Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Exam Room 3

Sean and I met in in April of 2005

By August, he was a staple in my life – and was becoming so with my family as well

He cemented his relationship with my Dad by volunteering at the American Folk Festival in Bangor, ME that summer

He has returned almost every summer since then

Almost every summer

My Dad’s involvement with the AFF started in 2002 when Bangor was chosen by the NEA to host The National Folk Festival for three years  

In 2005, The American Folk Festival was borne of the National Folk Festival in an effort to continue the Festival tradition

It is a three-day celebration of multi-cultural tradition arts, music, crafting, food and storytelling

My Dad, and Sean, are so terribly proud of it

And they love the week plus they work setting up and striking the stages, dance floors and tents

They are outside working from early morning until after 10pm at night

And they start looking forward to the next year as soon as this year’s Festival ends

Sean usually goes up the Tuesday before the Festival starts and stays there until Sunday
Sunday, he drags himself home tired, sunburned, and with cuts and scrapes all over his hands, arms and legs

But he is rejuvenated and full of stories about the crew he works with and the shenanigans they got into

Sean has been every year from 2005 through 2014

See how 2015 is missing

In what would have been his 11th Festival, August 2015, there a catastrophic event that prevented Sean from attending

The date was August 22, 2015, a beautiful sunny picture perfect Saturday…mere days before Sean was set to leave for the Festival

Sean, Lucy and I were out front poking around in our little flower beds discussing our schedules and travel plans for the next week and a half:

Sean was headed to Maine on Tuesday the 25 for the Festival which was scheduled to start on Friday August the 28th

Lucy and I would stay in Woburn for her last week of Camp and I had to work

On Saturday the 29th, Lucy and I were catching flight to Dallas, to visit my brother, sister-in-law and my three nephews

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:15am and if all went according to plan, we’d be arriving just in time to have lunch with them

But if you know me, you know nothing ever goes according to plan

On Monday afternoon, August 31st, Sean would fly to Dallas and spend the rest of the week with us

We’d fly home September 6th and Lucy would start school on Wednesday September the 9th

You know, if all went according to plan

Which it did not

For in those moments during which we were determining what should be packed, who should take what car where, and watching the clock as we were meeting some friends in a couple hours to go pick peaches, I somehow stabbed myself in the left hand with a pair of gardening shears

Everything went weirdly silent in my head

I legit saw stars and possibly a planet or two

I remember pulling the shears out of my thumb where they were standing at attention

I am not sure if I fell or fainted but I was on the ground

I heard Sean speaking sharply to me trying to get my attention

I believe Motherfucker was the first word I uttered

Followed by that fucking hurt…fuck, fuck, fuck…..

The pain was excruciating and I was light headed

I couldn’t standup and my blood was running cold

I crawled into the house and into the kitchen thinking if I just put my hand in cold water, it would feel better

My entire hand and forearm were numb

I could not move or feel my fingers

Nor could I stand up

Sean followed me trying help to but I kept brushing him off

I was on my knees in a vain attempt to keep my hand under the flow of cold water but finally gave up and laid on the floor

I think something is wrong I said

We ended up at Urgent Care for the next three hours

Lucy went peach picking, I did not

And my left hand/arm was rendered useless as I had cut the tendon in my thumb

Saturday, after the incident, I was on some great pain pills

I spent most of Sunday in tears as the pain was overwhelming

On Monday, we decided Sean would delay his departure to Maine a day or two as I was convinced my hand would be fully functionally by Wednesday, Thursday at the latest

By Tuesday, I still could not use my left hand and any contact with it brought tears to my eyes

By Wednesday, when Sean should have been in Maine, it was becoming more and more apparent to us there was no way I could handle getting myself and Lucy to Dallas on our own

We based this on the fact I still could not dress myself in the morning without help

By Thursday night, it was decided Sean would forego the Festival

Friday morning, we changed his flight

And Friday evening, instead of being part of the kickoff parade for the Festival, Sean was packing the bags with the clothes I could not fold as my hand and forearm were still immobile

Sean does not ask for much

Sure, once in a while he asks if I’ll make liver and onions for him (to which I say no…apparently my love for him is not unconditional as I thought it was)

And yes, sometimes he loses his head and asks me to spread Marmite in his toast…. again, conditional love applies here

But really, all he asks is that he be able to go to the Festival each year

One year later, I still feel badly that he missed what would have been his 11th consecutive year

So it was mutually decided this year, from August 1, 2016 on, I would not be allowed to touch any gardening tools

Really, we agreed I would touch with a sharp point that could potentially cause me bodily harm to ensure Sean would in fact be able to attempt his 11th (though not consecutive) American Folk Festival

And we’ve done just fine

As it stood on August 13th, we were on target for Sean to leave for the Festival on Tuesday, August 23rd

And then it was August 14

A Sunday on which we had no plans…. except to get ice cream

We decided just after noon we should go play some mini golf then get ice cream and maybe run to the grocery store

Hey, I said as we changed and got ready to leave, how about we stop at blah blah MSPCA Shelter and see the kitties?

Lucy, who want nothing more than a kitten/another cat was over the moon

Sean loves cats almost as much as Lucy does

I just love the two of them

So we wandered around the kitties (and by kitties I mean they were all over a year old so technically, not kittens but all cats are kitties in Lucy’s world) for a bit over an hour

We spent some time with a sweet kitty called Eli but someone had already put in to adopt him

There was a big old black cat like our Ziggy Boy called Pork Chop, but he was a bit of a cranky old bugger and when we approached him, he swatted us away – and not that hey play with me swat but a get the hell away from me swat

Lucy wanted a cat to come home with us in the worst way and started just randomly running over to cages and saying this is the one! This is the one for us I know it is!

Sean and I reeled her in and reminded her we had to get a cat who liked kids and could get along with other cats

And then we saw Scampy

Scampy, a four-year-old tabby

She was quite pretty

I don’t like female cats uttered Sean for the 15th time

I know I said, but she is cute

And she was

Sean and Lucy opened the cage to meet her and she rolled on her side nestling her head into their palms

They stroked her head and started talking to her

She responded by nestling against their palms with abandon

Scampy loved the attention

Lucy was falling for Scampy

So was Sean

I was falling in love with Sean and Lucy all over again

And her little sign says she’s ok with kids Daddy! And other cats! proclaimed Lucy excitedly

Mumma! Wanna pet Scampy?

Sean moved so I too could meet Scampy

Lucy was still perched in front of the cage

I knelt down next to her and did just what she and Sean did:

I opened my hand and Scampy nestled her head into my palm and started rubbing against my hand

So I stroked her head just as Sean and Lucy had been

Lucy remained at my side with her hand on Scampy

A volunteer was standing next to us watching with a smile on her face

Has anyone given you information on Scampy yet? She asked

No Sean replied

Well, she said with a big smile as she listened to Lucy talking to Scampy, I’ll go get some

It was at that moment, as the volunteer started to walk away when Scampy decided she did not like me as much as I liked her

And she bit me

Really hard

On my right hand

Specifically, the thumb of my right hand

Not to be confused with the thumb of my left hand on which I stabbed myself a year ago with gardening shears

I pushed Lucy away from Scampy as her hand was still in there and popped up so I was standing next to Sean

Blood came rushing the surface of the puncture

I don’t think anyone but me realized what happened until I held up my hand and said, quite stupidly, surprised and somewhat shocked,

She bit me!

She what? asked Sean

The volunteer sucked in her breath

Oh dear, did it break the skin?

I turned my hand so she could see

The blood was running down from the base of my thumb and pooling in the palm of my hand

Yes, she broke the skin

Can we get her Mumma? Piped up Lucy all excited, She’s so cute!

Honey, we need to go

But can we get her Mumma

Sean bent down and explained to Lucy what happened

Her face fell

We walked to the front desk with the volunteer

You need to fill out an incident report she said

Ok, no problem, sorry about this I replied

As we walked to the desk, I looked down at my hand

It was swelling at an oddly rapid rate

My fingers and thumb were going numb and my forearm was aching

A young woman, who appeared to be in charge redirected me to the bathroom to wash it then asked me to come back and fill out an incident report

By the time we got to the bathroom, my hand was bigger

By the time I washed it, my thumb was at a weird angle and looked distorted

I could not straighten my thumb and my fingers were still numb

I stepped out of the bathroom and said to Sean I think we need to go get this looked at

I was fighting the tears that kept springing to my eyes as I did not want Lucy to get upset

We filled out the incident report in less than two minutes

The young woman looked down at my swelling hand and said yeah, I if I were you, I’d go somewhere….

Thanks for that pearl of wisdom I thought in my head

But aloud I simply said yes, I probably should

She apologized again and in typical fashion, I apologized back

Its ok I said, I know it can be stressful on the cats

We hopped in the car, a very sullen Lucy dragging her feet behind us, and headed south on 93

A couple times, I thought I would pass out

My hand was so swollen the skin was tight and the throbbing was resonating in my ears

Honey, maybe if we just go home and wash it, the swelling will stop

Sean glanced over at my hand

Umm, no we’re going to the clinic

We arrived at Urgent Care within 20 minutes after the bite

The doctor took one look at my hand and called out to a nurse to get an IV of antibiotics 

Cat bites can be really dangerous she said, and based on the way your hand is reacting, we’re treating you for cellulitis

Oh right, ok I said sure

She poked and touched my hand some more

Hey can you not do that I asked, it hurts

I know she said, sorry

The Doctor pulled me over to the sink and started scrubbing my hand clean with a medicated sponge

The pain intensified and I tried not to yelp

I need to sit down I said to her

Not yet, she said, we really need to get this cleaned out, cat bites can be bad 

I think I should down I said, I don’t feel so good

She looked at me and pulled the chair over with her foot still scrubbing and sort of pushed me down into it

I closed my eyes

My fingers were numb and when she moved them, the pain shot up my forearm

After cleaning my hand, she started applying pressure asking me to rate the pain

When she moved my fingers and thumb, I swore at her

Sorry I said, that hurts

So that’s a ten? she asked

I grimaced

It hurt so much I could not even bring myself to crack the standard Spinal Tap turn it up to 11 joke

When was your last tetanus shot? she asked

A year ago, I replied, when I stabbed myself with garden shears on this hand

I picked up my left hand and pointed to the puncture scar on my thumb

Wait what? she asked

So I gave her the Reader’s Digest version of the thumb injury while she pulled up my records on her laptop

She chuckled

Maybe next August you just stay home she said

I was thinking of starting on my feet next year I replied

At some point Sean and Lucy came in to see me and I sent them home

I was going to be there awhile and did not want them to have to wait

The IV was started and I put my head back and closed my eyes

Poor Lucy, I thought, she wanted that little Scampy so badly

Sean and I liked her too….the way she responded to Lucy, the way she reacted to Sean

She was quite cute and appeared snuggly

You know until she bit me

Poor Luce, her little heart was broken

And poor Sean, I know when this happened his Folk Festival Life flashed before his eyes 

And poor me, I thought, I just wanted ice cream

A little more than two hours after we arrived, and being told no less than a dozen times cat bites are the worst, I was unhooked from the IV, sent home with an oral antibiotic and with instructions to return Monday for another round of IV antibiotics

Keep the hand elevated tonight said the doctor and if you develop track marks or a fever, get to the hospital


And we’ll see you back here tomorrow

You bet

Oh and try not to use your hand, it’s going to be sore for a couple days and tender….so try not to bang or hold anything in your hand

Ok, anything else?

And the antibiotics we gave you, both the IV and the oral ones, well, they are pretty strong so they may make you sick – like throw up or have diarrhea so just drink plenty liquids

Great, thanks, I said, see you tomorrow

One other thing


I would not get that cat if I were you

Really, I say, because my husband and daughter already went back to get her

I returned Monday for another dose of IV antibiotics

Heard the same story about car bites being the worst

Saw the same doctor

How’s your pain she asked

My pain is well, I said, making its presence known

It’s going to get worse before it gets better she reminded me

Ahh so this is why my diet is not working!

Well, the good news is the tissue is no longer swollen and the inflammation has gone down

That is good news I say

And see this hard bump?

I wince as she presses it

No I say, I’m too busy seeing stars from the pain you are inflicting by squeezing my hand

You are so funny! she says

Huh, I wasn’t trying to be…..

Well, this bump, feel how it’s hard and hot to the touch?

Yep, sure do

My skin was indeed taunt and hurt when touched 

That is the infection raging below the surface and remember, it will continue to get worse before it gets better…days two and three are the worst of it and today is day two

I felt my eyes filling

No I answer

Thanks for the head's up I say

I sat on IV for 45 minutes and was sent home with instructions to return at 7:30am Tuesday

Monday night my hand still hurt and there was a dull ache in my whole arm

Plus, my pee smelled really bad from the antibiotics

I returned Tuesday for another round

Different doctor this day

The Doctor touched my hand and I flinched

He poked this lump that had formed at one of the puncture wounds made by the cat - the one that bled

That was not there yesterday was it?

You know, he says, a cat bite is the worst...if you are going to get bitten, human bites are not so bad, dog bites are in the middle, but cat bites? Cat bites are the absolute's because of what's in their saliva....

He's poking my hand and I'm on the brinks of tears so I ask

Where do vampire bites rank?

He just looked at me

Your infection has an infection


There are two layers to the tendon here, and that lump? It’s an infection on top of your 

Of course it is, I say, because I don't have enough body image body just continues to reject me

Well, you have pretty eyes says the doctor


Too bad you have to wear glasses

I stared at him

You know, because they cover your eyes…how about we get that IV going?

Yes, I say, let’s fill me up with that kryptonite shall we

Actually, it’s Unasyn

Oh good, I say, because kryptonite is radioactive you know

Right, ok well, I’ll send the nurse in

I left that day with strict instructions to take the oral antibiotic at appointed times and to return Wednesday, for a final evaluation

I was also reminded that if the infection did not show signs of subsiding by tomorrow, I would be sent to the big house

Prison? I asked

Umm no, probably just Winchester Hospital, or Lahey in Burlington

No one gets me

Tuesday night was just as uncomfortable as Monday night

Sean watched me from his perch on the couch as I sat in the chair with my hand elevated

It’ll be fine Sean, I promise, I think you will be ok to go next week

I’m more worried about your hand, about you

I know honey, it’ll be fine…remember, it’s supposed to get worse before it gets better

He grunted

Well, I say, look on the bright side, I’ve done well staying away from sharp objects

He grunted again and turned the volume up on the TV

When I awoke this morning, the hand, though still tender, did not hurt as much and looked better

Sure, it is still hot to the touch and my skin is pulled so tightly it feels like it is going to burst at the seams at any moment and that weird little lump is still there……but it feels better

I arrived for what I hoped would be my last treatment

The nurses greeted me like an old friend

I told them I was starting to feel like I was part of the team and whose turn was it to bring donuts and where are they ‘cause I’m starving!

I was put in Exam Room 3 and asked if it been reserved for me

Funny, said Ellen who was there with me Monday and Tuesday, you have been in this room everyday

The PA and doctor made the same observation as did Judy who was also there with me yesterday

All four of them huddled around my hand as the doctor picked it up and started poking and pressing

Looks good

The three women agreed

It’s still hot

So am I, I said

And it is still a bit hard

That’s what she said, I answered

He looked at me

You are a funny one aren’t you?

Well, I said, one cannot get by on looks alone

That lump is still there, the PA noted, it’s an abscess

But it’s smaller than yesterday I chime in

It is, they agreed

The PA and doc further agreed this would be my last round of IV antibiotics

But it is imperative you take your oral antibiotic on time; we’ll give you a schedule to follow  

Ok, what about this abscess, I asked

The PA pressed on it

I yelled out Uncle

Finally, the doctor laughed

If it gets bigger, puffier or moves, go to the ER

Ok……so if it’s an abscess does it burst…like well you know an abscess does? Like will it explode out from underneath my skin?

Well, it could but hopefully it won’t

Ok…. is that hopefully won’t like the brakes in your car could go at any moment, but hopefully they won’t…or is that hopefully won’t like you could be walking down the street and be hit with debris from the space station but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none, hopefully won’t?

It’ll be fine, the doctor said as he patted my hand

Judy and Ellen were charged with getting the needle in my arm and the medicine mixed up

As one put the needle in my arm, the other busied herself with setting up the medicine bag in the IV stand

Judy caught me up on her daughter’s divorce (that ex of her’s Phil is a real jerk) and Ellen (who by the way used to live in our house in Woburn) told me about her son’s new “friend” – she seems okay but we all think he can do better

The PA then came in and caught me up on what happened when she took her boyfriend’s daughter back to school shopping in an attempt to bond with her – it did not go well – and now we are pretty sure that John is not going to propose as she thought he had planned

55 minutes later, I was done

The Familiar Four walked in with my marching orders

Do NOT miss a dose said Dr K, remember, cat bites…

Yes, I know, cat bites are the worst…worse than humans, worse than dogs…but I still don’t 
know what to do if I get bit by a vampire

Go to the Urgent Care Clinic down in Woburn he replied

Touché doc, Touché

The PA and the nurses hugged me

Judy promised she would not bad mouth Phil in front of the grandkids (they repeat everything) no matter how much of a big jerk he is

Ellen would give her son’s “new friend” a chance, it’s hard being the girlfriend of someone’s only son and only child…. but I do think he can do better

The PA and I agreed she should try shopping again with the boyfriend’s daughter – and not be so concerned with will he or won’t he propose……all in due time

I agreed we would not adopt Scampy

As I walked out of Exam Room 3, I reached into my bag and grabbed the post-it note I had scribbled while I was on the IV Drip

I slapped it on the wall next to the little plaque that read Exam 3

It said

Maria’s Room, No Cats Allowed

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