Night before last, I was in the garden setting up the sprinkler. I am somewhat obsessed with sprinkler efficiency – moving it as few times as possible to cover all areas needed. Happily, a former co-worker got me a pretty awesome sprinkler to help with just such an unhealthy obsession. Still, it needs Fiddling With each time I move it.
To get it in just the right spot to hit everywhere I wanted, I needed to move the pea trellis. The peas are all mostly dead, certainly done producing delicious peas, so I went to yank it out. I tugged and pulled and got pretty much nowhere with it; this thing is seriously grown-in. I got my feet into a more steady, under-the-trellis-directly position, and for some reason had most of my weight on my left foot before lifting
When I went to give the trellis The Biggest Lift/Pull I could manage, that’s when I put all of my weight (plus any additional pressure from trying to lift up the entrenched trellis) on both feet and heard this most peculiar rapid-fire pop-POP! It was like the sound I make when I accidentally step on small green tomatoes. Weeks ago, I would avoid stepping on any part of the tomato plants, especially the precious fruit. Now? Heck, that’s one more I won’t have to pick and process.
But back to the pops.
A split-second after the pops, searing pain shot through my right foot, causing a series of very loud and confused “ow ow OUCH OUCH ow ow WTF WAS THAT?! Ouch!!!” type words to spew from my mouth very quickly. I paced a few short steps, having absolutely no idea whatsoever what the hell it could have been. Dead and dried weed stems? Broken plastic? Broken bamboo from the trellis? Scorpions?
After I finished yelling and pacing, I looked at the bottom of my foot and saw two distinct puncture wounds. One was fairly superficial, but the other had (look away if you are squeamish, trust me on this,) sub-dermal fat and flesh hanging out of it a bit. And a considerable amount of blood was starting to gush out. Dammit. The pain was bright, intense and searing. Reaching down into the tall weeds, I fished out the culprit: One of those three-clawed hand tool thingers one uses to rake or cultivate a small patch of soil. In fact, it looks a lot like this:
You’ve seen them before, I’m sure.
I make it a serious habit to always put rakes and tools such as these “stabby-side-down,” for just this very goddamn reason. Too, on more than one occasion, I have seen someone step on the tines-up end of a rake and escape foot injury thanks to work boots, but bash themselves in the face when the handle comes flying quickly up to meet them, thanks to Our Friend, Physics.
Apparently, on this occasion, I was either remiss or it got knocked over by the hose or whatever… but the two-inch prongs were most certainly stabby-side-UP. The pops I heard were the “not quite dull, but also not quite sharp” points breaking through the thick, “I always go barefoot” callus on the bottom of my foot.
Ever the sensible girl, I don’t panic when I’m injured. For example, when I ripped the tendon off my finger on the ranch, I finished deworming the herd and worked the remainder of the day. Now granted, I thought I’d only broken my finger – had I realized what was going on, I probably would have gone in to the ER after just finishing the deworming.
So, rather than run up to the house to go to the emergency room, I got the sprinkler situated the way I wanted it to be on top of the straw bale (although I did forgo removing the trellis.) I watched the flow of water for a few minutes to ensure it was going where intended. Then I limped up to the house, leaving a nice blood trail along the way, and grabbed a towel in the sunroom to avoid tracking blood over the white carpeting. Mike Neir was in the basement, the hydrogen peroxide was upstairs and my foot felt like it was on fire. I debated just going up to get to the peroxide myself, but figured I should probably have a better look at my injuries, and that Mike probably wouldn’t mind fetching the stuff I needed.
This is one of those moments when I over-analyze what to say. On the one hand, I need help. On the other, I don’t want him to worry. On a third hand, I don’t want to sound silly. And on a fourth hand, there is only so much I can effectively convey when hollering down the basement stairs. I wasn’t quite sure what to yell… “Hey Mike? I stabbed myself in the foot.” Accurate, but too dramatic. Does not convey what kind of help is needed. “Could you bring me the peroxide, please?” He’d probably wonder why I couldn’t get it myself, does seem to imply injury to myself or someone else. Screw it, I’m going with “calm, generic call for help;” I can explain when he’s in the same room. I tried to sound casual:
“Um, honey? Could you come up and help me for a minute?”
Happily, Mike Neir is not averse to the sight of blood. He did indeed fetch me the peroxide and a small syringe. After poking at the deeper injury for a bit, and thinking things through, I figured I’d better irrigate it; anaerobic bacteria in the wrong place can do nasty things. It looked “pretty deep,” but I couldn’t ascertain just how deep. Now, an important safety tip for those of you at home: Generally, peroxide is not indicated for fresh wounds; it can cause more damage to the tissue. Sterile saline solution is preferred. However, we don’t have any saline solution lying about, and I wasn’t convinced I needed to go to the doctor, so I gave it a shot.
I inserted the tip of the plastic syringe into the wound and flushed an mL or two in. And then I nearly passed out. It felt like the peroxide flowed out the top of my foot, the wound was so deep. I was somewhat convinced I had flushed the puncture with molten lava, and that the hole went to the moon. At that point, I decided to go to the nearby Urgent Care facility.
One never knows what one is getting into, going into an emergent or urgent care situation – it was a Friday night, there could have been dozens of people awaiting treatment. Fortunately, the place was nearly empty – just one guy being discharged, so we had no wait at all. A nurse wheeled me back into the exam room and we got all of my information written down. Another nurse, who was very sweet but looked as though she had been ridden hard and put away wet for a good sixty years, assessed the damage and said, “oh yes – that’ll get stitches.” Not precisely what I wanted to hear.
I have two neurological conditions called “hyperreflexia” and “Restless Leg Syndrome,” which in a nutshell means my nervous system is a little cattywampus and overly-sensitive in places. The places that are ticklish on normal people are ticklish for me, too, but they also set off a very unpleasant series of events, system-wide. Naturally, the soles of my feet are one of those places. Thankfully, the injury is on the less-sensitive side – had it been on the left side, I think I would have had to get up and leave, rather than have them mess with it.
But we’re on the right side, and they’re talking stitches. Stitches on the bottom of my foot. Where I walk. With all this weight. I really hope they have some high-tensile line here, the sort you might use to land a tuna.
The doctor came in, had a look and agreed there will indeed be stitches. He told me I was actually fortunate I wasn’t wearing shoes, as there are so many nasty critters living inside shoes that I’d have ugly bacteria making a nest in there already. Score one for bare feet.
Next came the lid0caine. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic often given when stitches are indicated. It numbs the pain of the injury itself, and of the stitches. Here’s the thing, though, the ironic, stupid thing – lidocaine stings like a bitch. I almost think it works by shorting out the neurons from the sheer pain of its application. Naturally, the injection must go at the site of the injury. So here I am, with a two-inch-deep puncture in the tender arch of my foot, and a guy with a needle full of burning solution about to go at it.
The last time I had stitches whilst conscious, they were on my finger. I opted not to have the lidocaine, because I remembered how much it hurt the time before that. And, indeed, the stitches themselves hurt a heck of a lot less than the lidocaine would have.
But this was a bit more serious an injury, and it was on one of those ridiculously sensitive spots that would leave me twitching at inopportune moments and give the doctor tremendous difficulty getting things done properly. So I sucked it up and off we went. The needle pokes themselves were not at all as bad as I would have expected. He was using a very high-gauge needle, so small it might have slipped between neurons.
“Ok, here comes the stinging,” he warned me, and HOLY HELL was he ever right. My foot wanted to leap off the table. Instead, I made it sit there and sizzle and burn. Lidocaine takes a few minutes to work, so each subsequent injection site hurt just as much as the first, and there were perhaps four or five of them as he made his way around the wound. I’m sure my face was screwed up nearly sideways as I gritted my teeth and tried not to kick the nice man in the face.
And then it was done. Thank goodness.
I could go back to being my affable self instead of a clenched person full of white-hot pain.
He irrigated and irrigated, and chatted about the gardens he used to have himself, and irrigated some more. He trimmed some of the flesh hanging out of the wound and then went about his stitching, which he said he enjoys but is often rushed through. I was glad to have no one waiting behind us, so he could indeed take his time.
Even though the pain was numbed, I could still feel pressure. The sensation of suture thread being pulled through flesh is always very, very creepy. It doesn’t hurt, per se; it just feels odd.
I ended up with five stitches in the deep wound, and none in the more superficial one, although he did clean up the edges around that one, too – and by “clean up,” I mean, he cut away flesh with scissors.
We were in and out in far less than an hour, which is fairly impressive. A small bottle of Keflex to guard against infection for a few days and that was all I needed. No crutches, no admonishments not to walk on it, although we joked about all the household chores I could now get out of.
It was so numb with lidocaine, it wasn’t too hard to hobble around. I used caution as I was limping, simply because I did not want to tear the stitches out, but the pain was entirely manageable. I knew, though, as it healed , things would become pretty uncomfortable. I gimped around as best I could for the remainder of the night and went to bed with it up on a large pillow.
At 3am, it woke me up. It woke me up insistently. Throb, throb, throb, throb, STAB, throb, throb, stab. It felt, strangely enough, as though I had a large hole in the bottom of my foot. Having had great success with the hobbling previously, I tried to get up and go get some ibuprofen. When I put a tiny bit of weight on it this time, however, it shrieked its disapproval. I hopped back to bed, where Mike Neir was awake, too.
As an added plus, it was about 100 degrees in our bedroom – the air conditioner wasn’t working. The thermostat’s batteries had run out, and we didn’t have any AA’s in the house. MARGH!
So there we were, sticky with sweat in the humid heat, and me with my foot on fire. Good times! Fortunately, the ibuprofen took the edge off after awhile, and I got a few fitful hours of sleep in. Next morning, Mike Neir fetched me a pair of crutches out of the garage, and I set about trying to get ready for work at 8am. My head was thick and sludgy; since I hadn’t slept much, the drugs I take to let me sleep had not metabolized very well. I was drugged and woozy, thick in the head and unsteady on the foot.
As I was trying to feed the dogs, I realized one of the huge problems with crutches – I can’t carry anything. Mike helped me get the dogs fed, and then I began to haul my ponderous bulk up the stairs, slowly, on the crutches. About halfway up, I realized I couldn’t drive in this condition. When I finally reached the top of the stairs, I had decided to call in stabbed. I hated calling in during my first week of employ, but there was simply no way this was going to turn out well. My predecessor would be there, and while it would deprive me of 8 hours of his wisdom, things would be handled in my absence.
I made it into my office, where I decided I had better immediately lie down, lest I pass out or worse, barf all over. After spending a few minutes curled up on the floor, I composed a hastily-written “I’m sorry for being dumb and I can’t make it in today” email to the key players, took a bunch more ibuprofen and crawled back to bed – where I slept for a good 6 more hours, thankfully.
The following day wasn’t too bad, and today, Sunday, is about the same. My arms and pectorals are sore from all the crutching around, but I am at least somewhat mobile. I’ll be going back to work tomorrow, and, since I work on the second floor, I am very happy we have an elevator. Stairs and crutches are fairly scary. As shown in the diagram below, if you do it wrong, your face can vanish!
It is seriously inconvenient, but in a couple of weeks, I expect to be right as rain. In the meanwhile, Mike Neir is being incredibly helpful.
And now, I have to figure out how to bring in stuff from the garden before it goes bad. Too, there is grocery shopping to be done – I guess I get to figure out what it’s like to ride in one of those electric scooters. >.<