No, that’s not a total price of gourmet ingredients, nor is it a prize amount won for my amazing culinary skills. It’s what we expect my doctor bill to be. (It’s the cost of carelessness, you could say).
I was making a pumpkin pie Tuesday, following my usual route of roasting and puréeing a pumpkin as the first step. I’m not sure why, but I decided to vent the first half I had gutted by stabbing the scraped shell from the outside in instead of the much safer inside out. My homegrown heirloom pumpkin was well seasoned and put up quite a bit of a fight. Rather than sliding evenly through, the massive (and recently sharpened) knife I was using broke suddenly through the shell and, thanks to the extra effort I was exerting to break through, the big knife sank to the hilt. In the process, it also slashed through the pad of my left thumb, making a wide, jaggedy smiley-face the width of my thumb – narrowly missing the nail on both sides.
All that CERT training flew out the window at the sight of spurting blood, and I pretty much panicked for the first few minutes. I reached for my phone before I reached for the paper towels; I started to dial Matt before I called my doctor; I never ran water over the cut to remove the pumpkin guts; I couldn’t find my bag of ice cubes in the freezer so I used a bag of rhubarb. Having watched the knife slide through my yielding flesh in slow-motion, I was convinced that it had very nearly touched bone and that I was going to bleed a pint and need stitches. A few minutes later, oven still set to 375ºF, blood still all over the kitchen, and the phone book lying open in the middle of the floor, I was on my way to the doctor (driving one-handed with the other fist wrapped in a wad of paper towels and a dripping gallon-size plastic bag). Yes, I did find ice before I left – I didn’t show up at the doctor’s office with my maimed digit wrapped in rhubarb.
It was determined that I “probably” didn’t need stitches – which, by the time I got into an exam room half an hour later I was in no mood for – and my holey thumb was cleaned, taped shut with Steri-StripsTM, and bandaged up to mammoth size with layers of knit tubing to cushion it against bumps. I also got that tetanus shot I forgot to ask about at my physical last month. No one at the doctor’s office could understand how I cut myself making a pumpkin pie. “Did you cut yourself on the can?” I had to explain that I was making the pie from an actual pumpkin.
Though the lovely staff of my doctor’s office assured me it wasn’t so, I felt like a complete idiot by the time I left to return home. They insisted that I hadn’t overreacted and that had it been just a smidge deeper I would certainly have had stitches. I didn’t feel silly for wanting a pro to take a look at my thumb – I felt stupid for having been thoughtless enough to slash myself in the first place.
When I got home I finished the pie (“I’ll show you, @#$%^& squash!”), though having only one thumb added about an hour to the time. I figured I could just wrap my thumb in plastic to keep the bandages clean and dry, and go about my business. Nope. The cut is really quite deep, and a wide and unexpected array of movements (particularly those involving having my arm over my head or my thumb away from my forefinger) pull the wound open and trigger white pain. Matt says it sounds like I should have had stitches anyway. Now I also feel stupid for not letting the nurses get a better look at the wound. (It had just stopped hurting when I got to the exam room and I was not keen on the idea of someone opening the cut up to peer in).
Matt took the pie and a tub of real whipped cream (with a touch of vanilla) to work yesterday. I was on tenterhooks waiting to hear how it went over. Consensus was that it was “OK.”