On Thursday afternoon, round bout 4:30, I was in the plaster area of my 3-D design class working on a mold of some lightbulbs. There was a girl in the room with me, but besides that, the rest of the area, and much of the school, was vacant.
The mold of the lightbulbs had set completely, so I went about trying to remove the lightbulbs from the surrounding plaster. The first came out without a hitch. Silky smooth. The second was a little troublesome; my plaster pouring skills aren't very advanced, so my mold wasn't letting my lightbulbs go very easily. With a little elbow grease, however, I managed to remove it.
The third and final lightbulb proved to be my undoing.
I opened up the elbow grease like a can of WD40 on that sucker, but it wouldn't budge. In an attempt to finally wrestle it from it's plaster-y captor, I poured every drop of grit into my right hand and saved a little for the left to keep things steady. It was too much for the poor little lightbulb, which shattered instantly and flung itself about the room in desperate escape. Two of those peices happened to fly directly across my left hand, one of them aborting flight and crash landing into the joint connecting my thumb to my hand.
Without feeling any sort of pain, I curiously noted the red liquid dripping from my hand onto the plaster-white ground below. I don't know that I've ever seen a blood that dark before, I thought. The severity of my wounds only became apparent as I hurdled out of the room, nearly running into the shop foreman whose help I desperately sought. While he called campus security, I let acidic tap water seep into my wounds, which revealed the layers of skin the jettisoned glass had flayed open. Was that a bone? I couldn't determine if it was or not before the nice man began enveloping the wound in wonderful pressure giving bandages. Pressure now, was my salvation. I had a newfound respect and praise for this physical force. I would have to tell the kids who took Physics at my highschool. I skipped the class.
In delerious pain I tried to call everyone who could take me to a hospital before realizing the school had a van waiting for me. During my conversation with my mother, my phone died, probably scaring the hell out of her. I managed to keep the phone on long enough to cryptically text my girlfriend, Monica, sending her a message more terrifying than informative: "Emergency".
I used one of the security officer's phones to let her know I'd be at Baptist East off of Walnut Grove (where major highway construction makes that place a dreaded one to travel through). On the way, the officers discussed the fastest route, and the intricacies of traffic lights. Coming in and out of pain filled consciousness, I recall trying to follow a story about Larry "The King" Lawler and Memphis Wrestling. Apparently The King had been tormenting another wrestler on television for weeks, maybe months. Something about illegitimate children. I meant to tell Andy that story; he loves wrestling.
Nearing the hospital, the driver missed the correct turn for the Emergency room. Having made the same mistake some two weeks earlier when I came to visit my step mother (she had had a seizure), I knew where to lead him. I entered the automatic Emergency doors, and waited in line behind a woman who had fallen from a stationary truck. Every part of her body was in intense pain, and she was trying to give some information to the clerk. She struggled to remove her liscense from her wallet, and then feebly reached out to place it on the counter. Instinctively I reached out to help, placing the card on the counter for her.
"Is this your son?" the clerk asked.
"No, just a nice young man."
I was still very much in pain, but putting it aside to help someone else momentarily felt relieving. After she was admitted (to Fast Track, where I would later be), I stood and identified myself with the clerk. Throughout the process I constantly tried to watch the doors, waiting for my parents or girlfriend to walk through the doors. Instead, I was examined by a doctor in the small area behind the desk. Just as I was about to be led back to another room, my mother and stepfather walked in, confusedly looking for me. I called to them best I could, and they joined me behind the desk. More information. More things to fill out.
We were led to Fast Track. The nurse said my stepdad would have to wait in the main lobby, the rooms back there were pretty small (actually, there was only one room, the rest were curtained sections of beds.) It happened that I got the sole room, but my stepfather did not immediately join us.
I waited with my mother for the doctor to come. Finally, a small asian man entered the room, wishing to look at my wound. I hadn't removed the bandages since the foreman placed them on my hand, so I was getting used to having that comforting pressure. When he removed the bandages, however, a violent, shocking pain gripped my body, sending my fingernails as well as my teeth into my mother's arm, pressing my foot into the metal rail around the edge of the bed. My eyes clenched tight as tears flowed liberally out of every available opening. Mucus that had been held back by allergy medication broke through the floodgates, contaminating my mother's and my own clothing.
He took my bandage, and left me a small cloth padding to keep pressure on the wound.
"A nurse will be here soon with antibiotics and morphine."
Websters needs to check their definition of "soon" as it applies to Hospitals. I would argue that such a revision is necessary if we are to have valuable doctor/patient communication. I sat in that sterile room for an eternity pressed hard against my mother's chest, her free hand fiercely caressing my back, the other offering soothing pressure to my now exacerbated pain. Her tears fell in proportion to mine; as I cried incessantly, she did intermittingly. But she spoke constantly, in the desperate reassuring tone only a mother can produce with any honesty. As for me, I could produce no sound except a quiet shriek, the sound of my repressed agony beating against my vocal folds.
My head was full of fantastic imaginations. I could not think, but I noticed the room around me. The beautiful, flower shaped pool of blood where my bandage was removed. The faces in the bed's covering, each reacting in their own unique way to the presence of my fluids, forcefully occupying their domain. The coffee stain on the ceiling - or was it a blood stain. Can a person bleed upwards? There, a glove in the soap dispenser. Here, my mother's shirt, full of impossible designs and hallucinatory bliss.
My stepfather came at last. I asked him if he had seen my girlfriend. He had. I sent for her.
When she arrived, an IV was being placed into my hand. I was being given a tetinus shot. Your arm will be sore tomorrow, the nurse said. Now - the morphine. You'll feel this run through your body. You may feel nausea. Here, some anti-nausea medicine. And then a great putird, saline wave ran its course through my bloodstream. Something definitely foreign. Slowly wonderful. Deabilitating. The cracks and fissures in my brain were filled with putty, my hands ceased to be. I let my head fall back. My knees were cold. My arm felt frozen. Here, a blanket. It was my hospital gown. Every distance became eight million miles away and two inches in front of me. Water? Yes. While I floated, someone's stomach was being twisted and hammered, shredded. Oh, that's me. His feet, my feet my legs pushing into the stiff bed and trying to support the weight of the horrible wretch inside my torso.
Monica relieved my mother, placing her hand over the wound. Blessedly, she looked me in the eyes. I hadn't allowed my mother to see into my eyes. She was in too much pain as well. But it was important to share everything with Monica. She should see this inside me. She should know.
Another nurse was supposed to come "soon" to take me for X-Rays.
My mother and stepfather left briefly for cigarettes, leaving Monica and I alone. At last, I spoke. In a hushed whisper I talked with her. What I said... I can't recall, but I needed to speak with her desperately. I needed contact outside of my head, which was floating high above me.
The nurse came at last and tore me from my Monica. My bed was wheeled into the X-Ray room, where a large machine was led to my bed, to my hand. I set my hand upon some crosshairs, leaving it without the benefit of pressure. I writhed as I waited for her to snap snap see throught pictures of my hand. Two different positions she stole from me and made into black translucent sheets I would never see.
I reunited with Monica and my parents, and we again waited for another doctor.
"There ought to be a TV in here" my mother said.
I couldn't believe her. I nag her constantly for her inability to escape its grasp, but she wastes her respectable intellect in front of that glowing box. Feeling isolated, I look to Monica, and I try to talk with my eyes. I know they are weary and nearly useless, but I attempt to translate anyway, knowing my eyes can not recall the language at the moment. For a long while there is nothing but a few sips of water and some off hand comments.
Finally, the doctor. He informs us that he previously feared the cut may have damaged the joint below my thumb, but it appears the cut just barely kept me from major surgery. Stitches on each wound, he said, and I'd be alright.
Now more waiting. The asian man would be the one to sew me up, but his arrival was belated so long. No clocks, no phones, no way of deducing the time in my morphine mind. So now, what could have been thirty minutes or thirty hours since the incident, my wounds are still open. Still bleeding, in no rush to fix themselves.
Doors open several time and each time my stepfather looks into the hall and we all wait with desperate thoughts for my savior. But each time it's like the waitress passing by the table with a plate full of food that will never be yours.
Mercifully, he comes. He brings his tools and then he leaves. More tools. Leaves again, more. I don't want to wait. Put me back together! Monica moves from my side as he replaces her, opening my wounds again. My mother sits on the bed with me and once again we join. I bury my head into her arm and my eyes won't focus on the details of her skin this close. First he must wash the wound. The water, or saline solution, I don't know - it's just as acidic as the tap water hours earlier. Then: needles. He's numbing each laceration. A needle drops into the first and cry out, my mother urging me to keep still, running her fingers through my hair. My stepfather watches my hand and the doctor with studious fascination, like a callow young med student. The needle is dipped into the wound several times, the drips of a numbing angent doing their work lazily. The first is done and the efforts are redoubled at wound #2, where my body convulses with the same pattern of shocks and tremors as previous. Finally the hand is ready.
I feel the folds of skin being pulled together. I don't look, despite a mild curiosity. Someone is tying the shoe strings on my hand. I can only guess at the direction of the thread that travels through my skin. I never see the needle pass through. One hole is done. I ask for more numbing liquid on the second wound. I can't quite feel it still, but I don't want to take any chances. The process is repeated. Some thread, some holes, some scissors - snip, snip. In a few minutes he is gone and there is black thread running through my skin. On the floor, a pool of blood spreads across the room.
And now - more waiting.
Another nurse will come to bandage my hand, to safe gaurd the delicate stitching. The usual very long time later, he arrives. He wraps a soft, white bandage around thumb, across the back of my hand, covering the knuckles, and back under the palm again, covering my hand to my wrist. I'm fascinated by his process, his skill. He says he wants to make it extra bulky (this is not the word he used, but I can't remember the right one. Monica knows). He uses a second white bandage. More bulk. Finally, a more flesh colored, harder bandage is placed on top. I'm to remove his work and have another placed on the next day, and again after that. I musst take two antibiotic pills four times a day. I am to take painkillers as needed. I am to see a doctor in a few days to make sure it's not infected.
The stitches will be removed in about 14 days.