Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How Well Do You Hold Up in a Crisis?

I love to cook. So much so that each week I try out at least 2-3 new recipes on my family. Some weeks I have all home runs, and other weeks I just strike out completely. This week was a home run week - we had Bourbon chicken, baked fried chicken, and roasted broccoli. Everyone, including my picky eater (who we call Picky Patty), loved all the recipes.

For Christmas I got my first mandolin...and I don't mean the musical instrument. I had visions of paper thin veggies dancing in my head. For some reason, I forgot all about it until I came across a crockpot recipe for scalloped potatoes. I was giddy with excitement at the prospect of breaking out the mandolin for it's maiden voyage.

The boys were out and Mimi was snuggled up on the couch with a good book so I took to the kitchen, filled with excitement for using my new Christmas toy. The one thing I have heard is how sharp these are so I spent extra time figuring out how it worked. It did come with this odd top that didn't seem to fit over the potato so I decided to forego that and just get going.

It was so smooth, it didn't even seem like it was slicing the potatoes. I peeked at my plate underneath and sure enough, there lay these beautifully thin slices of potatoes. I could barely contain my excitement! So, I went back to my slicing and was close to the end of the potato when it got stuck.

Have you ever had that flash right before your eyes of what was about to happen but you just couldn't stop it? Here were my thoughts in the span of 30 seconds: Potato stuck, watch the blade, use finger to move potato...and then wham, I sliced a piece of my finger right off.

I quickly went to the sink and ran water on it. Sure, there was a little blood...and boy it hurt. I got a paper towel and held it over the cut and it quickly became pink. I took a look...uh oh. I think I have been clear on this blog that I don't do well with blood. If your break your leg and your bone is hanging in a weird direction, give me a call. If you have some crazy rash that has swelled your arm to twice its size, I'm your gal. If you have any sort of cut or wound that is spouting any amount of blood, don't even think of calling me. Jack is like me...but Mimi, well, I wasn't sure. Well, on Sunday I found out how she handles it.

Trying to keep my fear from showing, I asked Mimi to run up and get me a bandaid and then added in a crazy I'm-calm-but-freaking-out voice "I cut myself pretty good." She bolted upstairs and came back with a sparkly silver band aid. Perfect. I ran some more water on it, put the paper towel back on, and when she was ready, I gave her my finger so she could bandage me. Unfortunately, as she pressed on it, blood came spurting out. It was a moment straight out of a cartoon. Both sets of our eyes came out of their sockets and we froze. I put the paper towel back on and started murmuring, "It's okay...this is's okay." Mimi responded with "Do you want me to call Daddy?" I told her that would be good but when she called him, he didn't answer.

At this point I was pacing the kitchen with big cat eyes, still muttering to myself about how I was fine and it was all going to be okay. Mimi asked "Should you sit down?" while I continued to pace. Little did I know that she was wondering what she would do if I passed out. I was wondering if I should call 911 but knew it wasn't that bad and that there was nothing that could be done...there was no skin to stitch back on because it was lying on top of my perfectly sliced potatoes. Finally I said "Let's try Daddy again" and Mimi quickly dialed. This time he picked up and Mimi said casually, "Hey Daddy, I was just calling because Mom cut her finger off and it's bleeding." I quickly took the phone and told him that I cut wasn't that bad..but wouldn't stop bleeding. Then I lost it a little and said in a teary voice "it's really know how I feel about blood". I knew I needed to remain calm for Mimi but the blood was getting to me.

Tim is the best person in a crisis. The kids asked me one day if I thought he would run if the house was on fire. None of us think he would. He is just always cool and collected. He told me to keep applying pressure, put my hand higher my heart, and to just relax...he would be home in 5 minutes. I immediately felt better and so did Mimi apparently because she started chattering on about the bunny and how cute she was and invited me into the playroom to visit with her.

This immediately reminded me of the time that our cat Gracie died. We had gone on vacation and our friend who was cat sitting never saw her when she came to feed her. On day 2 she called me and because she was an indoor cat, I immediately thought she must have gotten out somehow and I was sure wild wolves were feasting on her. Turns out, she had gone into the basement to die and my friend's husband found her 2 days later. When Margaret called to tell me they had found the cat, we were having dinner at a restaurant. She told me very gently but it was obvious to Tim and the kids what had happened. I immediately started crying but tried to stay quiet. Mimi and Tim started talking about how good the burgers were "These are the best, aren't they Daddy?"..."They really are! I think these are the best burgers we ever had"...meanwhile Jack curled up in the fetal position on the banquet and began sobbing while I ran to the bathroom to bawl. Jackie and I = a pea in the pod. Timmy and Mimi = another pea in a pod.

So, there she was working on distracting me because it was easier than dealing with feelings and not knowing what to do when Tim and Jack pulled in. Jack ran into the room as though his hair was on fire. "Where is it?! Where is your finger?!" he yells as he starts looking on the floor. Tim saunters in with a few bags of groceries and says "How's it going?" How's it going??!! Uhm, I'm bleeding to death here Timmy!

In the end, it took about 40 minutes to stop bleeding and then Tim bandaged me up. I was really cold so Jack put a blanket on me and layed on the couch with me, rubbing my back. Tim and Mimi chattered away while they put the groceries away in the kitchen as though it was the sunniest, happiest day. I asked Tim to make sure he threw away the potatoes and checked for my finger piece so I didn't have to see it. He assured me it was all taken care of.

Later that night we took the bandage off to rewrap it for the night and when we removed it, the cut had stuck to the bandage and began bleeding like crazy again. We went through the ritual again...pressure, hold hand up, pressure, wrap it up...and then it was time for bed. It was all quiet when I said to Tim, "If I bleed to death in the night, just know that I love you." He couldn't stop laughing. It could have happened....

In the end, the slice wasn't that bad...only about 4 layers of skin are gone. I have a dent in my finger but it will come back. It took two days before it stopped stinging so bad in the shower that I thought I would pass out. The kids aren't scared anymore when they look at it. It's starting to just look like a small cut. It still hurts when I put pressure on it or bang it by accident, which seems to happen alot. When you can't use your thumb, you quickly realize how much you rely on it. Typing on the computer, zipping your coat, taking your watch off, you name it...we use our thumbs alot. I'll never take my thumb for granted again.

On Sunday night when I went to kiss Mimi goodnight I told her what a great job she had done and thanked her for staying calm for me. She said "Yeah, I wasn't sure what to do when you started talking to yourself and walking like a crazy person around the house. I wanted to ask you what to do if you passed out but thought it might not be a good idea." So, we talked about what she could have done in that situation and then I told her she was just like Daddy...great in a crisis. She was very proud of herself, as she should have been.

On Monday I came home and was getting dinner ready. I glanced in the sink and there was the mandolin at the bottom of the sink. I had visions of slicing my finger off just by picking it up. Just looking at it brought back the feeling of the slice. A tingle went right up my spine. Finally, I just reached in to rinse it and put it in the dishwasher. I don't know why but I turned it over, and sure enough, there was the piece of my finger. It had soaked in the water a bit so my fingerprints were incredibly pronounced. It was both fascinating and disgusting. As I threw it out, I thought I was going to faint.

On Tuesday, I was reading Real Simple on the train and there was an article about a great new glove that can help against knife accidents. That is now on my mother's day list. Until then, the mandolin will remain in the drawer.


  1. What a horrible experience. I don't do well with blood either. My whole stomachs starts to feel tight and then I get light headed. Good for Mimi, she'll do find when she has children of her own someday. Glad to know your finger is ok!!

  2. So sorry to hear about your finger, but glad it's better. I have done the same thing, to the same finger (err...thumb, lol) and can totally sympathize!

  3. No idea why the time indicates I'm in CA, lol. I'm in Southeastern Mass, haha.