Alternate title: Some people will do anything for a souvenir (stolen from my friend Melissa who said that to me on Twitter.)
We all know I’m a HUGE fan of irony. Because of this, I’m finding some delight in this story, along with the pain.
Without further ado, here starts my tale…
Remember when we went to Hawaii? I mean, how could you forget? I only mention it daily.
Well, when we were in Kauai, we decided to go snorkeling. The snorkeling in Maui was fantastic, and we’d heard that the snorkeling in Kauai was incredible, too!
We couldn’t wait.
We rented gear, and the clerk at the store told us some hot spots to go. We followed his instructions and found ourselves at a nice beach near Poipu. Other people were also out snorkeling, so we thought this would be great!
We find a place for our bag, put on our gear and head to the water. The best place to go into the water looks to be over these dark rocks. Lava rocks? Roundish wave-beaten rocks? That doesn’t look too dangerous, plus, that’s got to be the only way in from here…so let’s go!
If you’ve never walked with flippers on and tried to get in the water during high tide, you won’t know how difficult that really is to execute. I’m in the water for approximately 17 seconds and I slip and fall. In an attempt to catch myself, I put my right hand down and my knee scrapes against one of those rocks.
I feel a sharp cutting pain in my right thumb, and I pull it out of the water to see what looks like a knife slice. Amongst the rocks? CORAL. I have blood streaming down my palm and my wrist. I call out to my husband who in an attempt to reach me slips and slices his finger.
We both determine that we can’t get out to deeper water at this rate, and we try to turn around to get out of the water. The high tide does the rest and we’re washed back up on the beach, a bedraggled and bloody mess.
Sweet! This is not how we expected to start the day! How in the blankety-blank are those other people out there snorkeling!? We KNOW to avoid coral. Every time we go out, we make a conscious EFFORT to avoid coral. Explaining this to the coral does no good.
My thumb is killing me, but I’ve clamped it enough with my index and middle finger to get it to stop bleeding, somewhat. I have an emergency first aid kit with us, but it’s back at the rental car. We do not, however have any form of paper-towels or tissues of any kind.
Long story short, we find some toilet paper to use in the women’s bathroom, and we get ourselves disinfected with some anti-bacterial wipes and all bandaged up with some bandaids from the emergency pack. During this debacle, and in the search for paper products of any kind, we see a small strip of sand leading out to the water. That’s where we went into the water and did so without incident.
…until it was time to call it a day.
From out there, that tiny strip of sand was nearly impossible to see. We saw the rocks, which we avoided at ALL cost.
As it happened, there was a snorkeling tour in the water at the same time. When their guide made his way to the beach and stood on the tiny strip of sand directing his people to come toward him, we just pretended that we knew where it was all along.
So, that’s harrowing, right? It was about time I got hurt. I was wondering when it was going to happen. It was my luck that it happened on October 20th, just a couple days before we left for the mainland.
That late afternoon, when we got back to the hotel, we assessed the damage in greater detail. My husband’s cuts didn’t look too bad. The scrape on my knee was just a scrape. Then, we looked at my gross thumb. It appeared to be a puncture at the bottom of the cut and the slice of a knife up and through the joint. Yay! I mean, if you’re gonna go, go all out.
In our expert medical opinions (ha!), we determined that it didn’t need stitches. I cleaned it again, slathered it in Neosporin and bandaged it. It was painful, but I didn’t let it ruin my trip.
Fast forward to Friday, November 12th. I’d been keeping a close eye on my thumb, because I’d heard from our guidebooks and confirmed with Dr. Google that the thing to watch for with coral cuts is infection. My thumb had only looked angry the day after I’d cut it, and more disinfectant seemed to do the trick. It appeared to be healing nicely, but it was still really tender. It was hard for me to open jars and bottles, but that was about it.
So, Friday rolls around, and I’d noticed that my thumb was healing nicely but was still really painful when I bent it. I also noticed that there was a bump forming in the cut. I couldn’t tell if it was scar tissue or if something was embedded.
He looks at it with the fancy-schmancy magnifier and announces that he thinks there is not one, but two somethings in there. Or it’s scar tissue. He then offers to disinfect one of his blades and do some exploring.
He claims he was joking, but I wasn’t taking any chances, so I called the doctor, and luckily, was able to get in that afternoon. My husband had the day off and could keep Claire occupied, so this was perfect.
The actual procedure was very tedious and took forever, but when it was all said and done, the doctor had removed two pieces of coral from my thumb and stitched me back up. (Letting the scar tissue continue to build around the pieces would interfere with the joint in my thumb.) I then had strict orders to not get it wet until at least Sunday and was told the doctor stitched my thumb with thread that will dissolve on its own.
So, let me recap: A cut that was healing quite nicely had to be sliced open again, this time requiring at least one stitch. A cut that I received while in the water couldn’t get wet.
Irony to the rescue!
So, here’s a picture of my thumb the day I had my impromptu surgical appointment at the doctor’s office. I’ve spared you the gross and gory picture. You’re welcome. I’ve softened it by playing with it in Photoshop so that you can’t see the gross wound. You can still see the iodine all down my thumb. (Trust me when I say this picture is gross without alterations.) They numbed my thumb with 5 needles, which was incredibly painful, and my thumb is still tender to the touch there, too. Irony, there you are again! Some of those shots also stopped the blood flow so that the doctor could see what he was doing.
Now, I get to go through the healing process again. My thumb is incredibly painful, and it’s hard for me to do even the simplest of tasks. Typing is getting slightly better, but holding a pen, opening jars, or doing anything that requires me to bend my thumb brings tears to my eyes. On Monday, I was able to wash my hair by myself, and was filled with joy. (It’s hard to rely on others, but Claire washed my hair that weekend at her “salon” and kept referring to me as “ma’am.” She did a fantastic job!)
Before I wrap this up, I’ll answer the number one question I’ve been getting: No, I didn’t get to keep the coral. I am not going to make it into a necklace. Although a fantastic idea, the two pieces were way too tiny, and the doctor lost them in all the bloody gauze and implements.
And, yes, I’ll probably have a scar. But, I’m okay with that. I mean, if you’re going to go to all this work for a souvenir, it may as well last forever.