(I started writing this Sunday, June 19. At that point, it was already a long story. Monday morning, the story got longer. I’ll be breaking it down in parts for my ease and yours, since it takes me longer to type these days. I used to do about 70 words a minute. Now, not so much. So, bear with me.)
I didn’t want to seem like a complainer, so when the triage nurse asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10, I told her it was a 6 headed towards a 7^. Then, I mentioned it was a total bummer that the Emergency Room’s cold packs didn’t last very long.
So, how did I get there, burned palm, watching The Wizards of Waverly Place in the emergency room, trolling for cold packs, and desperately seeking the approval of a hostile triage nurse?
Glassblowing. And being me.
It was bound to come to this. Every minor burn pointed towards slapping my left hand down on the wrong part of a blow pipe. I see that now.
Here’s what happened: I was making a fish. And doing a pretty nice job of it. While the bowl is beyond me, the fish form and are I somehow simpatico. Go figure.
I was doing so well, though, that I forgot my most basic personal glassblowing rule: There’s always time to screw up.
Events unfolded as follows: To set up for the connection that would take the fish form off the blow pipe and allow me to open up the shape (i.e. give my fish a mouth, because otherwise, that’s just cruel), I needed to put a tiny spot of glass on my fish where the connection would go. I had already twisted, flattened, and attached a tailfin, so this should have been cake. Except that I was about to use the diamond shears. The diamond shears are big, smelly jerks.
And, being big, smelly jerks, the shears got stuck. There are two ways to handle this. One is to wiggle the shears around and deal with the situation like a rational human being who knows how to solve this particular problem. I chose the other option. The one that screamed DUMBASS.
Did you expect any less?
Sallying forth on the path of the dumbass, I took my left hand off the established safe part of my blow pipe and pried the shears apart with two hands. Then, I blindly replaced my left hand on the pipe. If you look in the Dictionary, there’s an illustration of this under the second definition of “jerk move.”
Most of the time, when I get hurt, I don’t cry. Or scream. Or, really, say anything. That’s how you can tell I’m actually hurt. I actually shut up for thirty seconds*.
This time was a little different. I still didn’t have much to say, but as I sat on a stool, holding my hand under the water at the slop sink, I was definitely not holding my shit together. I spent about 15 minutes there, trying not to cry, scream, wet myself, or vomit. Then, the sink started to back up. Once my friend Dennis (who comes off very well in this story) dealt with the icky drain, I spent another 30 minutes with my hand under cool water.
While I was doing all the right things, the waves of pain and continual burning made it seem like I should be doing more in terms of treatment. I knew that all the ER doctors and nurses would be able to do for me was look at my hand, confirm that we were all looking at a burn, and send me on my merry way after a long wait. Still, it seemed like I was forgetting something. So, I had someone with a smarter phone look up burns on the Mayo Clinic’s website.
And everything was pretty much as I expected. I classified my burns correctly as second degree. Not much to do except live through it. Except for the part about seeking medical treatment if your second degree burns are on your face, hands, and somewhere else that I was in too much pain to listen to. And that other part about tetanus shots.
I remembered that the last time I had one, I didn’t have a driver’s license and I didn’t want to go to the Little Beach with the rest of my family. I had had a bad skin reaction to the shot while watching movies in the afternoon at my grandma’s house while I silently (since they left me home alone) protested my family’s beach preferences. So my last tetanus shot happened sometime, some summer somewhere between 1996 and 1998.
That didn’t seem quite good enough. So, I called my mom to see what she thought.
I kept things light. She really wanted to know how lunch with my pregnant friend went. So, I gave her the short version before casually mentioning that there was another reason I was calling.
Fun fact: I’ve never not driven myself to the Emergency Room**.
This time, I was (almost) lucky that my car had been in an accident exactly a week before***. I usually drive a manual transmission, but my rental car was an automatic. And I wasn’t making it to the ER in a stick.
But on the unlucky side of things, you know, aside from burning my hand and all, I was going to the ER on a Monday night. And if you didn’t know this already, EVERYONE AND THEIR COUSIN goes to the ER on a Monday night.
Oh, and I was going in this shirt:
Is there more? Of course there’s more. Stay tuned.
^ If you want the whole reason I didn’t tell her that my pain — the worst I’ve ever experienced — was a 10, though, here it is: Somewhere in the back of my brain, I remembered hearing something about how childbirth is a 10. And, never having been in the stirrups in that way myself, I didn’t want to seem presumptuous. After all, maybe getting second degree burns on my palm is nothing compared to pushing another human through a birth canal. My mom says I’m wrong about that because all I didn’t get a baby out of the whole ordeal and babies are little pain relievers. All I got was a burned hand. While she’d never put it this way, I think she was implying that all that I got was a big pile of suck.
* I’ve had complaints about this in the past. Evidently, shutting down at that moment makes it really hard to help me. But it’s not something I do on purpose. Something in my brain starts paring down necessary functions, and the first to go is the ability to communicate.
** This has since changed. Thanks, Dad. (Don’t worry, you’ll see him later.)
*** This is important. Establish your timeline now.