a stitch in time means dinner will be late

Dear Uma: There might be some truth to your suggestion that I am accident-prone, much as I have resisted the label. And yes, there also seems to be common theme in my mishaps in that they often appear to occur in a strange manner.

Dear Uma:

There might be some truth to your suggestion that I am accident-prone, much as I have resisted the label. And yes, there also seems to be common theme in my mishaps in that they often appear to occur in a strange manner. Believe me, Uma, at the time, there is nothing out of the ordinary going on; I cannot explain how these things happen – the dark forces of evil? alien interventions?

On this most recent occasion I was online, watching a chef demonstrate how to fillet a fish. I had my laptop set up on the kitchen counter so that I could follow her every move whilst filleting the fish I had defrosted. A normal domestic scene, wouldn’t you say? then, in a heartbeat, everything changed.

The kitchen went from being a place of calm focus to a place of blood, sweat and tears. It was the sweat that started it all.

Since the weather has gotten more winter-y we’ve turned up the thermostat, resulting in a house somewhat warmer than I’ve been used to. That morning I’d baked bread, Pete’s favourite cookies, and made the casserole that was to go with the fish we were having for dinner that evening; the oven had been on for hours, making the house really hot.

A great deal of concentration is needed when one is learning a new skill, and like many people, when I concentrate I perspire. When I drip, I wipe the moisture away, as would anyone in similar circumstances. The lesson here is not to wipe one’s forehead when one is gripping a sharp knife in one’s wiping hand. Another interesting aspect of this lesson was learning that under the scalp are spectacular bleeders; the kind that make the blood come out in regular spurts and the kind that when cut, don’t cause pain. Imagine! I sliced open my head and didn’t even feel it! I kept cutting up my fish.

When Pete came into the kitchen for a glass of water he actually hollered, which naturally startled me, causing me to drop the knife on my foot. A mere nick; a Band-Aid took care of it.

I probably don’t want or need to know what Pete thought when he saw me standing at the kitchen counter with blood squirting from the top of my head and a knife in my hand.

It really wasn’t as big a deal as Pete made it out to be: a few stitches, some pain killers, and I am fine. I have always been deeply affected by even a glimpse of my own blood, so I was immediately given something to calm me, which it certainly did, to the point where I demanded a mirror in order to watch the sewing shut of the wound. I was told there was no mirror available and in hindsight I am grateful; some images are better not seen, left in the mind to linger and haunt.

After the operation they sent me home with a little bottle of pain killers. The pills, when swallowed with a wee shot of tequila, my plasma of choice, have made me feel altogether perfect in every way. Along with this feeling of the world being a considerably kindlier place than heretofore, everything is exactly as it should be, it is all marvellous and so am I, comes a shift in my recently expressed views of modern medicine.

Remember my recent diatribe about western medicine and its many shortcomings? I went on and on about the TV commercial which illustrates just how far down the slippery slope the practice of healing has gone in our part of the world; the one where someone gets ill in a restaurant and when his woman friend asks, Is there a doctor here? A man appears and immediately starts asking for an X-ray technician, a MRI technician, and so forth and they all are there and that is supposed to be a good thing. The glaring fault in this surmise was that the doctor didn’t examine the patient at all before calling for the technicians. It went so nicely with the growing awareness than doctors not only don’t physically examine their patients, many of them have no idea how to do so.

I learned that from a doctor friend of my dad’s who decries the way medical students these days are often not taught how to conduct a physical examination of their patients, or how to talk to them. They will order every lab test remotely relevant to a patient’s symptoms but spend as little time as possible with the patient.

I know of lots of people who sought medical help and emerged from their (short) visit without ever having been touched by the doctor, but with a referral to a specialist and/or a mittful of test requisitions or prescriptions. He says many doctors order tests and trips to a specialist without having much of an idea what they are looking for, hence more specialists and more tests – all expensive.

And from there, I recall, I put forth the notion that pain perhaps ought not to be suppressed; pain relief defeats the purpose of pain, I said, which is to inform us something is wrong and to learn about it. Pain is a message, and we should leave the lines clear to hear it, not clog them with drugs.

This from someone with a pain threshold about as high as a hair; someone who curls in a tight ball like a hedgehog at the sight of a needle, even if it is in a movie, and who has to lie down for an hour if she stubs her toe.

I went on to say that how a person deals with pain tells us a great deal about what sort of person he or she is, using the example of men with pierced ears. Someone said a man with a pierced ear is a man who is prepared for marriage: he has experienced pain and bought jewellery.

Forget everything I said in that epistle; when I was in the hospital, slick with blood and tremendously distressed, I would not have welcomed the doctor looking in my ears, peering down my throat, palpitating my abdomen, or anything else they do in a physical examination. And I absolutely did not want to talk to him. He found the cut, sewed it up, and sent me home with a bottle of pills and that was exactly the correct response. And when it comes to pain killers I am now feeling far more pro than anti. Western medicine shines brightest when it comes to pain relief, and for the next day or so I am going to be shining right along with it.

It feels good to not only be free of the pain of my injury, but of all pain, physical or otherwise. Twenty-four hours of television watched from my bed, high on booze and pills, meant I could watch the news all the way through without feeling my stomach clench. All the commercials were clever and fun, with the products and services on offer revealed to be not only beautiful, but necessary to human happiness and well being.

Everything on offer on the boob tube now is brilliant and engrossing. There was a documentary on the birth of a peat bog; I was fascinated, and the mini show about the persimmon festival was full of meaning, and joy. I would have gone on with the feature on aardvark farming, but I needed to nap for a bit.

When I woke, I had more pills and watched more television. I discovered I am a Potentialist, a person who is rethinking what life is all about and finding ways to enrich their lives through meaningful experiences. At last, I have a label (well, two) I can live with, one that accurately describes my true nature and my life’s path. I am an accident-prone Potentialist. My life, at this moment, is being gloriously enriched through this meaningful experience.



Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.