the best time i lived across the street from the emergency room

i had just gotten home from riding my bike to the thrift store, where i’d finally found a set of the perfect noodle bowl bowls, and the sewing store, where i’d just bought badass thread for making snoopy his new dog bed. how it pains me now to think of all these activities, which i once took for granted and which are now off limits! To say nothing of washing the dishes, which is what I began doing upon arriving home. Washing me new bowls, what could be nicer? GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS AND PHOTOS FOLLOW

The bowl I was washing slipped out of my hands and broke against the side of the sink. In maybe two seconds i had all these thoughts:
– damn i broke it but i just bought it!
– whoa, is the inside of the ceramic somehow filled with brown paint? Weird!
– oh shit thats BLOOD

Then i looked at where it cut me and YOU GUYS. It was like…i dont even know. Later after showing the photos to a few friends here are their descriptions:

– a zombie wound
– a horror-movie wound
– a shark bite

It was like GAPING OPEN, and i could see not only SPURTING blood but rippley red layers and fatty yellow layers and IS THAT BONE?? I screamed once then realized no one was in my whole house. Frank came running in. I thought i had sliced open my vein, the suicide vein, and I had this surreal sad moment of thinking in wonderment “is this when i die?” and realizing thats probably how most people react when about to die (with amazement), and that theres no reason whatsoever that I “couldn’t possibly” die in this moment; people die constantly, why not me, right now? I predominantly felt dumb, and sad for the dog, and sad for the old man to come in and find me in a pool of blood with the water running in the sink.

So at this point I bet 3 total seconds had passed. I remember it in slow motion obviously, as one does. Then I was like “wait a second lets at least TRY not to die,” then I thought “what do i do?” then I remembered how comforted I’ve always been by the fact that we live across from an emergency room!! OH YEAH!!!!!

In retrospect I probably was in no danger of dying, I mean, obviously. But there really was so much blood it was terrifying. I’ve led a sheltered life, but still, i’d never seen so much blood, of course its going to scare a dude who is not, like, a marine or Laura Ingalls Wilder. So I didn’t think about anything but getting to the ER. I was also dimly aware of not wanting to get blood on the carpet. So I ran out the door with no shoes on or anything and just ran down the street with my arm above my head and blood POURING down. In fact on the way home hours later we followed my blood trail from the door of the ER all the way home, along the whole sidewalk, up our front steps, and across the porch. Gary said “see? All this time we’ve thought the blood on the sidewalks downtown was from frat boys fighting but really it’s just been people having legitimate emergencies!” lol

Pedestrians were literally leaping out of my way, one lady jumped into a bush. I got to the ER and was so relieved it actually was an ER and that our joke about the sign that says “emergency breast imaging” was just a joke. The people in the ER also leaped out of my way–a bad sign. I stood there looking at everyone and then I said the immortal words:

“I just did this.”

After that it was like a beautiful calm dream. Doctors instantly appeared and wrapped my arm in towels that almost immediately got soaked through. They put me on a table and propped my wrapped arm on a pillow, which also got soaked through. How could I be losing this much blood and its still not a dangerous amount? The body is amazing.

One man injected the wound with anasthetic while a younger med-student type dude gave me a sponge bath. THAT IS HOW MUCH BLOOD THERE WAS. He even had to wash my feet and the bottoms of my feet. It was horrific, like I had slaughtered an animal. My pants are ruined, needless to say.

Everyone was so calm and nice, but at this point, having reached safety, I started to think. What if I severed whatever puppet strings hold my fingers together? WHAT IF I NEVER WALK AGAIN EEEEEEEEEEEEE? etc. Three doctors prodded my wound, a disgusting feeling–a strong tugging sensation inexcusably deep inside my arm, ughhh–and conferred, scaring me more. “Aaah, uh-huh, see, she cut through the muscle belly.” “Yeah. Does she have [some phrase referring to thumb use ability]?” “Dunno, haven’t checked yet.” NOOOO!! OMG!!

But then they had me do finger exercises and said “it’s probably fine.” The guy who gave me the sponge bath patted me reassuringly then asked me if I’d “looked at it” (meaning the wound). Me: “Ugh. It looks like a shark bite.” Him (professionally): “Have you been bitten by a shark?” Me: “What?? No”

Also there was this moment where they learned I was a musicologist:

“I bet you’re especially nervous about your hand, then, because of your profession.”
“What instrument do you play?”
“(???)…oh, I thought you meant typing.”
“[blank stare]”

I began to realize I really should contact the old man. I suddenly remembered that he was going to come home to puddles of blood and broken dishes and the front door open and he was going to think I’d been murdered/kidnapped. Plus the dog needed his dinner. I didn’t get reception on my phone but the sponge-bath man brought me a cordless. I informed my surprised husband and then felt better. Then they left me alone for awhile while they conferred with an orthopedic guy about stitching procedure. I had the presence of mind to take some photos with my phone. So lucky my phone was in my pocket when this all happened! It was in my pocket because I was going to call Steve back after the dishes were done. “If only I had called him first, maybe this wouldnt have happened!” This sent me on a “Sliding Doors”esque mental rampage. “If I’d bought that keyboard I wanted I wouldnt have had room in my bag for those damn bowls” “If I’d been sick in bed with typhus I never would have gone to the store where the bowls were”

Or, as gary later pointed out, “If you just did things calmly and with care you wouldnt have broken the dish at all.”

Can we pause to admire how fucking RAZOR SHARP Ikea pottery apparently is?? Jesus Christ. Word to the wise.

While laying on my bed I saw a gurney go by with a very old woman on it, then a minute later a gurney went by in opposite direction with a tiny little girl on it. Amazing.

So anyway after another hour gary showed up and i thought i would cry. i wanted to see him so bad but didnt want to be dramatic on the phone. My goal was to be so calm that the doctors would be impressed with my fortitude. I dont think I succeeded (my cries of “UGH!! OH GOD THATS SO SICK” prob didnt help)

gary said he’d cleaned up all the blood and fed the dog.

“was there blood on the kitchen floor?”
“what about the sink?”
“all over the sink”
“what about the carpet?”
“what about the front door?”
“…..well. glad thats all covered.”

Then he said he had to leave because he can’t deal with gaping flesh wounds. Sponge-bath doc was clearly astounded that anyone would ever choose NOT to look at gaping flesh wounds (“it looks so cool!” he protested as gary left). After this he obviously had the idea that gary was unstable and very sensitive. When it was all over he tenderly washed more blood off my hands, saying “there we go….dont want your husband getting upset.” He wasnt being mean! He was being sweet! Worried about my husband! Hilarious. Poor Gary.

Thank god for Gary though. He came, dealt with the insurance, went and got all my pills (antibiotics, which I hate!!! But gangrene is worse), ordered me a pizza, undressed me, helped me tie a plastic bag over my cast so i could shower at least some of the remaining blood off me (today i am seeing some spots i missed, including underneath the fingernails of my wounded hand, which means i cant clean them until wednesday at earliest GROSSSSS). He has been a whale of a buddy. All night whenever I stirred he’d wake up and go “HONEY? HONEY ARE YOU OK, WHAT DO YOU NEED”

So anyway they stitched it up. TWENTY STITCHES! Doesnt that seem like a lot?? I guess I have nothing to compare it to. I also abruptly realized I am going to have an EPIC scar. “Oh yeah,” said sponge bath guy, “its gonna be NICE.”

The stitching was gross because he had to stitch the muscle back together, then the fatty tissue that covers the muscle, then the skin. And all the while someone down the hall was vomiting with incredible violence. I kept thinking “boy I’m glad I’m not THAT guy.”

Then they put me in a kind of cast that holds my hand and fingers in a position that holds the muscle together where stitched. Disgusting. The cast is very uncomfortable and i dont get it off for days. I find out wednesday if there is muscle/nerve damage and if i can take off cast. jesus. It goes without saying that i am intensely hoping there is no permanent fingers/muscle damage.

Finally it was time to go. I signed my name with a pathetic left-hand scrawl, received a painful tetanus shot (jesus! hurts worse than the arm, now (is that bad sign??)), then walked home still barefoot with dried blood all over me.

Watched Life of Brian, took vicodin, went to bed, slept surprisingly well considering uncomfortable cast, 20 stitches, etc.

evryone at the ER was so lovely, especially sponge bath guy. It felt very funny to walk out of there, barefoot and filthy, past all the computers and beeping machines, and to wave goodbye to all my new pals. “Hang loose dude!” Sponge bath guy goes “You’re gonna be okay!” What a cute dude.

I did eventually call steve, who was properly amazed by my excuse as to why I hadnt called when I said I would. He also pointed out that if I HAD, I wouldnt have hurt myself. I KNOW THIS. Then he got PULLED OVER while talking to me! What a crazy day! He called back in a minute. The cop pulled him over for being on his phone.

“Well did you tell him you were talking to your friend who had an arm emergency?”
“Yes! ‘To the bone,’ I told him. ’20 stitches.’ I told him everything!”
“Was he impressed?”
“OH yeah. Didn’t give me a ticket either. He asked if you needed him to get an ambulance and I had to tell him it wasnt that kind of emergency and you were in a different state. Still didnt give me a ticket.”


Fiona has just texted to tell me I’m going to be okay.

I typed this one-handed, I’ve been working on it for over an hour. It gave me something to do though so “it’s all good”

now what can i do? The idea of reading this freud i’m supposed to read is strangely appealing. I just wrote the most emo scrawly list imaginable on a post it with my left hand for the old man. “Bread. Avocado. Book. Movie?”


– chance for me and my left hand to get to know each other
– i live across the street from the emergency room
– didnt cut nerves or tendons (presumably)
– didnt cut suicide vein
– just finished book proposal and syllabus, dont need to type for awhile
– wasnt wearing nice clothes
– have badass health insurance for only 3 more weeks!! great timing thank god
– still have two of those great bowls left



on an unrelated note, does anyone know how to make a dog fart less?? I feel like snoopy farts more than is normal. What does he need?? yogurt? something else?? its insane this guy’s farts

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20 Responses to the best time i lived across the street from the emergency room

  1. cdog says:

    that. is. horrifying. I definitely would have instantly passed out then bled to death and died. I’m glad you didn’t.

  2. freddy says:

    Oh my stars and whiskers! That is terrible!!! I hope everything works out and you can play the accordion again!

  3. Cindy says:

    HOLY SHIT, how is that possible?! By washing a bowl? I’m never doing anything again, ever. Jesus.

    But, really, I’m with sponge bath dude–how could you not look?

  4. Josh says:


  5. eileen says:

    Holy crap, dude!! I am also very glad you live across the street from the emergency room!

    & look at the inside of your arm! It totally looks like a movie effect even though clearly it is not. HUMANS: how do they work?


    That is terribly horribly terrifying! I’m so glad you were able to walk (!) to the ER and that your arm didn’t fall off. I scrolled through those pictures with my eyes almost shut, barely getting a glimpse of the gore, and I almost barfed. This could technically be a shark bite.

    I once injured myself in this same way!
    It broke in my hands- now I have a fear of all cracked pottery- and took a fingertip off with it. Down the drain I guess? There was a lot of blood and a lot of shock… I asked my roommate if she thought it seemed “fucked up” and her face was like “ew yes omg get off the carpet”. I didn’t get any stitches because the wound was so wide, there really wasn’t anything to stitch together. The DR. poured some kind of miracle coagulator into the wound crevasse, put a piece of fancy plastic stuff over the top, and then bound my fingertip as tightly as they could with gauze until I screamed. The scar is really small, for such a gaping hole! YAY DOCTORS!

    I’ll be thinking of you and your shark bite, you poor thing.

  7. Marcie says:

    I am so glad you are okay! What an amazing story! Are you going to start casually referring to your shark bite when people at the grocery store look at all your stitches?
    In college I stupidly used my buck knife to get plastic off a curtain rod and had to go to the emergency room all covered in blood. The doctor, amused by my horror and shock, told me that he would be right back because he had to get his bone saw. Weird sense of humor that guy. But I still look at that scar and laugh.
    I hope you heal up soon!

  8. ro6ot says:

    holy shit dude!?!?!
    didn’t even finish reading yet, skipped down to the pictures after getting to the part where “couldn’t deal with gaping flesh wounds / spongebath-squarepants said it looks so cool” and I gotta tell ya, I would srsly upgrade yr warning to more along the lines of “seriously, even if you AREN’T a weenie, you might want to set your computer on something stable so you don’t accidentally throw it to the ground / faint” or something.
    G.D!! so glad you live right there!! fuuuck.
    ok gonna skip back up and read the rest now.

  9. hannah f says:

    holy shit
    holy shit

  10. hannah f says:

    but also “one lady jumped into a bush” is so funny. DAMN! is she ok? thank god she was right near the emergency room, too!

  11. Jessica H. says:

    I am so glad you are ok, and also that you are going to live to tell this great story. My only stab wound happened when I was 18 and a little drunk and I was playing a prank on the roommate that lived in the living room that my other roommate and I did not like (he was into musical theatre, “devil went down to georgia” and worked at dennys, once walked in on him pleasuring himself while watching battlestar gallactica)–I fell off the ladder I was using to glue his cigarettes to the ceiling. Stabbed myself in the top of the butt, could have been worse, did not need stitches.

    I mean, purely FYI.


  12. kim says:

    I’m relieved to hear that you seem okay, and that you ran as fast as possible to an emergency room!!! Wow!!!

    That wound is something else. You can see the fatty tissue! Wish I could help in some way other than exclamatory statements. Take care, little dude!

  13. kerry says:

    OMFGGGG HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?? It’s so fucking deep it’s like staring into an abyss of mauled flesh!!! Did you like spaz your hand like I tend to do when I drop stuff and jam it up against the shard?? Oh my god this could have been meeeee

  14. kerry says:

    p.s. livestrong dude and do your PT!!

  15. Steve says:

    Pretty glad you didn’t die at the hands of a noodle bowl.

  16. 4242 says:

    I suffered nearly the same exact injury 14 years ago after falling through a glass coffee table which was apparently not a load-bearing glass coffee table. Mine was more on the underside of the arm than yours and they didn’t give me a cast but the wound looked just like yours. I just took a picture of the scar so you might have some idea what you’re in for in that department:

    I think they did a bad job removing the stitches which made my scar worse but whatever, it’s a badass scar. People are afraid to ask me about it because they think maybe I tried to kill myself. It’s just as well because “I fell through a coffee table” is such a bad story. It’s certainly no “I was cleaning a bowl.”

    • Yours Truly says:

      whoa!!! it looks like a centipede!! maybe you could say you fell through a coffee table onto a centipede that was on fire…?

  17. megan says:


    This is what happened last night: I started reading this post at Matt’s computer with the bedroom comforter wrapped around my shoulders and immediately became engrossed/horrified. Matt kept yelling from the bedroom, “I want to go to sleep but I’m coooooold” and I just ignored him because I could not believe what I was reading and I wanted to get to the pictures!
    A truly incredible story/wound.

  18. Mary R. says:

    The pictures in this post made my girlfriend cry. She is a wiener, but in her defense, I feel like she’s a little bit of a “Gary.” It’s kind of a laugh-cry. We both agree with the description of “shark bite.”

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