That’s the joke I now give when people ask, with slightly averted eyes at the black, Frankenstein-like stitches sticking out of my finger. Five of ’em. On my left pointer finger.
It was last Monday- and I was bound and determined to cut the overly not-quite-ripe-enough spaghetti squash for the dish that we had had last month and wonder of all wonders- Ray actually loved. I’m trying to really focus on making sure that our family eats healthy “stuff” after a free-for-all during the holidays. So, I’m trying to cut this obnoxious squash with a very good knife- a Christmas present, in fact. One of those enormous cleavers with lots of serrations. Perfect for those hard jobs. Only, because I’m frustrated and I was fussing at the children to do some task, I ended up banging the squash up and down on the counter. When the knife flew out of the squash. And glanced my finger on its way down onto the cutting board.
Rats. I saw the cut and sighed. I stopped nagging the children and went to the bathroom where I put a bandaid on it. Just a little line. Not really a big deal. On my left hand- not my writing hand. And I went back to the kitchen to finish cutting the squash. Which I did and put it in the oven to roast.
It was then that I noticed that maybe my finger was hurting a little bit and I looked down to see my finger dripping on the floor. Large drips. Back to the bathroom to take the bandaid off to check this out.
And soon, my bathroom looked like a murder scene. I’m not crazy about blood anyways, and this was… gruesome. I called for the children. Something about my voice got them off the couch and they came into the bathroom, where I was holding a gauze pad over my finger. I was not hysterical. I was not scared. Just calm and clear. “Children, I need your help RIGHT NOW!”.
And this is where I learned that despite her growth and her progress, I cannot yet count on Elizabeth in a crisis. She turned pale, turned around immediately and disappeared as far away from me as she could in the house- back in the back corner- where she waited it out.
Ray, to his credit, stood there and asked for directions with an attitude that only a pre-teen can do. “Yea. What?” He cut surgical tape in pieces for me- throwing away one that was minisculely too short to his eyes, and watched while I wound it around my finger. I complimented him on his level-headedness. “Is that all?” he growled, and went back to his computer game.
I looked at my gauze-wrapped finger again, and saw that the blood on the pad that I was applying pressure on so firmly was becoming soaked again. I called my mother- because somehow Mother always knows how bad the hurt is even from a distance. And so I called James and asked him to come home and take me to Urgent Care. I turned off the oven. At Urgent Care, I got lectured on the proper use of knives and that yes, it did need stitches because it was on the knuckle and it was deep, and I began to realize how very, very lucky I was not to lose the finger. Or cut a nerve. It hurt, and it needed stitches and it was large and ungainly, but it was still there.
Only, I couldn’t type very well. I type- a lot. I type my lesson plans. I type my lectures onto Power Point slides. I type on my book and I type to look up recipes. I type to stay on Facebook and I type to stay in touch with my children’s teachers. I could sortof type 9-fingered, but it was slow and it was awkward and you make a lot of typos typing 9-fingered. A lot of typos. And so, I’ve been hampered all week with my lack of communication. I’ve let the blog slide and haven’t been on Facebook for a while. I never realized before how my typing allows me to communicate- to plan- to think- to organize my thoughts. I’ve been disjointed all week. I’ve felt isolated.
Tomorrow I get my stitches out. Today, I took off the bandages and can move my finger freely and, other than a little pulling, with little pain. And today, I can type again. With full appreciation of how important even a finger is to keeping connected with the world. And I have a far greater appreciation of my own fingers and how difficult it is for others with much, much greater communication issues.
Elizabeth, with her own communication issues, who was so panicked that she couldn’t help me, has now decided that she’s afraid of knives- to the point of shrinking away from that part of the counter where they are kept and staying away from the dishwasher where they are washed. This weekend, she moved her chair away from the knife we were using to cut the pizza (even healthy eating needs a break). She has informed me that she will be having a private chef when she’s a grownup, so that she doesn’t have to work with knives. She’s creating a phobia right before my eyes.
I plan to start her rehabilitiation- right after mine. I think that once my stitches are out and my finger less Frankenstein-y-looking, she’ll be better and I can start to work with her. A little fear and healthy respect- respect that I regained- is a good thing. Too much is disabling. I plan on offering her a little steak in a few weeks- her favorite meal- and do a hand-over-hand therapy session. Applied Behavior Analysis at its best…
And for the record, we ate the spaghetti squash dish the next day and it was delicious.