Sunday, May 4, 2014

THE Bite

*warning: graphic description

I saved this one for today. Today is a special 20th anniversary. Good or bad, depends on your perspective but none-the-less it was a life changing event and I have embraced it from the beginning.  I was brand new to the zoo field and had only been working at this particular place for less than a year. I wasn’t even full time animal staff (yet). I had to work my way up and did that by helping the animal staff as much as I possibly could. This particular day I was helping Dave feed the Chimpanzees.  It was just before the park closing and we were standing in front of the chimpanzee enclosure in the park.  This meant that visitors were standing behind us watching us feed them.  I dropped some food and reached down to pick it up to move it closer.  One of the chimps named Rosie reached out and grabbed my arm and pulled it into the cage biting down on my hand.  Dave instinctively grabbed my arm and Rosie’s face poking her in the eyes to get her to let go.  I didn’t scream or cry out.  In fact, I felt nothing.  I was focused on the fact that I could not feel a finger anymore, it wasn’t just numb; I actually felt nothing.  I have no way to explain it but I knew there was a void.  I immediately grabbed my hand so tight that Dave had to literally pry my fingers apart to get a look at it.  All he said was that we need to get to the hospital.  I don’t remember what we talked about but he kept talking and managed to keep me from going into shock.  At the hospital I had several doctors looking at my hand.  They had me go through a series of movements to see if any mobility was left.  The truth was there would never be any mobility.  In fact, although the bones were there absolutely nothing was left on them. I was never able to look it straight on. I could see it out of the corner of my eye and was able to stay detached. It was like something out of a movie, a horror movie no less.  I was told my choice was a series of extremely painful skin grafts or to amputate.  I chose amputation.  It was the better choice especially since we were dealing with an animal bite.  It was only then that I started to cry. 

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