Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Thursday, August 14, 2008

FLASHBACK: Bamboo Shoot ( Corn) Finger (Thumb)Nail Torture

As I referred to it in the last post, I thought I’d write about the time in undergrad (which falls into the WASTHTR* listing) of when I got corn stalk rind shoved under my thumb nail. I worked in Corn Pathology at the University. The grad student (Brian) I was working with was studying corn diseases (d’oh) . In early summer when the corn was tall, but no ears of corn yet, we went with huge ass syringe guns, (sort of like squirt guns with needles) and buckets of a fungus solution and inoculated the corn with the fungus above the third node from the bottom. Then in August, we went back to check the level of disease/infection. The way we did this was by cutting the top of the corn stalks about chest high with a machete, and then spit the remaining stalk down the center, to see how far the disease progressed.
I must say, I got very proficient pretty quickly and had my rhythm established until I did my swoosh down with the machete, getting my bent thumb a bit too close to the edge of the corn stalk and ran corn stalk rind under my thumb nail, to about the first knuckle of my thumb. I screamed obsecenities like a banshee, which, given that I had just had a machete in my hand (until I dropped it when the thumb thing happened) seems appropriate.
Brian ran over, looked at my hand/thumb, now dripping blood like a river water fall (and throbbing). He wants to take me back. I want to finish the field. It was getting close to lunch anyway. Against his better judgment, he acquiesced. We put a band-aid over the thumb and we continue. Although my rhythm was now completely out of synch. The thumb was still throbbing.
When we go back to the lab, I want to keep it on the DL. He mentions it to the Prof who says that we have to fill out an accident report, and that I should go to the Dr. The Student Health Service at the University was named for our 25th President. When I was a student there, it did not have the best of reputations and was dis-affectionately known as “Mc KILL-Me”. I really did NOT want to go there, but I was over-ruled, outranked.
I go. There’s no one at the front desk. I go looking for someone and find them all in the lunch/break room. I explain the situation of having corn stalk rind jammed under my thumb nail (will blood soaked dripping band-aid and blood running down my upraised arm as evidence). In what was the beginning of what’s become a recurring theme in my experiences in healthcare, someone says to me, “We’re all on lunch right now, can’t you wait?” Even though I wasn’t as ballsy then as I am now, I was incredulous enough to say, “NO! I’m on lunch too, and I have to get back to work!”
I am taken back to an exam room were peroxide is poured over the wound area. They want to try and extract the corn rind. To do this, they are going to anesthetize the area. They have my hand resting on the arm of a chair, and start coming at me with a syringe—UNDER the thumbnail. I retract my arm quickly. They start again. I repeat.
“You’re going to have to keep your hand in place!”
“You are NOT going UNDER my thumb nail with a syringe while I’m still conscious!”
They then decide they will extract it with tweezers. This was as unsuccessful as it sounds. I left, McKILL-Me with all of the corn stalk rind still under my thumb, and the student health service living up to its moniker. It took about 9 months for the rind to completely grow out. There was still a bit of remnant when I graduated the next Spring.
In the workman’s comp/accident report, I was admonished for not wearing work gloves. But trust me, I learned my lesson. I fully understand how this was an effective method of torture. You can call me a lot of things, but wuss isn’t one of them.
*Weird Ass Shit That Happens To Randy


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