Sunday. We are at a family picnic. The sun is shining, the birds are warbling, the water at the dam is sparkling, but too cold to swim (probably for the best). Snags are sizzling on the BBQ. Children are laughing as they crunch sticks and leaves and gumnuts beneath bare feet. Toes scrunch in dirt. Smiles beam from happy faces beneath sunscreen and mossie repellant.
Suddenly a shout rings out from the old tables. High and scared, the cry is accompanied by a figure flailing towards me through the dappled shadows with her crimson hand waving in the air.
“I cut my finger!”
The blood continues to fall, dripping in wider arcs across the crunchy leaves and thirsty ground. I grab the nearest paper towel, wadding it up.
“Here.” I shove it onto the wound, holding tight. Hoping the deluge is a short spurt not a river. “Get the first aid kit from the car,” I yell for help. Move my sister to a seat. She resists at first, shocked and frozen.
“Sit. You’re in shock. Hold your arm up. That’s it, rest it here. Keep it above your heart.”
Compulsory first aid training for work kicks in. The children run up. The sun feels hot, so hot. Maybe we should move to some shade. But the patient’s injury needs seeing to first. Maybe we should get her some water. Oh crap, the kids can’t see this. I implore another adult to keep them busy.
“Here, let’s make some lunch on the other bench.” Great idea. Food bribery always works.
“What happened to Auntie?”
“She’s hurt, but your mum is looking after her.”
I turn to my patient, face white beneath her tan. Good question, kids.
“I was cutting avocado. The knife slipped… Oh God, I can’t feel my finger.”
“It’s okay, you’re going to be okay. Here’s the first aid kit.” Motion for my helper to stay. Hold the arm up higher, resting it against me. I feel oddly comforted by this, more in control.
“Gloves,” I point with my free hand. “Large bandage for wadding. Another bandage to go around. Please.” I need help with the wrapping though. Remind my helper to put gloves on too. Should we wash the wound? No, have to stem the bleeding. It’s been maybe five minutes and the fountain has stopped. Thankfully. Gently peel away the paper towel; some of it is stuck. Oh God, you can see the fat layers… Take a deep breath.
“It’s bad isn’t it, it’s bad, I can feel it.” Need to be calm.
“It’s a deep cut.” At least.
“What happened?” This from my helper.
“I’m going to put the bandage on now.” Then, “Avocado.”
“Avocado?” Pressing on a new bandage. Wrappers fall to the table.
“Yeah. She was cutting it, must have sliced too hard or missed…”
“Owww.” A yowl of pain, jarring and concentration-breaking.
“Sorry. We just have to get this… wrapped…” Pants now, low and shallow.
“Done.” We all sigh. I reach out, pour glistening liquid into a cup. “Have a sip of water.”
Step back, admire the handiwork. Okay, what next? Keep it elevated.
“Triangle bandage, please. We need to keep this above the heart. Where’s the nearest hospital?”
“I’m going to need Emergency aren’t I.”
“You’re going to need ED, yes.”
“Who’ll take her?”
We all pause. Three adults, three children, one patient, two cars, half an hour to hospital, one whole ton of stuff we only just lugged out onto the grass here for a picnic. Er.
“You two stay with the kids,” says Hubby. My hero. “Might as well let them have the picnic. Save us some snags. We’ll let you know how it’s going.”
Only after they’ve gone do we realise there is no phone reception and the adults left with two car seats. So a third of us are stranded, a third are headed to emergency for who-knows-how-long, and the other third are trying to manage the children without letting them know about the stress.
“No, don’t touch that knife! Stay away from that avocado! And the blood!”
The magpies and the flies are circling.
It’s a long, long afternoon.
-“Avocado consumption in Australia and the US has approximately tripled in the past two decades.
-A new US study found more than 50,000 people presented to emergency departments with avocado-related hand injuries in the 20 years leading up to 2017. Almost 30,000 of the cases occurred in the five years prior to 2017.”
-Cuts sustained carving up avocados are now so frequent there is a name for it: ‘Avocado hand‘.
-The most recent avocado injury in Western Australia (that anyone admitted to) was from a simple picnic knife sliding off the pip and slicing through my sister’s left index finger instead, severing a nerve and artery. Fortunately, hand surgeons repaired the nerve, there was no tendon damage, and it’ll probably be okay in a few months. The artery is a goner, but there’s another one apparently. And “at least it wasn’t a giant knife slicing through the palm of the hand…” (according to one nurse). Because that’s just nasty.
-Use a spoon next time.
Have you ever injured yourself doing something mundane? Let us know the story in the comments!
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