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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cutting the Cheese

I own swords.
I one a fairly descent sized collection of them.
I'm a fencer and I have had some experience with armored combat as well.
I understand the nature of blades and how they can be used as weapons.
I also understand how dangerous they can be and how to properly handle them.

But I, like everyone else, can make mistakes.

Distractions lead to mistakes.

When I was in college Farscape turned out to be a distraction and, ultimately, caused a mistake.

I was, at the time, nearing the completion of my undergraduate experience.
I was a double-major who did theatre as an extra-curricular (also for credit) and who had to work 20 - 30 hours a week to live within the credit limits of my creditors (e.g. I was racking up debt).

My budget on time was limited and, as such, I had to pick my leisure activities carefully.

Farscape, I had determined, was not optional.
Farscape was a staple in my weekly routine.
Farscape was part of my luxurious Friday evening.

One particular Friday evening I was home alone and had been delayed in making my dinner and, as such, was preparing a snack when Farscape began on the television.
I was cutting slices of a block of cheese and watching the show from the kitchen.
I, one who knows how effective and dangerous blades can be, was not paying enough attention to what I was doing. My alignment with the cheese was poor and the blade slipped. The cheese wedge popped free from the glacial chunk of the full block and flew to the floor with a grace matching only my that of any other food item that frees itself from a serving tray to relentlessly seek the lowest potential kinetic state around. My eye glanced at the cheese that was rotating through the air as the consequences of my poor attention struck me.
When the cheeseburg was freed from the larger mass the resistance on the knife was released and the pressure I had been exerting to cut the cheese was freed into new kinetic motion.

The point of the knife was the first to enter my flesh followed by several inches of the serrated blade.
I watched as a fissure opened at the touch of the knife. A fissure at the base of my left thumb.

"FUCK" I yelled.

My next recollection is that of sitting on the couch, paper towel wrapped around my injured hand, watching The Invisible Man. This was the show that aired immediately after Farscape (to this day I have not managed to watch the episode I missed, but that is besides the point).
I have snapshots, even a couple of video snippets of memory of what happened in between.
I recall looking in the mirror in the bathroom and seeking a sterilization agent.
I remember calling my, then, girlfriend who was living ten hours away.
I recall telling her what had happened while looking into the wound and seeing white.
I recall telling her "I suddenly feel very light headed. I need to lay down. Bye." and hanging up on her (side note, I still, to this day, get chastised for this).
I recall laying on the floor in the bathroom and putting my feet up on the toilet.

What I do not recall is cleaning up the mess.
The cheese was put away.
The knife washed.
The cutting board washed.
The floor mopped.
The bathroom cleaned.
I recall none of this.

I was sitting on the couch, with The Invisible Man playing when the youngest of my roommates returned home.
I think, in retrospect, that her key sliding into the lock is what grounded my memories such that I can remember from that point forward.
She looked at me and, before even noting my blood-soaked, paper-towel-clad hand, started to ask me what was wrong. Apparently I looked paler than normal to her eyes. Before she finished the inquiry, though, she cut herself off at the sight of my impromptu bandage.

She made me show her.
She spent the remainder of The Invisible Man, chastising me for being home and not at the emergency room. She argued with me and offered to take me. She told me I was being belligerent and stubborn (those whom have read my story, "The Walk" will detect a theme here when it comes to my being when intersected with any sort of physical medical trauma) and that I really needed to seek medical attention.
She was annoying me so I made a bargain.
My bargain was that when either of the other two roommates arrived home, if they agreed with her, I would allow one of them to take me to the ER without issue, resistance, or complaint.
She understood that this was the best she would get from me so she acquiesced.
At this point I was hoping to stay up to see the reairing of that evening's Farscape.
As I mentioned above, I did not get that opportunity because, about twenty minutes later another of my roommates returned home.
This roommate, at the time, was a veterinarian student and had accumulated significant experience working as a veterinarian technician. This girl knew medicine well enough that I trusted (and, in fact, still do) her opinion more than most. She had, I knew, assisted with emergencies and with routine surgeries and knew what she was looking at with traumatized flesh.
She barely had her key in the lock when the first roommate materialized outside her bedroom to intercept the new arrival.
Barely was the door to the apartment open when she said "He's an idiot. He hurt himself and won't go to the ER. Go look." (this MIGHT be a bit of a paraphrase; if it is I am being gentler to myself than she was).

The new arrival forced me to remove my inappropriate bandage and reveal the wound which was still bleeding fairly heavily.

I will never forget what happened next.

The Voice came out.

I don't mean the reality show that premiered many years after Farscape was done. I mean the Bene Gesserit power. The Voice. My roommate looked at the wound and then at me.
She uttered "get in the car NOW."
And my body obeyed.
Not me: my body.
My body, of its own volition arose from the couch and headed to the door.
I was halfway down the stairs before I regained the ability to comprehend what was happening.

While I remember the ride to the ER as being in silence I don't think it was; in fact there is a shadow of a memory of my roommate forcing me to call my girlfriend and they discussing how stupid I was; but, that might be an incidental hallucination.

In fact, I don't even remember the ER visit much.

What I do remember is that it was my first time in the ER and it was my first time with stitches.

I HATE needles.
Having never had stitches before this was a problem.
Where I was injured was also a problem.
The wound, had it been a straight wound along an expanse of flesh that would accommodate it would probably have received 20 or even 25 stitches; but where it was made that impossible.

I received five.

A mere five stitches to close a significant wound at the base of my thumb.

Putting in the stitches was a problem.
First there was the needle to numb my hand and then, the second needle to finish numbing my hand because the first dose did not do it well enough.
I did a poor job managing the situation with those needles.

Then came the stitches.

I tried, with all my will, to let my hand relax and to remain steady for the doctor.
I failed.
He was unable to stitch my hand because it twitched and flexed too much each time I felt the pressure of the point of the needle.
My roommate had a solution for this.
She put her hands on my lower arm and restrained it.
It took all of my will and all of her weight to generate an environment in which the doctor could do his work.

I don't remember much of the ride home, either and only a vague recollection of any of the remaining aspects of the story exist.
The only true memory that is associated with this experience after the stitches going in was the stitches coming out.
I heal fast.
I heal very fast.
I healed fast enough to heal into the stitching.
Taking out the stitches was worse than having them put in.
Ultimately some of the threading had to be severed and left in.

Years later it did work its way out.

The scars from this incident still mar the base of my left thumb with a brilliant white zig-zag.
The mobility was, surprisingly, not impaired by the cut but the scar tissue has caused some tightening in the surrounding tissue.

There is a lesson to be learned here.

Always pay enough attention when you cut the cheese or you might hurt, or embarrass, yourself.

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