Thursday, May 18, 2006

DIY - Extreme!

It was Karma. Well, not really Karma, but at least a wake-up, a cosmic 2x4...Earlier that week, we had been tying ribbons to balloons for UofM graduation. (Every year, I work a few days to help organize the catering orders, pack and carry like I used to, and get paid in ZingDollars. Many, many ZingDollars. It's cheaper for them and tastier for me. This is why, when I arrive at dad's door on Sunday, I will be toting a full Reuben meal - including chopped liver, half-sours, and Cel-Ray soda.) We were tying blue and maize balloons, and after the eighth time I cautioned Alexis to make sure to tie the ribbon on tightly, so the balloon wouldn't float away, (I was terrified it would choke a manatee, okay? Think of the manatees!) she stopped, looked at me, and said: "I can tie the knot. I tie knots all the time...IN PEOPLE'S BODIES. Like, around blood vessels that CAN NOT open." "Oh, right," I said, "nevermind." She was right, when I cut open my arm, the knots she tied in my flesh did not come out...not until she snipped them out.

The odd thing is that we've been together so long that I forget sometimes that this partner of mine is a real doctor. Like , REAL doctor, with degrees and licensure and about to graduate from a prestigious residency and board certify in a prestigious field (June 11th, it'll be over at 5pm and I'll have a real-live "attending physician" to stuff with prime rib - and will I ever!), I have a hard time rectifying this identity with the person I know. This is the Alexis I bring coffee to on cool, damp mornings, the Alexis who used to steal daffodils from the campus gardens for my Easter basket, the Alexis who only wore BDUs for six years of her life, and who still wears specialty combat boots under her tailored wool slacks...I have trouble remembering this is a doctor. I've never known a doctor before.

And this particular doctor has amassed everything needed to take care of me when I hurt myself - lidocaine, betadine, needles and sutures in various sizes, any bandage you could hope for, and bags of sterile saline along with the wide-bore syringes needed to fully irrigate dirty little lacs. All filched neatly along with white pocket-fulls of peanut butter packets and tuna fish sandwiches from the Emergency Department. Shhhh...


Ah, metal lath. One quick, expressive gesture, and your arm's ripped in two.

Well, almost in two...

This was on a Sunday, and guess whose insurance ran out the previous Friday? No biggie, I thought...though a bacon band-aid would come in handy.

No such luck. When I ripped myself, I ripped a full skin thickness - you could see strings of adipose tissue in my chubby little forearm!
Note to self: don't let Alexis near cuts...her medical training has told her to poke, prod and stretch wounds, or even (gasp) debride them. Everyone knows the best way to deal with a boo-boo is to either (A) clutch the affected part with one hand and go on talking excitedly as blood wells from between your grasping fingers, or (B) sit right down and cry real tears and then demand lime popsicles.

Alexis leafs frantically through a booklet - what could it be?

Sterile saline, shot at high-speed into my mangled flesh. The white, raised edges of the wound were pumped full of lidocaine.


Blood+Betadine = Shroud of Tearin'.
(Elbow tearin' that is, I didn't cry a single drop.)