Friday, August 10, 2007

It's Bleeding, er, Breeding Time....

...and the iguana is cranky beyond belief (my apologies to George Gershwin for rudely altering his Summertime lyrics).

Yes, folks, Mike has passed through that difficult puberty threshold into full blown hormonal adolescence. Plus, he's shedding. Iguana keepers know that that's when they'd most like to send their iguanas to a deserted island somewhere.

In my case, I'd like to send Mike and Treppie, my big desert tortoise, because it's thanks to Treppie that Mike was able to do what he did. (Well, that and the fact I'm fighting a relapse,
and the big iguanids are great observers of their humans, and will have a go at them when they detect an opening.)

Mike's been giving me lots of open mouth threats lately, not related to colors or patterns, but possibly because my erratic cycle (please, God, send menopause NOW) has switched on to "permanent PMS" for the last couple of weeks (yes, I have been very carefully watching my diet to lower my blood sugar, but c'mon, at times like these, Trader Joe's Pound Plus Bittersweet Chocolate isn't candy, it's medicine!). Sometimes the open-mouthing is combined with lunging, so I've been very careful around him.

Today, after spending a few minutes sending Mikey into Nirvana by picking some of the shedding skin off of his face, I knelt down to reposition a small glass-and-metal table under Mikey's table, because Treppie is once again completely and totally certain that if he just tries hard enough, he will indeed prove that glass and metal are in fact permeable substances through which he can pass his 8 pounds, 13" CL x 8" CW self.

It was while I was down there that Mike launched himself at me and, thankfully (hey, let's be practical) latched onto my left ear. Unfortunately, I had just pulled the sides of my hair back into a clip, so he made more contact with flesh than he would have a short time before. So, there I sat, er, crouched, clamping his head between my hands in case he decided to shake or do some alligator rolls while still firmly attached to my ear.

I looked around the iguana/chelonian room to see if there was by chance any alcohol around, but there was not. (Note to self: dig out the "snake bite" bottle I used to carry with me when I did educational programs. [For those who do not know, the quickest and safest way to detach a locked-in snake from one's skin is to pour a little alcohol {preferably the drinking, not the isopropyl, kind} into their mouth, taking care not to flood it or let it flow down their trachea.] [No, I'm not nuts, just a former snake keeper who still has a fondness in her heart for Serpentes.]*

Not much anything else of use, either.
So, there I crouched, the brat's head in my hands, waiting for him to get bored (or, hey! get a clue!) and let go. He repositioned his mouth twice, clamping down harder, before finally releasing me (and freeing a mouthful of hair, which I can ill afford to lose, thank you very much).

Fortunately, my external ear is intact. Mostly. I mean, both my ears need re-piercing anyway, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind...

Le Front:

Le Back:

The photos were taken a couple of hours after the bite. In the immediate aftermath, after washing it off, I clamped some tissues around the ear to stop the bleeding. While clamping with one hand, I dug through my CERT go bag and the crate of supplies under it only to realize that, oh, yeah, I don't keep much in the way first aid stuff in there.

Mind you, the realization hits after I'm digging through them with one hand while trying to keep from bleeding on the floor or, heaven forbid, any yarn!

So, still clamping, out to my car I go, and schlep in my actual FAK (a small duffle bag that, unlike my CERT bag, does not have a hard hat and assorted other tools in it, but does, for some reason, have both my CPR masks... Ah, well, better to learn that now than when it's really important...).

After wading through the CPR and N95 masks, I pull out the bag of gauze pads, happy to see that they are Kendall-Futuro's Curity brand, not Johnson & Johnson's, since I am mightily displeased with them at present. (Yes, really, these are thoughts that go through my head while bleeding and pulling out needed supplies.)

Now that I think about it, it's been ~12 years since I've been bitten by an iguana. Well, by anything with more than two legs. But, I digress.

My worst iguana bites were all from highly tamed and socialized iguanas. Two of the three were by breeding season males (my dear long departed Freddy, and now Mike). The other bite was from my boy Wally, who closed his mouth expecting me to have moved my finger away from it before his jaws made contact. Since I was looking in the opposite direction, and jerked instead of keeping still, the flexor on the palm side of my right index finger was severed, which keeps me from bending it at all at the first knuckle, and limits the bend of the second.

Other than having to remember to not clamp the phone to that ear or sleep on my left side for a while (and, oh, yeah, keep an eye out for infection), I got off easily (and so, presumably, did Mike - I'll have to check his basking area for seminal plugs or those lovely 'melted mozzarella cheese' deposits).

Ah, well, at least for a few hours I got to forget how miserable my allergies have been today...

* Several years ago, I wrote an Open Letter to Emergency Responders about detaching snakes without killing them.


Monday, August 13:
It is three days after the bite. Saturday, Mike bobbed at me and did some lateral compressions, first thing in the morning. I'd given him the 'silent' treatment ever since the bite - no Mommy voice, no talking to him at all, though I did growl at him (I speak Dog, too, as well as a bit of Cat) whenever I saw him. Since I normally talk to him throughout the day and evening, my not talking to him, and only growling at him, was a clear change in my behavior. I began talking to him civily (not in the usual cooing Mommy voice) late Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, we interacted normally. No head bobs or lateral compressions. He had his bath, ate as usual, and generally spent a quiet day. Martha, a friend of mine who takes care of him when I am out of town, came over for a bit. She said she'd never seen him so blue and brown (happy with the attention, overlaid by breeding colors, which for him are a rusty brown).

Today was much like yesterday. No bobs, no presenting, with him staying in his room other than coming down to eat and making a circuit around my bathroom while I ran the bath in his bathroom. As usual, he got himself out of his tub when he was done, and went back to his room to bask.

As for me, no sign of infection, and the lacerations and punctures are healing nicely. I look forward to being able to sleep on my left side again, and to the end of breeding season!

Wednesday, August 15:
There is no sign of infection on the ear itself - by contorting myself and using a hand mirror, I've been able to do a visual as well as doing touch checks daily. Today, the lymph gland right under the ear, where the external ear flap is attached at the bottom of the opening, grew swollen and painful to the touch.

Thursday, August 16:
The swollen lymph gland is down considerably, and only hurts when I press hard on it. Mike, heading towards the den from the foyer, first walks, then lopes towards me as I am half-way across the room heading towards the hall. Fortunately, I was carrying a load of his towels to put them in the washer, so I placed them between me and his oncoming head, holding him down to keep him from getting to me. He grabbed onto the green towel, whereupon I picked him up and carried him to his room. After I put him down on his table, he dropped the towel and turned around and glared at me, as if to say he's getting ready for Round 3.

Our daily routine for the past year or so is letting him go into the bathroom when he is ready for his bath. That is either early-ish in the morning (~7:30), or late in the morning. This morning, I got him up at 7 AM and put him in the bath. He was distinctly not happy about that. Could that have compounded the hormone situation and resulted in his coming after me? Possible…

Update Friday, August 17: I didn't bother taking a photo of the front - aside from a pale yellow tint that matches the fading bruise on the back of the ear, and a small line of scabbing along a ridge, the front is virtually healed. The back is well on it's way, as well.

Final Update August 24: Everything is more or less back to normal (depending on how "normal" you consider life with a large lizard to be). No more challenges, no more lungeing,no more open mouth threats. For now. My ear is well on its way to being fully healed. There is one tiny area of scab and discoloration under my finger, and some residual redness where the teeth chomped through the skin. I've been sleeping on my left side and holding the phone to my left ear again, meaning the pain and tenderness are virtually gone.

Unintended Self-Portrait of the Artiste

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful story -- and I read it just in time -- Nigel -- my "boy" must be going through a similar hormonal time as Mike. He eyeballed me strangely this morning when I bent down to remove the poop present. As much as I love my baby, I'm not into close contact of the iggy kind! Boy that sounded painful!! I hope your ear heals soon!

3:54 PM  
Blogger IggySingh said...

oh mi GOD! just saw this post. ouch. i am so glad you are better now MK.

2:52 AM  

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