Any chance I might have had as a hand model melted away last Saturday night when I burnt my hand and arm and was rushed to hospital.
It’s was supposed to be easy dinner of beef filled ravioli – packs of the pasta were on special and we were hungry so it was an extra big pot that came to the boil just before 7:30 pm.
Using two tea towels to grab both handles of the pot I moved to the sink to dump my cheap tasty load in the strainer, but one of the tea towels got hooked on a gas burner and tipped the boiling water over my wrist, thumb and lower arm.
I managed to get the pot back down on the stovetop before rushing for the relief of a running tap.
Skin and hair instantly hung from my right hand and arm – my bum wiper by the way! It was intriguing to see and while ever the burn was covered by running water I could enjoy the spectacle.
My three kids sprung to attention, breaking the lock of their devices – they do love me! Starting to get woozy and faint my 15-year-old boy grabbed me a stool to sit at the sink.
Meantime, my wife, a trained medical professional freaked out a bit, I was the calm one! We got to the car, my burn wrapped in a wet towel my daughter had made for me, and off we went to the Emergency Department of South East Regional Hospital, about 10 minutes from home.
“I think there is still enough pasta for kids to make dinner,” I boasted proudly.
It was now that the pain kicked in, the wet towel helped but the air cut into my exposed, raw, red flesh with a sharpness I couldn’t escape.
Pulling into the drop off car park we looked through the windows of the ED trying to get a sense of what we might be in for.
There were a few people there, no one in obvious distress, mostly watching Star Wars surrendering to the patience waiting rooms call for.
I pressed the buzzer and a nurse appeared within a heartbeat.
We were whisked out the back, my burnt arm put under another running tap.
“Out of 10 how much pain are you in?” the nurse asked.
“About seven out of 10,” I said, but the running water would soon knock that back to a five or six. Air was my enemy so I twisted my body every which way to get as much of my arm under the tap as I could.
“You’ll need to do that for at least 30 minutes, to take the heat out of it, I’ll get the doctor,” the nurse said.
A couple of ambos I know walked past on their way back to their wheels, “I suppose we’ll read about this on About Regional” they quipped.
The doctor came and was impressed with the damage done, “let me get some advice from the Burns Unit at Concord Hospital,” she said, “keep that water on it, its the best pain relief.”
My wife and I had a nice hour at the sink together, she’d calmed down and we were laughing about her fright or flight response. I was okay and we had a chance to chat – that never happens.
With advice back from Concord I was taken through to a bed and dosed up on pain killers ahead of more air and dressings being applied. Morphine and Panadine Forte did the job but sadly there was no ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’.
Around me, the ED buzzed with people and situations that were being dealt with by a calm hive of good-natured doctors, nurses, wardsman, and ambos.
“All these people here on a Saturday night ready to help when trouble strikes,” I thought, it was hard not to feel a warm glow – no it wasn’t the drugs.
Now that my arm was wrapped up in a cool, airtight bandage I was able to leave the ED with a supply of drugs to get me through the night, and a referral to see the Burns Unit at Concord on Monday.
Having to travel to Sydney was a bummer and required a monumental juggling of people and other appointments, but with my grade of burn it was considered wise.
I had received first-class care at my local ED but a country life comes with an acceptance of travel.
At home, there was still pasta left for me and the kids had discovered new ways to take the piss out of Dad.
At Concord, on Monday they were ready and waiting. A fancier dressing this time, attention from a professor, and phone/photo appointments with the Burns Nurse booked in, who sent me off with a big bag of medical goodies to take to my GP clinic for dressing changes.
Not once was I asked to pay anything and I am not expecting a bill in the post – public health, how lucky are we?! Tax well spent.
I know the system doesn’t always run as smoothly as it did for me, I know there are shortcomings – but what an amazing safety net to catch us when times are tough, how lucky are we to take it for granted?!
Perhaps we shouldn’t, that’s why I am pounding the keyboard. I should be elevating this arm, but gratitude and positive stories are important and inspire more of the same and in a subtle way protect the service.
It’s important those responsible for our public health system are reminded about the role it plays so that its people and future can be strengthened.
By the way, everyone is getting oven mitts for Christmas!