The Perils of Yard Work

Perhaps a better title for this blog might be “The Perils of Being a Writer When Not Writing” because I think I can blame my weekend Emergency Room trip on that, which seems far less humiliating than admitting how bad I am at yard work.

It’s not just that I’m not good at it – I hate it. But when all my writing assignments were finished, there were no more excuses for avoiding the hedge trimming necessary in order to see out the windows again.

Resigned, I plugged the electric hedge clippers into an extension cord to reach the first bush. No problem. I moved to the second, already so bored that I was thinking instead about what to write in the coming week when the clippers jammed on a thick branch. I don’t recall what happened next but blood was now spurting from my left pinkie finger into the greenery.

It felt like my spouse drove 70 mph to the ER despite my assurance that this wasn’t a life-threatening injury, apparently also the conclusion of the “triage” nurse who peppered me with a series of puzzling questions, including about my height and weight. Was she screening me to make sure I wasn’t faking the blood seeping through the towel – or would my answers determine how many stitches I received?

Then she asked about medication. “You’re sure you don’t take an aspirin every day?” I nearly replied, “Gee, you could be right – maybe the aspirin was disguised as a cup of coffee.”

The interrogation continued. When would she look at my finger? Then she affixed the blood pressure cuff so tightly that it hurt more than my injury. I’d reached my limit. “Remove the cuff, NOW,” I demanded through gritted teeth.

“But we have to get your blood pressure,” she said snippily.

“Are you EVER going to look at my injury, because my blood pressure is going up every minute you don’t,” I snapped, watching the blood stain my favorite jeans. “I’m alive and I’m bleeding. What else do you need to know?”

With a harrumph, she finally examined my wound. “That’s not so bad,” she said. I think I saw an evil smile as she abandoned me in the treatment room. Finally another staff member appeared to inquire about insurance and my living will.

“If I need a living will because of a cut finger, I’d prefer to go somewhere else,” I said.

She reassured me the question was standard procedure. But my unease was growing along with the pain. When the physician’s assistant appeared with an array of paraphernalia, including what appeared to be two metal shot glasses, he said: “One’s to steady my nerves but you can have the other.”

Too bad he was kidding. I could have used it the moment his needle hit part of my finger that escaped the numbing medicine and we both leaped into the air. Nonetheless, he said he’d seen far worse from electric hedge clippers, and I was fortunate four stitches could close the jagged wound. “But it’s going to throb really bad so get some Tylenol and keep your hand elevated above your heart,” he advised.

It looked like the only silver lining from the ugly black thread in my finger would be material for a blog entry.

But then he said the most welcome words imaginable: “And no yard work for a while.”

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