This story could easily be an Adventure in Life, but since I was cooking at the time….
Believe it or not, I spent many years making Chun King Pepper Steak (yeah, the kind in the can – I don’t even know if you can buy it anymore). My family liked it and it was easy. Don’t judge me.
So…there I was making my canned pepper steak. Using an old, handheld can opener I attempted to open the can of gravy and limp vegetables. The can opener didn’t cut through all the way around so being the intelligent person I am, I stuck a spoon under the lid and pried it up. It still didn’t release the tiny bit of metal stubbornly holding on. So of course I stuck my thumb inside the can and pulled. Well, it gave way and opened and took a chunk of my thumb with it. Instantly, everything changed to stop motion photography. The mili-seconds it takes to process what just happened go by in slow motion as you snap photos for your memory banks of individual moments in time.
I grabbed a towel, as by this time I was bleeding profusely into the Chun King. I put my thumb under the facet and ran water into the gaping hole .. for approximately 2.2 seconds before screaming out in pain. My thumb was really bleeding bad, the pain was getting worse and I was just a little worried that it appeared as if I could stick my pinky finger (up to the first knuckle – not an exaggeration!) into the pad of my thumb. I tried calling my husband, but he had already left the office so I wrapped my hand tightly in a kitchen towel, grabbed my three-year old daughter and ran to the car. On our way out of the parking lot we passed my husband. I rolled down the window and all I could say, and maintain control of the vehicle, was “going to ER”. He promptly turned around and followed us.
I have a fairly high pain tolerance but by the time I got to the hospital and checked in at the emergency room I was going crazy. They took me back and (not so gently) removed the towel from my gaping wound (which of course started the bleeding all over again). The doctor took one look and said, “well, we can’t stitch this one so we are going to have to cauterize it. This is going to hurt a lot.” I looked at him, and in all seriousness said “It hurts so bad right now I doubt anything could be worse. Let’s just do what we have to do”. I’m an idiot. When he stuck that silver nitrate stick into the meat of my thumb I thought I was going to pass out. Holy heck. The intense pain of that moment was only slightly worse than the constant pain in my hand and arm over the next several days. And can you say STINK? Oh man, I couldn’t get my hand wet for like 4 or 5 days and even though I was changing the dressing daily, when I finally took the entire bandage off the stench was unbelievable. The black, nasty, oozy mess that used to be my flesh was extremely alarming.
We immediately bought an electric can opener and I think it was at least 10 years before I had the nerve to use a handheld can opener again.
Amazingly enough, it all healed up nicely and I have a little white line where the base of my thumbprint used to be.
Now, thinking about this again, my hand is aching!
My advice – don’t grab on to sharp, jagged pieces of metal. Duh!
Oh, and stay away from canned gravy with limp vegetables claiming to be pepper steak!