Red, white and blood?

8 Jul
"Do you think I need to go to the Emergency Room?"

“Do you think I need to go to the Emergency Room?”

I mentioned in my last post that our Fourth of July became a bit of an adventure when Alan came for me at the community pool, squeezing his finger as blood flowed down his hand.

(You’re WELCOME, fellow residents, who previously only wondered if children had peed in the pool.) 

He opened with, “I don’t think it’s anything major…” but the fact that he’d walked down to find me meant that he actually did think it could be major and wanted a second opinion – or a driver to take him to the ER.

I quickly gathered my items and followed him back to his place. We examined his finger under running water, and every time he stopped cutting off circulation to his finger, blood gushed out in time with his heartbeat.

Some people might be squeamish, but we’re both pragmatic. I hated to even ask the question. “Do you think you should go to the emergency room?”

Alan took a deep breath. I knew what he was thinking. We hate the emergency room and will go to great lengths to avoid it because it’s inefficient and generally requires a minimum of a six-hour time commitment. And on a heavy drinking holiday like the Fourth? It’d probably be overflowing with dumb drunk injuries and mean an overnight.

“I’m actually not sure,” Alan concluded.

So we talked it out. We should go to the ER if we couldn’t stop the bleeding. Or if it seemed infected. Otherwise, there was nothing to be gained, we reasoned. After all, he’d shaved his entire fingertip off, so it’s not like there were “edges” that could be stitched together. Short of grafting skin to the area, the doctors wouldn’t be able to do anything we couldn’t do at home.

Plus, we had two fat rib-eyes ready to throw on the grill. If there had been any doubt about our ER avoidance plan, this factor effectively killed it.

Later in the evening, as I tidied up the kitchen, I spotted a number of paper towels in the trashcan from the earlier drama. At the top of the pile was a cocktail napkin with Amtrak’s logo on it in blue, surrounded by red blood drops. “You should carry that on your next trip to New York and stumble off the train with it in your hand, commenting, ‘Hell of a ride…’ to anyone you see.”

Alan shook his head. “Actually,” I reconsidered, “It looks rather patriotic, what with the red, white and blue motif. You certainly know how to honor Independence Day!”

“Well,” Alan said, “As Jefferson said, ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots.'”

Good point.

Just not sure Jefferson envisioned combat taking place with potato peelers.

10 Responses to “Red, white and blood?”

  1. The Byronic Man July 8, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    I don’t think I’d be able to resist loudly insisting he move to the head of triage, in front of absolutely anyone there for alcohol/fireworks related injuries – even if they were currently engulfed in flames.

    • pithypants July 8, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      “Can’t you see we have a POTATO PEELER VICTIM?!?” I imagine yelling.

    • Alicia July 8, 2013 at 11:41 am #


  2. Michelle July 8, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    Poor Alan. I’ve lost bits of myself to the grater before too, just not that much.

    • pithypants July 8, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      This peeler was industrial strength. Alan wanted to throw it away, but I asked him to add it to his weapons kit, because I’d rather carry it than a switchblade.

  3. thesinglecell July 8, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    Reason and logic are the forebears of society.
    Wait, sorry – that’s panic and overreaction.
    Way to go against the grain (where “grain” = whorls of fingerprint) and avoid an invariably effed up insurance claim after several hours of being ignored at the ER.

  4. dianeskitchentable July 9, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Isn’t that always the dilemma – is the ER worse than the injury? Being a frequent visitor I can offer some advice on moving to the head of the line. Of course the first & best is arriving by ambulance but that might be overkill for a finger but going in the back door gets you immediate attention. Another way to get in back & on a bed fast is to say “chest pain”…again maybe a tough one to justify in this case although Alan could have been hyperventilating. The 3rd is to go in with your head in a wastebasket making vomiting noise. They don’t like that going on out front & even if you have to wait a little bit, it does clear the area around you so you have some space. I’d have gone with the 3rd option & once they got Alan back there he could say he really hates the sight of blood so could they also take a look at his finger to make the vomiting stop.

  5. Elyse July 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    The single cell, one of my blogging buddies, mentioned in a comment on my recent post on Crohn’s Disease ( that you are newly diagnosed with Crohn’s, so I came on over.

    I’ve had it for over 40 years. If I can help (or if you need to bitch to someone), you can feel free to email me at

    Good luck with it. Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass. Sometimes it stinks. Usually it is incredibly confusing and changes every damn day.

    • Elyse July 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

      Oh, I live in NoVA. So I’ve got that goin’ for me too.

    • pithypants July 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      Elyse – thanks for venturing over and introducing yourself! I appreciate your perspective. Because – let’s honest – the only part of Crohn’s that makes for good blog posts are the bits where you almost (or do) shit yourself. The other, more common symptoms – like the splitting pain, night chills, etc. – just aren’t good blog fodder. Alas – good to know that someone out there can read between the lines!

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