Daily Archives: August 4, 2007

Karma Strikes Back

My husband ran over his foot with the lawn mower.

Yes, you read that right.  My husband ran over his foot with the lawn mower.  I cut the back of our yard on Thursday night, and my husband went out about 7:00 on Friday night to cut the front and the sides. He was out there about 5 or 10 minutes when I heard the mower stop and I thought to go out there and tell him something I’d been meaning to talk to him about, but before I could, he was lurching toward our sliding glass door.  He didn’t look well so I opened the door and he said “My Foot!” and pointed down at his foot where the front of his shoe was missing.  In the tangle of sock threads and blood I couldn’t tell about his toes, if they were still there or not, but by then I’d sort of closed my eyes anyway.

I asked if he wanted me to call an ambulance but he said he wanted me to drive him to the hospital. I parked the car in a handicapped spot, because hey, that was indeed the case, even if we didn’t have the sticker, and I ran and found a wheelchair and brought it back for him. 

Now you might think that when you walk in to a hospital and scream “LAWN MOWER RAN OVER FOOT” that it would spring people into action, but that’s apparently only the case on television.

The emergency room did full triage which really, I think, could have waited considering there weren’t many people there and certainly none besides my husband that looked like they’d run over themselves with a lawn mower.  Someone bandaged my husband’s foot which I think was only so they wouldn’t get blood on the floor, and then someone else asked if he’d lost any toes and when we said we didn’t know she un-bandaged it to take a look.  Then she wrapped it up again.  I kept my back turned the entire time.  After that we had the requisite stay in the E.R. waiting room where my husband was in obvious pain and I tried to call his family on my cell phone.

Word to the wise: put every phone number of everyone you’ve ever known into your cell phone.  I had my sister-in-law’s home number which she wasn’t answering.  I had my husband’s parent’s home number which is presently not working because stupid VOIP phone company went out of business and left all of their customers without phone service.  Until they get it restored by a real phone company, perhaps one that’s been in business since, oh, I don’t know, Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone, they can only be reached on their cell phones.  Only I didn’t have their cell phone numbers.  Nor did I have phone numbers for brother number 1 or brother number 2.  And my husband, who was preoccupied with his pain, couldn’t seem to remember any of these missing numbers.

After 50,000 tries, my sister-in-law’s answering machine finally picked up and I left a message saying “You’re brother is in the E.R. He RAN OVER HIS FOOT WITH THE LAWN MOWER.  Call me back!”  She called back 20 minutes later and said, I kid you not, “Awww!  How is he?  Is he in pain? Awww!  Poor thing!” before hanging up.  At which point I stared at the phone in my hand and thought WTF?  WTF?  WTF?!

Because it seems to me a more appropriate response would have been “OMG! OMG! OMG!  What hospital?  Will he ever walk again?  I’m on my way!”  But apparently, “Awww!.  Poor thing!” is the correct response when it’s your own brother who’s possibly lost an appendage. 

Eventually the hospital workers called our turn and put my husband up in a little curtained area and a Physician’s Assistant came by and said he’d order an X ray to see if any bones were cut off and then he’d clean and suture him up, if you know, there was anything left to suture.

Then he went to the next curtain over to help the man who had some dread skin infection and start him on three different types of antibiotics.  While listening to all this I wanted to scream “Holy Hell! Treat us first!  Don’t get that nasty bacteria on your hands and transfer it to us!  The mower nearly took my husband’s toe, don’t let some flesh eating bacteria finish the work!” 

Because hospitals, it turns out, are a perfect place to feed my neurosis.  My teeny tiny itty bitty germ phobia went into major overdrive and I tried to stand in the middle of the room holding my breath in case any of Bacteria Man’s germs should float over and down into my lungs.  And I tried not to touch anything, but damn it gets tiring standing for four hours straight.

The x-ray, according to the PA showed the bones were okay, but he said he might have to cut what was left of my husband’s toenail away.  They gave my husband a Loratab and some Novocain shots in his toe and set to work.  The PA cut away half of the toenail and then sat there contemplating that he might remove the rest of it to because “the last thing you want as it grows in is to get an ingrown toenail” and because also, the more work he did, the more he could bill us.  So he took the entire toenail off.  If you think you’ve seen that in a movie somewhere, I think you’re right, only I believe it was finger nails and the victim wasn’t given any Novocain.  All I can say is that it’s bloody work and horrid to watch.  I asked the PA how far into medical school do you start having to do things like that, because I was wondering how much money one might have invested before they realize they just can’t stomach the work.  He said that was okay, you don’t quit, you just change specialties.

While this was happening my son and I played tic-tac-toe and hangman where my son had to guess the letters to the words “lawn mower” and the PA thought that was hilariously funny for some reason I still can’t understand.

Now, when he was finished removing my husband’s toe nail, he set about sewing up the end of his toe.  Some of the stitches will dissolve on their own and some of them will have to be removed at a later date.

After that he started trimming the toenail he had removed and then he shoved it back onto my husband’s toe!  Now personally, I believe that’s very much like getting your hair cut too short and then scotch taping strands of it back together because you’ve changed your mind about the whole thing.  But the PA said it was so the nail bed would remain open and hopefully a new toenail would grow back.  Without any nail there, the nail bed might close up and quit. Or so he said. I thought about this a lot and came to the conclusion that I think he’s wrong and I think he made a mistake.  Runners lose toenails all the time, and I’m a runner and I should know, and I’ve never heard of us shoving the lost toenail back into place, but then I thought, well…. I’m not a doctor so what do I know?  But then I realized the guy was only a PA and that means HE WASN’T A DOCTOR EITHER!  Holy shit!

The nurse who bandaged my husband’s foot before we left asked ”How big was the tractor? and my husband said “It wasn’t a tractor, it was a lawn mower.”  So she asked how far it fell and he said, “What?  It didn’t fall on me; I was cutting the grass and ran over my foot!”  And only then did she look properly horrified about the whole damned thing.

Which now in hindsight makes me wonder if the PA thought a lawn mower had fallen on his foot and perhaps the whole toe nail would die anyway, sort of how when you hit your thumb with a hammer, and perhaps that’s why he removed it.  Or maybe he just always wanted to be able to say he once removed a toe nail and now he can.

I don’t know how it goes where you live but from this incident I’ve determined that here, Karma doesn’t put up with much shit.  A friend of ours is a “safety officer” for his job and for some reason, we find this exceptionally funny.  He was once hit by a car as he was crossing the street to his job and so it came somewhat as a surprise when he was actually promoted to the position of “Safety Officer” while still on crutches and in a neck brace.  Part of his job apparently entails sending out daily emails to the company’s staff with little pithy sayings like “Look both ways before you cross the street or you might not live to look at all”  or “Wear eye protection so you’ll continue to have eyes” and one of my personal favorites that I asked him to forward to me because I just couldn’t believe he’d actually sent such a message was, “Anger is only one letter away from Danger”.

Nearly everyone I know has been making fun of my friend and his daily notices. Earlier in the week I had been about to cross the street with him and another friend, and I was going to cross against the light because it’s the city and everyone does it, and because there weren’t any cars coming.  I stepped off the curb and my other friend did too, but our pal the safety officer, did not.  My friend then stepped back onto the curb and said “If the safety officer isn’t crossing then neither am I!” So then I stayed back too because, I don’t know, maybe he was allowed, like Bobby Brady, to hand out violation notices of some sort and I didn’t want to get in trouble. 

My friend the safety officer stood there and simply said “It hurts.” And I thought he was commenting on our teasing, like maybe we’d hurt his feelings but then he pointed at the approaching car and said, “If you get hit by a car, it hurts.”   Which, of course, he knows all about. 

The next day, he sent out this notice: “If you think these daily notes are a pain….try a leg fracture or a head injury.”  My husband and I had a really good laugh over that one and then BAM!  LAWN MOWER OVER FOOT!  So it seems Karma had had quite enough.  Either that or our friend the safety officer has a extraordinary hearing and a voodoo doll.

Four hours after our arrival, my husband was discharged from the hospital.  As we were leaving, there was a man in a wheelchair with his foot wrapped in the same manner my husband’s had been wrapped, and he too had blood seeping through the bandages in the place where his big toe should be.  I said to him, “Oh my God!  Were you using our lawn mower too?” because although I’d pulled the mower back behind our fence (because for some reason, I didn’t want anyone to steal the cursed thing), I hadn’t actually locked the gate and here was a guy who looked suspiciously like he’d had the exact same accident.  He swore he hadn’t been messing with our mower.  Rather, he claimed to have dropped some sort of cabinet upon his foot.  So I figured that explains how the nurses had gotten confused about whether my husband had mowed his own foot off or merely dropped something on it.

This morning, while my husband sat in bed with his foot bandaged and elevated, I went out to finish cutting the rest of the lawn.  I was going to say I went out to finish what he started but then I though that might be tempting fate again so I decided against that.  I’m not sure why I even bothered with the lawn because with this dry spell, it’s hard to tell which of the grass is growing and which is merely pretending to grow.

Also, it was hard not to stare at the scene of the accident, the place where he backed into the fence and his body stopped, but the mower did not.  I found myself looking about for bits of chewed up shoe and slivers of toe, but that was like looking for a needle in a haystack, and it was nearly one-hundred degrees out, so I gave up and set about cutting the grass. 

It’s kind of hard to believe the mower got my husband’s foot like that because I have to say it does a rather shitty job on the lawn.  You have to go at certain blades of grass and clover 6 ways to Sunday to mow them down, yet it ripped up his sneaker like it was a necktie in a paper shredder.  All I can figure is our mower has a hankering for old pairs of New Balances and that’s why I wore my big fat hiking boots today.

The moral of the story is thus:  Don’t mock safety officers and wear steel toed boots when you cut the grass.

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Filed under accident, hospital, karma, lawn mower, life, safety