I sliced my hand open last week.
My husband, Peter, says I am accident prone and I tell him this is not true. But this past Thursday while trying to scrape some particularly stubborn avocado off my favorite sharp knife, I reinforced Peter’s claim and opened up a rather large wound just above my thumb.
It’s funny, what happens the moment after an accident.
My first response is always denial. “Oh. That didn’t really happen.” Next, I try to minimize it, hoping the damage will be miraculously undone. In this case, I wrapped a paper towel around my hand and lay down on the bed with my hand elevated hoping that, when I had the nerve to look again under the paper towel, everything would have returned to normal. It did not.
Peter was out and, when he came home, I told him I had cut my hand and might need stitches. “Do you want to see it?” I asked him.
“NO,” Peter almost shouted, in a way that made it clear he would rather do just about anything but look under that paper towel. Peter is a bit squeamish and cannot stand it when I get hurt.
It was a slow day at Urgent Care and I was immediately taken to see a doctor and a nurse. “I don’t know if I need stitches . . .” I began and removed the towel.
“Oh yeah. You need stitches,” the doctor and nurse said in unison, removing any hope that this was going to be a miraculous recovery.
“You’re going to feel a poke and a burn,” the doctor told me, as he prepared to give me a local anesthetic. The description was so perfect I wondered if he had recently had a shot. It took a surprising number of stitches to close up the large gap I’d created.
“Do most patients watch when you stitch them up?” I asked the doctor, as he was stitching.
“About 70 percent,” he told me. I thought that was a high percentage.
“It’s about the opposite percentage of the fathers who watch their babies born by cesarean,” he added, to my surprise.
“Really? Thirty percent watch?”
“Yup. And a lot of them faint,” he added.
This was way more bonus information than I been expecting.
The doctor glanced up at me. “Are you okay?” he asked. “Do you need to lie down?”
“Um, no . . .”
My thumb was stitched up and, after the anesthetic wore off, it hurt like the dickens. I went to bed early, my thumb throbbing in time to my heart. I thought about all the ways there were to get hurt that had never occurred to me—all the cuts and slips and falls and tumbles we take in the course of a lifetime. The human body is so fragile and miraculous and accident prone. My favorite kitchen knife turned on me and I suddenly felt as if I had been blundering through life, getting by on dumb luck.
“You’ve got to be more careful,” Peter scolded. The next morning, he informed me he’d ordered high-tech, cut-proof gloves for me to wear in the kitchen. That is so like Peter it made my heart hurt.
When the new gloves arrived, I tried them on. Why not? Those gloves are how Peter tries to keep me safe in an unsafe world. They are his way of protecting me from all the things he cannot. I might get fewer cuts, wearing my fancy new gloves in the kitchen. Or I might just be a little more careful—knowing that Peter cares.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir, “Blue Yarn,” will be released in April 2019. Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.