Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's with all the blood stories?

Squeamish readers have been warned.

I hurt my hand Wednesday night. It was a bizarre accident, I tell the story to people and they look at me funny, didn't help that I had a bandage around my wrist that made it look like I tried to off myself. Worry not my friends, I love life too much to purposefully hurt myself.

However, I'm a klutz. Here I was, preparing dinner after a long day at work, and while the eggs were almost ready in the frying pan, I reached in my cupboard to get a plate. What I didn't see was that there was another, smaller plate at the top of the pile, and when I pulled my intended dish, the other one slipped, heading straight for the counter.

At that point, boys and girls, the safe behaviour in a kitchen is to step away from the pending accident and let the plate smash on the counter. My reaction was not quite smart, as I tried reaching for the falling plate to catch it before it became mosaic material. Not a good idea. The plate broke in several pieces, and one large piece made contact with my left hand which, I am assuming, was in full swing towards the jagged ceramic.

It didn't take me long to realize that I had a cut at the junction between my hand and my wrist. I turned the cold water on and tried washing away the blood that was starting to pour out of the cut, but that made things worse. I barely had time to grab a scott towel to dab the blood before it became clear that this was going to bleed a lot.

I live alone. Two things immediately crossed my mind: one, stop the bleeding and two, if I feel faint and pass out, I'll have to deal with a lot more than a cut. So I headed for the bathroom, sat on the floor and pulled the emergency medical kit from the cabinet. Yes, I have a medical kit at home. Everyone should. Comes in handy.

I found sterile gauze pads and started applying them against the cut, lifting my hand over my head (higher than the heart). Both maneuvers intended to slow the bleeding. It kind of did, and for an hour or so, as I sat down in the living room and watched a movie, I continued applying pressure. Unfortunately, the bleeding didn't really stop, each time I changed the gauze it would start again. It only meant one thing: I needed stitches.

Now, put yourself in my shoes. It was about 9 p.m., I had no idea where to call to ask about the closest clinic (opened at this time of the night), couldn't remember the names of the hospitals in the area (it's been a while), so I called my parents. Yes, at 34, when I hurt myself, I still call mom and dad. I wanted to know where they recommend I go, so I could call a cab.

Well, at 24 (that's a typo but I'm leaving it in!), you're apparently not too old for your parents to take care of you. Dad offered to come and pick me up, then drive me to the hospital. "You pay for parking", he said. Deal! We drove to the Montreal General, found parking close to the emergency and then proceeded to embark on one of the longest nights I've had in a while.

We got to the hospital at 9:45 p.m., probably saw the triage nurse by 10:30 and then waited until 5:45 a.m. to see a doctor. Yes, I understand, my cut was not a life-threatening condition, so I was at the bottom of the priorities. Yes, I was told, the General, Montreal's trauma centre, only had one doctor on staff that night. What I don't understand is why I didn't have more options. Don't we have 24-hour clinics that can handle minor emergencies, hell, even private would have been fine with me? Didn't seem so, although now I'm curious enough to find out for next time.

Spending the night at the emergency, I found myself thinking about how lucky I was. My dad stayed with me (all night), kept me company, and for most of the night, we chatted about this and that. Some people were at the emergency alone. Also, I am so healthy compared to the people I saw in there, I should remember this and not take it for granted.

Here's a picture of the cut, four days later (the bruise is probably from the impact). The stitches come out Thursday.

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