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Friday, December 4, 2015



     I have a rule, Rule No. 67, that states, "What doesn't kill you, usually really, really hurts." This was certainly true a couple weeks ago when I ended up in the emergency room at Northern Westchester Hospital. I will spare you the sordid details of how I ended up there, but if I had started there, it would have saved me a lot of time.

     I had sustained a laceration to the proximal phalanx of my digitus minimus manus. Okay, I cut my pinkie finger on a beer glass. The EMT told me it couldn't be saved- my beer, not the pinkie. I was whisked away by ambulance, and if you've never been whisked, you don't know what you're missing. Since it wasn't that serious, they didn't use the siren and considered stopping at 7-11 for some snacks.

     Let me tell you that a real E.R. is nothing like the television drama. For one thing, my nurse did not look like Julianna Margulies. My nurse was a dude, and he looked like he knew his way around a Harley pretty good. Also, no one yelled "Suction!" during my visit, although I did yell "This sucks!" a number of times. My vital signs never flat-lined, although some of my jokes did. I thought I heard the doctor say "Stat!" But it turned out he said "What's that?" (the nurse had the new iphone).

     The doctor explained that he was going to use a local anesthesia, and that it was going to hurt. Well what's the point of that? I told him to use the express, and let's get it over with. He said he could knock me out using his shoe, it was all the same to him.

     When he stuck that Lidocaine needle into my finger, I screamed like a seven year-old girl. A seven year-old girl who, very mature for her age, knew a LOT of disturbing words that say pretty much the same thing. A seven year-old girl who was not going to earn a merit badge in bravery.

     I know the E.R. doctor has heard everything there is to be heard, and I know that he did not take all the things I screamed about his immediate relatives personally, because his expression did not change. If he did take them personally, he did not seem to particularly disagree with them.

     He spent a good long time stitching me up. I thought to myself (I never think to anyone else) that this guy must have spent hundreds of hours in a classroom training for this moment. He probably spent some time in medical school, but I'm talking about home economics courses here. This guy could really sew. I could swear he put a hem in my pinkie.

     Now, there are some things in life that look best with a minimum of dressing. The Miss America swimsuit competition, for instance, or a really expensive salad. But a laceration is not one of them. He was goint to stick a couple band-aids on the thing, but I made him doll it up a couple of gauze pads short of "The Invisible Man." I am okay with wearing white after Labor Day.

     I had some minor nerve damage, and I was referred to a plastic surgeon who could fix it. The doctor told me that I would have a scar, and when he saw the look on my face, he said that on the bright side, he could do a procedure to take fat out of my butt cheeks and put it near my eyes that would make me look happy about it. Luckily, I have enough back there to put a happy face on every man, woman and child in the state of Rhode Island.

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