A true story...
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A true story...
Entered on: 04/26/1998
My Friday night started on Friday morning when I started bleeding. I
was running late for work, and like any self-respecting caffeine
addict, I took my coffee into the shower with me to save time. Of
course, I dropped the cup in the shower and it smashed into a hundred
pieces; two which of the pieces lodged themselves squarely in the side
of my upper-foot. The bloody-water washing down the drain was
somewhat reminiscent of the shower scene from Psycho.
But being the stupid tough-guy, army-brat, war-horse, accident-prone,
quick-healer that I've always been, I decided that the steady flow of
blood was something that could be dealt with simply with direct
pressure and a bandage. The wound was right on top of the
"foot-ankle-pivot-bone" (my word). But I didn't have a bandage.
Looking for something to dress the cut with, I wandered around the
apartment for awhile but had no success in anything other than leaving
a trail of blood from the bathroom, into the kitchen, to the bedroom,
the living room, on my over-due credit card bill!
So I did the only obvious thing: I chopped up a washcloth and tapped it
around my ankle. Off I went to work.
I was still bleeding and I knew it, but it had slowed. By noon it was
time to check the bandage and the cut. So I unwrapped the tape and
removed the washcloth. The cut had almost stopped bleeding and
beginning to clot, so it was time to now time to wash it briskly and
un-clot all the healing. It began to bleed again with renewed vigor
and gusto. I started to think to myself, "Gee, I hope I didn't sever
But it didn't hurt: It NEVER hurt. I think that's why I just tapped
it back up with a fresh tattered washcloth and went back to work in
stead of seeking medical attention. But work was beginning to be a
See, I do work at Harvard, which does have a relatively low number of
employees who bleed on the job. I didn't feel uncomfortable because
I was in pain (because I wasn't), but rather because I was concerned
what Harvard would think of me if they knew I was bleeding. Maybe I
wouldn't get that job I've been interviewing for!? Old Mother Harvard
can be rather finicky and she's held lesser things against me in the
So I gutted it out, still feeling certain that when I checked the
bandage again at 5:00 that the bleeding would have stopped.
4:55: The bleeding hadn't stopped. What's worse, I was running out
of tape (if I only had brought duct tape!). So I put on my last make
shift bandage, finishing off the work day, and decided that I'd better
go to the hospital and have this thing looked at. I remember feeling
how silly it would be if I died walking home from bleeding to death from
a 10 hour old would.
But I had plans with Holly to go out for Burritos at Boca Grande and
then candle-pin bowling in Somerville. First things first. The ER
could wait; my Burrito couldn't. I walked to Porter Square. My hiking
boot was now rather squishy.
I met Holly at Boca Grande and played a little game called "guess which
two off the following three statements is Bullshit:"
I said, "Holly one of the following is true:
1) I'm really an CIA Agent,
2) I'm bleeding profusely and need to go to the Hospital immediately, or
3) CTI called me today, apologized, and offered me my job back with a
Holly replied: "Congratulations!"
I explained that I really WAS bleeding profusely but that it was
nothing to worry about and we should eat some Burritos and worry about
it later, that perhaps bowling was out tonight. She agreed, and she
didn't seem overly concerned.
So we ate -- slowly -- and had a good conversation. We eventually
left and tried to catch a cab that would take us to Mt. Auburn's
cushy, sterile Emergency Room but there were no cabs to be found. So
we walked back to Harvard Square and decided that since we were
already at Harvard, that maybe it would be best to just take the Bus
to Boston City Hospital since I live right across the street from it.
That's what we decided to do.
My boot was REALLY squishy now, so I got on the bus and I tried to
keep my foot elevated thinking that might have some positive effects.
The bus was crowded so the best I could do was cross my leg onto my
upper thigh. There happened to be a horrible accident on the Mass
Ave. Bridge that night which slowed traffic immensely. While we were
waiting on the bridge, Holly and I were engaged in some other
non-related interesting conversation when she exclaimed,"
"Holy Shit, Jim!"
- - and she pointed to my upper thigh. Apparently, all the elevating
the foot did was redirect the flow of blood from the sole of my boot
to the top of the boot, and blood was now spilling out from my filled
boot onto my nice Khaki pants.
I looked up and suddenly noticed a sea of some extremely un-amused
faces on the bus. But there were two very nice but notably stupid
girls on next to me who dared to speak to the bleeding guy on the
MBTA. She said:
Feeling like I actually did OWE these people an explanation of why I
was bleeding on their bus; I considered telling my entire story. My
mind instantly paged forward to the part about going for a Burrito
when I still had plenty of time to get to the Hospital before rush
hour, and decided to keep things short.
I said: "It's long story. "
She replied: "You know, it's really bad when you won't stop bleeding."
Instead of telling her how stupid a thing that was to say, instead of
screaming "Don't you think I know that?!" I suddenly realized that
clearly I DIDN'T realize that or else I wouldn't have been bleeding
all over the fucking MBTA! So I smirked and glanced at Holly who was
in tears of laughter. I told Holly that if I died tonight, would she
please have the words, " It's bad when you won't stop bleeding"
engraved on my tombstone.
We made it to the Hospital without other incident; but I was beginning
to turn a little green from a combination of embarrassment and the
sight of my own blood all over my pants.
Then it was time for Triage. After explaining the cut to the nurse,
it was time to dress the would properly. Unfortunately, the Triage
room is right off the waiting room. If the people waiting for their
loved ones so desire, they can watch Triage patients be treated.
Therefore, I had an audience. Remember, these people have been in the
Boston City Hospital Waiting Room for HOURS watching bad Friday night
television, which is analogous to spending a month in a de-sensitivity
chamber. They were at their wits end and demanded entertainment. I
As the nurse un-raveled my bandage and revealed a bloodier wound than
even I had imagined, the crowd in the waiting room began to give
commentary. "Ooh Gross!" "Look at that!" "Oh Man!" One older black
lady just stamped her feet and laughed and pointed. What could I do?
I smiled. Once even, I waved.
After three stitch-like devices (but not quite stitches...the new
technology is pretty neat), Holly and I went home exhausted to watch
TV. But through this day I had forgotten that the Cable had been
disconnected the day before because I let the bill slide. So we just
sat on the couch for a while...
The rest of my weekend was spent drinking lots of fluids and consuming
loads of calories, on the advice of my doctor, to help my body make up
for the pint of blood or so I lost on Friday. A transfusion was not
required. I suppose that there is no moral to this, but maybe just
some advice: Try not to die on the MBTA, if it can be avoided. Your
fellow passengers will appreciate it.
Jim's latest web site....
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James R. Nourse is editor of The Case Against. (http://www.case-against.com)
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