By the grin on my face, you’d never guess I just got 14 sparkling new stitches in my right hand.
Headed out for Crockett Hills Regional Park with Miles on a gorgeous November morning – felt like late spring, amazing day. Halfway through the day, arrived at a cache under a giant oak … which we just couldn’t nail. Knew it was a tiny camouflaged micro, but it wasn’t about to give itself up. The clue was “Oak hymenoptera,” which of course was all Latin to me, so called Amy for a lifeline. She described a fungal growth related somehow to hornets or wasps. OK, the tree had its share of tumors and testicular outgrowths, and I searched them all while M ate cashews and an apple from his perch in the tree. But this one just wasn’t willing to be found.
A bit bummed, we moved on. Had intended to do a big loop around the park, but suddenly found ourselves at trail’s end. Realized we’d have to cross a road and hop a fence to continue our circuit – either that or hike two miles back the way we came and miss caching half the park, so went for it. Lifted Miles easily over the barbed-wire fence, then went to get myself over. OK, know this: I like adventure, and I’m not what you’d call “risk averse,” but I don’t think I do dumb things at the expense of safety. Studied the situation carefully to make sure there were no alternative crossings, then carefully got my feet into position on the top rung of the fence. Intended to sort of do a light vault over and spin down to the other side (this was only a 5-foot fence).
I really don’t know what happened in mid-air, but somehow it wasn’t what I had planned. On the way down, one foot caught between two wires, and I instinctively reached out to break my fall. Landed on my back with one foot still tangled in the fence. Nothing but a little scratch on the back of my calf, no big deal.
Then I saw the blood. Somehow, I had managed to leave a few grams of pinky flesh behind on the fence. This was no tidy slice, but a craggy mess ensconced in bubbling red. I could move my fingers – good, no tendons harmed. It was tough to see how deep it went – didn’t seem to go to the bone, but there was a fair bit of meat squishing out.
Reached for the pack of Kleenex we used to clean out weathered cache boxes and applied pressure for a good ten minutes, until the flow subsided. When my head started to clear, realized that we were carrying a first-aid kit as a prize to put in a cache, which we hadn’t yet distributed. Wrapped the mess in gauze and tape and headed out to find a few more hides (we were a good two miles from the car, and there were several more-or-less on the way).
When I got home and cleaned it out, realized it was worse than I thought. So instead of spending the afternoon hanging the TV on the LR wall as planned, got to spend a few hours in the ER.
If the wound area is properly anesthetized, stitches aren’t particularly painful. What hurts is getting anesthetized to begin with. Holy mother of pearl, I thought I was going to give birth or something. The doc administered no less than ten doses of lydacaine, the needle plunging nearly to bone again and again. Tried to slow heart and mind with breath control, but it was pointless. Most painful thing I’ve experienced in a long time. Because I had lost so much flesh, lacing up the canyon involved tightening the skin around the whole finger, which contributed to the throbbing gristle.
Aside: Just as my name was being called to enter the ER, another waiting room patient asks whether anyone knows how to spell diarrhea, and I’m shouting out “D-I-A-H-R-R-E-A” over my shoulder as I’m being escorted in. Funny look from the admitting nurse.
It feels much worse now than it did in the first few hours, since it’s been so lovingly brutalized by the well-intentioned Nurse Ratchet. But glad I went. The vicodin helps.
Anyway, ER trip aside, it was a gorgeous, awesome day, and M and I had a gas. One of these days I’m going back to nail that hymenoptera. And from now on, a first-aid kit is going to be a permanent part of our geocaching kit.