Sunday, February 26, 2006

Super-Glued, or the Virtues of the Tube

Periodically, I have adventures, some of which start in my backyard and end in the hospital ER. The ones that don't end there are generally more fun, but today was not one of those.

Don't panic, friends. Nothing serious happened to me. Serious things happened in the ER, but my time there was more of the human stupidity sort than of the human tragedy sort. I can still type. I can't, however, play the piano or sing, so I'm disappointed. Except that I couldn't before either, so I've lost nothing except a chunk of my annual deductible.

I was unpacking the new patio furniture we had just picked up at a major competitor of Home Depot (sorry, HD - you just didn't have anything that tickled our fancy), taking the cast aluminum parts out of the case and cutting the plastic bands that bound them with my Swiss Army Knife (not the same as the Russian Army Knife).

At any rate, I managed to create a situation wherein I was happy that the blade of my knife was indeed surgical-quality stainless steel, but wished that it hadn't cut quite so deep as to suggest a trip to the ER might be appropriate. Only because I want to be able to drive by Wednesday, and don't like extra biohazards on the steering wheel. Seriously. If it weren't for the impending road trip I'd have just cursed and duct-taped the wadded-up paper towel to my palm and gone back to putting chairs together.

Now it has been a very long time since I visited the ER, a time measured in decades. It might even be 35 years since my last tetanus shot. In the meantime, I have toughed-out a number of injuries, all of them in a category with this one: mere flesh wounds. I remember breaking up a hall-fight between a couple of students, and having one of them come back later and apologize for having knocked the grapefruit-sized bandage from my thumb. We had a dean of students at the time who had been an RN in a previous life who said, "You should have had stiches in that, Al. Paper towel and white tape ain't getting it." She was wrong. That thumb is now numb, which means I can whack the space bar with impunity. I just get extra spaces sometimes, but I can go back and delete them. With the other thumb.

Be patient. I'm about to cut to the chase (I might have to say that again):

After the broken foot (that dude was in some serious pain, even with the ice gauzed to his foot), who was in line ahead of me, and the heart attack who came in while I was there (and I'll make light of my own injuries because they deserve it, but the hired care-giver/house-cleaner/chief-cook-and-bottle-washer who rode in along with this person in the ambulance is NOT to to be made light of. She was scared to death and functioning on adrenalin and did a helluva job answering the necessary questions with the necessary answers. When they asked her, "Does she want us to put a breathing tube down her throat, or does she want to go when she's called?" She said, "I don't know - we have to talk to her children." And I said to myself, "God save me please from ever walking in those shoes." I mean, I was there when my wife had a stroke. I was there when she later had something that hasn't to this day been identified to her satisfaction or mine but which left her with reduced functionality in some of the fingers in her left hand. She's otherwise fine, and right-handed anyway, and sings like a nightingale and is the best natural-born teacher I ever saw in my five decades.

But I knew the answers to those questions. We've talked about it. We've written it down. It's been notarized, and photocopied, and filed in all the right places, including the hospital whose ER I was waiting in.)<--That's for those of you who were waiting for me to close that parenthese.

...after that heart attack came in and was stablized, the nurse called me away from the TV. That was fine with me, as I was tired of watching super-modified Jeeps crawl up crevices in some super-modified-for-TV competition. I was reading a magazine. The doc came in and took a look. Said, "If it were fingers involved, or something else that flexes a bunch, I'd say stitches. In this case, down there in the palm of your hand, glue will work just fine."

I said, "Cool. Glue it up."

The nurse did exactly that.

Now this is the same nurse who did the triage on me when I came in. She took my temperature, my pulse, my blood pressure, and as she did those things, I said to her, "Joanne, I let the knife get away from me. That was my stupidity. I just need some of that surgical-quality, super-glue you guys have that's all sterile and stuff, to hold this together till it heals."

Between my diagnosis and the RN's work, we didn't need the doc for this at all. Oh, I'll get a bill for his words of wisdom, but his time would, in all seriousness, have been better spent sorting out either the broken foot-bone or the heart-attack. Instead of telling me, "This is not regular super-glue: it's a different formula, and it's sterile, but if you're out in the wilderness and can't get to a doctor, super-glu will work okay," instead of telling me that, he should have been doing something productive with one of those other patients. Or reassuring that care-giver as she waited for a chance to let go of the adrenalin and know everything would be okay.

And now I know how people who bitch about teachers feel: Jeez. I could have done something constructive instead of just venting.

Français/French Deutsch/German Italiano/Italian Português/Portuguese Español/Spanish 日本語/Japanese 한국어/Korean 中文(简体)/Chinese Simplified Tagalog/Filipino


Post a Comment

<< Home