The most embarrassing injury ever
It was Sunday night, around 10 p.m. After 10 or 15 minutes of struggling, a can of pinto beans was almost completely open. The manual can opener was of no help, but I’d finagled it to where only a tiny bit of the can was still sealed.
The Uncle Ben’s rice was waiting patiently in the microwave, and the beans were driving me up a wall. Alright, I thought, let me just pop open the rest of the can so I can finally eat this rice and beans. Then the unthinkable happened.
Okay, it’s not unthinkable whatsoever. There’s definitely a high chance of this happening any time you’re dealing with sharp cans. I should’ve considered this possibility before my impulse and impatience kicked in.
As I celebrated my triumph over aluminum and a manual can opener, I looked down to see that the can of beans had actually beat me.
There was a fresh diagonal slice across the top of my middle finger. In favor of withholding the gnarliest details for the weaker stomachs out there, it was menacing.
I never get injured. How could this have happened? (In hindsight, prying open a jagged aluminum can with my bare hands wasn’t the best idea. Especially not when I’d been writing an essay all day and was rather delirious.)
I calmly let out the revelation. “Ohhhh, I just cut my finger open.”
My three roommates popped their heads out of their bedroom doors in tandem. They all stared at the cut with pained looks on their faces.
When I looked back down and saw the crime scene pouring out of my finger, I started shaking.
One of my roommates, Kila, immediately went into Mom mode.
“Put your hand under the cold water.”
I redirected my hand to the sink and started wincing at the first real sensation of pain coming from this cut. I think I was too far in shock that I’d injured myself in such a dumb way to feel the sting at first.
Kila went on, using her logical thought processes to deduce the next step. “Alright, urgent care’s closed by now, so we’re going to the ER.”
She helped wrap my finger in paper towels, but they quickly went from white to red. Shocked by the amount of damage a manual can opener is capable of, I threw on shoes with one hand and grabbed my health insurance card.
Kila took me in her car since I don’t have one on campus. We pulled up to the UNC Emergency Room in a matter of minutes since she’s a Chapel Hill native. She was narrating a time she broke her finger and was in that building for six hours.
She dropped me off and found parking. I walked in, and the receptionist had bug eyes at my hand. We’d wrapped it in paper towels and a Target plastic bag, so she likely thought I’d chopped the whole hand off or something crazy.
She asked me the normal questions like my birthday and then asked for my social security number. “The whole thing?” She nodded.
Boy, was I grateful for the college application period where I probably wrote that number down 30 times. That was the only way I would’ve known what it was.
I was then immediately redirected to a man who examined my hand. When I took off the bandages, I began hyperventilating again at its condition. He tried to distract me by asking what happened, and he sneered once I divulged that a can of pinto beans led to my demise.
After bandaging it, he sent me back to the general waiting area. We walked through the labyrinth of stretchers and medical supplies. As we kept going back, some people looked like they were in grave condition. Loved ones were by their side, looking stressed and sleep-deprived.
Once I was redirected to a cot, Kila and I decided to watch TikToks together and distract ourselves from our morbid environment.
We were situated across from a counter of employees working on computers. Remembering her favorite part of her last ER experience, Kila waited for an employee to make eye contact with her and then asked,
“Y’all still got a Wendy’s in here?”
They looked at each other sheepishly and then said no.
A woman pushing a portable computer came by to collect my health insurance and an ID. Kila had to sign the waivers on my behalf since my finger was out of commission. When asked for her relation to the patient, she signed “best friend.” We belly-laughed at the cheesiness of it with the ER employee.
One by one, I was seen by various people who analyzed the cut, decided to use adhesive instead of stitches, brought the cut back together and made a splint for me.
We got up to leave, and Kila reminded me to ask for an itemized receipt. (An aside: any time you go to the ER, ask for an itemized receipt. They don’t want you to see that they charge exorbitant prices for minimal things or services that weren’t actually completed (I’m talking $50 for a Tylenol pill kind of ridiculous.) If you ask for an itemized receipt, they’ll often remove some of the most frivolous charges, and you’ll end up with a less expensive bill than before.)
I paid a hefty co-pay, and we were finally out. Even though the story is far from a fairy tale, it got a happy ending in a sense. Kila got her Wendy’s after all. I bought her a spicy nugget meal on the way home for her troubles and help along the way.