Gary and I have opposing views on illness, pain, and the like. I was taught by Mr. and Mrs. Stoic to bite your lip and show no pain, even if you have cancer or polio. Gary was taught by his parents that if you have a fever you get the TV in your room and ice cream for dinner because, I swear Wilma said this, "it lowers your fever from the inside." (She also FED him Vicks.)
So, I admit I have little sympathy and patience when Gary is in pain. When he is in moderate pain he yelps and whines about it so much I can't summon up my sympathy before I find myself rolling my eyes. When he is in great pain I laugh compulsively. It's a nervous laugh; I can't help it. Besides, if you saw him when he's in great pain you would see why it's so funny. He hops around and curses and waves his arms. Once he burned his fingers on a pop-tart and I thought I would wet my pants. And of course that just makes him hop and curse more, and then I run out of the room and laugh and laugh.
So, I'm an unsympathetic bitch but I'm working on it. Yesterday at work he was leaning on a lever door handle, slipped off, and tried to grab the wood door frame. He didn't fall, but that was because he was impaled by a splinter under the fingernail.
(Everyone, all together, say the Title of this post. There now.)
The splinter, he said, broke off under his middle nail. He tried to pull it out himself but of course, a splinter under the nail is torture. Quite literally. He couldn't stand to touch his finger. But he finished out the day at work.
I got home late and found him watching tv and waiting for me to take him to the emergency room. This wasn't like the semi-broken wrist he had over Thanksgiving, he actually wanted to deal with this ailment.
There was no waiting in the ER (because we were the only ones there) and we were shepherded back to the curtained bed area. I suppose this would not be the Trauma Area. However, our PA did his best to assure Gary that a splinter, especially a wood splinter, needs emergency treatment. Wood, being organic, doesn't show up on an x-Ray and is not ignored by the body, like metal; instead the wood is treated like an organic invader and there is a high risk of infection.
I asked if those mentally ill people who eat surgical instruments and bicycles ever eat trees and shrubs. The PA said he didn't know of any, but perhaps that was because their x-Rays don't show anything.
Then he took a needle (fine), stuck it into Gary's finger by the knuckle (fine) and started rocking the needle back and forth like he was on a rowing machine. (Not Fine.) Of course, I started to laugh. (Really, I can't help it. ) Then I looked at Gary and he was studiously not showing any pain. Perhaps he had passed out.
Finally the PA stopped stirring the needle around in Gary's finger flesh. For some odd reason, he had to perform the same procedure to the ring finger too. I didn't ask why, I just gripped myself and tried not to laugh. If I started to laugh, I just looked at Gary who was brave and not hopping and cursing.
The drug took half an hour to process, so we had a good time waiting. I would threaten to touch Gary's finger, and he would say "don't touch my finger" very calmly. Like a different man. The PA came in and gradually started touching the sacred finger until Gary was convinced his nerves were blocked. The PA tweezed and scraped and scalpled and did not find a splinter. He found what may have been the remains of a splinter, splinter debris, and decided it wasn't worth taking the fingernail off.
Gary is now on pain medicine and antibiotics. ("Whoa. That's a massive dose of antibiotics" said the pharmacist.) He woke up today and claimed he still couldn't feel his finger, which is a white gauze sausage, poor baby. Clearly the trick is the take him to the ER next time he burns his fingers on a pop-tart.