Last minute Christmas

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Fri24Jan2020

LastMinuteChristmas.com

You're not my doctor OR my therapist

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A straightforward health risk assessment question is being clouded by some family history, and I'd like some help thinking it through. Here's the immediate question: I have a bunch of small, not particularly deep cuts all over my hands from my cat right now. My parents have a Labrador who is sweet but poorly trained/young and easily excitable, and it's a guarantee that she will be jumping up all over me, and I will need to use my hands to fight her off, and she'll then be biting at my hands and getting her saliva all over them in the process. I'm freaked out that I'm going to get an infection this way, in particular one of those rare but serious ones that lead to loss of limbs and sepsis, to the point where I'm considering not going home for the holiday. I'm wondering if that's a rationale decision or if I'm projecting a bunch of emotional things into this equation (which I detail below)?

Other details on the health part:
- I know the chance of getting an infection like this is rare and that there would be a greater chance of me being killed in a car accident on the way there. I'm in my 30s and healthy as far as I know, but I do need to get tests for autoimmune diseases in January because of some tiredness/joint pain and a low red blood cell count that recently kept me from donating blood.
- I get really dry winter skin, and the dog's nails are long because they don't trim them (too hard because she's too excitable) so the potential for more open skin wounds are there.
- I might also be getting a cold, but it's hard to tell if it's a cold or just that winter hack from dry indoor air.
- The dog jumping will be constant. She calms down the longer I'm there, but I only stay a couple days, which is usually how long it takes her to calm down.
- This situation isn't new (either my cat scratching/biting me or my parents' dog jumping on me), so I'm sure she's licked some of my cuts in the past year. I've had both cats and dogs my whole life, so I'm sure I've had my wounds licked by dogs in the past.
- I would not consider myself a germophobe but I would be consider myself a hypochondriac, if that makes any sense. I eat on the subway without thinking twice, I will eat food off the floor. This is part of what makes me wonder if I feel so anxious/strong about this because I'm projecting other things into it.
- It's about 8 hours each way to get to my parents' place and some expense. I have both the time and the money. I see them every few months. I am an only child.
- I do like to play and roughhouse with the dog while I'm there and have done that in the past. It's possible it gives the dog mixed messages, which now I feel bad about, or even my parents mixed messages about how much the jumping bothers me.
- It's impossible for me to go there and not have contact with the dog. They are not 100% consistent about keeping her restrained/gated off. When I was there for Thanksgiving, they forgot to put the gate up one morning, so when I came out into the hall to go to the bathroom, the dog came running down the hallway and jumped up and pushed both paws into my chest before I could even react.
- Staying at a hotel and meeting them for dinner feels weird. Also, that's just an extra expense and hassle for me. It isn't possible for them to come see me where I live. (They don't get paid time off with their jobs, some health stuff.)

Details on the family history/emotional part:
- Over the summer the dog jumped on me and left three long scratches down the left side of my face. I was - and still am - freaked out about this. It was over before I even had a chance to react. It was inches from my eye. It wasn't immediately clear how deep the cuts were - her nails are long and sharp - and I was completely panicked that I was permanently scarred. Honestly, my parents were not all that concerned.
- I have offered to pay for high-quality/intensive obedience training for the dog multiple times. They have turned me down.
- I gently broached this topic and mentioned the scratching and my anxiety and really didn't get much of a response other than that they'd forgotten to put the gate up last time.
- My parents were not sympathetic to illness/injury or emotional distress growing up. I think I probably just need to accept that they will never give me this kind of consideration, but I can't help but be angry that I have to spend this time and money to go somewhere and be uncomfortable and anxious the whole time. I know the risk is small, but it feels needless, and I'm angry that I have to subject myself to it. But I would feel badly if something happened to one of my parents next year and we didn't have another Christmas together. I'm single, so I feel like I'm being lame and unappreciative to say I'd rather be by myself than go see people who love me. I feel like I'm going to say I'm not coming home because you're not taking either my physical safety/health and emotional comfort seriously, and they're going to say they can't believe I wouldn't come home for Christmas over a little dog roughhousing. I do wonder if I'm projecting all of my childhood hurt onto this one situation.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for any insight you have to offer into any part of this.


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