I spoke too soon.
Yesterday afternoon, I told my mother that so far I had enjoyed quite a wonderful emergency-free day. For years, on or right around my birthday, I have been facing some kind of crisis: moving, learning my once-upon-a time-husband has been fired (again), the emergency room… just to name a few. My mother quickly counseled that the day was not over yet.
“It’s 5 PM,” I said, “What could possibly go wrong?”
Fast forward two and half-hours. We had company for birthday dinner, the table was loaded with plates and steaming platters, and my (current) husband stood over broken shards of pottery. There was blood seeping from two fingers. There were spots of blood on the floor. I followed him to the sink, grabbed a cotton towel, and announced the need for a visit to the emergency room.
He wasn’t having it. He wanted to eat his dinner first. He taped closed the cuts on his bloody fingers and sat down over steak. The bandaid was visibly saturated.
“Well,” I said, “I did say I preferred my meat a little bloody.”
Watching him cut his food with his sliced fingers made me queasy, and I was antsy to get his hand treated. When the meal was over, company agreed to stay with our little people so we could attend the local quick-clinic.
“Stay,” encouraged my spouse.
“Are you crazy? If I had cut my hand open you would not allow me to drive alone to the doctor. I’m going.”
“Really,” he said, “you don’t have to go.”
I cannot remember my exact words, but they involved the grand revelation that under no circumstances was a man who tried to cut his fingers off going alone to the doctor while I sat eating cake at home, and nothing he could say was going to change my mind. I was in the car, engine cranked, before he could even fumble for his wallet.
At the doctor’s, my husband sat on the patient bed (what does one call those things?) with his legs dangling over the sides. I thought of my children. He held his hand out to the physician’s assistant.
“Texas chainsaw massacre,” I said.
At one point, I turned to the PA and told her my husband needed a lollipop for being a good boy. She offered a sticker, but we weren’t done yet. He still had to prove himself. She soaked his hand in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, checked his wounds, taped them shut again, and we waited for the doctor.
In minutes, the doctor came, pulled the curtain closed behind him and stared seriously at us through his little gold rimmed glasses. His last name was mostly consonants. I think he had called the Russians before entering our room. News may have traveled that a man in his fifties wanted a sticker, and he was here to investigate. I sat with my husband as we cracked joke after joke and barely got a curl out of one side of the doctor’s mouth. When he left, I told my husband that I certainly thought his bravery had earned him a sticker, not that his doctor would think so at all, and to look on the bright side… we just had a date without having to pay a sitter.
My husband survived my birthday night with cut fingers, a tetanus shot, but no stitches. He was warned to do nothing with his hand for a few days—no water, no real activity of any kind (baby, what else might that hinder?) and I escorted my lovable patient back out to the car and opened his door for him.
On the way home, he leaned to me and said, “I am so glad I could make your birthday complete.”
Yes, you did, sweetheart. It will long live in memory.