Better late than never...from the 04.18.2012 Arkansas Weekly:
We have all seen movies where the hero is seriously injured and must treat his wounds himself. You know, on the run and alone, the good guy gets shot in the arm and eventually has to remove the bullet himself. So he takes a swig of whiskey, bites down hard on a stick, and with pained resolve, begins to dig the bullet out with a knife. He screams as he pulls the lead from his flesh, then dropping his stick as the bullet finally comes free, he douses the wound with the whiskey and leans back to rest from his agony.
Well, dear reader, I recently experienced a similar situation. No, this injury did not involve bullets or bad guys. It was self-inflicted, but it happened while I was safe in my kitchen with friends. But before I continue, I must warn you that details of my trauma might be considered too graphic and explicit. You might want to be around some pillows and cushions in case you faint while you read.
Last night, I had some friends over for a light dinner. Baked chicken in olive oil with rosemary and bell peppers was the planned dinner. As my friends talked at the kitchen bar, I began to slice and chop the peppers. I took out my Halloween/psycho killer butcher knife and went to work. (Did I say this was a large and very sharp butcher knife? The blade could easily behead a small, beastly animal like a possum or a toy poodle.)
As I held one pepper down with my left hand, I somehow managed to let the blade sear through the top of my thumb. Feeling the metal slice into my skin, I jerked back the blade, took a quick breath, and then let out a high-pitched screech that could have come from a five-year-old girl.
My friends, knowing exactly why I screamed, jumped off their seats and came around to my aid. I flicked on the water and shoved the cut digit under the cold water. Blood poured from my thumb, and the water stung deep into the slice. Cutting, puncturing myself or experiencing any type of metal inside my skin affects me like fingernails across a chalkboard. A simple injection or the drawing of a blood sample make my palms sweat. So, when I realized what had happened, I began to feel weak and dizzy. I now was likely going to have to go to the emergency room to get stitches – which meant more metal painfully piercing my skin. I hadn’t been this scared since I went to the E.R. 23 years ago to have a splinter cut out of my foot. Don’t get me going on the sheer terror I experienced that night. It took years of therapy to overcome The Rob Grace Splinter Incident of 1989.
My friends grabbed a paper towel and applied pressure. Dark red began to spread under the cloth, and the tip of my thumb began to painfully throb. I began to feel the blood drain from not only my thumb, but also my face. I started to drop to my knees, but my friends grabbed me under my arms and helped me to steady myself. One friend peeked under the paper towel to assess the wound. Of course, I had to avert my eyes because I was quickly sinking into shock. Viewing my fresh injury would have sent me over the edge.
“How many stitches do you think I’ll need?” I asked as I grimaced through the pain.
“Oh, you’ll be fine,” she said. “You just need a Band Aid.”
I tossed and turned through the night. I would wake and check my Band Aid. There was still a little blood, but I saw no signs of gangrene. Yet I still went to the store the next morning to purchase some antibiotic cream.
I had found over those past few hours that doing ordinary things would cause my thumb to ache, so I basically was without the use of one hand. I tore open the Neosporin package with my teeth and prepped myself for the pain of applying the medicine. I took a swig of spring water, clinched my jaw, and delicately applied the cream. I screamed as the medicine stung deeply into my thumb. But, in a moment, it was over, and I reapplied a fresh Band Aid.
I still have a long road. I may not have to have stitches, but I’ll probably have a scar as a reminder of the horror I went through. But that scar will also remind me that I survived. I made it. I lived through the pain, and I have come out on the other side.
Just like my Splinter Incident of 1989, my Almost Amputation of My Thumb Incident of 2012 will only serve as an indication of the intense physical and mental trauma I have experienced and conquered. And that can only add to my manliness.
And, we all know the ladies love a tough man.