A few weeks ago, I was at my local LCBO looking for a few bottles to bring to a friend’s house for dinner. She was going to be serving Middle Eastern fare, so I grabbed a bottle of dry riesling from Alsace, which I thought would go nicely with potentially spicy foods. To switch things up, I decided to grab a couple of IPAs, in case anyone wasn’t feeling the wine (scandalous!) and preferred beer.
I went for a bottle of the Fat Tug (which I reviewed here), one of the few beers from my Beer course earlier this year that I actually enjoyed. I grabbed it, and as I put it in the basket, I felt a sharp pain in my thumb.I didn’t think anything of it until about 20 seconds later, when I realized I was bleeding. I went back to inspect the bottle and noticed a small shard of glass, which looked like it had been fused to the bottle during the recycling process, on the neck. I set it aside and advised the cashier, who was nice enough to get me a band-aid, probably so I would stop bleeding all over the store.
So that was that, and I didn’t think anything more of it.
A week later, my thumb had healed up nicely on the surface. The problem was that every time that I put any kind of pressure on it, it was like being stabbed all over again. Obviously something was amiss. I strongly suspected that my thumb was harbouring a shard.
I called Telehealth, a great system set up by the province which allows you to speak with a nurse and see what your options are before wasting 12 hours in the waiting room of a walk-in clinic. I was put through to a nurse right away and explained my situation. Her response was a bit extreme: go to the emergency room.
I thought she was joking.
But apparently a clinic wouldn’t have the capacity to fish out a piece of glass from my hand, if necessary.
I took another day to stew about it, making excuses like “maybe it’ll go away on its own.” I’m a bit of a wimp and wasn’t relishing the idea of being poked with needles and scalpels.
Finally I took a decisive stand, said out loud that I was going to emerg—with witnesses so that I couldn’t back out of my decision—and biked over to the hospital (keep in mind, I am still a total cheapskate and refuse to pay hospital parking fees). It was 8:30 in the morning and only a few other people were already waiting. I was triaged and registered then sent to sit in the emergency waiting room.
I’d always expected the ER to be a busy place, with people sitting around with gruesome injuries or on the brink of a dramatic demise. Perhaps I watched too much ER as a teenager (and where were all the hunky ER doctors??).
A female doctor around my age led me to an examination room, but she couldn’t really see anything since my skin had healed over, so she sent me to get an x-ray.
It took almost another hour of sitting in the waiting room before I was called back into the examination room by the doctor, who confirmed that there was indeed a shard of glass under my skin (yeah, I know, that’s why I’m here!). So it was time to take the offending piece out. This is when the palpitations started.
I don’t have a lot of experience in hospitals or with surgeries of any kind, except for that time when I got my adenoids taken out at age 4, or getting my wisdom teeth removed at 20. For both of those surgeries, I was put under. So the thought of getting cut open while still conscious gave me a serious case of the heeby-jeebies.
The doctor assured me that the thumb would be frozen so that I wouldn’t feel a thing.
I’d just need a couple of needles inserted into the base of my thumb.
Luckily, the needles were the worst part of it. But then it was fine! Once the freezing kicked in, the doctor spent a lot of time examining the area, poking and prodding at the shard, though I couldn’t be sure because there was no way that I could actually watch at the time. I did, however, take pictures!
And here is what she managed to gently remove from my thumb, with the scalpel in there as a point of comparison.
That’s a big piece of glass to have stuck inside your thumb!
After stitching me back up (my very first stitch!), I was sent on my merry way. I couldn’t feel my thumb, but I still managed to bike back home (only 2 km).
I was very proud of myself for being so brave and not making a scene (no seriously). My thumb and I would also like to thank the wonderful Dr. Collier at the Civic. She was great and thorough, and it was much appreciated. I can now go back to holding my toothbrush with my right hand without feeling like I’m being stabbed!
All this to say, inspect your beer bottles carefully before handling! And I’ll be sticking to wine, thankyouverymuch.