Thursday, 25 June 2009

Declawing - a human experience

Recently a friend, P, had to have some of her toenails removed, and after remarking jokingly that she was going to be declawed I thought maybe hearing what this similar procedure was like for a human might give us an inkling of an idea what cats go through when they have their claws, and toe ends, removed. P was kind enough to oblige and wrote down her experiences.

P was firstly given this written explanation of what would happen. “This operation is conducted to remove part or all of a diseased, damaged, thickened or ingrowing toenail. We are going to take your toenails off permanently because of severe ingrowing toenails. Two big toes and two adjacent toes on both feet will be operated on. Firstly your left foot, followed by surgery on your right foot at a later date. Note that only one foot would be attended to at a time with a break in between surgery. Please read the document and if you agree, please sign the consent form.”

Well this sounds very frightening to me, I think I would have limped a mile to avoid that. And I would imagine that seeing it all written down in black and white was pretty scary for P too. But imagine, if you will, if she hadn’t been given that explanation, didn’t even have ingrown toenails but had normal healthy feet and knew nothing about any forthcoming procedure until the day came that she was bundled into an ambulance, by the consent of someone she trusted, against her will and delivered to the hospital.
Having read and understood the proposed treatment P was then invited to sign the consent form and rightly so, it would be unthinkable not to be given the choice once she knew what was going to happen, at that point she may have decided not to go through with it after all. Ah but, going back to our earlier imagined scenario, the P that knew nothing of what was in store for her, that P was delivered to the hospital with no idea why, or for that matter where she was. No explanation given, no consent form signed, at least not by P but by someone who had elected themselves as her carer and had decided that this operation would make her easier to care for so had booked her in for it that day. She was then taken and put in a small room, almost like a cage, maybe surrounded by other people, also in small rooms, who were frightened and calling out for explanations and for someone they trusted to come and take them home.

P tells it like this: “I was weighed firstly to assess how much anaesthetic to administer”, now my friend obviously knew what was happening, why she was being weighed, and I guess she was asked kindly to get on and then off the scales. I don’t think our imaginary P was informed, I think it’s more likely that the door to her small room was opened without preamble and she was picked up buy someone much bigger than herself and dumped on a scale and held still while her weight was noted. Then she was returned to her small room to wait and wonder.

P says “Once on the operating table that was arranged for me to be comfortable in a sitting position as I wanted to watch, the anaesthetic local injections were administered around the big toe and the adjacent toe on my left foot. I watched as they scrubbed up and set the sterile trolley. The surgeon tested for numbness and asked if I was comfortable. Lovely music was played quietly to create a relaxing atmosphere. I was asked for the last time if I wanted to go through with the operation. I said yes. The procedure began “

Meanwhile imaginary P has been taken into theatre and given a general anaesthetic. Do you remember the favoured anaesthetics of Paul the Pimp in one of my previous blogs? If you do you will know that P might not only have been given intravenous anaesthesia but she might have also had ketamine sprayed into her eyes if she had she struggled and been hard to restrain. I reckon I'd struggle and be hard to restrain wouldn't you? We'd all have the ketamine sprayed in our eys wouldn't we? Imaginary P has been given a cocktail of anaesthesia and is now at risk of seizures, vomiting, tremors, spastic jerking movements and hypo or hyper thermia amongst other things. She is also at risk of appearing completely sedated, but still being able to move, even kick, bite or scratch, in response to sharp auditory stimulation due to the Xylazine she has been given. I hope she doesn’t move or kick at a crucial moment in the removal of her toenail.

My friend P was lying comfortably on the table, watching the procedure, by her own power of choice. Unconscious but twitching, imaginary P was hauled up into stirrups with her legs held really tight and tourniquets were strapped round her legs, first one and then, later, the other
My friend P says: First an incision was made down the sides and bottom of the big toenail. Another instrument was put down my toe and the nail and the nail levered steadily off. The nail came off very easily but my big toe nail bed bled profusely. Chemicals on tiny swabs were placed slowly but deeply around the matrix (cuticles) to destroy all future nail growth. The adjacent toe was operated on next and exactly the same routine was carried out.

Meanwhile mythical P has turned into a cat (this is quite feasible, after all this is an imaginary exercise) and is having a traditional declawing procedure, paw number one is held securely aloft and the tourniquet is applied. Toe by toe is extended and using either a scalpel or a guillotine type of clipper the vet cuts through bone, nerves, ligaments and tendons. Inevitably there is crushing of bone, tearing of skin and bruising, how could there not be? This happens five times on each front paw, with the possibility of a further 4 on each back paw. Each separate wound has to be sutured and then the paw tightly bandaged to prevent haemorrhaging

P goes on to say: Once the bleeding was brought under control, sterile dressings were applied then wrapped generously in bandages and tube gauze until both toes resembled huge white mushrooms. I was helped off the operating table and helped on with my open toed sandals, with the top fastening completely undone. On crutches I was helped out to where my daughter was waiting to take me home in the car.

Imaginary P is still under the effect of anaesthesia and as that effect wears off may experience as Paul the Pimp puts it “episodes of emergence delirium”, imaginary P, the cat, will gradually become aware of intense pain but will not be able to rationalise what has happened or why the paws are tightly bound, and so will start to worry at the bandages, try to stagger to her feet and begin to cry out in pain and confusion. As she stands and puts pressure on her ruined toes she will feel more pain and possibly the suturing will split and bleeding will begin Perhaps the veterinary practice doesn’t routinely give painkillers unless specifically requested by the carer. Certainly if pain relief is administered it will be charged for as extra. Imaginary P will stay in the small recovery cage all through the night; I guess sleep will not come easily.

My friend P is now at home where she has been told to rest with her foot elevated, her local anaesthetic is wearing off and she reaches for her painkillers.

The day after the declawing procedure imaginary P may be sent home, first being placed in the carrier she was brought into surgery in, it is inevitable that she will have to walk a few steps as she is pushed into the carrier, so far since her operation she hasn’t had her feet elevated at all. Gravity must be pulling at those stumps and making them throb like crazy. Now home she has to emerge from the carrier and hobble towards her resting place and maybe her litter box. Lift those paws high P, don’t hit the edge of the litter box with those throbbing stumps. Resting at last she tries to make sense of what has happened to her, what are the things on her paws, why can’t she get them off, why does she hurt so much.

Three days later my friend P drives herself to hospital for a check up, her dressings were removed, the wounds cleaned and fresh dressings applied. She was asked to return after another week had passed.

Mythical P has had to resume life; pain relief if given was for a couple of days. Litter box must be used, children maybe, or dogs, must be dealt with, sore weeping stumps still wrapped must be protected. Pain makes the best of us irritable. No claws for defence, maybe P will bite instead.

My friend P says: "in between hospital visits I went to the nurse at the doctor’s surgery as I had pain in my knee and couldn’t balance to apply my dressings. An infection set in and at my next visit to the nurse a week later she called in the doctor. He confirmed I had a bad infection. My toes were very red, swollen, oozing and painful. A prescription for antibiotics was given. A week later I returned only to have the doctor say the infection was still there and was given another prescription for further antibiotics. The pain was terrible and I had to take painkillers also. "

Oh no, imaginary P also has an infection, not only that but she has damage to the radial nerves and possibly bone chips working to the surface of the stump. For a time it seems that the infection will take over and one of her paws might have to be amputated. She hasn’t been able to elevate her paws, she wasn’t given crutches to walk with nor an advice sheet telling her to rest, she’s had to walk, jump and scratch in her litter box.

My friend P says The foot clinic at the hospital were horrified at my experience and told me not to go to my doctors surgery anymore and if I had any problems to go and see them. My toes eventually started to heal and I started to leave off the dressings. Healing process had taken three months and a lot of pain

Meanwhile imaginary P is still confused, demoralised, withdrawn, defenceless, and as cats do she is hiding her pain. She still has the instinct to scratch but doing so is useless and she just rubs her wounded toes on surfaces, slipping off and making them sore, her family think this is cute and smile to see her unable to claw the couch, carpet or drapes. Money well spent they say.

My friend P finishes by saying “The same operation on my right big toe and adjacent toe took place after three months. I have had three visits to the hospital for a change of dressings since then and they are keeping a closer eye on me this time. So far all my toes look healthy”.

Imaginary P is frustrated, her stumps still hurt, she bites when scared or taken by surprise. She hides from children and dogs because she fears they will hurt her. She can’t stand the feel of rough litter on her sensitive stumps so she has started to pee and poop where it feels softer. She wonders why she is being yelled at and sprayed with water. Her back starts to ache because she doesn’t walk as cats should. She is a disappointment to her family. Perhaps they will decide to get rid of her after all or maybe get another cat to play with her, if course it will have to be declawed too incase it hurts her, and so it goes on, cat after cat made permanently disabled.

P also wrote this: Cats do not give consent; cats do not rest their legs for a day after the operation to stem bleeding. In the 21st century it is deplorable that de-clawing of cats still happens in some parts of the world that are considered civilized! Cats are born with claws for a reason. If any humans don’t like furniture being clawed then they should not own a cat. Cats are beautiful and loving creatures. Cats do not have any say in how we look after them. They totally trust us to do the right things for them and love us back a hundredfold.

People of the world, please do all you can to ban declawing of cats immediately.

On behalf of our loving pets…. thank you

And from me…thank you Pammy

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Elsie can’t lose – he gets it both ways

Well now, here we have a chappie, let’s just call him Elsie at random, who owns an all cat clinic in Denver, he believes that “all cats should lead happy and healthy lives” and so he offers “Spays, Neuters and Declaws”. Oh what fun for the cats to be declawed, how healthily they shall limp through the rest of their days on ruined paws. He also says “we offer spays and neuters at an affordable price. We also provide pain medication and fluids in the price of every surgery.” Well give the man a carrot – he recognises the need for fluids and pain medication not only for necessary surgery such as neutering but it seems that even the cats subject to cosmetic surgery just might feel a tad of pain and so he includes it in the price, very big of him.

Now then, this toe amputating wonder boy has made a study of cat behavioural issues, and he’s getting himself a bit hot under the collar about litter box aversion, because he’s gone and found out that over 5.9 million cats are taken to shelters each year and that 73% are killed. And on this site there is this fact
Seventy percent (70%) of cats turned in to pounds and shelters for behavioral problems are declawed. (National Survey from pounds & shelters obtained by Caddo Parrish Forgotten Felines & Friends) source

So Elsie, lets do the math, 70% of the 5.9 million cats surrendered each year are declawed so I get that to be 4,130000 million cats, of which 73% are killed which is 3,014900 cats killed each year because of behavioural problems caused by you and you ilk who cut off their toes! This, Elsie, is what you cause:
“Behavioral problems frequently haunt declawed cats. By far, the commonest thing we see is cats not using the litter box. When cats have stress beyond what they can take, it often shows up as a litter box problem and declawing makes them stress intolerant, in general, for the rest of their lives,”

If you were doing that to humans you’d be a mass murderer sonny!

But never fear readers! Not only does Elsie cause this problem and cause these unnecessary, deaths – OH NO! He also solves the problems too because by purest chance he also owns a company that manufactures a special cat litter for cats with litter box problems, described oh so coyly as “wee problems”. Here is some of the advertising bumf

“Inappropriate elimination,” “litter box aversion,” and “house soiling” are just some of the kinder, gentler names given to a wee kitty problem—one that’s a leading cause of cat relinquishment.”
“The company (Elsie’s company) suggests that it may help
newly adopted cats beginning their litter box training, as well as
“problem” cats who’ve developed new potty problems.”

Well wouldn’t you just know it, those happy and healthy cats that have been declawed by Elsie are now lucky enough to have someone to solve their “potty problems”, and it just happens to be Elsie!

Now this must be a dream scenario for our lad, not only does he make a lot of money from making those cats happy and healthy by declawing them, he also makes a lot more money by selling the morons that own the happy healthy cats some special litter to solve the problems that he’s made in the first place! It sells for about $11 to $19 a bag. Looking at the fawning testimonials on his website it seems that a lot of people with cats with litter box problems have found that this Cat Attract litter is wonderful! Hmm, how many of them have declawed cats? I’d put money on 100% of them. Would you agree?

Elsie “won't say what is the active ingredient in the litter that makes cats more attracted to the box but said it is not catnip because only 50 percent of cats are drawn to that herb. Since he introduced the product in December, Elsie said Precious Cat has doubled its Cat Attract sales.”

Yippeeee Elsie is going to be stinking rich – he can’t lose can he? He declaws them and gets BIG bucks, and then if he’s lucky and they join the four million plus club that develops “potty problems” he sells their morons some special litter that only he knows the secret ingredient of. The man is a genius! He will take the secret to his grave, in a luxurious coffin because he's stinking rich, secure in the knowledge that he has made cats happy& healthy

Now, this is going against all my instincts and will stick uncomfortably in my craw because I do not want this butcher to make a penny piece out of the tragic results of declawing, but, if his wonder litter really DOES attract cats that otherwise wouldn’t use their litter boxes and if it saves the lives of even some of those poor crippled little souls then I’m going to have to start recommending it on Yahoo Answers. That is because it is the cats and their comfort that are of vital importance and not my hatred of declawing vets.

So here is the link to his site and the product is called Cat Attract.

God Bless those little cats that need special litter for their problems and give people the patience to treat them kindly.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

For sheer dangerous ignorance this takes the dog biscuit!

Cha Cha Answers

“Can you de claw dogs”

“The nails of dogs are attached to bone, unlike a cats that are attached to tendons and tissues. De clawing a dog would be painful”

First the anonymous poser of the question should be strung up by his or her finger ends for even thinking of declawing a dog.

But an even more painful fate should await this shining example of a brainless opinionated amoebic twit who has splattered a number of stupid words on this site that, if an equally brainless moron was to see them, could encourage them in their sick quest to amputate precious toes!

“Dogs nails are attached to the bone” - Excuse me Mr/Ms Moron so are cats nails!
“Declawing dogs would be painful” - Doh! Of course it would BUT CATS FEEL PAIN TOO don’t y’know?

What a depth of knowledge this turd doesn’t have! What sheer arrogance to dismiss in two sentences the magnitude of mutilating, forever, a cat’s precious toes.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Declawing Paul

Well folks here we have another stupid statement, but this should carry a red for danger warning because he is a vet! He has the honour of being the latest “pimp” on the Hall of Shame and rightly so. Here’s what he’s had to spout:
“In twenty years of practice, I have found few procedures that elicit such polarizing opinions and is more misunderstood, than the issue of feline declawing.
(The “is more misunderstood” are his words and grammar, that doesn’t inspire much confidence if he can’t even string a proper sentence together does it? So Paul if you’re reading this, it is ARE misunderstood, OK?) Now folks, how do you reckon we are misunderstanding? What is there to misunderstand about amputating a cat’s toes? If they’re gone they’re gone, so I think we’ve pretty much got the idea what declawing is all about.
“Several European countries have outlawed it and several counties in California are attempting to illegalize it as well”. Hmm I wonder if he wonders why those nasty European countries have outlawed it and why even his fellow countrymen are trying to “illegalize” it (is that really a word?) That adds up to an awful lot of people who misunderstand declawing Paul, are you absolutely certain it’s not you who is the one who doesn’t comprehend what it’s all about!
Moving on, he says “ With the advent of laser technology and greatly improved pain control, I do not understand the opposition to a procedure that is arguably responsible, more than any other procedure, of improving the quality of life for millions of cats by allowing them to live in our homes as indoor pets.”
Well it’s quite obvious he DOESN’T understand isn’t it? There are several issues here Paul me old fruit, the first one being this greatly improved pain control, what that says to me is that cats are being given stronger pain medication (and anyone who’s taken the real I-AM pain killers know how woozy and nauseous they make you feel) because someone has realised that cats in the past have suffered greatly with post op, and sometimes long term, pain.

Next the poor misguided chap states that declawing is “arguably” responsible more than any other procedure for improving the quality of life for millions of cats by allowing them to live in our homes as indoor pets”.
Well yes I’ll argue with that, I’d say that declawing is responsible for millions of cats being killed, crippled, dumped and surrendered over the years. Did someone mention that this procedure has been available for approximately 30 years or did I dream it in a nightmare? Well taking into account that he has written millions in the plural, even two million cats declawed over the last 30 years works out at 66,666.666 a year (quite a co-incidence that, isn’t that the Devil’s phone number?) and that means that declawing is UN-arguably responsible for AT LEAST 666,666.66 front claws going into surgical waste bags per year and thousands more back claws too. But Dear Old Declawing ALLOWS them to live in “our” homes as pets (not in my home except over my dead body!) HUH! What he should have said is declawing allows them to crap in those homes, pee in those homes, bite the humans in those homes, be shut in the basements of those homes, and many a time be kicked out of those homes, or taken out in a body bag! Declawing also allows humans to worship at the shrines of couches and drapes, until they’re crapped on at least. (Which reminds me, totally off topic; this morning I saw someone justifying declawing by saying she doesn’t want to be scratched to death! To death? Blimey that must be one great big moggie missus!)
Now then the next part of his perspective is rather interesting
“It has been my experience that properly performed laser declawing is no less humane than any other surgical procedure, leaving no physical or psychological scars and produces pain-free, healthy cats unaware that they have been declawed.”
So! Paul have you been declawed? If not how can you know that laser declawing produces pain free healthy cats? Huh? After all, you say it has been your experience – YOUR experience, well I beg to differ it is the CAT that experiences the pain, how the hell do you know if the cat has physical or psychological scars? And how do you KNOW the cat doesn’t feel phantom pain in the ghost toes? It is a well-known fact that amputees can still feel a missing limb and have very real pain from it. How do you know that those cats’ stumps don’t ache? And where on this Earth do you get the idea that cat’s are unaware they have been declawed…my giddy aunt I think they will definitely notice the post op pain and blood, especially if they’re crammed into an Elizabethan collar to stop them trying to chew at the bandages to get to the wounds, and I think they will notice they don’t walk the same anymore, they will certainly notice they can’t plug in and have a good stretch anymore, or scratch an itch, or hook a toy or a juicy piece of meat and then of course there is getting into that litter box and having to scrape the contents with those poor sore paws. Oh yes, they’re aware of it all right Paul lad. You obviously see cats as dim-witted lumps of fur that don’t know their arse from their elbow but here’s the news…cats are intelligent, they know things we don’t know and they most assuredly know when their toes are gone!
Just a word about this no-less humane than any other surgical procedure tripe as well, most other surgery is either to save a life or to neuter the cat, no-one would argue with any of these procedures because they are necessary, declawing is cosmetic surgery and unnecessary and THAT is what makes it inhumane.

“Proper anesthetic protocols greatly enhance the success of any surgical procedure. This is particularly true with declawing. The combination of xylazine, ketamine, acepromazine and buprinorphine provides an excellent combination of sedation and analgesia. It produces a gradual, peaceful recovery and reduces episodes of emergence delirium occasionally seen with shorter lasting anesthetic protocols!”
Now this bit frightens me to death, lets look first at Xylazine, here are some facts about it
Within the first 3 to 5 minutes after intramuscular or subcutaneous injection, vomiting can occur. Since vomiting following xylazine administration is known to occur in cats, it is commonly used to induce vomiting when necessary. Adverse effects of xylazine include muscle tremors, seizures, slowed heart rate with partial heart block and slowed breathing rate. Increased urination sometimes occurs in cats. Despite appearing completely sedated, animals can still move, even kick, bite or scratch, in response to sharp auditory stimulation.
HERE for the link to this
ANIMALS CAN STILL MOVE, EVEN KICK, BITE OR SCRATCH IN RESPONSE TO SHARP AUDITORY STIMULATION. And what about sharp scalpel, laser or guillotine stimulation eh?

Moving on to Ketamine
For aggressive cats unable to be restrained for injection, ketamine can be sprayed into the mouth or eyes. Adverse effects of ketamine include increased blood pressure, elevated heart rate, respiratory depression, vocalization, erratic and prolonged recovery, spastic jerking movements and muscle tremors. In rare instances, ketamine has been shown to induce seizures. When given intramuscularly, ketamine injection can be painful.
HERE for the link to this

Acepromazine causes hypotension due to decreased vasomotor tone. It may change heart and respiratory rate, and thermoregulatory ability allowing for either hypo- or hyperthermia. Acepromazine is usually less effective if given after the animal is excited. It provides no analgesia and the tranquilizing effect of the drug can be overcome unexpectedly particularly by sensory stimulation. Occasionally, animals (particularly cats) may have a paradoxical response to acepromazine and become excited, or aggressive.
HERE for the link to this

Buprenorphine is 30 times as potent as morphine
HERE for the link to this

Yes, I know I have only picked out some things to illustrate my point, but the links are there to be checked out. My God what a potent combination, have you seen the side effects? Two of them can cause seizures, one can cause slow heart rate while another can cause elevated heart rate, and yet another can make it go either way. One is also used to induce vomiting in cats, one is less effective if given when an animal is already excited but it can ALSO cause excitement. Now I would imagine a cat in a veterinary hospital is bloody terrified never mind excited! And imagine being that cat, scared stiff and struggling to get away and along comes someone and sprays you in the bloody eyes!!

Would any of you decent intelligent people want that mixture of muck introducing into your cat’s system?

God help us the man says it produces a gradual, peaceful recovery and REDUCES episodes of emergence delirium, that is always assuming they don’t kill your cat by under or over stimulation of the heart, choking to death on vomit, having a seizure, or getting over heated or too cold. Or that it doesn’t bleed to death.

Laser technology offers three distinct advantages over conventional declawing techniques. First the heat generated by the laser has an antibacterial effect. This effect combined with the superior hemostasis achieved with lasers, (resulting in less intraoperative and postoperative hemorrhage) greatly reduces post operative bacterial infection.
Oh well, let’s all cheer for LESS hemorrages and REDUCED infection shall we?
Secondly, tourniquets are not required when using lasers. Eliminating tourniquets reduces ischemic necrosis and cell death, thus reducing pain and increasing the speed of recovery.
He’s damning himself out of his own pen! Lasering REDUCES those horrible things and it REDUCES pain, he is admitting that there is still danger of 1. The death of a cell or group of cells in contact with living tissue. 2. The local death of cells resulting from, e.g., loss of blood supply, bacterial toxins, or physical or chemical agents.
And by stating that lasering REDUCES pain he is not only admitting that the cutting method causes pain but also that there is STILL a measure of pain associated with lasering.
Thirdly, laser technology provides exceptional analgesia. I did not believe it until I experienced it first-hand. Despite the denial in some academic circles that lasers provide significant analgesia, any veterinary surgeon proficient in the use of lasers will testify to its profound analgesic properties.
Come on Paul, don’t give me that experienced first hand rubbish again, have YOU had for example a finger end removed by laser? No I didn’t think so. What you mean is you have first hand experience of clinically observing the level of pain a declawed cat wakes up with. And what about the veterinary surgeons who are NOT proficient in the use of lasers HUH?? What about the learners? The bunglers? The BUTCHERS out for quick bucks?? The only thing profound here is your imagination.
Seeing a kitten (observational science) normal and often playing the day after the laser declawing is more convincing than any double-blinded, Koch-postulate confirming study. The analgesic effect of laser has made it indispensable in my operating room, especially for more painful procedures, such as orthopedics and amputations.
Well he’s got me with the Koch-postulate study, I Googled it and it’s gobbledegook to me. I’m nort sure even who he reckons is double blinded but my vote would be that it’s him. But this observational science, well that’s a posh term for watching something isn’t it? Seeing a kitten NORMAL? Normal is having claws mate, having CLAWS! I hope the poor little blighters DO play the day after the op, but what with that cocktail of anaesthesia and the toeless paws I have my doubts.
AHA!!! He extols the virtues of laser declawing and then goes on to say it’s indespensible for MORE PAINFUL PROCEDURES SUCH AS orthopedics and AMPUTATIONS! What is declawing? Amputation of the toe ends – got you Paul, with your own pen you’ve said that declawing is a more painful procedure! Another case rested.

Not all indoor cats require declawing. You do surprise me Paul, but there again two synonyms for require are “want” and “call for” so I suppose you’re right in a way if you put it thus: Not all cats WANT declawing or not all cats CALL FOR declawing. I think you underestimate though Paul, I think it should be NO indoor cats require declawing.
It is comforting to know that in cases when it is necessary to maintain the integrity of the human-animal bond, that we have an effective, humane surgical procedure. Please can someone pass me a bucket? Sickly sweet words… “it’s comforting” isn’t that nice? Humane? Isn’t that rubbish?
I encourage any vet that performs declaws and is not using lasers, to strongly consider this technology. And I encourage him to boil his head.
I also invite any person that remains skeptical about the claims I have made in this article, to visit our hospital and follow a declawing case from admittance to release. No thanks!
As it is often said, "Seeing is Believing." Yes I know, at least we agree on that. I’ve seen the pictures and I’ve watched the videos and I DO believe that declawing is EVIL

Sorry it's so long, to those of you who ploughed on to the end - thank you for reading it and thank you for caring!