Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Infernal medicine

(originally published July 25, 2006)

Our golden retriever, Chaser, raced over to greet me as I pulled in the driveway that morning.

Tail wagging so fast her entire rear shook like a washer on the spin cycle. Tongue flopping out the side of her mouth. She looked like a mental patient on a crazed hunt for tranquilizers.

I assumed her enthusiasm was in direct correlation to the fact she loves me so gosh darn much.
Or, perhaps because I had promised to return from the store with a new dog chewy.

She jumped into my lap when I opened the door. It was a scramble of long legs and golden hair and doggy drool that landed squarely in my lap. I felt every one of her 94 pounds drilling into my body and pressing me down into the car seat.

This was a new development, I thought, putting up a hand to keep her hot doggy breath from steaming up my sunglasses. What’s the matter, Lassie? Timmy in the well again?

With one giant heave I shoved her off my lap and back out the door. I got out gingerly, leaned over, braced a hand on the car and desperately tried to find the breath Chaser had unceremoniously knocked out of my lungs. That dog needs to go on a diet.

Just as my lungs began working properly again I heard from the garage, “We need to go to the emergency room.”

I glanced over to see my husband, Jon, walk toward me with his left hand swathed in half a roll of paper towels.

Uh-oh. This can’t be good.

Chaser, now sitting calmly at my side and having done her duty to alert me of danger, looked up at me. See? I tried to tell you something was wrong. But you tossed me on my butt. That was very un-neighborly of you, Mom.

Some wives would get hysterical after seeing their husbands in such a state of emergency. Screaming, weeping messes yelling out “Why, God, why!” and “Oh, the blood. So much blood!” But not me. I’m the model of cool and rational thought.

“Well, how bad is it?” I casually asked Jon while strapping our one-year-old son into the car seat for his very first ride to the emergency room. Baby Baldwin giggled as if to say Dada did a dumb-dumb.

I got no response from Jon. Just silence. OK, maybe this was a little more serious than I thought.

“Hey, you,” I said a little louder, “the guy bleeding all over the driveway. Is it just a cut or do I need to go get the cooler so I can pack a severed limb on ice?”

Jon snuck a peak under the makeshift bandage and grimaced, “It’s pretty bad.”

At that point I mentally ran through every episode of Trauma: Life in the E.R. I’d ever seen and jumped into action. I hoped Jon wouldn’t need a chest tube. That’s always a bad sign when somebody needs a chest tube.

As we drove Indy-style to the hospital I tried to keep his spirits up. I asked, “Hey, remember the last time you went to the emergency room?” while blowing through no less than three stop signs.

When Jon and I were dating, I innocently suggested we carve pumpkins on Halloween. No guy wants to do that. But he will if he’s trying to impress a girl.

One hour later we were in the emergency room where Jon got his hand sewn back together after slicing it with a butcher knife while cutting off the top of his pumpkin.

That’s right. Just cutting off the top. We hadn’t even gotten to the carving part yet.

The doctor was quite chatty as he stitched Jon’s hand. “At least she had a good set of knives,” he said. “This is one really clean cut.”

I beamed and thanked the good doctor for the compliment. Jon just glared.

And he hasn’t touched a pumpkin since. Nor did he seem to enjoy the stroll down memory lane that morning, if the look he threw me was any indication.

Fortunately, Jon didn’t need a chest tube. And, much to his chagrin, he didn’t even need stitches. The doctor superglued his finger back together and sent him on his way.

Geesh, I could have done that. I saw it once on Trauma: Life in the E.R.

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

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