For the past several weeks, I’ve been enjoying fried fish on Fridays. I like it any day of the week, actually, but I usually had it on Fridays. The point is that I regularly fry fish and make enough leftovers to have for a day or two afterward.
Last Thursday, I decided to fry fish. I poured in about a half inch of fresh peanut oil and turned the stove dial to “3”. After a few minutes, I flicked a bit of water into the pan and nothing happened, so I turned the setting to “5” and walked away.
When I came back, I seasoned the fish in a bag and put the first thin piece in with a fork. I was using a wide, deep pan, but even from the far side, was not prepared for the splash that the oil made, and it covered my hand pretty well. I screamed and ran water over my hand. It hurt like never before– any prior pops of grease I had experienced resulted in short-lived pain, but this was different. How was I going to cook the rest of the fish? It was about 2 pm and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I was also in the middle of working on something important at my desk.
I applied an ice pak from the freezer (I had two that were about the size of my hand, and each was already inside a ziploc bag). The ice pak only intensified the pain, and I knew better than to apply butter or Vaseline, which would only trap the heat). I managed to finish cooking the rest of the fish without incident, but I was literally disabled for the next several hours, as this was my right hand–my dominant hand. Writing, typing, and everything else I wanted to do was nearly impossible because of the excruciating pain, and I took an 800 mg of ibuprofen that I had from a previous prescription, but it was hard to concentrate on anything else.
I thought about how disabled I was, and again I felt so much compassion for people who are permanently disabled– especially due to an accident or circumstance through no fault of their own. When we feel well, it’s easy to take things for granted. All it takes is stubbing your toe, a burn, or even a toothache to cause the whole body misery. I lifted up my hand and asked God for relief, thanking Him that I still had my sight, use of my limbs, and my mental faculties.
Normally my daughter K takes the school bus everyday, but on this day, she had a Girl Scout meeting after school, so I had to pick her up. It was also time to collect the order forms for their Fall Nut & Candy sale, and copying the names, addresses, and phone numbers for the troop leader was extremely difficult, so when I got to school, I had K fill out the form for me. She was very compassionate toward me, hugging me and saying, “I’m sorry for what happened to your hand, Mommy. I wanna take care of you.” She was well-behaved that day and did what I asked of her. [Side note: During fall break last month, she went to a recreational camp and one of the adult counselors told me K was the most compassionate child she had ever met. K would quickly run up to children she hardly knew if they fell during their play activities and offer help, asking if each child was OK. When the counselor told her how nice that was, she replied matter-of-factly, “____ is my friend.” Mind you, she didn’t know any of the kids before attending camp, and that was only day two.]
I spent the evening watching a DVD, and by the time I went to bed, the intensity of the pain in my hand had subsided. It was odd to brush my teeth with my left hand (among other things in the bathroom), but I took a picture and thanked God that I could finally take my mind off my hand and rest.
The next morning, I woke up early to get K on the bus, and as usual, I went straight for the bathroom in the dark and washed my hands. I felt a bump on my right hand and light stinging sensation, which reminded me of the burn. K and I got dressed, but it wasn’t until I locked the door that I noticed the bubble over my right index knuckle. A blister had formed overnight and that was what I felt in the bathroom. It looked gross, like I was deformed. But day two went a lot smoother, and I could do more with it. As a precaution, I loosely wrapped a short white towel around my hand when I left the house, so that no one would try to shake that hand (I go to church on Friday nights) or bump into it by mistake and irritate it.
I called my mother and told her about the burn, and she told my sister. They insisted that I go to urgent care even though I thought the burn would improve on its own. I had another commitment, so I wrapped up in a towel and went out. When I got to the urgent care center that evening (it took forever since I got lost), only one person was in the waiting room, but it was an hour before I was called. (I don’t know if that’s normal– this was my first time going to urgent care instead of the ER–but at least it was less expensive).
The nurse looked at my hand and saw, “Oooh, that looks like a third-degree [burn].” I stared in amazement because I didn’t think it was that serious. After all, I was only there out of respect for my family’s advice. A doctor came in and said there was debate in the medical community about when to pop a blister. She said she did it was a previous patient that day who was still in a lot of pain, but since I wasn’t, we left it alone. She told me the dark spots on my hand will would go away on their own after a few months. Another nurse came in and put silver sulfadiazine cream on all the affected areas, then a non-adhesive bandage over the blister, before wrapping my whole hand in gauze. Then the first nurse returned with a prescription for the cream so that I could apply it when the blister pops on its own.
Overnight, I felt the pressure of the bandage being on, and wanted nothing more than to rip if off, but I haven’t. I got my cream and some Aleve, so for now, I’m OK. I’m still somewhat disabled, and doing some things with my left hand are still difficult, but obviously I can type and write again. Having ideas without being able to write them down is the worst!
I wish that was it for the drama of the weekend, but as I wrote this post on day 4, K came home with her friend A, and her mother. She fell on a rock when they were playing at the park nearby, and she was bleeding from her eyelid! Her nose was all scraped up, too. Back to urgent care we went.
I thought she would need stitches, but the scar was just short enough to put a thin bandage on. While there, the same nurse we had yesterday asked me about my hand and the cream. I hadn’t removed the bandage because I thought I was supposed to leave it on. She told me I should apply the cream so that the blister would burst and continue to heal. Lord help us… at least I didn’t get lost this time.
My pretty little girl will keep running and climbing with the best of them, and I’ll keep frying my food–unhealthy as it is–at least some of the time. There’s a difference between fear and prudent caution. I’ll just be leery next time–I just might wear gloves.