#87: When Fruit Isn’t Free

#87: When Fruit Isn’t Free

I’ve heard of people who celebrate birthdays by doing something that might be considered, if not outright dangerous, possibly ill-advised. Climbing the highest mountain, jumping out of perfectly good planes – that kind of thing. By contrast, I am usually more than content with a few balloons, a card or two, maybe a cupcake.

Until this year. The year when I elected to kick off my birthday weekend with a cantaloupe and a dull knife, followed by a 1 AM trip to the ER.

One of the challenges of living alone is that when you cut off the tippiest tip of your finger, there is no one around for you to ask diagnostic questions like, “Is this Band-Aid bad or Urgent Care bad?” “How much blood on the outside of your body is too much blood on the outside of your body?” and “Is the room tilting ever so slightly?”

My finger hurt like fire and wouldn’t stop bleeding, so I put pressure on it, grabbed my purse, and drove to the nearest urgent care clinic. Where I saw a CLOSED sign on the door.

I then drove 10 minutes away, to another urgent care place. The sign on their door said, “Closed For the Summer.”

I recalled yet a third urgent care place another 10 minute drive away. You will be shocked to learn that they, too, were closed. It seemed I had not timed my urgency very well.

A clearheaded person would have driven straight to the ER, but in my befuddled state, I thought I still might avoid the mega co-pay. I was only 5 minutes from home at this point, so I headed there.

I Googled “24 Hour Urgent Care” for my city, only to see countless pages of clinics that had either closed several hours before, or permanently. I called the number on the back of my insurance card and spoke with an unhelpful robot. Their website was likewise unhelpful. So I did what I always do when I’m in a pinch and need a calm voice of reason.

I called my mom.

Blessedly, she came to get me and took me to the ER, where I was informed that I would live! I would even keep my finger! Minus a few centimeters (that will probably grow back in time). The doctor’s grip was so tight I saw WHITE and almost fainted, but eventually the bleeding slowed. I was discharged with aftercare instructions that I followed compulsively, to the letter, for several days.

The time came for my follow-up appointment, and I spent every single minute of an entire day convinced something very dreadful, and supremely painful, would happen there. The waiting room lived up to its name, but eventually a med tech put me in an exam room and removed the bandage. I was expecting a horrified reaction, but got this instead:

MT: “Oh. That looks pretty good, actually!”

Me: “Are you sure? I was expecting immediate hospitalization, followed by amputation.”

MT: “Well, you picked a good doctor for it. He’s a real pro. Does 4 or 5 of ‘em a day!”

Me: “I’ll anticipate quality stitching, then.”

The jokes made me relax a bit, but I remembered the iron grip of the ER doc, and how it had brought tears to my eyes. I was still nervous when the clinic doc arrived.

Me: “Is there any way you can examine my finger from across the room using binoculars, and not touch it at all?”

Doc: “Hmmm. Well, I’m good, but I’m not quite that good. I promise to be extra gentle though.”

He was true to his word, and placed my finger in a super soothing cleansing solution. I began to unclench. The med tech returned to check on me.

MT: “What’s the plan?”

Me: “He’s gonna lop it right off.”

MT: “You’re in excellent hands, then. I’ll go sharpen the knives.”

The doc returned to check on me.

Doc: “How’s it going?”

Me: “Doing great! Just sitting here, being brave.”

Doc: “I’ll alert the medical journals. You’re an inspiration to us all!”

As did the ER doc before him, this doc pronounced my finger in fine form – I would both live, and live to see it grow back.

You may be wondering how the title figures in with my tale of bloodshed and woe. I have been on new Weight Watchers for about a month, but years ago on old WW you had to weigh apple slices and count grapes so as not to exceed your daily “fruit budget.” But now they want to encourage eating healthy choices, so you don’t have to count/weigh any fruit. In weight loss terminology, “Fruit is free.”

Tell that to my “free” birthday cantaloupe, which cost $127.50 and the tippiest tip of one finger.

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