Yesterday, I mentioned the only time I’ve cut myself with one of our Shun knives is when I was cleaning it (and amusingly David later said same for him; I swear, if we’re not careful, people are going to start confusing us in public). Like most things, it’s not a simple story.
It was New Year’s Eve, and we were at home. We’re not fans of going out on New Year’s Eve; most of the time, we host friends or go to someone’s house. The year in question we canceled plans because Gretchyn got a pretty bad case of the flu on the 29th or so; she was out of it for several days. By this time she was at the point of being able to eat a little, so I made a bite for both of us and was cleaning up afterward. It was just before 10pm. I was drying the knife.
I don’t even remember the cut, I just remember looking at my thumb, open from tip to the first joint, and lots of blood already on the towel. I swear that my first thought was Oh, hell no. I will not be the person in the ER on New Year’s Eve. This was a wound which wasn’t going to close on its own or that I could just put a normal Band Aid on. I considered calling our friend Dr. Beverly, whose husband Matt is a nurse; they always carry a suture kit in their vehicle just for such emergencies, and they didn’t live that far away. Then I realized that they were probably out enjoying themselves, and being wine fans like us, perhaps a bit into their cups already. When I called them the following day, she said, “No, we could have come over; we didn’t do anything either.”
The main problem is that I’m right-handed and the cut was on my right thumb. At this point, my first aid training kicked in. Clean the wound. Stop the bleeding. Keep pressure on it. The whole time, I’m irritated with myself for making such a rookie mistake. Gretchyn had just fallen asleep, so I didn’t want to wake her up. I got it reasonably-well bandaged with some gauze and medical tape from the kit we keep in the bathroom. The worst part of it at this point is the fact that I had just poured a Trappist ale which a Belgian colleague had arranged to get me via a network of mutual friends. It was a reasonably special beer—and also relatively high in alcohol, which is problematic when you’re trying to get a wound to clot. So there I stood, my thumb now throbbing, staring at this liter of deliciousness which I wasn’t going to consume any time soon.
The blood continued to seep into the bandage. My field dressing wasn’t working all that well. I considered for a minute finding a sewing needle and some dental floss. What kept me off of that idea wasn’t the fact that I have absolutely no skill in stitching a wound or the technique involved (it’s gotta be simple, right? People do it in the movies all the time), it wasn’t even the pain, it was the fact that I’d have to attempt it left-handed so I knew it’s be awkward and messy. I unwrapped the bandage, cleaned and disinfected the wound again, then went for the only solution available to me:
It worked. It formed enough of a bond to keep the cut closed long enough for the blood to clot and the natural healing process to take over. We saw Beverly and Matt a few days later; she took a look at it and told me that while an ER might have stitched it, they might have also just used a medical adhesive and a butterfly bandage. She said it looked fine, there was no evidence of infection, and to call her next time just in case.
The rest of the story is that you don’t realize how much you use the thumb on your dominant hand until you’re without it for a few weeks. Now, even when I dry the knives, I grip the knife in my right hand, just in case. Of course, you only need to cut yourself like that once to make sure you pay full attention every time thereafter.