Why should I keep my knives sharp?

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It was with great anticipation that I stepped on the scale this morning. Surely the blood loss from a near amputation helped the results of my new diet. You have to take your wins where you can, especially when you are working on a diet that does not want to be called a diet but a lifestyle modification.

There a several lessons involved here. First, if you are on a dietstyle multiplication that requires a lot of vegetable chopping, and you hesitate before dinner prep and wonder, should I sharpen this big knife? well, then, just go ahead and sharpen it.

If you barge ahead with the dull thing, like the soft-focus sous chef everyone knows you to be, it is a proven certainty that on the very last pass of chopping a big onion with the big knife you may slip and chop a finger instead.

How did I manage to elegantly locate my hand in harms way? Am I not mature enough to know better, despite the dietary mortification? These are the questions that haunt my dismembered dreams.

What you imagine you might do upon serious injury and what you actually do are more interesting if they are not identical. Sure, I imagined that if I had a kitchen accident, I would exude cool, and whip up a bandage while making a dry martini with the other hand. Instead, I snatched a paper towel–no need to stain a dish towel–and wrapped the finger, pinched it overhead and keened for your little sister. “I’m afraid to look at it! Call your big sister!” My voice was high-pitched, and she looked terrified. That’s real second-rate mom stuff on my part.

It’s important for all your unplanned accidents to have no other adults in the house. Yerdad was away on business, and when he’s gone it’s always the best time for a failure of some mysterious machine that makes the house work like a house. Whenever he’s away, I expect power failures or strange noises–I do not expect to be the strange noise.

It was calming to complain about my predicament with the gals for a few minutes, but it wasn’t accomplishing anything else. So instead, I freaked out about how I didn’t know which emergency room to go to. This is another lesson: don’t wait for an emergency to know where to go to have your emergency.

The daily meditation is really paying dividends, because I switched off worrying about the ER to focus on first aid, and yelled at my phone until it showed me first aid for fingers. In some part of my life I knew first aid for everything, but the knowledge was swept away in a flood of WTF feelings.

Keep the detached pieces of the finger in a plastic bag until you reach medical help.

Oh, dear. I would have to figure out if the finger was detached for this step, and that meant unwrapping it and looking at it. We peered at it over the sink, and while blood was welling impressively from a likely hook-shaped wound, the finger tip was an inch away and still on the finger. Okay.

Call 911 if blood is spurting from the wound or if bleeding cannot be stopped after 5-10 minutes of steady pressure.

Huh. Steady pressure, I mean really steady, pain-stomping pressure did not stop the bleeding after 15 minutes. But 911? Seriously? I wasn’t calling for that when I was ambulatory enough to yell at my phone and get directions to urgent care. Yersis helped me wrap up the finger, staunchly, and I drove off in the rain, yelling at my phone to keep me company by calling anyone who I had already alarmed.

If you do have to drive yourself to urgent care, be sure to do it on a rainy Monday night, avoid highways and listen to scary stories on your trip.

“You picked a bad night to have a lacerated finger,” said the admitting person.

“Oh, I should know better.”

“They are called accidents because we don’t mean to have them.” Her patronizing tone was perfectly reassuring. I didn’t have to berate myself for being stupid. That’s another lesson: you get to decide just what flavor of dumbass you are. You can accept yourself,  you can meditate until you accept yourself all over again, or you can be your own bully, as yersis says. You are not required to be your own bully.

The waiting room was at capacity and it wasn’t evident what most of the patients were seeking. A few worried parents gave homework help, the compact elderly couples conversed quietly, one man emitted very sinister vibes and another, rounder fellow emitted very sinister coughs. The cougher sat next to me and I just nodded with resignation. Preventative hand washing was far fetched. This was my fate right here.

My blood pressure was high and it’s never high. They took my word for my height, which made me wish I’d claimed to be taller, just because.

Finally in my own little alcove, two women came in to assess me. One brought a bucket. I was beginning to regret driving my finger across town. Breathe in peace, exhale kindness.

Bucket girl recoiled when she realized that my bandage was sticking. The second girl pointed out that it would need a soak. We soaked my finger and chatted for a moment before bucket girl fumbled the bandage off my hand. She was instantly rattled by all the blood.

The second girl smiled at me, enjoying her own joke, “She’s an x-ray tech.”

The tech fled and the second girl, who was possibly a real nurse, then focused on my wound, no longer laughing. “Oh, wow.”

Having a medical person say things like that is unpleasant. Most people don’t want to be interesting, medically. The more you are like a toy or a specimen, the less you are like a person. By far, the most unsettling experiences I ever had involved either nurses or clowns, and there I was, being inspected by a dreaded nurse-clown.

In the end, I got fourteen stitches.

Not really. It was four stitches and I only felt one of them. The doctor was lovely and tired. She reassured me, saying that she had sewed all her own Barbie clothes as a kid, and she had a world class fashion Barbie wardrobe.

When I told her that she gave a world class manicure, she did not smile. Good for her. Keep it grim and weird.

So the thing to remember about dull knives: they can still do knife-like damage. If they are sharp, they will not slip off the surface of an onion or another slippery target. The main thing about knives, just like cars, is ensuring that they go exactly where you intend to put them at the exact speed and force you intend to put them there.

If you don’t know how to sharpen knives, either learn how or don’t use knives.

Think about what’s required of your diet-time modernization. Many people can buy their vegetables pre-chopped, if they don’t want to be their own sous chef. This little extravagance has gained some traction around here. If I had bought chopped onions, no harm would have come to my subservient, non-chopping hand.

If you choose the harder way and are determined to use knives, sharpen your knives and respect them. If you do, you will probably always be able to waive with all your lovely digits.

Be careful. It’s a jungle in here.


How to sharpen a knife on a mug

Further, further reading:

Undertakers, Harlots and Other Odd Bodies is out now. A free preview is available and all electronic formats are priced at a very reasonable US$5.99!!(Still $3.99 this week!!)

The paperback available through  IndieBound is gorgeous, three dimensional, and handily delivered to your local independent bookstore for US$14.99.

Other places the print version is for sale (US$14.99, new) for the benefit of people who prefer paper:  Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | IndieBound  | BetterWorldBooks | Alibris

Ebook retailers: Apple | Kobo | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Scribd



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