Reality Truck: Home Improvement

Whatever else I can say about my job, one of the really nice things I enjoy about it is that I'm not in an especially dangerous line of work (unless you count stalkers). Unless a file cabinet falls on my head, my days are usually injury-free aside from the occasional 24-hour carpal tunnel syndrome around deadlines. I realize that not everyone I know is so blessed. If you live in The Money Pit -- like I do -- your house is going to boast an endless array of friends and family members who can be beseeched into lending a hand in staving off the relentless decay. With such an assortment of Bob Vilas around the house, it's only a matter of time until blood will be shed. You just hope in the back of your mind that it'll qualify as an "act of God," because on a more pragmatic note, there's nothing that'll strike fear into the heart of a homeowner quite like the word "liability." So I go home for lunch the other day -- I'm walking in the front door as the roofer is walking in the back door -- and I'm greeted with the very matter-of-fact assertion, "uh, I think I may have hurt myself." This would qualify, technically, as an understatement, as he held up his hand in a pretty close impersonation of one of those Dan Akroyd-as-Julia-Child artery-spurting moments. Judging from the amount of blood in question, I could only assume that he'd severed at least a digit, if not an entire appendage. And of course, I am exactly the sort of person anyone would want to minister to them in a severed-artery crisis -- the kind of person who can work up a good swoon over a paper cut. All I could really think of was to elevate his arm and give him some orange juice. That last part I got from the movies, because it seems like that's what they're always doing for people on the verge of going into shock or a coma. Of course it wasn't till much later that I remembered that most of those victims were diabetic, as opposed to maimed. That being the end of my medical capabilities, I then picked up the phone. But then there was some confusion about who might be the best source of information in a situation like this. For example, my ex-boyfriend rolodex is full of lawyers, but they'd be no help at all unless we could find somebody to sue. The musicians would've probably been good for some otherwise-hard-to-find prescription painkillers, but it was the crack of noon, and consequently much too early in the day to try any of them. The only doctors I've dated in recent years are limited to an oncologist and a gynecologist. Nice guys, but chemotherapy would've seemed like overkill and a pap smear ... well, useless, to say the least -- rendering both of them worthless in this scenario. All other options exhausted, Ask-a-Nurse seemed like the way to go. The first try resulted in several minutes of Muzak, but no medical advice at all -- prompting a recommendation from the victim that they upgrade their voice mail system to: "If you've suffered an amputation, press one; if your limb is still attached, press two ... " The second call finally resulted in some welcome and specific assistance involving a trip to the drugstore for some Betadine, bandages, Neosporin, and a Xanax refill (the latter being for me of course -- since I was just barely this side of hysterical by this point). After the bloodflow had been staunched, and I was relating my role in the story to a friend of mine, she commented proudly that I was "quite the little ... uh ... medical professional." Since she knows the word "nurse" is not allowed to be uttered in my presence after witnessing my excruciating experience with IV drugs earlier this year (as a patient, not an addict). Of course the worst part of the whole incident (from a purely social perspective) was that I was having a cocktail party the next evening and my kitchen and bath looked like an abattoir, or at the very least, a fair-to-middlin crime scene. And let me tell you, "removal of unsightly bloodstains" is not something you're likely to find at www. marthastewart.com.

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