Monday, March 10, 2008

A Court Reporter's Worst Nightmare...

...often involves a career-ending hand injury.

When I started court reporting school, I was admonished by nearly every instructor to take care of my hands. I took those words to heart, and I no longer put myself in a hand-risk situation. When one of the court reporting message boards I use suggested organizing a trip to New Orleans to work with Habitat for Humanity, my mind whirled with cartoonish images of thumbs pounded with hammers, nail-gun accidents, digits crushed between planks or severed with jagged-edged tools. It was all I could do not to scream, "are you nuts!!??" in reply.

My mother always preached, "A dull knife is your worst enemy in the kitchen." She bought me a gorgeous set of Henkels knives and a Chef's Choice sharpener to keep their edges in good shape. Since I never mastered the use of a steel, I later shucked out a horrible sum of money for a Chantry, which is an awesome, perfectly-angled sharpening steel, and I use it religiously. I highly recommend it for your own kitchens.

Keeping my knives deadly sharp, I am extremely careful when handling them. While I'm no slowpoke at chopping and slicing, you won't see me flying along at the speed of light, either. I never never never slice a bagel across my hand. I set it on a cutting board, stab it from the side and turn the bagle from the top while cutting downward.

On an unrelated occasion, Mighty B got the notion to slice his orange without parental assistance. The kids know that the black-handled knives are off limits, but Mighty B, in his usual way, ignored our admonishings and helped himself to the knife block, using not the cute little parer but the 11" horror-movie carver. We both had minor MIs when he proudly showed us "the fruit of his labor." I have no doubt that, with a duller knife, he would have harmed himself during a task that would have required multiple passes over that orange.

Aaaaanyway, my in-laws invited us over for dinner last night. My father-in-law made sarma, aka stuffed cabbages. I think the Polish call them something that sounds like "galumpki" that I have no idea how to spell. Whatever. The important thing here is that my FIL's sarma are better than my mother's. I hate to say it, but it's true. My mom's sarma were awesome to say the least, and I think I still like her sarma kraut better, but his sarma surpasses hers.

Getting back on track, we were going to drive to the in-laws for dinner, but there was a glitch. My FIL forgot to buy potatoes for mashing, and he wasn't too thrilled with the notion of dragging DEB to the supermarket for a lousy bag of taters. I gladly offered mine, and to save time I set to peeling them with the intention of cutting them up and keeping them in cold water to carry to the in-laws' house and cook there since reheated mashies are gross.

I set to work, and on the third tater, I carelessly run my Oxo Good Grips vegetable peeler across my little finger. I've been peeling potatoes and carrots since I was a kid, and I can't imagine why or how this happened. The pain was hot and instantaneous, and my sink was bloodied in seconds. I sliced off the corner of my finger, including a chunk of my fingernail. After yelling a few expletives, Precious Daughter asks what happened. I tell her I cut myself, and I turned on the cold water so I could see past the blood to assess the damage. I know it was wrong to do this, but I needed to see what was going on, and it was bleeding furiously.

Precious daughter is suddenly next to me, holding out a Scooby Doo Band-Aid. Like lightning, that kid carried a play chair into the bathroom and raided the cabinet for one, bless her heart. Bless her heart for being there, because I was nowhere near ready for a Band-Aid, needing something bigger for a few minutes first, and I asked her to tear off a few paper towels instead.

So there I am, arm over my head, clamping paper towels down on my finger, and I know I need to do something more. Precious Daughter and I head over to the bathroom, and my little trooper helped me by opening gauze pads (went through three) and tearing off strips of adhesive tape until I got myself somewhat bandaged, no easy feat with only one hand. I disinfected and thoroughly washed my peeler, finished the potatoes, and my in-laws brought the sarma to our house instead of us driving to theirs.

By 10:30, I was still bleeding under my hideous bandage, and I carefully removed it and tightly wrapped it in a Band-Aid instead.

This morning it took over forty minutes of soaking, wincing, foot-stamping, pacing, and whining to successfully remove that stupid adhesive bandage, which had congealed to my wound despite it's non-sticking claims, without reopening the wound. The good news is that my doc verified my last tetanus shot was in 2005, so all I need to concern myself with is infection. I greased another Band-Aid with antibiotic cream and redressed my finger.

I cut off a chunk the size of a lentil. Thankfully, it is on the edge of my finger, not my fingertip, fingerprint, or tendons. Its edge is barely where I strike my steno machine, even though I do bump it when I type, so my ring finger is putting in overtime with A, Q, and Z duty.

I think the nail might grow back, but I suspect it's going to look funny. At least I no longer want to scream every time I brush it against something.

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