I am accident-prone, I admit it. I rush around too much, I don't think before I leap, I'm the one whose foot always finds the banana peel. Fortunately, as I've aged the accidents (I don't mean car accidents! I do drive very carefully.) have become less common, and rarely lead to the ER visits of my youth. Really I think you could call a lot of my accidents "stupidents", because mostly they have been entirely preventable.
Take last night. I foolishly decided to carry my cat Julius up the stairs to our bedroom, which was completely dark. Why bother turning on a light? Well, because if you don't turn on the light, you run the risk of kicking a wooden box filled with books, foolishly left on the floor (by guess who) near the top of the stairs. And then you think, "That wasn't so painful!" until you get to the bathroom and start brushing your teeth and realize that your toe hurts... because half the nail has been apparently lifted off the nail bed, and is bleeding.
I had another cat-related stupident in 2004, when I thought it would be fun to carry my darling Zoë downstairs in the laundry basket in which she'd been sleeping. We had only lived in that house a few months, and so I was not entirely familiar with that staircase. In addition, I was singing to my cat (don't ask) and distracted. I missed the bottom two steps, and flexed my foot so far back that when I hit the floor, I was almost walking on the top of my foot. One very painful torn ankle ligament later, and with a few months enforced rest from the gym, I vowed not to carry cats in laundry baskets downstairs. Yet still I have apparently not learned that cats, me and stairs don't mix! Be a fool once, shame on me. Be a fool twice... shame on... ME! Same goes for thrice.
My accident career started fairly early in life, although the first time I visited an ER, it wasn't my fault! I was seven, and my Dad was mowing the back lawn of our new house. I went to the back gate and just as I opened it, Dad hit something with the mower. It flew through the air, broke my glasses and hit my eyebrow. I started screaming and my Dad thought I was just being a brat until he looked up from his mowing to see blood streaming down my face. I can still remember the orange facecloth I held to my bleeding brow as we raced off to the hospital. They cleaned out my eye to make sure there was no broken glass in there (these were the days before plastic glass lenses) and I got to wear an eye-patch for about a week. I was exceedingly lucky not to lose an eye, nor do I have any apparent scar. As it turned out, the object that hit me was a piece of metal left by the people who installed our neighbours' new chain-link fence. Ouch! I still hate lawnmowers.
There are other stupidents. How about March Break 1974? My single mother was at work, so I, aged 10, decided to make myself some cuppa soup (Lipton beef noodle, as I recall) and watch TV. I sat on the floor with my drink and thought I could safely balance the mug on my knee (my legs being bent with feet on the floor.) Oh, it balanced all right, for about five seconds. Then the boiling hot soup tipped over my leotard-clad right thigh. Ah, a new definition for pain! I hopped around screaming, ripped off my tights (and some skin), then called my mother in tears as I looked at my hideously blistered thigh. Off to the ER! Bandages and creams for quite some time, and again I was lucky: no lasting scar from my huge second-degree burn.
And how about the time I was old enough to know better (13) but thought it would be fun to run barefoot on the old wooden dock by our boat? Yep, I slipped, and got so many splinters embedded in my foot that we had to stop at a hospital on the way home. The ER doc was totally unsympathetic to my crying as he numbed my foot by sticking two needles into the sole and heel. Try that sometime. On second thought, don't. I think I should have kept the splinters instead! With some effort, they managed to dig them all out, and home we went. Tell me THAT one wasn't completely preventable.
There have been other ER visits, including one for food poisoning in Montreal when I was 28. I became so weak from sudden constant vomiting and diarrhea that I passed out. My blood pressure dropped. It was the middle of winter and we lived in a third-floor walk-up. They needed two ambulance crews to get my stretcher down the icy, metal, OUTDOOR stairs. Heroes, I tell you! As soon as I got to the hospital, I vomited yet again and the triage folks decided to put me ahead of the poor guy in the waiting room with the bleeding head wound. Gordon loved that one.
The lesson I learned from this episode? Don't put salsa and sour cream out at a party, then put them back in the fridge, then take them out and eat them a week later because you're on a tight grocery budget, unless of course you're into IV therapy, exploratory gastric tubes, and surprise rectal exams.
I also learned that if I passed out, my loyal dog Chelsea would not lick my face to bring me back to consciousness, and dial 911 with her paw? Nope, she just ran and hid. Fortunately Gordon showed up before too long.
I again went to the ER in Montreal when I sliced through my thumb with an Exacto knife at work one day. Luckily graphic designers switched to computers around that time, and we no longer had to work with knives on a daily basis! This has been a blessing for my digits.
Ah, the memories. So many stupidents, so little time. These days I just do little things, like burning my arm on a hot rack while putting cakes in the oven (I have a scar from one of Gordon's birthdays, and another from one Christmas I forget!), or carrying a cat on my shoulder to keep him up above the new dogs, only to get scratched on my face and scalp when said cat freaks out at the dogs and uses my head as a launching pad to "safety." I still have a scar from THAT on my forehead, but of course it only happened a few months ago. Surely it will improve. Some idiots never learn.
It's a miracle that people didn't think I was an abused child... or maybe they did! But fortunately the abuse was all my own doing. I have more-or-less safely made it to middle age, and I am trying to be more careful. Honest! Last night's toenail-ripping must have been the box's fault. What idiot left it there at the top of the stairs anyway?
There's a reason I don't own a chainsaw.