Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Housewarming to Hospital Visit in 30 Seconds

Friday we closed on the new place and before moving in and cluttering it up with our junk, we decided to throw a little housewarming party for the new friends and family we have in Philadelphia.

At 6pm, just as guest were starting to arrive Jill showed up in the pouring rain with all of the food and drinks for the party. Since our young newphews were attending, some fun drinks of the non-alcoholic variety were also procured - notably a carbonated pink lemonade that comes in a carafe resembling a wine bottle.

On her way out of Whole Foods it started raining and before Jill could get all of the groceries into the car, she and the bags were soaked.

In our driveway she went around to the back of the car to get out the groceries. As she yanked out the first bag, the heavy bottle of lemonade tore through the soggy paper bottom of the bag and exploded on the cobblestones at her feet like an IED.

I was watching from the porch, with the gaseous burst of noise and broken glass ringing in my ears, as a thin dark ribbon of blood cut horizontally across Jill's right calf, then made an abrupt downward turn, gushing down her ankle. I told her she was bleeding a lot and ran down to help her into our apartment.

A trail of blood and mud and rain water followed us in to the couch, where I sat Jill down and told her to hold a washcloth against the wound, which was deep and yawning like an imp's mouth. She clearly needed stitches, but it wasn't emergency mode just yet and I was thinking, we'll still get to party, maybe.

Then I noticed Jill had dropped the washcloth and her hand was hanging limp at her side. I watched as her eyes went glassy, crossed and unfocused and the color drained her skin. She was lifeless, waxy, my zombie bride, as she slumped lower into the couch and unconsciousness.

Now I really freaked out and punched 911 into my cellphone. Then I was alternating between barking at the poor lady on the 911 dispatch line, and helping our friend Shelley as she tried to wake Jill, while our nephews burst into tears thinking (and justifiably, given what we'd just witnessed) that she had died. Because that is what it looked like, though I knew better from her short breathing - it was damned scary all the same. Peter, at 6 years old, got so upset that he ran out of the house and sat in the car in the human approximation of an ostrich's head-in-the-sand response. Thomas, not even 4, still thinks he witnessed a miracle, recounting the story that Jill died, but came back to us.

About 30 seconds in she started snoring, then began some light convulsing as she came around and her systems came back online. She appeared confused and asked us what had happened. Seeing her back in the land of the living, I haven't felt so much relief ever.

We got immediate returns on the dread Philadelphia Title Transfer Tax we'd just paid earlier that day as the paramedics arrived within 5 minutes of my call and dressed the wound, before advising that it made no difference whether they or I took Jill to the ER.

So I scooped her up and put her gingerly in shotgun and drover her down to the ER at Penn Hospital. There, we were treated to the excellent experience afforded by our premium health insurance which included a surly intake employee, a threat of a $200 parking fine for leaving my car in the ER driveway for 5 minutes, and a 3.5 hour wait to see the resident.

We got to watch 2 episodes of the Simpsons, 1 episode of Seinfeld and half of the Dallas Cowboys/Tennessee Titans pre-season game before the resident arrived to clean the wound, re-dress it and order X-rays to ensure no glass was still inside my wife.

But an hour later, after the x-rays came back negative, we were treated to the real highlight of the visit when the resident felt compelled to demonstrate the surprising depth of the wound by sinking his finger up to the first knuckle in Jill's leg and asking, 'hey, wanna see something cool?'

It was 11pm when I helped Jill hobble out and we retreated to our empty apartment and ordered a pizza. Our party ruined by the freakiest of freak accidents, we reflected on the dangers of carbonated beverages in glass containers and the sequence of odd events that led up to the injury by gas-propelled glass shrapnel. Don't underestimate that stuff.

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