me the heads up that this call is incredibly foul. great... my favorite smell: human decomposition.

this fragrance is like no other and a bit difficult to describe, but every policeman, paramedic, and firefighter is very familiar with this scent. it's not like rotting meat, and it's not like ignored garbage. it's very pungent and putrid, but there's a little sweetness behind it. human decomposition is so specific to humans... it's not the mouse behind the stove or the dog in the ditch. it's truly awful, and yet as natural as life. the odor escapes rooms, crawls under doors, and races down hallways and stairs searching for nostrils. it is this odor that gets us out the call in the first place, when neighbors know that things just aren't right and decide to finally pick up the phone.

that odor raced toward me the moment that i entered the hotel. the call was on the second floor, and as i was walking up the gummy, carpeted stairs the odor just snowballed to a powerfully repugnant level. being prepared, i took out my vicks, gave a wipe to my mask, donned it, and headed toward the patient. there were three officers outside of the room having a terrible time with this call. they were so uncomfortable and sick to their stomachs. we run these calls a bit with varying amounts of odor, but this one was pretty much as bad as it gets. it was summertime, the room was hot, and obviously this speeds up the process quite a bit. i handed them my vicks and a few masks.

this day i was working with a great paramedic who happens to be a female, a little girly. tough, but still feminine. she was not having this at all, gagging and turning away, so i volunteered to take care of it. i opened the door to the hotel room and walked inside.

this hotel room was like so many others. cluttered, dirty, dishes in the sink, generic brand canned food and top ramen, ashtrays overflowing with butts, empty beer cans, television on. the patient was lying on her back on the bed. nightgown, uncovered, bloated, blue and black all over. the cause of death looked natural enough. i placed the ecg on the bed and started placing stickers on the patient's hands and feet to run this strip.

a skinny white cat darted out from under the bed. "hey there, kitty." i went over to pet it, it was a little skittish, but thankful for the attention. after 30 seconds of that i went back to the patient. i gave her another scan and noticed that a good amount of her left cheek was missing. "could her cheek have decomposed?" i thought to myself. no... there were bite marks and a bit of meat missing. i looked back at the cat suspiciously. i scanned the kitchen again and noted that there were two empty cat bowls. hmmm...

i felt sympathetic for this cat. i don't know what happens to pets when their owner dies and there's no family, but i can only guess that they're placed in a shelter and go up for a potential adoption. this cat was pretty cute and probably stood a good chance at finding a new home. i played this scenario out a few times and was a little amused to think that there was a little boy or a little girl in the near future playing with mr. binkles with some yarn with absoutely no clue that if this cat ever got hungry enough, he wouldn't hesitate to eat their faces.

i suppose after the first time it's not that weird.

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