Attention conservation notice: this post is mostly about a freak accident today in which I cut my foot badly. Semi-graphic details follow.
During a break in my 6 p.m. Democracy in Asia class I stepped outside to take a call from the campus photographer who is taking snaps for my latest college article.
I spoke to her, feeling kind of important to be, you know, talking on my cell to my photog and also feeling kind of ridiculous for feeling important over this. We hung up, I walked back to the building and, distracted by the chatter of my mind, opened the glass door in a weird, jerky, spastic way, hard and fast.
The door raked over my left foot. I was wearing flip-flops.
Immediately my foot began to hurt far more than it should for what should have been just a scrape.
I looked down. I saw pink, scraped flesh for the briefest of instants. Then the blood began weeping out in tears that turned to thick, red drips. Three of my toes had been mangled by the sharp metal edge of the door.
Holy shit. I am bleeding; I am at school. I am about to review for an exam. I can leave, but it’s not a very good idea before exam review in a class that meets once a week.
I grabbed a paper towel from the bathroom and decided to try to tough it out, blood in the classroom and all.
I limped back to class in such pain my mind was jerky and scattered, trying to be in student mode when all my instincts told me go home and curl up on the couch, bathe the blood away, tend to myself, tell someone I loved what was happening.
I took my seat and had a look at the damage. Blood was already pooling in my shoe. The cuts look so bad that I flex my toes to see if I have cut a tendon.
Dr. S starts the review.
I had to force my attention back to the class again and again. I couldn’t do anything to my foot — sop up blood, apply pressure — without attracting unwanted attention to a gory, ugly wound guaranteed to freak you out with one look. I feel very Japanese as I decide to sit in silence, processing a long ugly wave of pain, listening and taking notes, and occasionally checking to see if the blood in my shoe has overflowed onto the floor.
It’s five minutes or so before the pain recedes enough for me to think clearly. There’s still close to 90 minutes of class to go.
After about 10 minutes of class I start to feel freezing cold coming at me from the left, a freezing draft. I look up at the ceiling to my left, expecting to see a vent blowing cold AC.
I just see ceiling.
I wrap the green scarf I am wearing tighter around my neck. The left side of my body is freezing. I look around and don’t see anyone else who looks cold, just people in t-shirts taking notes. Almost shaking with cold, I pull on the cardigan I brought.
I look down at my foot almost expecting to see a Reservoir Dogs-like pool of red beneath my foot, spreading over the floor.
Nothing. But I can feel the growing slick in my shoe, like rain in your flip-flop, only warmer, thicker, and more of it.
I make it through class freezing, distracted, and having missed chunks of exam review material. And I don’t think a soul in the room but me knows what went on with my private agony. It’s my mystery.
Class ends and I walk to the elevator. No one’s around so I slip off my shoe and put the paper towel in like a gel insert, to soak up the blood so I don’t leave a spoor along the poli sci hallway.
As I drive home I am stricken with a sudden sadness. I had needed help horribly and wasn’t able to get it, to give it to myself or to tell anyone who cared about me what had just happened. I had been hurt so badly I was almost driven out of class by pain and the inability to think straight, but had had to weirdly divert my mind and attention, ignore myself.
And it was all too much to keep inside. Sad, strange feelings start ringing around my soul. I had just had a swift and horrible little drama that no one in the world would ever know unless I told them.
There is no lesson here. There is just a snapshot from my life, with whatever lessons it brings you. May it bring some.
In an ugly coincidence, today was supposed to be my best day yet of the school year. I was having a meeting with a friend in the a.m. about something cool. Then I was picking up Geniune and taking her to a downtown seafood lunch with my girlfriends. Then I was going in for a quick car repair, afterwards heading to the NEMAC lab to work my internship. Then at six, my favorite class of the semester.
But this morning one of my cats went missing, and I was distracted at my morning meeting. My heart wanted to go home and find my little cat. (I came home to find him trapped in the neighbor’s garage, hungry but unharmed. In a strangely cursed day, there is indeed that.)
And I had a great lunch with my girlies. If I had less of this strange melancholy that set in with my toe-wounds, I would write about how we three students all realized how much happier we are now in our best-choice majors.
I switched from chemistry to journalism, Heather from chemistry to Spanish, and Rowan from psychology to health and wellness. And we went from three pale, hollow-eyed college hags to the women we were today, with time to share a brief but sisterly lunch and, instead of desperately propping one another up along a plodding journey of misery, celebrated one another on a journey of success.
Our lunch wasn’t about fear and exhaustion the way our lunches used to be, back when we gathered swiftly and furtively like refugees passing bread through a fence. This time it was about Heather doing research to present at an international conference in 2009. It was about Rosie, after a two-and-a-half year battle with an ignorant and uncaring UNCA administration, having her ASL credits accepted toward graduation as her foreign language.
It was me saying that I don’t really feel like I do less homework as a journalism major, I just feel like I do my homework and I ROCK that homework until it begs for mercy. No more studying 15 hours for a grade of 68.
It was a lovely time. The shadow was that Geniune, still recovering from a months-old injury, was in PT way longer than she expected and didn’t get to join us.
Then my quick, in-and-out car repair turned into two hours and $100. No NEMAC internship for me.
And then I went to my favorite class, all bright and shiny and expectant, and spent most of it bleeding in silence. Unexpected, that.
Even queens of the universe, it seems, get the blues.