[Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain]
There's something very telling about getting injured. Depending on the type and severity of the wound, more can be told about a person than in almost any other situation. Allow me to indulge.
I cut off an eighth of my right thumb on the slicer at work on Sunday. Don't worry, that's the grossest part. Well, unless you get to thinking. But it's ok for now, you're doing well.
As I swang to put my digit under the water all I could think was that I didn't want to scream. I envisioned panicked customers leading, inevitably, to a panicked me. But I also couldn't just wander out into the front area, squirting blood out like an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. So I just said, "Help" over and over again, in slightly elevated voice. Later I would be told it sounded like I was meowing. I would also be told later that the water had splashed my blood all over my face and I looked like a fucking nightmare, but I digress.
So my coworkers sat me down with a towel and ice pressed tightly over my wound. Luckily, they said it wasn't that bad. That bad compared to what others had suffered, I suppose. I couldn't go to the hospital because it wasn't the kind of thing that could be stitched. So I just sat there, "shaking like a leaf" and "continuing that neurotic behavior."
Now this is where the telling part about me comes in. I am not so good with blood, downright squeamish. Needless to say, I'm not excited about having a part of my insides exposed to the world. But I must say, under less than optimal cirumstances, I held up. It's easy to make jokes and laugh most of the time, but after being put into one of my worst fear type of situation - well, I think I passed.
Aside from bleeding profusely and apologizing up and down for things I couldn't have prevented, my coworkers said I did good. When I said that I couldn't think of anybody this would have been worse to happen to, Mo said, "I can't think of anybody this would've been better to happen to, it's a party."
Now I can't just toot my own horn here. When I left Jimmy John's after getting my wound rewrapped I took a cab home. I felt something wet on my arm and I realized, shit, that is my dark red lifeforce streaming out. [geez, can you believe I really thought "lifeforce"? How ridiculous is that.] At this point, alone in the back of the cab, I started to sob, freak out, etc. When I got home my saint of a roommate Mandy - who will be a very good mother someday - had to calm me down and wrap my thumb again for me. Tightly. So that I couldn't see it anymore. Frankly, it was bulbous.
Though I didn't make it the whole time without blowing my top, I think I did ok. It's part two of a series, the one about me crossing into that mysterious adulthood. I have to take each experience as it comes and deal with it, make choices and, ultimately, deal with the results on my own.
But beyond that, there's something fascinating about dealing with the reality of pain. That adrenaline, that immediate reaction - it's the most base I'll ever be. And it's completely different than emotional pain. It's not something I can talk myself into or out of, at least not at first. It's just there, throbbing, me.
And it's completely spellbinding to watch my body at work. With my inside turned out, I can see my body working, doing everything it can to rebuild the wall, close the blinds. First of all, it's clotting. That's fucking great, I'll tell you what. I bled a lot for almost 2 hours, but that whole time my body was doing it's job, hemoglobin' it up. Then, there's the pain. When I went to the doctor today and we opened the tape (the absurdly tight tape) it hurt something awful. But within a minute or two my mind sent all of these little molecules to numb me, and it didn't hurt at all. How fucking hot.
I know it's not that bad, and I know now for certain how much I cannot stand pain. I'd be a bad soldier, or mobster, or doctor. But for my little experience, I think it's amazing.
There's an actual part of my body gone, and I'm going to be different forever because of it. Isn't that extraordinary? It's going to directly affect the next month or so of my life, making, for instance, typing a completely laborious task (QWERTY with one hand, search and destroy with the other). But aside from that it will affect the way I deal with things in ways I'll never really understand. It will affect the way I see and feel pain. It will increase or decrease my fear of it, and only time will tell which.
As I start to get familiar with my wound and the empty air where a part of my thumb used to be, peeping through a clenched fist, I have started to feel a little bit stronger. I keep realizing, this is life that keeps happening to me every day. And I have to look at it that way, I have to hold moments like these up to the glass, because there are countless moments of every day that float by, never recorded, never dually noted for the future. But this one, forever etched in my memory from the trauma and shock, is so pure an example of being alive, of the risk I take just getting out of bed. Right now my thumb stings and burns and numbs, but later, when I unwrap it for the last time, the tenderness fading, I'm going to love it more singularly than any other part of my body as proof of my existence.
p.s. I wrote this while on Tylenol 3 with codine, tre chic.
[This one goes to the little lady with the blond and black hair, about two desks over]