I also had in my possession a pint or so of ripe, sweet blueberries, so I decided to make an apricot-blueberry pie. I did a google search to see if recipes for such a thing exist, and lo-and-behold, they do. As it was 4th of July morning, I scanned the ingredients to make sure I had them all on hand, and found that I did, with one minor substitution. I did not have the necessary apricot preserves, but decided the homemade apricot syrup my mother-in-law sent would work well for the additional sweetness and flavor. Huzzahs all around, I would have the perfect complement to our celebratory independence day barbeque.
I sliced my apricots. I measured my ingredients. And last of all, I pulled out the apricot syrup to add to the pan of simmering fruit.
(This might be a good place to mention that I’m left handed.)
It’s an odd sensation to have a glass jar twist apart in your hand, and as it did I thought ‘Huh. That can’t be good.”
I looked down at the big gash in the webbed area between my thumb and index finger, and confirmed that no, it was not in fact good.
(This might be a good place to mention that I don’t react well to the sight of blood).
My husband was in the backyard firing up the grill for the burgers. I ran toward the back door and yelled “Help!”
Annoyed, he turned toward me and said “Help with what?”
I held up my bloody, dripping hand in response, then sat down on the floor to keep from passing out.
As he got a towel to wrap around the cut so I wouldn't bleed all over the car on the way to the emergency room, an odd barrage of thoughts passed through my head:
|At the scene |
(nope, this ain't fiction, folks)
Well, that’s going to need stitches.
Did I sever a tendon?
How do I keep the dog from trying to lick the blood?
What are we going to have for dessert now?
Did he put the burgers on yet?
I really should clean up all this blood before we go to the ER.
While he wrapped the towel around my hand, I relayed the thoughts that seemed relevant, asked him to turn off the stove and the barbeque, and put out the dog so she wouldn't lick up the syrup and the glass. Then I went into my bedroom to put on a different pair of shorts, because, you know, seriously.
And that's when I nearly passed out.
(This might be a good time to mention I’m prone to panic attacks.)
I was cold, my chest was constricting, I could barely breathe, and the world seemed three inches deep. I told myself firmly “This is just a panic attack, you’re fine, just breathe.” I forced myself to take long, careful breaths, and the world stopped closing in around me.
I grabbed a pair of shorts out of the drawer and realized I couldn’t close the top button with only one functioning hand. “That’s okay” I thought, “they tell you to loosen clothes on shock victims anyway.” So unbuttoned it stayed.
Although I don’t actually remember doing it, I apparently also grabbed my kindle. My heart swells with pride to know that even on the verge of unconsciousness, my priorities remain intact.
I walked out to the car and called to my husband to bring a bottle of water. He answered me; although he was only a few feet from me, his voice sounded very far away, like I was listening to him through a tunnel that had water whooshing through it. Despite the white fuzzy spots in my vision, I reached the car—only to realize I didn’t have my keys. I decided it was a good time to sit on the pavement and wait with my head between my knees.
When my husband came out, I got into the car and told him “If I pass out, let them know I was having a panic attack.” You know, because they wouldn’t have been able to figure that out on their own.
I don’t remember much of the drive to the hospital; I was focused on breathing and not throwing up. However, I do remember the moment when I thought he was taking the wrong exit and I yelled ‘NOT KAISER!!’, before I realized we were headed the other way off the off-ramp.
The intake nurse took one look at my pasty, blood-free face and buzzed me in immediately. She took my blood pressure and expressed professional surprise that I was still alive with numbers that low. She put me in a wheel chair and took me directly to a room where they plugged me into a miniature army of technology.
They asked me a bunch of questions that I now understand they are required to ask everyone, but which were very confusing in the moment:
“Do you feel safe at home?”
Yes, I don’t think the jar is going to come after me in my sleep.
“Have you been homeless or incarcerated in the last year?”
How the hell bad do I look? I made sure to change my shorts!
Aren't you supposed to make that decision? You’re the professionals.
Then they asked me what happened, and I explained that a jar of apricot syrup broke when I opened it.
“My mother-in-law made it.”
“Oh, your mother-in-law.” They exchanged knowing glances and laughed. Apparently mother-in-law-induced injuries are not uncommon in the ER. I found this disconcerting, and started to wonder if I was safe at home after all.
They did their thing, very effectively and professionally, with grace and humor and top-notch care. It turned out I’d been extremely lucky; I hadn’t cut any tendons or significant nerves. They stitched me up and I left feeling well-cared for and excessively silly for succumbing to shock-and-or-panic-attack, taking up everybody’s time, and ruining my husband’s 4th of July.
So what’s the moral of the story? I think it’s this:
There’s a reason we have apple pie on the 4th of July.