Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stitches, Burns and Breaks: The Injury Hall of Fame

Here I am again, that old good-for-nothing bird, runaway Mayzie - still on vacation and still just as lazy.* Today, let's review some of the better injuries we've had aboard. I have even included a bonus, hitherto-unreported injury for those of you willing to make it to the end. (But be warned: this post contains mildly yucky photos, so if you don't like blood, you'd best skip along.)

Injury 1: Amy's broken finger.  Originally appeared in Question and Answer Time, November 15, 2010.
Q:  What is worse than having to do the dishes by hand three times a day?
A.  Having to do the dishes by hand three times a day with a finger you can't get wet.

It was a sunny morning.  We'd gotten the anchor up with minimal annoyance (read: mud), and I was clearing up the deck and feeling rather good about life in general and this trip in particular.  I opened the port deck box to put away a hose.


The spring holding the lid buckled.  Down came the lid onto my right index finger.  It hurt so much I didn't make a sound; I just crumpled onto the deck.  And just how bad did it look?  Well, let me show you.

And that was back when it looked good.  The nail is lifting off now, and the tip remains swollen enough a week later that I'm pretty sure I broke it.

Lucky for me, I married A Man of Many Talents.  Behold, Erik's excellent bandaging job:

Copper fuel line: it's not just for diesel anymore.

Combining skills learned from instructor Doug at St John Ambulance and helping his dad bandage up declawed cats, Erik made me this lovely splint/bandage ensemble.  If the girls would only stop smashing into it, it might actually heal this calendar year.

Update: June 2014
Yes, I managed to break a finger one month into our cruising adventure. Way to go, Amy! For a couple of years afterwards, I could feel the scar tissue when I pressed on the pad of that finger - it felt like ball bearings under my skin.  I still have a thin white scar under my nail to remind me of the experience.  I remain cautious of the deck boxes to this day.

Injury 2: Stylish's chin.  Originally appeared in State of the Children (December 8, 2011),and So Much Fun, We Had To Do It Again! (December 13, 2011)
When I was young, I was Wonder Woman.  I don’t mean, “I liked Wonder Woman,” or “I often pretended I was Wonder Woman.”  I mean I was, every minute of every day, Amazon princess and warrior Wonder Woman.  I would only respond to the name Diana Prince (which drove my sister wild).  I wore my costume year-round, contributing, I’m told, to a severe case of laryngitis one cold January. ( I suspect no one really minded.)  And while I don't often have a reason to don my golden bracelets of power these days, Wonder Woman I remain.

The resemblance is uncanny.
My progeny have inherited my superheroism.  Indy is a souped-up version of Lightning McQueen, a flying racecar ready to beat the pudding out of any bad guys that cross her path.  That is, of course, when she isn’t being a  bad guy herself.  Indy often chooses the role of The Bad Witch or similar, and is content to terrorize whatever playfellows she has at the time.  (I approve; villains are often the more interesting characters.  I had far greater sympathy for Darth Vader than Luke Skywalker, and it was many a long year before I could watch Return of the Jedi without crying when Vader became one with the force.)

But imagine my pride when, as I was sitting on the foredeck two days ago, I saw Stylish take a flying leap to dive over the boom to escape her sister.  It was a Wonder Woman move if ever I saw one.

Don't be distracted by my excellent art - it was really quite a dramatic leap.
My pride turned to concern when Stylish started rolling around on deck, gasping out tears and bleeding copiously.

Landing is less fun than flying.
Young Stylish had a gaping wound in her chin.  Erik bundled her off to the hospital and, four stitches, a misaligned first cervical vertebra and a prescription for antibiotics later, she was back.  Somewhat chastened, certainly willing to vow never to leap over the boom again.  Some superhero antics are better left untried.

Tired and injured, but still smiling.
Stylish’s Schedule:
Monday:  Jump over the boom and knock chin.  Visit local hospital and get four stitches.
Tuesday:  Run a high fever from the virus that is going around.  Show no signs of brain injury.  Nonetheless stress mom out.
Wednesday:  Fever gone.  Get head and neck checked by fellow cruiser expert in head injuries.  Adjust first cervical vertebra.  Continue to take antibiotics.
Thursday:  Go back for second neck check.  Antibiotics.
Friday:  Antibiotics.
Saturday:  Finish antibiotics.  Dad removes stitches at the end of the day.  Wound looks great.
Sunday:  Visit local friends.  Roughhouse with older girls.  Knock chin and start to bleed copiously under bandage.  Have Mom and Dad check.  Yes, the wound is fully reopened.  Return to local hospital for four more stitches.

Chin injury, mark II
Update: June 2014
Stylish has a small scar on her chin to mark the excitement.  She is rather proud of it, and shows it off whenever she can.  It may not be as exciting as her sealion bite, but it still rates.

Injury #3: Indy's Eyebrow; June 2012. (100% new content!)
We've been to a lot of amazing places on our trip, but, I have to admit, the Galapagos were special.  I try to get too excited in advance about our destinations - unreasonable expectations and all that - but we were all excited about the Galapagos, and it lived up to our dreams.

But before we could get there, we had to, well, get there.  We spent a few days in the Las Perlas south of Panama, initially to visit the pretty islands, and later because I gave myself a very bad burn while making pasta. (Tip: always, always, always use a waterproof apron when dealing with hot liquids aboard.  Always.) So the anticipation had time to build.

Once I was sufficiently healed, it was time to head out to my favourite place: the seasickness place.  Four guaranteed days of feeling like someone was scraping holes through my skull with a spork in seventeen different places.  And this time, I would have the bonus of a 8"x3" tender spot across my abdomen.  (To give you an idea of how bad it was, I used gel burn pads for weeks, and it took more than a month just to close up.)

Off we sailed. A couple of days in, just as the sun set, Indy was doing what Indy does best: tiggering. She was leaping around the cockpit like a mountain goat, like she had a thousand times before, while Erik and I asked her to stop, like we had a thousand times before. Then Papillon shifted one way while she jumped another way, and bang! Indy had whacked her eyebrow against the cockpit combing, and there was blood everywhere. The briefest survey showed that she needed at least three stitches.

The troops sprang into action: Erik gathered the suturing supplies, Stylish disappeared to find a book.  And I held Indy, whispering to her softly, and trying to keep her calm, while at the same time trying to keep from losing my dinner.  Blood doesn't bother me; I've seen a lot in my day, although that was mostly in eppendorf tubes as opposed to fountaining out of my child's scalp.  And there is something comfortingly familiar about that sharp, iron smell that always takes me back to working in the lab on a too-hot summer's day. But being coated in blood and facing the prospect of helping Erik stitch Indy up didn't do my seasickness any good, and I was whispering to keep myself together as much as to reassure her.

As night fell, we patched Indy up, while keeping as best a watch as we could.  Erik stitched, I assisted and held the patient, and Stylish read to us from Junie B Jones.  It was our biggest medical crisis aboard - an injury days from land - but we made it through. It was a family effort.
Does it look bad?
Nah, I'm fine.

Indy now has a scar curving down from her eyebrow.  Like Stylish, it doesn't bother her a bit.  And she'll happily tell the story of when Daddy stitched her up at sea.

We made it to the Galapagos a few days later.  Sure, two of us were on antibiotics and had injuries to mind, but what is that in the face of swimming with giant, unafraid sea turtles?  Priorities, people.  Priorities.

*Oh, please.  Like you didn't recognise Horton Hatches the Egg.

1 comment:

Mark Roope said...

We have been living aboard and cruising for four years. Our original crew has shrunk as one of our sons went back to live on land. (whimp)
Now I have to say I have a problem here. I tend not to feel pain unless it is something serious like man flu. As a Mr fixit this is no good when I eventually sit down to find I have been bleeding from somewhere or other for the last couple of hours. We then go through the ritual of cleaning the blood from everywhere I have been and my wife usually discovers the blood trail leads to other boats and empty beer cans.
Loved your blog and sense of humour. keep them coming (not the injuries unless they make a really good blog)