Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today was a bad day.

Not a demanding day.  Not even a 'the climate control's fucked and we have a long cull' day.  No, today, I remembered that I kill living creatures.  

It probably sounds crazy, but I make myself forget that.  I create a distance, hold up a great big shield called 'I help make drugs that save lives!'.  Usually, that's enough.  

But today I dropped the shield, and lost the distance.  I know how it happened.  I did the most stupid thing you can do in my job: I tried to save a mouse.

I'm not going to pretend my reasons were entirely selfless.  We'd already lost one from that treatment group.  So when I found this little guy hunched in the corner of the cage, I didn't want to lose another.  I tried to rehydrate him.  I badgered my co-worker for updates on his condition.  And at some point, I got emotionally invested.  I hoped I could make him better.

We lost him.  We held off, hoping he'd recover, but by mid-afternoon, he was only getting worse.  We're not allowed to let them suffer.  I won't let them suffer.  Even with my usual distance, that rule helps me live with myself.  So we euthanised him, did a pseudo-autopsy, and discovered he had the same fucking thing that killed the last mouse.  The lowest point of my day was sucking pus out of this mouse's corpse with a syringe, so we could test it, find out just what the holy hell has happened to these animals.

This has happened before.  Rarely, but it's not unheard of.  Sure, we've never had this particular problem, but there's been other times when something goes wrong, and the study is put in jeopardy.  A hard decision is made, to continue, and risk inaccurate results, or to just give up on the whole thing.  It sucks, but that's the nature of this work.

But this is the first time I've gone home and cried.  I'm a selfish, heartless, sociopathic bitch, because right now, I don't give a shit about that mouse.  All I want is my detachment back.    I want to forget that, just for a few minutes today, I thought I could save this animal.  I want to remember that my job is to kill, and be able to accept that again.

1 comment:

  1. I have the utmost respect for the work that you do...I know I would never find that 'detachment' that you are so desperate to get back.But, instead of beating yourself up, give yourself a *hug* and a pat on the back for being human enough to have cared about another creature in deeply personal, affecting way.I know this doesn't help you do your extremely valuable work,and I'm sure you will find that 'corner of cool' that you need again, but it's good to know that your basic instincts are still intact.