“I threw it away,” I said, my voice shaking into the phone.
“Hm,” the doctor was not impressed.
“It was an accident.”
“You should probably still come in so I can have a look at it.”
“Well, it isn’t gone—I can grab it out of the trash. Should I do that? Could you sew it back on?”
“No,” the doctor said, as if I was the biggest moron on earth. “It was in the trash.”
“But, can’t you disinfect it?”
Twenty minutes before this conversation I was already late. I was chopping vegetables for the slow cooker, boiling eggs for breakfast, baking chicken for lunch and making cashew milk in the blender. I was wearing booty shorts and a tank top (no bra) and I had a goopy mask on my face. I was alone in the apartment.
In case you’re wondering, this is usually what Monday looks like.
Halfway through chopping an onion the timer for the chicken went off and instead of putting down the knife to start another task, I turned to look at the timer without stopping my hands. And the next chop went right through my left pointer finger.
I looked down to see blood pooling where my finger nail used to be.
Holy shit holy shit holy shit. What did I just do?
I grabbed a paper towel to stop the bleeding but putting it over the wound was too painful. So I held it around my finger and stared at it.
What do I do now?
A few things popped into my head—the ER, Urgent Care—but I wasn’t exactly dressed in my outside clothes and I had a mask on my face. Then I realized the timer was still blaring and the chicken was probably burning. Oh, and the boiling eggs were probably done too.
How do I get myself into this shit?
I took care of the food and the noise with my right hand while my left thumb and middle finger held the paper towel in place. Then I resumed staring at the blood pulsing from my finger.
I should get a band aid.
Too bad we didn’t have any. I knocked everything out of our bathroom cabinet, upended the storage container under the bed, texted the boyfriend to see if there was something I missed—nope, we were out of band aids.
Not that a band aid would have helped, the wound was too big.
“Go to Walgreens and get something to stop the bleeding,” the boyfriend texted.
“Right,” I responded. Clearly I needed instructions.
“And email your work to tell them you’re going to be late.” They’re going to think I’m lying but ok.
I actually considered walking to Walgreens in my getup—it was an emergency!—but I managed to pull on a pair of sweats with one hand, and put on a sweatshirt without getting too much blood on the sleeve.
The mask? It stayed.
So when I walked outside and realized it was a rare 80 degree morning in San Francisco, I almost started crying.
Maybe I should go in and change.
But I looked down at the rivers of blood running over the sides of my finger into the crimson paper towel and decided, Fuck it.
So I walked down Castro Street in sweatpants, a sweatshirt while sweating face mask down neck and cradling my bloody finger like a crazy person. By the time I walked inside Walgreens most of the face mask had pooled around my collar and the paper towel was completely soaked through.
“Do you need help?” Asked the attendant in the cosmetic section.
“Yes, I need um, band aids? Or gauze…or something.” I tried really hard not to sound whiny.
She walked toward me as if I was a crazy person and peered over the edge of the paper towel.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, turning away disgusted. “I be right back.” And then hurried through the door of the pharmacy.
I watched the door for a minute and when she didn’t reappear I went to the first aid section and stared at all the different band aids and gauze and tape and lord knows what else.
How am I supposed to know what to use?
I tried reading the backs of the boxes but all they did was give directions and vague warnings about seeing a doctor. When the woman reappeared I was comparing two different boxes of gauze.
“Here, use this,” she said while presenting me with an alcohol wipe and the world’s smallest band aid.
Yea, I don’t think that’s going to work.
But I smiled and thanked her anyways, grabbing three random boxes and struggling up to the cash register.
“Take care of yourself!” she called.
“Thanks!” At this rate I’m going to bleed out before I get home.
The cashier looked at me like I was out of a horror movie, hesitantly taking my card. I think he was afraid he might catch whatever was happening to my face.
“It’s molting disease,” I said with a smile. “It’s really rare. The gauze is to keep my skin attached to my body.”
He didn’t think that was funny nor did he try to stifle the gag that erupted from his mouth.
By the time I got home the blood had slowed to a trickle so I wrapped it in gauze and tape and called the doctor. While I was on hold I walked into the kitchen to survey the giant mess I’d created and that’s where I saw it. The round, pinkish, fleshy mound stuck to the side of our chef’s knife.
“GAH!” I gagged. And without thinking I picked up the knife and shook the chunk of my finger into the trashcan.