Altered States

The Engineer’s big doofus Mystery started stumbling last week, and we freaked a bit. He’s almost eighteen and already has old-kitty kidneys, and watching him fall conk onto his side like a tree in the forest was a little alarming.

(He’s not really a doofus. He’s just an uncomplicated, big, yellow cat who has a minimum of settings: “Food?”, “Petting?”, sleeping, grooming his sister Lilly Bast, scarfing catnip, and sloping into your vicinity with an expression that says “whatcha doin’?”)

We were lucky enough to have a cats-only vet move in just up the hill a few years back, a practice I’d already been following on an Instagram account curated by one of the vet techs to show off her special needs rescue kittens, her interesting cases (“CW: surgery pictures”) and Discworld tattoos. The considered diagnosis was probable arthritis. Cats, especially kidney patients, don’t handle the equivalent of Advil et cetera very well, but they had some Chinese herbs for pain that helped immediately, and yesterday he went for his first acupuncture treatment.

My Beezler of blessed memory had miserable arthritis that was completely managed by acupuncture, which also sorted his allergies and slowed down his kidney decline, so I was right behind this. The clinic asked permission to take photos and post them on the main Instagram account, but we got a first look.

(That’s the bottom of his cat carrier he’s sitting in. He resists getting out at the vet’s. He knows.)

Is it just my imagination, or does he look… stoned?

(Acupuncture used to put me in the Twilight Zone. I’d still be doing it as a sort of spa treatment, except that my acupuncturist suffered from a vice common in the alternative health professions, or as my late and ex used to say, “the basic vice of all therapy is the therapist’s need to be considered hot shit.” Her prices I could just manage, but the incessant feeding of her ego was too exhausting. Apparently the veterinary branch of the field suffers less from this.)

He ate for the rest of the evening, which isn’t all that atypical of Mystery, but his appetite’s been less aggressive lately. News as I get it.

Smokin’ Hot

Over the years of my marriage (and before, and after), my gnomic, arrested-adolescent, brilliant, demented husband made a succession of incisive observations. About my favorite is:

“The basic vice of all therapy is the therapist’s need to be considered hot shit.”

He was talking about headshrinkers of various stripes but I would extend this to include most practitioners of any sort of holistic therapy, including my profession of massage. Periodically I take myself to the woodshed for a discussion of whether I have been working from the hot-shit zone. There is away too much of it in my field, as anyone who has attended a workshop by a Famous Massage Rock Star can attest.

I fired my acupuncturist recently over this selfsame issue. She has to be one of the most exhaustively trained and talented people in her line of work hereabouts, and I could probably assemble a jury of twelve, all of them referral clients from me, to attest that (1) when she works on them, the clouds part and the birds sing, but that  (2) they run aground on the hectoring, condescending tone in which she reminds them, in various ways, that she is the Only One In The Room who knows anything about anything.

“It was the desk that finished it for me,” said one lady, referring to a vast, bleak plain of walnut which Madame Physician interposed, in an uprush of Feng Shui, between herself and her patients, and across which she shoved a succession of nutritional and herbal remedies with the implication that we would all take them if we knew what was good for us. Back in her early days of practice, at the end of the session, we both parked our calendars on top of a short filing cabinet in the corner of her front room and made a date for next time.  Talking across that desk did me in too. That, and the day she got so distracted that she forgot for twenty minutes that I was in her back room full of needles, and then still had the nerve to try to sell me herbs.

The day one leg of her treatment table broke under me — a freak accident — I laughed whoopingly as soon as I realized I wasn’t hurt, and invoked the I Ching Hexagram 23, “Splitting Apart” [“the leg of the bed is split”].  She responded with a deadpan oration on Chinese wisdom.

The real problem with people like this is that you know you can’t even begin to tell them what the real problem is. I have not yet explained to the White Coated Needle Queen why I am not coming back.

If I ever get like that I hope one of my clients will be good enough to splash me in the face with a big glass of Lipton’s. Iced.