The medical situation-Paul Curran

Some years ago I was boarding at a private home where the sons of the owner were two rowdy boys of about 20 and 25 (John). So one hot weekend day, John came to visit – knocking on my door. He wanted a drinking buddy, so not wanting to disappoint him; I joined him on the back deck. We sat in lawn chairs with our shirts off drinking beer and soaking up the sun. After a half a dozen beer each, John jumped up and announced that he had something for me to check out and said he would be right back. Sure enough. Back he came with a five foot long sword, razor-sharp on both edges. He collected swords and had just acquired this one which looked very real and he was proud of it. He handed it to me, hilt first and sat back in his lawn chair.

I examined the sword and praised his taste, truly amazed at its authentic look. I passed it to him, again hilt first, being very careful with the super sharp edges. He checked it over briefly, then standing, he held the hilt with two fingers and dropped it point first into the wooden deck. There was a thunk and it sunk into the wood about 2 inches – very impressive. He sat back down it a grin and we watched as the sword quivered for a few minutes, then became still standing vertical between the two chairs. I admired this stance for a few minutes and then had the desire to look at it again up close, I asked if that was OK and he agreed. So, remaining in my chair I grabbed the hilt and pulled – nothing, it didn’t budge. So I started to wiggle it back and forth in line with the sword edges. After a few minutes, it popped out of the wood but I only had one hand on the hilt and it pivoted towards John. His arm elbow was protruding slightly over the chair arm and the sword blade hit it edge first, clean on. He let out a yelp and pulled his arm in to examine it. Because the elbow was still bent at 90 degrees, the skin was stretched and there was a gaping but clean-cut about 1 1/2 inches long and. about an inch deep and gaping about 3/4 inch wide. It was a beautiful cut and there was very little blood and we were looking at the fat tissue below the skin- it appeared like tapioca, except whiter. Neither of us was feeling any pain, cut or not.

After an examination, John stated: “This needs stitches; you’ll have to drive me to emergency.” I objected and said I had had too much to drink. I proposed a taxi, but neither of us had any money. John then said: “You’ll have to stitch it yourself.” I was flabbergasted, not having had any training at all. We discussed what would be needed and my biggest concern was infection. We decided to do this inside and he got the supplies we needed and met me at the kitchen table. We filled a Pyrex brownie pan with rubbing alcohol. I threw in a few lengths of thread that I figured were long enough – pink thread to match his skin tones, of course, we had to b fashion aware — and a sewing needle. I set his elbow in the pan as well and splashed alcohol up his arm while rinsing my hands thoroughly. Then I threaded the needle and started. I figured we needed two stitches so I left the appropriate spacing. I kept saying to John: “This is going to hurt, this is going to hurt” He eventually told me to shut up.

Pushing the needle though his skin using a sewing needle was very difficult and I felt like the dull end was going to pierce my thumb, I was pushing so hard. I used very pretty butterfly stitches, like I had seen doctors do when stitching me up upon occasion. Eventually we got ‘er done and it looked very good. I had pulled the stitches so the two sides were touching each other without any ridge. We put a breathing bandage over it and went our separate ways after I had washed it with alcohol one more time.

The next day I was sitting outside when John drove in the driveway. He walked over and I passed him a beer as he sat down. I snuck a look at the wound, as the bandage had been removed. I asked how it was going and he confessed that he had gone to visit his sister who was an emergency doc at the local hospital. She had examined the wound and declared it well taken care of. She also demanded to know who had stitched it. John originally told her that he had stitched it himself, but that was so obviously not possible that she pounded on him verbally until he confessed it was me. I was pleased as this would give me a chance to think up an excuse – as his sister, Joan was very authoritarian and we called her The General. At only about 5’2″ and less than 100 pounds, she attacked everything and everyone in sight – there was no hiding from her.

Then John said that he felt he should have a “real” doc look at it so he went to the clinic. (His sister was likely more qualified and experienced than many docs from working in emergency but you know how it goes – family is always suspect.). When it came time for him to see the doctor, the doc examined the stitching and asked who had done it. Knowing now that he couldn’t come up with a good lie, he confessed that a non-medical friend had done it. Then the doc did an odd thing: he stood up and opened the office door and shouted down the hallway: “Ladies come and see this!” Four nurses appeared and the doc showed them the stitching. Expecting to be chastised, John was surprised when the Doc said:” This young man and his friend are going to put us out of business!” The nurses Oohed and Aahed over the stitching and them left. John asked the Doc when he should come back to have the stitches removed. The Doc said: “They should be taken out in about 10 days, but you don’t have to come here. Your friend who put them in can easily take them out, so just go see him when they are ready.” At this he told John he was free to go and John wandered out of the office, surprised by the Doc’s response.

I listened to the story and we were discussing it when another car pulled up – The General. Oh My God, it was too late to flee as the driveway was between my current seat and the entrance to my unit – I was trapped. The General got out of the car and marched right over until she was in my face. She stared at me for a minute and said: “That was an excellent job stitching.” I was rattled as The General seldom if ever gave praise. Then she continued: “If you ever fucking do that again, I’m going to come over here and take a piece out of you – DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?!?!.” the General could be a bit foul mouthed when she was upset. I just nodded in fear and she said “God!” and went into the house too see her Mom.

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84 thoughts on “The medical situation-Paul Curran

  1. Paul

    I want to thank Gibber for publishing this at such short notice and going an excellent job. Any errors are mine. I was reading a post by Victo over at Behind the White Coat about stitching her son https://doctorly.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/the-stuff-of-nightmares/comment-page-1/#comment-23535 and this story came to mind. I wrote it as a comment and it flowed out fast.then I looked back and was flabbergasted that it was over 1,200 words – well large enough for a post so e-mailed Gibber and asked if she could do a quickie (post that is – get your mind out of the gutter!) She was going out but managed squeeze in time to post this immediately. Thanks Gibber! I owe ya one.

    Liked by 4 people

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    1. Paul

      Pffft! There goes another mind blown. I’ll call the mind repair truck and see if they can fix it here on the side if the road. ha! Thanks so much for he visit and the read Deb. I am honored. I’m impressed you even found it, being as it is a new blog. D

      Liked by 2 people

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    1. Paul

      Hey Now Elyse! I didn’t bring the sword to the party. I was just an innocent, albeit curious, bystander. Sheesh! I always get blamed. **pouts**

      Ha! Thanks so much for dropping by Elyse. I’m honored. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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    1. Paul

      I don’t drive after two drinks or one double. I doubt I’d have had the courage to play with a sword and do surgery without at least 4 drinks. 😀

      Thanks so much for dropping by X. You are a gentleman and a scholar – and a fine judge of women. Please come by again.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. List of X

        A fine judge of women? I’ve no idea where that came from (but thank you!). I mean, I like judging people, but that doesn’t mean I am any good at it, especially with women. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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        1. Paul

          I just added that on as it fit so well with a gentleman and a scholar (both of which are evident in your writing). Of course i did watch you open a new blog to satisfy a woman (Julie) – which I seem to have hijacked (the blog that is, not Julie). 😀

          Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul

      That’s apparently true Victo, but I’ll tell you what – sewing human skin with a sewing needle is a challenge. I honestly was not sure I could even get the needle through and I was a big strong guy. I would have had a much easier time had I had a medical needle – so much sharper When we were done I had dents in my thumbs from pushing the needle and they ached for two days.. Thanks so much for dropping by Victo. I am honored. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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        1. Paul

          Elbow skin – I found out later that other than the souls of the feet, it is the toughest skin on a human body. Who knew? And the needle was well used – from John’s mother’s sewing kit. Ha! I was particularly proud of the fashion choice of the pink thread. 😀

          Liked by 3 people

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  2. Pingback: ELIZABETH AND UTE (Guest Post by Paul Curran) | Cordelia's Mom, Still

  3. Gibber Post author

    The lesson I take from this is two fold. One..Get drunk before preforming surgery and Two…When one is they can stitch someone up better than a sober doc.

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    1. Paul

      I was just drunk enough to forget that I didn’t know what I was doing. Ha! Courage in a bottle. True to my promise to The General, I’ve never done it again – I know she would hunt me down and attack. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. julie

    Good Job Paul! I don’t think I could stitch someone up, even drunk. The main reason I didn’t go into nursing, don’t think I could do it. BUT! I can apply a mean butterfly bandage! I once fell in my driveway taking out the garbage in the dead of winter. We have those cans on wheels, so when I slipped I hung on to the can (obviously). I knew I hurt my hand, but it was cold and the garbage needed to be by the street. By the time I got to the curb, blood was dripping off my hand! My biggest concern at the moment was how I was going to get into the house to inspect the damage without my kids seeing this and freaking out! Welp, long story short, I know what the tendon in my finger looks like. Just as you said, looks like a rubberband, only white. really white. I did not stitch myself though, nor did the doc when I saw him a day or so later. Just bandages.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul

      Ouch! that was painful sounding Julie. What did your kids say? Or did they see the damage? Thanks so much for dropping by for a visit to YOUR blog Ha! When are you gonna post something? You got a pile of traffic for that guest post you did. We can use the traffic – have I shamed you enough yet? Ha!

      Honestly I wouldn’t have even thought of stitching but John insisted – what can you do? Again – I’m just an innocent bystander. ha! I used to have to do minor repairs outside when I was trucking. In the winter you have to make a habit of looking at your hands regularly because quite often you could not feel any damage. I remember fixing an alternator in a service plaza outside Boston in February. i was working away and heard a “clunk”. I looked down and realized that the wrench had fallen out of my hand and I hadn’t even noticed – there was no feeling left in my hands.

      😀

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      1. julie

        I am paralyzed by the pressure I think Paul. That traffic was for Trent really. I have thought about reposting it here, but that seems like cheating, even though someone mentioned in the comments that it would make a good ‘about’ section.. I probably should re read it for an idea, and I thought about my hand smashing experience, after reading yours, but I just told that story. (Ha!).

        I managed to get it to stop bleeding before the kids saw it, all the while trying to push skin back on my fingers and wondering if that white rubber band I could see in the hole at my knuckle was a tendon. I took off a good deal of skin on my ring and middle fingers between the knuckle and fingernail knuckle (can still tell today) and my middle finger has a scar on the hand side of the middle knuckle that goes all the way across my finger width. It was pretty bad, but no comparison to when I burned my feet! Holy shit Paul! That really REALLY hurt bad! No amount of beer was gonna help that one!

        Cold can be brutal can’t it? You really gotta be careful! And remember to warm slowly, or maybe that’s an old wives tale, but still a rule I follow!

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          1. julie

            Again, it’s a simple story. I dropped a pot of boiling water, sadly it also had the ravioli intended for dinner in it. I only had socks on, and as a result got 6 weeks off work as I couldn’t put shoes on. The doctors were considering skin grafts. That caused a lot of tears for about a week, it hurt so bad! Grateful my babies weren’t playing on the kitchen floor, as they often would when I spent a lot of time making dinner, fortunately, ravioli only involved filling a pot, boiling the water, and dropping in the ravioli. I wasn’t gone long enough for them to transfer the toys to the kitchen!

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    1. Paul

      Thanks so much EU for the visit and the compliment. My head is going to swell up and I won’t fit out the door. ha! Please drop by again – there is an essay publishing sometime in the next few days.

      Liked by 1 person

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        1. Paul

          The contact page looks amazing Gibber. Good job.And thank you for putting so much effort into this project. it does not go unappreciated. **bows in acknowledgement and thanks**

          Hey I went to look and X has posted the essay and Julie posted! Looking great!

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          1. Gibber Post author

            My pleasure Paul. Thank you for blogging on it!! Oh X posted it?! I gotta go see! Yes Julie did cool eh?! Hopefully that will be the start of more too! X said he also wants to do a post. Woop!

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    1. Paul

      Now nail guns are a real ouchie, indeed. Thanks for dropping by with a dose of Philosophy. It is an honor to have you visit. Yep, the pink thread was a very human fashion touch – it kept things light. Ha! Please drop by again and feel free to bring along HRH, Molly and Bob..All are welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul

      Ha! Thanks Mark! It is an honor to have you visit. It’s amazing what you can do in life when you just try. Having spent so much time in hospital – and ours is a teaching hospital associated withe the University of Ottawa – it always struck me how well the resident/intern/doctor system works. They are shown how to do it, they do it under supervision until they are good enough , and then they do it on their own. When i was an in patient with cancer, my case was unusual enough that most new doctors ended up in my room at one time or another. i came to realize that I could be a good learning experience for them, so whenever a new doctor was doing a small procedure- like putting in a catheter or a nasogastric drain tube, I would give them a few tips from the patient’s perspective.

      I ramble – ha! – anyway, my point is when you’ve seen something done a few times, if you are paying attention, you can give it a good go. Never say never.

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  5. kerbey

    Oh, I was leery of continuing reading; I knew an injury was forthcoming!! I can’t believe you did the stitchwork. Just pushing a needle into SKIN would make me pass out. Such a talent you have and can never exercise again!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul

      H i Kerbey! thanks so much for the visit and, of course for complimenting my vast medical ability – Ha!If I had been sober, there is no way I would have done that. After 6 beer though, it seemed improper but with no physical challenge. I have to tell you that the hardest part was pushing the sewing needle through the tough skin on the elbow. My thumbs hurt for a long time. for awhile, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get through the skin at first. But it all worked out. Ha! The General is a character – her Mom was my landlord. They did a renovation once and The General set herself up as the overseer – you should have seen her giving orders to the big male contractors. Sadly I don’t live there any more after 8 years as a tenant. My land lady passed at 62 years old one night from a blood clot. They found her peaceful in bed – she died in her sleep. Anyway, the kids sold the house and I had to move. But the boys were a never ending source of amusement. They got into a tiff one night at a bar with a gang downtown. No one was hurt – just a lot of pushing and threats until the owner called the cops to break it up. They figured it wasn’t the end and they were right. The bangers followed the boys home late that night and after finding out where they lived, went and got some reinforcements and 5 of them came back with bats and such. The boys and a few friends were waiting and trashed the car and beat the living daylights out of the bangers – put two in the hospital – and when the bangers called the police, they were told the fight was on private property, The parents of one of the younger bangers tried to sue for personal injury but it went no where. I actually had to provide a letter to the judge as a part of the process. The bangers never came back when they were told by police they did so at their own risk. ha! It was never boring living there. 😀

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        1. Paul

          Yeah, maybe. Ha! My landlady asked if I wanted to move my car as it was parked closest to the road. She was afraid that the bangers may come back/ ha! I told her no, I had a lot of faith that her boys had put a end to the problem once and for all. And they had. The bangers weren’t from our neighborhood or they would have known better. The boys never picked a fight , they just ended them. It could be argued that their actions were not measured or matched the crime, but in our neighborhood, no one and i mean no one would eve sleight them.

          I gotta tell you his one – bwahahah – I’ll never post it because it is not my experience but it gives you a good idea what the boys were like. The youngest, Jimmy was in grade 12 at 18 years of age. The schools were rough although they were well run and quite strict. So anyway, Jimmy was in class one day when the danger sirens went off meaning a lockdown< Down the hall came a guy with a ski mask on and swinging a bat. He was smashing windows and display cases and whatever he could find. Jimmy's teacher locked the classroom door and told everyone to get under their desks. Jimmy asked the teacher if she was going to go after the intruder and she replied ;No. Jimmy asked why not, given he was destroying heir school . The teacher said it was against policy – it was someone else's job to notify authorities. Jimmy said fine, unlocked the door and tore down the hall after the intruder. He caught up jumped the guy , and beat the crap out of him, rendering him unconscious before the police arrived. So the school tried to suspend him for disobeying a teacher and endangering himself. His Mom was no slouch and insisted on arbitration. The arbitrator said Jimmy acted with full knowledge of the dangers and to protect his school and other students. He ruled for Jimmy and told the school there would be no punishment for Jimmy. He also, afterwards came over and thanked Jimmy for his protection of others and put that in the final report. Then the guy who was charged with destruction of school property.sued Jimmy for beating the crap out of him. The ADA got the arbitrators report and info on both parties and reused to prosecute. Ha!

          Anyway, that gives you some idea what these guys were about – but it was OK to hit them with a sword as long as you fixed it – after all an accident is an accident. ha!

          Liked by 2 people

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  6. Outlier Babe

    After reading all the comments, I got three great stories for the price of one!
    🙂
    Couldn’t have done that stitching without a thimble, Paul. I would have butterflied it temporarily and said “Get thee to a stitchery.”

    You slay me, Paul. Thankfully, not literally, for I shall never draw close enough, now that I have been made aware of your homicidal tendencies.
    😮

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Paul

      Bwahahaha! Homicidal – whew – I don’t know if there is a word for accidentally hurting someone through clumsiness, but if there is my pic would be in the dictionary next to it. I have to wear danger signs front and back. Ha! And a flashing orange caution light on my head.

      Don’t worry though, I can stitch you up if you need it. 😀

      Thank for dropping by for a read and a comment OB I am honored. **bowsin thanks**

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul

      Ha! The General’s character seems to have resonated with quite a few people. She was a cracker-jack for sure. My talents show themselves best after a few beer. Ha! Thanks for the read and compliment Sadie!

      Liked by 2 people

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  7. Sue Vincent

    Probably sick of the hospital by then, my mother stitched my hand when the paster cast on my leg caught on the threshold and sent m tumbling down the stone step witha glass bowl in my hands. Of all the scars I carry, that one is the neatest.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Paul

      It’s actually a pretty simple process – as long as it is kept sterile and nothing else gets touched (there are nerves under the skin in some places). Your Mum was a brave woman Sue. Very few will even attempt stitches. Thanks so much for dropping by for a read and comment. Just out of curiosity, how did you find this blog? Was my gravatar linked to it?

      Liked by 1 person

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