In my brief period of working on The Floor(s) as a nurse, in addition to learning a zillion and one weird acronyms for such things as Follow-Up (F/U) and Shortness of Breath (SOB), I learned the term “Frequent Flyer.” Having only been vaguely aware of this term in regards to “miles” and “airfare” because I was a “poor college kid” and “didn’t travel much,” I was baffled when they referred to a patient as this during report (shift change).

Terrified of the seasoned nurses–you would be too-it took me awhile to muster up the courage to ask what the hell they’d been talking about. When I did, it was explained that Frequent Flyers were patients who were in and out of the hospital frequently.

Get it?

While I thought that a Punch Card Patient (buy 9 visits, get one free!!) was a bit funnier, it reminded me only of a kid I met in college. I’ll call him Ryan because that was his name.

Ryan was from a family of 4 boys–the original Sausage Factory–and these kids were, well, I guess the kindest way to put it is “accident prone,” but that gives you a nice mental picture of someone slipping benignly on ice in an “awe shucks, guys” kind of way. This was not Ryan’s family. As he explained it, these were the luckiest group of unlucky people on the planet. During a family ski vacation, one of his brother’s rolled his ski over another one of his brother’s hands at the top of a slope.

The result? A neatly severed finger, seeping blood into the white snow.

After fixing up said finger in the OR, his family was paid a nice visit from Children and Family Services. It seems as though the quickest way to get them on your ass (besides becoming a foster parent) is to install a revolving door through the ER. Shove through that 4 kids with rotating weird injuries, like broken ribs, missing fingers, busted heads, at semi-regular intervals and SMACK! BOOM! there you have it: you must be abusing your kids.

I can’t say with absolute authority that Ryan’s parents were NOT abusing their kids, but the laughter and general jollity he had about the situation led me to believe that no, this family was just luckily unlucky.

Because it is so often not my children that are involved with this, I’m fairly certain DCFS won’t be beating a path to my house to see how I caused cellulitis (Alex), respiratory issues (Ben) or an encephalocele (Amelia). This is obviously a stroke of genuine good luck, even with the steadily increasing severity of issues.

Between The Daver and I, we seemed to have amassed a stunning amount of stupid crap happening to us. Stuff that winds us up in the ER with various injuries.

(Bonus! Aside time! Sadly, of these probably 12-14 ER visits over the past 3 or so years, I have gotten my fist-full of exactly 11 Vicodin. Ever. Those 11 pills were easily the best part of my 27th birthday, and given to me at just the moment when July 14 waves goodbye to July 15, probably my best birthday present yet. Except the Cabbage Patch Doll that I got when I turned 4. But this is neither here nor there)

No, the list is boring and full of low-fat vanilla misfortunes. Nothing serious to warrant flowers, admissions (mostly) or even more than a simple, “Hey, I had to go the damn hospital last night. I hate hospitals” out of either of us. Corneal abrasion here, shoulder out of joint there, miscarriage here, Crohn’s issues there. No big deal. Stuff that could almost wait until the following day, when our regular doctor is open, except not so much.

If Ryan’s family was the luckiest set of unlucky people I know, my family would be the low-fat, low-sugar variety of that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither wishing things were worse or tempting fate here–I’ve had my share of Real Issues lately–but sometimes, you gotta take a step back from it all and have a good fucking laugh.

At least, that’s what I told myself when Dave gave himself what Twitter calls “Bagel Finger” this morning. Just as you’d imagine, he was recklessly cutting a bagel (obviously while saving a kitten from a burning building AND defending The Honor of his wife) when he miscalculated the amount of pressure he was exerting with his massive arms of steel (his guns, as I like to call them. Which, if you knew Dave, would make you laugh). Or he didn’t realize how sharp the knife was.

Either way, the morning slipped into afternoon with a bloody bagel and a busted finger.

As I drove him to the ER, the same ER we just took Alex to for his cellulitis not long ago (for the record, I am way too lazy to look up when this happened. But sources inside my head tell me it was “pretty recently”), I just had to laugh. Not meanly, no, I felt genuinely sorry for Dave, but just because this was becoming absurd.

I laughed, not unkindly, again as we walked out of the ER a scant hour later, Dave’s splinted finger jauntily reattached with some glue, catching the light with it’s shininess.

No, I laughed because no one would fucking believe it.



29 thoughts on “I Wouldn’t Stand Too Close If I Were You

  1. “Punch-card patient” does sound funnier. Let’s start using it whenever we talk to doctors and nurses to see how long it takes the term to make it into general medical vernacular. 😉

  2. Jesusfreakingchrist!

    You know, they make these little contraptions, usually made out of wood and cut to hold a bagel, with a slot that acts as a knife-guide, specifically for slicing bagels. Safely. And without loss of blood. You should think about getting one – soon.

  3. I’m sorry to hear about Dave hope he already feels better and I’ve tried voting to get into the website to vote twice and it won’t let me in for some reason and once I made it all the way to the vote page and it wouldn’t let me do anything when I clicked on vote. Sorry been trying to do it daily, but today not letting me.

  4. troy almost gut his figure off 2x. Once he glued it back on at home, the other time he actually called me to take him to the doctor, where upon i promptly freaked the fuck out considering how last time he dealt with it himself. Its taken 6 years for him to get some kind of feeling back in those fingers other then electric zaps.

    I think you should start calling Daver “the Bagel-nator”

  5. I, as a young teen, also spent a bit of time in and out of the ER. The admittance nurse knew my name. And the fact that I didn’t go by my first name, but rather my middle name. And CPS definitely visited our house once several times. But, we were not beaten. (TOO OFTEN)

    With your comment about July 14-15, I believe that we have a birthday very close to each other. Mine is next Monday, the 13th.

  6. But the important question still lingers … did he get any Vicodin? And did he share with you?

    We used to call annoying 8th graders who *needed* to see the school nurse because It’s An Emergency! everyday “frequent flyers.” See? They’re everywhere.

  7. what’s ur twitter handle? i wanna follow u! (she says, giving that stalker glare) ;0)
    glad the Daver didn’t loose a digit – hope it’s a while b4 ur see the inside of the ER again!

  8. I think if you have kids and husbands, there is just no getting around it, you’re gonna visit the ER. Probably best to have an ER bag packed at all times with reading materal, snacks for the kids, a blindfold and earplugs (just in case the ER is having a dramatic night).

    I’m sure it was a crap way to spend a Sunday. Perhaps an investment in this could spare you in the future:

  9. Remind me to tell you the story of my almost broken knee one day…truly absurd…or my husband’s ingrown hair on the back of his neck that got infected and threatened his life…seriously fucked up.

  10. I have a punch card for my ER visits and I’m about to get one free, lol. I have frequent bladder and kidney infections, have sliced my fingers open, and once woke up with half of my body numb. When I was on my way to the hospital for an emergency C-section, one thought I had was, “Hey, I actually get to see a different part of the hospital today.”

  11. We are frequent flyers with WG. Just got the bill for our last ER trip, actually. Sensory seeker + extremely high pain tolerance = really bad combo in a child. She even knows where they keep the popsicles. This is one of my reasons for wanting to go into nursing: we NEED the discount!

    I cut the tip of my left thumb 3/4 of the way off 7 years ago almost to the day. I was chopping lettuce for a chicken ceasar salad. It was dumb (why?! was I chopping lettuce?! why not just tear it???) and I was extremely lucky it was my thumb and not a different finger. (Despite all the viola jokes out there, I do use all 4 fingers on my left hand….) The doc sewed it to my thumbnail. I still don’t have feeling in that bit. They didn’t give me any good drugs either. My thumb didn’t hurt so much but I still have pain at the sites on the sides of my thumb where they injected the anesthetic.

    Hope Daver recovers quickly! You should let the kids handle the cutlery from now on!

  12. Our family counts as the lucky unlucky. Bud has twice been hit by a car, fell off a cliff and caught the last branch of the last tree before plummeting 200 feet, and broken his nose 4 times. I have issues with fire, things just catch on fire around me. I have cut my hand many times while slicing a bagel. (lucky me, my mom broke her ankle last year but won’t take pain meds, but I filled it anyway, because dude you never let those go to waste.)

  13. As an ER nurse, I just have to tell you that I have patients that come in and I can not only recall their name, but their allergies, too. All those visits seem like a lot to a “normal” person, but to those who love the ER, that’s nothing. “Emergency” is a very broad term to many. The way I look at it, you may have internet trolls but I have ER trolls. And my trolls cry chest pain for the God-almighty one-time shot of morphine. No vicodin for a knife wound??? The stingy bastards;)

  14. Our last big visit to the ER was ages ago after Sgt and a buddy got caught up in a barroom brawl. Sgt had a cut under his eye that, after several hours, wouldn’t stop bleeding and I insisted he go get it sewn up. While Sgt sat giving the details of his injury to the admitting nurse our oldset pipes up and says “My daddy got beat up by cowboys last night.” The look on Sgts face was priceless.

    Hope Dave recoves quickly.

  15. Wow, I’m so sorry for Dave! And your readers are scaring me. I’ve only had one kid-related ER visit (knock on wood), and that was a screaming middle of the night ear infection. Fortunately I’m not much of a thrill seeker and neither are my kids–so far. I don’t think I could handle some of these stories!

    Bagels, though–they take up a lot of my brain. My FIL lives with us, and he’s 81. He can’t see or hear very well, and thanks to a mild stroke some years ago, he has some limited mobility and feeling on one side of his body. But the man is sharp as a tack and even more stubborn than my husband. So is there any stopping him from slicing bagels every morning? No way. And my husband and I just stand there and wait for the bleeding to start. We’ve been lucky so far, but I don’t know how long it can last. Half the time they’re only partly thawed when he starts sawing away. I may seriously invest in the Bagel Guillotine, if I can convince him to use it!

  16. What is it with men and knives?
    My son in law has almost sliced his finger off twice cutting something in the kitchen!
    Glad all is well, though…………..

  17. I believe it.

    In a (very brief) experience I had as a seller of knives (do NOT ask), I learned that the majority of all knife related ER trips are due to bagels.

    Poor Daver and poor Daver’s finger.

  18. Well, we’re usually at the ER for one stupid reason or another (this weekend, it was for the dogs, not the dudes), so I feel Daver’s pain! Sorry, man. No drugs when you almost cut off a body part is a total insult!! My kid at least got Tylenol with Codeine from the ER when he almost cut his thumb off last month. You been robbed!!!

  19. Bagel cutting is best left to the professionals. I have a friend who similarly cut her finer while cutting carrots. I have always been very careful around carrots, I shall now add bagels to tha tlist – although I will probably continue to buy the precut ones, becaus I’m lazy like that.

  20. Poor Daver…..I hope the bagel came out looking worse. Nothing more terrible than getting in a fight with an inanimate object and having it look perfectly fine.

  21. lmao we don’t even bother with the ER anymore. Kim manages the most impressive injuries both at work and at home.

    She famously said to a new employee on his first day in the factory “I don’t know why they even let me have a knife!” He stared at her with wide eyes and avoided her for the first week. This was after she managed to slice her stomach while splitting open pallets of film…the most impressive part being the fact that she didn’t even rip her shirt…

    Just the other week she was using a drop saw at home, goes quiet for a minute, comes out holding her hand “do we have any gauze left?” I stare at her and mentally put 2 and 2 together (and remember the time my father cut off 2 fingers using a drop saw) before asking “does anything need to be reattached?”

    Nope just a massive slice running vertically down her thumb. On the upside, she is a remarkably fast healer…the pharmacy must wonder why we buy so much gauze and liquid bandage. I’ve become quite the expert at patching her up…

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