Friday, May 8, 2009

Why I am not a Ninja, or a Chef

This morning after making myself a particularly tasty smoothie from strawberry, apple, kiwi, cilantro and carrot with soy milk I disassembled the blender and proceeded to wash it. When I got to the blade I exercised caution as it is really super sharp, as a blender blade should be of course. The blade is a dual style with one blade on top of the other; one full blade is bent down and the other has one side angled up while the other side is flat. The style allows for very minimal chunkage settling to the bottom. I tend to hold the flat part while pulling the sponge along the edges, front and back of each of the other 3, one inch, blade sections.

All of a sudden the sponge kind of slipped and the point on the end of the upturned blade went right into the middle of my right thumb causing me to yell a curse word so vile I will not even type it out. After twenty five some odd years since my first run in with a blade that forever altered the fingerprint of my left thumb one might think I would have learned how to handle sharp and pointy things.

When I was in sixth grade, Mom was having my Aunt over for dinner so Wendy and I asked if we could help get things ready. Of course as a single Mom she was happy to have any help possible and agreed. Within five or so minutes it is likely she regretted that decision. We were going to have green beans as part of the meal so I asked if I could make them French cut style. Mom said sure. Within three or so minutes it is likely she also regretted this decision.

I have no idea where I would have heard about how to make French cut green beans back then. I was only ten or eleven and it’s not like the Food Network was blaring away in the living room back in 1984. Regardless, it seemed like a great idea at the time. I do not recall how many of those beans I actually was able to filet before the blade of that uber sharp kitchen knife made its way into my thumb but no matter how many were ready, they all went right into the trash, along with approximately four pints of my blood. That might be a slight exaggeration but it sure seemed that way because my thumb would not stop bleeding no matter how long I screeched as Mom flung my hand under the running water from the kitchen faucet.

After applying a paper towel tourniquet, Mom spent the next five minutes dialing my Aunt on the rotary phone and told her not to come for dinner unless she was in the mood for red beans. She politely declined and the three of us headed out to the hospital. By this point in my life I had already spent a goodly portion of my time in Mount Auburn’s emergency room due to gymnastics injuries, chin meets side of pool incidents or a myriad of other klutzy tomboy type stuff. It would not have shocked me one little bit if the nurses had met me by first name and escorted me right into a room they kept on belay for me.

As we waited for someone to assess the damage I hung out and squeezed my saturated paper towel tighter around my throbbing thumb. The Doctor came in and apparently not only missed the fact that I was a child, he had opted not to take his compassion pills that morning. When he opened up the cut to check it out the needle full of Novocain got jabbed in there faster than I could react. I decided it would be much better to just go to my happy place so I did not pass out from the pain.

A bunch of other family had arrived by this point including my Dad who I remember having a fairly heated discussion with someone about the fact that hell would freeze over before he allowed them to give me a transfusion. (Let us not forget that the AIDS epidemic was swinging into full gear around that time and transfusions were deemed to be a big catalyst for the spread). After that conversation wrapped up, they all left me to hyperventilate and sob alone while they discussed the options. Doctor Sunshine came back in to alert me to the fact that I was going to need surgery.

Turns out I did a stellar job on the cut and not only broke the outer skin but had gone almost all the way through the tendon as well. He went ahead to explain that one tiny bit further and that baby would have snapped back to my wrist. Oh joy. I proceeded to throw up in my mouth a little bit. Then, as if a ten year old could understand what on the planet was going to happen, they began explaining I would be put out for this surgery. All I heard though was that I got to stay in the hospital for at least one night. Cool!

Since it was so many years ago, and I was heavily sedated under anesthesia, some of the details are a bit fuzzy but I remember a very handsome man in blue scrubs telling me to count backwards from ten, tasting a weird garlic flavor in my mouth and then waking up in recovery with my Mom next to my bed. I looked down to discover a cast on my left arm up to about mid forearm and they were wheeling me up to my room.

Over the next twenty four hours everyone came to visit and I even got all kinds of balloons, flowers and cards from everyone. It was cool and so sweet. One of the balloon / flower combos came in an ice cream dish which I carried around from apartment to apartment until I was somewhere in my mid twenties when it finally broke. I went home after one night and was excited to go back to school so all my friends could sign my cast.

I was told I would likely need physical therapy to gain mobility back in my thumb because I would be in the cast for quite a while, something like ten weeks or more. After about three weeks the cast cracked at the base of my thumb so there was minimal ability for me to move my thumb around. After half the time I was due to be in the cast, Doctor S. decided it should be replaced so my thumb would be immobilized again so I got a brand new place for autographs. The same thing happened at the base of the thumb after not very long but my next appointment was not until it was due to be removed for good.

Again I was reminded of the need for physical therapy as he revved up the speed saw I was sure he would take to the top of my skull at any second so he could eat my brain for lunch. The cast came off and I went right for scratching my shriveled skin but Happy Pants had other plans. He pulled out a little metal device that apparently measured mobility and he had me flex both thumbs. The thumb with the cut was within 1/32 of my right thumb and I marveled at his inability to disguise the shock on his face that I would not need any further medical intervention. Ha ha!!

I reveled in the fact that I was personally responsible for getting out of PT because I let my thumb regain some movement on its own. Hey the cast cracked, I just figured it was a sign. We left the office and I was thankful I would never have to see that guy again. That was until this morning when, like a flashback from a bad trip, Doctor Sunny’s smug, bearded face, screamed through my mind. Thankfully the Gods of protection were on my side and the jab this morning didn’t even cause a drop of blood, so I enjoyed my smoothie knowing full well that blade will sit in the sink until Matt washes it on Saturday.


Bridgete said...

Wow! I've cut myself with knives before, but never to the point of going to the hospital. And definitely not bad enough for surgery.

You're going to have to show me that scar, by the way.

Rosebud Collection said...

I am not a lover of doctors.I probably would have bled to death..
I was weak in the knees reading about you and the thumb..bad enough the blender today.
Hope you are feeling better and from now on, no blenders, just an egg beater for you.
Happy Weekend.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Will definitely show you Bridgete, its really cool I can flatten my first knuckle backwards now, like its double jointed or something haha.

Oh Carolyn I am so sorry! I tried to be only semi graphic. But I guess it reads different when you're the one who lived it :) I would have let it heal on its own too but at 10 Mom had the final word. Egg beater lol!!! Yes!!



I am lucky with blades: tips of all my kitchen knives have been bent beyond repair. I seem to drop them often. They take turns torpedoing towards my toes and yet, never a nick!

Karen said...

Ouch! I'm cutting or scraping myself all the time, it seems. Luckily nothing as serious as your mishap! I think leaving the blender blade in the sink for Matt is a great idea.

Chris said...

Tendon snap back to the wrist? There's a visual for ya. My knife accident was stupidity-related, as I was using a butcher knife to pry apart a stack of frozen burgers, bracing the stack, of course, with my left hand. When the knife went through, it pierced my left palm.

Uh, ouch.