Unintended Fireworks on the Fourth of July
2003/07/04, written 0706
The July 4th weekend was, um, eventful this year. My brother's family came in from Houston on Friday, the 4th, and we were going to a cookout and fireworks gawking at a friend's house down on the river. Well, at that point river is wide, and there's a dam, so they call it a lake.
Ms. T. was preparing several yummy treats for the party, a cheesecake with fancy toppings and a killer pasta salad. While chopping the parsley for the pasta salad, the last ingredient, Ms. T. had a little accident with the knife. She cut off a piece of the end of her finger. "Oh, s**t!" came flying across the room. I looked. Blood all over the place. The missing piece was large enough that it would not stop bleeding all by itself, so we had to go the emergency room. Zipping down the road five miles with her hand raised above the shoulder, she probably looked from a distance like she was making a rude gesture.
The scene at the emergency room was much as we expected. How would we know what to expect? We had just seen a segment on some TV news broadcast about what happens in an ER on the Fourth of July. The doctor interviewed said that first, in the afternoon, they got the boating and sports accidents: hit by something, slipped on something. In the evening, cooking accidents: cut, burned, broken glass. Later at night, fireworks accidents.
Our experience matched his prediction. The person being helped in the door in front of us had his shoulder in a sling. Later we learned the story. He had dived from the roof of a houseboat on which they were partying. Slightly worse, he had dived from the top of the railing on the roof of the houseboat, just to give him a few extra feet of velocity before he hit the water. Good theory. Unfortunately, he hit the other boat. What other boat? No one would be stupid enough to dive into another boat head first, right? Well, *after* he dove, the other boat came by much too close and at twenty miles an hour. In a no-wake zone where the speed limit is like *two* miles an hour. Yes, this was an alcohol-involved accident on both sides. How did you guess?
That's one. Then Bev, with the cooking accident, having sliced off some flesh. She was only the first, however. Within half an hour, she was joined by several other people who, well, maybe should not have been dealing with sharp or hot objects that day, two other women with cuts and one with a burn. How do you tell the difference between the cuts and the burns, when they're both covered with bandages? Easy, the cuts are on the left hand and the burns are on the right hand. No joke. Well, and maybe the bandages on the cuts are red. But never mind. In any case, these were then followed by two kids and two limpers whose injuries we could not readily ascertain.
Bev went into the treatment area, the curtained-off space, next to the diver. The diver had, probably, a fractured wrist, a dislocated shoulder, and a concussion. No blood, though. The diver's friend paced around making cell phone calls, including one containing the informative and amusing phrase, "Is *anyone* there sober enough to drive her home?" While we were talking to the diver's friend, another person from the same party came in. He had a split lip because someone threw a can of beer to him, or at him, and he caught it with his mouth instead of his hands. This entire party, all ages 23-26, are all AA candidates, apparently.
Back to Ms. T's finger. We took the wandering finger fragment with us to the hospital. It wasn't that large, like 5x8 mm with a sliver of nail attached. We tried to preserve it, wrapped in sterile gauze, on a cold pack, insulated in a towel, the whole bit. Didn't help. The piece was too small to be reattached surgically, rats. And the wound was too large to be sewn shut. Catch-22. So what you do is cover it with antibiotics and bandages for ten days and it heals itself. Several months later, it's still more sensitive than before, and really doesn't like contact with lemon juice, but it looks good.
We weren't there long enough to see the fireworks accident victims. Maybe next year. End of adventure.
Copyright (C) 2000-2004, Richard Ball Landau. All rights reserved.