Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Things What Come From My Body! Part deux

The last time I'd really been in a hospital in the US was about 15 years ago. While home for the holidays on leave from the Navy, I was out driving around with a couple female friends of mine. It was the last day of December. One was driving and the other was in the passenger seat, I was in the back left seat. We'd just been into town to get one of my favourite things to eat back then: a baked sub -- extra mayo -- from the Italian place downtown. I was pretty excited to be eating it, but had agreed to go for a drive with the girls before going home (at which point I should mention there was sort of a 'thing' between me and the driver).
Now, this girl hadn't had her license for long, and that's what I blame for what happened. We were tooling around on some quiet back roads, and I could tell she was going a bit too fast for the curves. I had my left hand out the partially open window, holding onto the top of the doorframe, and my right hand in my lap protecting my beloved sammich. On our way up a hill where the road curved against a rather steep drop into a field, I guess the driver lost control and off the road we went. The last thing I remember of the driving bit was hurtling through winter-dead overgrowth on our way down the hill, the trip feeling like going too fast on a dirt road.
Next thing I knew, I was laid out on my back in the field, looking up at faces looking down at me (just like that inevitable shot in some movies, where the camera's at floorlevel and all these people are encircling it saying something like 'You alright?'). Within minutes, and ambulance had driven into the middle of the field and I'd been hauled into it, the whole time insisting I was fine and demanding to know where my sub was. I'd find out later I was in a bit of shock.
Once we got to the hospital, I was set off into a private bed behind curtains. Some nurses came in and pulled off my pants, leaving me in my coat and shirt. My coat (a vintage Marine wool trenchcoat) was pretty precious to me, so I insisted we not cut it off...in spite of the injury I didn't really know I had yet.
When the doctor showed up, he explained what had happened and finally drew my attention to my left hand. It was a mess and still pretty bloody in spite of having been cleaned at some point. Apparently, at some point in the powerdrive down the hill, the window I had my hand out of had smashed. It looked as though when that happened, I decided to shake my hand wildly in the broken glass: I had some large gashes on the outside back of my hand, minor cuts on the sides of two of my fingers...and my ring finger's tip was hanging by about a quarter-inch of flesh! The doctor found this amusing somehow, holding up my hand and tapping the dangling tip with his finger before finally sewing it back on.
After I got sewn up and drugged up, I was left to leave. The driver (who was pretty shaken up, but physically fine, as was the other passenger) had phoned my mum, who showed up understandably worried. We all went home, but as it was now New Year's Eve, plans were already made or needing to be made amongst the family and my friends. If I remember correctly, we went to a pretty dead party and ended up home before midnight. I don't know, but it's really not the important part of this story.
The important part is that, after my hand had healed, I noticed a hard little welt or something in the scar on the back of my hand. Not knowing any better, and not feeling any kind of pain from it, I just assumed it was some rigid scar tissue under the skin or something...though I occasionally mused that is was a piece of gravel lodged in my hand.
And I never did get to eat that damn sammich!
Cut to the present. Much time has passed, my hand wound is more a 'distinguishing mark' on forms than anything else, and I've long since forgotten the little hard bit in there. I'm married and living in Sweden, soon to be flying to New Orleans to see my wife ceremonially hooded for her PhD. About a week before the trip, she points out that my hand scar has been looking different lately: darker, swollen, something. I put off her concerns, insisting it was the same. Within the days before and after the flight, though, I finally admit that there is something going on.
Shortly after arriving in NOLA, I see that my swollen and darkened scar is breaking open. Loving, as I do, to pick and worry at festering parts of my body, I start scraping. I'm convinced there's just an ingrown hair or something in there. Sure enough, once I scrape off enough skin, I can see what appears to be a curled up, very thick and dark hair. Try as I may, though, I just can't get a grip on it. At last, I resort to sucking on the wound to try to work the hair out. In doing so, I feel something VERY hard against my tongue. I'm alarmed, but all it does is make me more determined (if more cautious) to get this thing out!
A little more work, and out it came:

(I shot it next to my ring for scale.)
That's right, it was a nugget of AUTO SAFETY GLASS! Lucky for me, though it was overlooked in the cleaning of my hand, it was clean enough to not cause me any problems for 15 YEARS! I guess it just took all that time for my body to naturally work it out of the skin, causing me to marvel anew at the amazing machines we are.
After taking the picture, though I was (again) tempted to keep it, I threw out the piece of glass that spent a decade and a half lodged in the back of my hand.
Au revoir, second foreign object to be removed from me in the space of a year!

2 Comments:

Blogger lunas_eve said...

I hate the part in the story where you lose the sammich. I hate it when anyone touches my food. Though, I probably would not enjoy Amish Italian...

3:41 PM  
Blogger aliceboy said...

You make me laugh, my baby! Believe it or not, it wasn't Amish Italian, but real Italian: the place was run by a family fresh off the boat...or plane, more likely...

4:47 PM  

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