I should start this story by telling you I have a cat. A very anxious cat.
Last year my apartment needed him out of the unit to do some work on the pipes. So I had him boarded for a few days while they did the work. He was not happy.
After the project was over and I had him back at home, I sat in front of the television with a cup of Ovaltine listening to his purr as he sat on my lap. He was still a little jumpy from the stay at the boarding facility. He did not want to be anywhere more than 2 inches from me.
I picked up my phone to browse Facebook and accidentally dropped it on him. Clumsy.
I think he must’ve jumped five feet in the air as he quickly escaped the terror of the phone. Pushing off my lap in a hurry to get away, he knocked over the Ovaltine and a picture on the end table.
I looked down at my lap and saw blood coming through my pajama pants. I immediately applied pressure to it and walked to the bathroom to get a better look.
Okay, let’s see how bad this is.
Deep cut, fatty tissue hanging out. About 3 inches long.
Well that’s a deep one. What do I have to clean this up?
Digging through my bathroom, I quickly realized I did not have anything to sanitize this. I had a little bit of gauze left. No hydrogen peroxide. No alcohol.
I need stitches.
I just bought my first sewing kit!!!
I don’t have any antiseptics. This is a BAD idea.
Off to the hospital I went, laughing at myself. Was I really thinking about giving myself stitches?
I got to the hospital and explained to check-in what had happened. “I have this huge gash in my leg. My cat got spooked and jumped off my lap.” They looked bewildered. I smiled.
They asked how big it was, and I told them it DEFINITELY needed stitches.
My blood was already seeping through the little bit of gauze that I had on the wound. I asked an attendant in the waiting room area for fresh gauze, and looked around the room.
The waiting room was full of people coughing and sneezing. One person was vomiting.
I looked back at him as he handed me the gauze and a wrap.
“How do I do this without contaminating the wound?”
He looked at me very seriously as he handed me the gauze and wrap.
“Here’s what I want you to do. Go to the bathroom. Do not touch anything. Do not go into the stall. Do not wash your hands. DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING. Pull down your pants, take the old gauze off, put the new gauze on, wrap it, and come out. Just don’t touch anything.”
I laughed and smiled at him.
This is hilarious.
I headed to the bathroom door, putting pressure on my leg with one hand, and holding the fresh materials he gave me in the other.
I balanced on one leg and brought the other high up to hit the handicap automatic door button with my foot. I smiled as it opened.
I walked into the bathroom and two women were in there talking.
Good thing I have on underwear! Hahaha.
I pulled down my pajama pants, replaced the gauze, threw out the old stuff, and headed back out to the waiting room, laughing to myself.
Those people probably thought I was crazy. Oh well.
Luckily I didn’t have to wait long for them to grab me from the waiting room.
The nurse led me back to the treatment area, and I relayed how my cat jumped off my lap and gave me this cut. Ovaltine everywhere.
I was in good spirits. This was a ridiculous story.
Someone came in to sanitize and numb up the area, and then I waited for them to come back to give me stitches.
I had to pee, but I didn’t want to risk contaminating this thing.
I waited for an hour for them to come back and give me stitches. I could not hold it anymore. Damnit.
I called the ER nurse in, and she gave me some gauze to hold over it while I used the restroom. Again, “don’t let anything touch it.”
Cool. I’ve got this.
Hospital gowns are always too big on me. I tried to bundle all of it into one hand and hold the gauze with the other.
I don’t have a free hand to wipe with! How am I going to do this?
I tried to carefully transfer both the gown and the gauze into one hand, and reached for the toilet paper with the other.
I heard a splash.
The gown had fallen into the toilet.
I removed the gown from the rest of me, finished my business, washed my one free hand, and proceeded to hit the call button. Never removing the gauze. Again grateful to be wearing underwear.
The nurse cracked the door open. She took one look at me, looked at the toilet, and looked back at me as I smiled at her guiltily. “I’ll go get another gown,” she said.
The whole experience was funny to me. I finally got stitched up and on my way twenty or thirty minutes later. I am not sure if any of the nurses or doctors really believed this was from a cat scratch.
15 stitches I counted in my leg.
Now that I know I have vEDS, and I know my thin skin is part of my condition, I look back at this story and other stories like it and think it was so obvious.
My dad used to tell me that scars are cool. My entire body is covered in scars. They tell my story.
My belly button ring ripped out when it caught on a counter, I’ve had 12 stitches from a warehouse rehab job I worked on with my dad, I’ve been cut open by bumping into the side of the cooler at the convenience store where I used to work…the stories are seemingly endless. I even cut my knee open on a couch when I was nine.
My skin is thin on the bottom of my feet too. When I was a kid, I used to marvel at how many rough surfaces my brother could walk on barefoot. My grandparents had a gravel driveway, and he would just walk on the gravel, no big deal.
I can remember trying to persevere through pain walking on the stones barefoot. Thinking if I did it long enough I would be able to do it too. Maybe I would get callused feet and it wouldn’t be as painful.
I never could. It hurt too bad, bruising the bottom of my feet.
I look at the bottom of my feet now and see my veins through the thin skin. I giggle to myself. That was a child’s game, and now I know what it all means.
This thin fragile skin is from a genetic condition. There is nothing I can really do to change it, and it is the least of my worries.
With the risk of arteries dissecting, or my arteries and organs rupturing from vEDS, I appreciate these signs that were missed before. And while I might be thin-skinned in appearance, I think the frequent injuries have made me tougher when it comes to dealing with new ones. Each injury is story, waiting to be told.