Monday, February 28, 2005

Trauma, Life In the ER

Before I tell you about today, I have to say two things.

1. If you have a weak stomach, go watch Everybody Loves Raymond,
2. I didn’t do this in order to create material for this blog.

This morning, post-shower, I was standing in the bathroom, jamming a foot into a shoe while brushing my hair and (and this is where people who know me start to wince) gently using a Q-tip on the outside of my ear. I don’t know exactly what happened, but somehow the Q-tip caromed off the hairbrush and ended up deeply embedded in my ear, leaving me with a sensation of, well…a large cotton object jammed in a small area. Sorry, but the pain involved left little room for metaphor. My ear has been steadily leaking blood all day, which is apparently fairly normal for a punctured eardrum. Other than that, as open wounds go, it’s pretty low-key, although there is an odd breeziness on that side of my head. Yes, Mother, I do have an appointment with my ENT Doctor tomorrow- but according to the medical websites, (a) they do heal on their own, (b) no one should ever use a Q-tip. You know the saddest part of this? This isn’t my strangest injury. This isn’t even in the top ten.

Some combination of being naturally quick-moving and being fairly oblivious to my surroundings combines to make me the scourge of insurance companies. In my mid-twenties, I had my tonsils removed (another story, but doesn’t getting an Academy Award nomination at nine and your tonsils out at twenty-six prove exactly how backward I am?), and had gone to my local hospital for the pre-op paperwork. The nurse punched in my Social Security number, and the screen filled with information. “What is that?” I asked. “That’s all the times that you have been admitted to our Emergency Room” said the nurse. I started scanning it. There was the spider bite that went septic, and there was the cracked rib when I was playing with the dog. Oh, and falling up stairs on my way to a fencing lesson and putting my foil point into my shinbone. The time that I was trying to clean up a broken water glass when I had bare feet, got some glass in my rather grubby foot, and decided to sterilize it with tequila. Wow, the lizard bite, which the Doctor told me that he had never seen before. Four concussions, one of which I didn’t remember, but that’s a concussion for you.

Good times.

Nothing has ever been life-threatening; I have never started walking towards the light. They are always just one hill away from killing me; I’m not on Death's door, but I can see it from where I am standing. This might be part of the reason why I never indulged in some of the more potentially lethal forms of adolescent entertainment. If you have already been cut out of a car that has melded with the center divider of the Long Beach freeway, you can only assume that you’ve used up all of your vehicular luck. I have had five cars totaled out underneath me, which makes it difficult to convince people to carpool with me.

“Thanks Quinn, but I’ve been meaning to try out the Los Angeles bus system!”

Really, though, I have been a passenger in four of five of those cars, which should make people rest easy about driving with me. Although, I probably just gave up any chance of being offered a ride anywhere, ever.

Oddly enough, I have only broken one bone, my little toe. I did it by walking the horse that I was riding through a river, and choosing to use my foot as a place to guide the hoof of a 1,500 pound animal. I guess that you can lead a horse to water, but only Quinn needs Vicodin afterwards.

But here’s the good news. First of all, I am not dead. I have a marvelous pain threshold. I rarely become terribly upset when I get injured; the sheer repetition of wounds leaves me feeling an emotion closer to boredom, so I am not one of those people in the ER who is stressing everyone else out by screaming “My liver is exploding!” I may be holding my abdomen together with a Kleenex, but I’m doing a crossword puzzle. I even have my own personal protocol for hospital trips based upon the fact that I don’t want my loved ones frightened by hearing some nurse say “I am calling from Cedars-Sinai, are you related to a Kim Cunningham?”, so I insist on making my own call. I might be tied to a board waiting for an MRI, but as long as they haven’t wired my jaw shut, my telephone voice can exude health and vigor.

And then I can hear the loved one sigh very softly and say “Oh God, Quinn, what did you do now?”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going back and reading some of your older posts...How exactly did you incur four concussions? I've had three, includig one that occured when a mirror fell off a wall and landed on my head. I'm not sure if it's a lack of grace or bad luck or some unfortunate combination of the two...Please drive safely..or ride safely. Both?

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aloha, ya'll! Be safe, but always have fun and enjoy the life God gave you!

3:55 PM  

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