Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Brain has Fleas


Anyone that knows me and quite a few that don't know my cat is lucky to be alive, and I am very happy about that.  To recap, she was gone for five and half weeks and given up for dead. Once she rescued and accessed she had lost her tail, broke her pelvis, and dislocated her hip.  It would later be revealed that she took a bite to the shoulder that developed into an abscess. Somewhere in her adventures, or during her hiding in her deathly hallow she picked up fleas.

Fleas could be expected from an adventure like that.  This neighbourhood is full of dirty corners, wild animals, and wild people. Soon after her rescue she was treated and showed no signs of active infestation when I took her home.  The treatment was never designed to be a once off, and was intended to be coordinated with careful management of the environment, none of which I knew in the first month I had her home.

Not understanding the first thing about the problem I made several errors.  that extended the life of the problem. I failed to get a second dose of the topical treatment before they emerged.  So I started treatment again only after having seen fresh evidence of the fleas.  And at that time I underestimated the need for environmental management, and so I had failed to give things the deep cleaning needed. This was all happening during a period I was particularly depressed by the prospect of searching for work.  The war effort was partly held back by a lack of the proper tools, at the start my vacuum cleaner could barely get the cat hair off of half a foot of carpet let alone the couch.  In any case the fleas came back a second time.

 Now a bit about the enemy. Fleas are tough.  The adults may stretch to 3 millimetres but their small size is to their advantage, they can hide in places I couldn't image cleaning.  But the adults are only the top 5% of the population the remainder being eggs, larvae and pupae.  The eggs and little white points they'll slide right off the fur into the environment, they are impervious to most forms of chemical warfare and are plentiful.  You can kill the larvae but they can slip into many deep corners.  The pupae share the egg's near indestructible nature.  So I am faced with a foe who at two stages of its life is near impossible to kill, looks like dust and dander, and could be anywhere. I learned this during the second outbreak. This outbreak occurred after she had gained the strength and mobility needed to gain the run of the houses, including keeping my feet warm at night.

So one morning I awoke to my kitty scratching too much, and with that scratching the black specks that are flea feces.  She was exiled from the bedroom at that moment, and I started an OCD cleaning process.  That morning started the process of my brain getting fleas.

After I shooed her out of the bedroom I changed the sheets, and started the process of washing all the things.  During that morning I found the carcass of an adult flea in my bedding.  My bed and bedroom felt instantly unclean, and over time so did I.  It did not matter that I cleaned myself, my cloths and my bedding regularly, I could never be sure they were gone.  I took to worrying about every minor itch, any millimeter sized grit that found its way onto my bed, dander is treated with suspicion.  Questionable and large debris were interrogated with my 10X or 30X hand lens, always to answer of inconclusive.

I updated my vacuum cleaner during the height of this paranoia.  The tool I started out with was never up to the task of clearing up behind two hair mammals in a carpeted apartment. It has helped, both on the physical front with its ability to clear more dust from a greater depth, things felt cleaner the instant I started using it.  Even with multiple washings, vacuumings, dustings, and an absence of hear evidence of their return I still worry.

On a bad day of which there are plenty, when mood is down, and my housekeeping falling with it I will question every iche, distrust all the crumbs.  If such a bad day occurs near the time I should change my sheets I will sleep badly, a process that starts with checking the pillows for suspicious dander, as I continually fear that I have become a host.  I am getting better, on nights when I am over tired I may still pull out the hand lens and head lamp to check on questionable grit.

In the end I can understand why traumatized cats will groom themselves bald after having fleas.  Don't let your pet or your brain get fleas.


1 comment:

Lizard Queen said...

Yikes! That is horrific. And I let you in my house...