So I tried to cut my finger off. Now I’m trying to learn how to type with 9 digits. I was trying to cut a loaf of very crusty bread open lengthwise and I cut the bottom of my index finger on my left hand open instead. Sort of into the knuckle. I didn’t really feel it, but when I saw a tendon, I figured Date Night was going to go differently than anticipated.
I texted Rick to find out how close he was to my place, but I didn’t mention why I wanted to know. So when he arrived, after about 20 minutes of my applying direct pressure and holding my hand over my head, he barely had enough time to look around my living room before he noticed I was bleeding.
“How bad is it?” he asked.
I nodded, trying to look cute with my exposed connective tissue.
“Do you need to go to the ER?”
“Let me see.”
“Um… do you get squeamish?”
“Yeah, but let me see.”
He took my hand and noticed I was shaking as I removed the paper towel. His eyes went wide and then he looked my finger off like a well-trained quarterback. “Okay, yeah. Let’s go.”
God love him, he put my coat on me, tied my scarf around my neck, checked to make sure everything in the kitchen was turned off and everything was locked up, and commented on how good the dinner I had cooked smelled, before he put me in the car and reached over to fasten my seatbelt for me. Then he drove as fast as city streets would allow to the ER, 1.5 miles away.
Where we sat for six hours.
The ER was shit show. And I knew it would be, because A) it’s one of the city’s best-known ERs; and 2) it was a Saturday night. So I was pissed that I had to go. I mean, a whole fresh pot of homemade Bolognese. Just sitting there on my stove. Plans for the movie afterward. Sliced away in one swift, firm stroke of a serrated knife.
Also all chances of making out.
When we arrived at the ER, a little before 8, we were told that the wait would be around two hours. Two hours later, we still had 2.5 hours to go. My finger didn’t even hurt and it was wrapped up in gauze from the triage nurse. I guessed it could heal itself by the time I saw a doctor. We made friends with some woman sitting next to us. She’s diabetic and was suffering through a bout of pancreatitis. If memory serves, she’d gotten there two hours before us. To our right suffered a large young man whose eyes barely opened for the whole time we were there. He’d arrived at the same time as me, clenching his gut.
That was the semi-normal part of the night. Then it got to be midnight.
Oh, how we had hoped to be out of there by midnight. That’s when things get cray-cray. As a room full of the indigent, ill and gaping-wounded (hello?! I practically filleted my finger! Anybody?) sat languishing, the cops brought some guy in off the street, stark naked. Sent him right back, though not before an ER patient’s entourage watched him through the window and laughed. I can’t remember if it was before or after that when a guy came in looking to be in a bad way and complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing. He got taken back for an EKG, then apparently shipped back out to triage when it was determined he’d shot up heroin. He was eating fried chicken within the hour.
Not kidding. Watched him.
My kingdom for some stitches and some Bolognese.
All about the room, people were falling asleep wearing masks over their noses and mouths, which didn’t leave me feeling terribly confident. But for the most part, things were operating at a low din until one particular woman came in. She was triaged and sent back out in a wheelchair (most of them were in wheelchairs) with a big ER bucket on her lap. She then proceeded to moan, cry and retch loudly and repeatedly for an hour. It was so disturbing that if the room hadn’t been full of people who barely had the strength to speak, there would have been an uprising. I was burying my head in Rick’s shoulder while he silently seethed and our pancreatitis friend whispered, “She’s dope-sick. Gotta be.” But then we overheard her moaning something about how she’d just gotten out of this hospital and had a tube in her stomach. She was soon escorted to a bay.
At 12:45am, they called my name. I may have cheered. The nurse came in and unwrapped my hand, took a look and confirmed it would need stitches. Rick asked about that super glue stuff they use these days, but alas… since it was near the knuckle, we had to go old-school.
I raised my hand to get a glimpse and straightened out my finger slightly. Oh, look… that’s how a tendon works. Up close and personal-like.
How unexpectedly graphic.
All seemed okay as I awkwardly twisted to obey the nurse’s instruction and soak my hand in a tray of betadine, which stings like hell, by the way. But then there was definitely a precipitous drop in blood pressure. The nurse had left, assuring us that I’d be the first of three new patients seen, and I found myself woozy and nauseous. Not having eaten in 10 hours wasn’t helping. It came on slowly, just a little wave. Then some heat. Rick asked if I was alright and I told him yes, because I thought I was. That didn’t last long. The nausea quadrupled and I seriously debated the best approach to moving the tray of betadine and my flayed finger out of the way so I could use the larger bucket they were in.
Oh, please, sweet Jesus. Do not make me hurl in front of this man. On our fifth. Freaking. Date.
Rick jumped up and started wetting paper towels to use as cold compresses while I closed my eyes and breathed measuredly. He kept up steady encouraging chatter and draped the towels over my forehead and the v-neck of my sweater. The nurse came back in and saw my state, immediately cracking two instant ice packs and mopping off some of the sweat that had trickled on my head and the back of my neck.
This is profoundly attractive. Well-done, me. What a way to woo and charm.
Rick sat behind a curtain as the doctor numbed my finger, irrigated the wound and stitched it up. He couldn’t stomach the sight. Neither could I at that point; the nurse had gotten me Hawaiian Punch and graham crackers after my episode and Rick had fed both to me, but I hadn’t quite recovered enough to keep vigil over the sewing job.
Six hours, seven stitches and a tetanus shot later, Rick took me home, kissed me goodnight in the street and promised a Date Five Do-Over. “I’m sooo glad I didn’t get sick,” I laughed. “You would have definitely been done with me.”
He smiled and pulled me closer. “It would take more than that.”
Funny. I’m lightheaded again.