The Five-Hundred-Dollar Cut

Cut on HandI had just bought the utility knife from Home Depot. It was brand-new and razor sharp.

Combine that with my inexperience with cutting old carpet from an even older flight of stairs, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Always cut away from your body, never toward it, I’d been told. Especially with a knife that’s that sharp.

But I forgot. Or wasn’t listening, as sometimes the case may be.

The accident happened in a flash. It was so quick, I’m not even sure how I did it. But the cut on the side of my hand was deep, the wound resembling two lips with plenty of blood oozing in between.

The cut didn’t even hurt, but I instantly knew this was no Band-Aid-variety wound. Light-headedness prompted by the shock of what I’d just done descended on me for a few minutes. “I’m so sorry,” I said to Kim, my wife. “I’m gonna have to go to Emergency.”

The cut was definitely deep enough for stitches, and I wanted to do the right thing, especially for an especially essential part of human anatomy such as my left hand. (I’m a righty myself, but the left hand’s pretty important for tasks like squeezing the toothpaste tube. And of course typing.)

Off I trotted to the ER, which was crowded on a Saturday morning with a good number of folks who were in a much sadder state than I was. Some clutched the afflicted body part and moaned. One woman openly wept. A teen boy lay on his side, his head on his mother’s lap.

Now I felt silly for taking up prime space for something as mundane as a two-inch cut. But the registration nurse who called my number after an hour-and-a-half wait assured me it was no superficial wound. Another hour later a muttering, exasperated nurse ushered me through a door, down a corridor, and into an examination room—pushing a wheeled computer along with her

“Computers, computers, computers,” she said just before she gave me a tetanus shot right in the deltoid. “Can you believe it? Thanks to this mandate, I have to add all this new information in now, and we never had to do this before.”

I guess my cut and I mattered, but I didn’t feel like it. Not with all her griping about Obamacare.

The baby-blue-uniformed, red-haired guy who dumped iodine on my wound—the painful jolt about sending me through the tiled ceiling—couldn’t stop complaining about the mandate either.

“We spent over six figures on this new database, thanks to the mandate. But do you think this database will be compatible with the databases in the big hospitals across the country? Oh no. It’s supposed to make us all more efficient, but it won’t.”

Wow, two health care professionals in a row were openly griping about Obamacare—and their remarks were completely unsolicited. I hadn’t said a word to prompt his diatribe, though I assured him I hadn’t voted for that guy last November. A faint smile graced his lips as he stuck a sharp needle in my hand.

I wasn’t supposed to feel a thing, due to the numbing shot, but I certainly did. I told him so, but he didn’t seem to notice; he was too busy muttering ungraciously about the Affordable Health Care Act.

He assured me that though the cut was deep, it would mend, though there would be a scar. I just looked at him. A scar? I’d naively thought stitches would do away with anything like that. After all, why else get stitches? Isn’t this the year 2013?

Whatever. I guess I should have stayed home and used a butterfly bandage.

Another painful jab. I turned my head away—I couldn’t look. But I didn’t feel as much pain as I did when the bill came in the mail a few weeks later.

More than $500 for a tetanus shot and simple stitches on a two-inch cut? I gaped at it, feeling like I’d been scammed.

My wife wasn’t surprised. “Just wait,” she said. “Obamacare hasn’t even officially kicked in yet.”

Oh joy.

I still love my country, and I think we have the best health care system in the world—or at least we will for a few more months. Ultimately, though, what the experience taught me (other than that I’m too clumsy to handle sharp utility knives) was that I have much to be grateful for.

The cut was deep. I could have severed tendons and lost the use of my thumb. But I didn’t. In time, I was told, the scar will fade. Even the slight numbness in my thumb will probably go away.

No complaints from me. I can use my hand just like I used to—I’m happy. Besides, nobody’s gonna be dating my left hand anyhow, so he doesn’t need to be “purty.”

What else did I learn? Some of the folks in the ER that day didn’t seem as blessed as I was. Some had seemed poised on the very edge of despair. I’m glad I don’t have to live in despair. I have hope beyond the misery of ERs, two-inch cuts, and stitches. And in time the $500-plus bill be only a distant memory, a story to chuckle over with my grandkids, the Lord willing.

I am truly a blessed man.

Question: What about you? Have you ever done some stupid/humbling thing? What did God teach you through the experience?

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4 thoughts on “The Five-Hundred-Dollar Cut

  1. Rhoda J Blumer

    Hundreds maybe thousands of stupid things. What I have learned is that I can be pretty stupid at times. Had a lot of people looking for my car keys last Sunday. They were eventually found in the waste container in the girls bathroom. I had washed my hands before church after shelving some dusty books in the Church library and had set my keys on the counter by my purse and without realizing it pushed the keys into the trash hole in the counter top. Will I ever learn to put my keys in my purse every time I need too.? Maybe that is what I learned from this experience.

  2. Kristen Stieffel

    It wasn’t an ER visit, but a pediatrician appointment that taught me to count blessings. When my son was about a year old, he had recurring ear infections, so I often got a call at work from the day care center to pick him up because he had a fever. Thankfully my boss never complained, but I had to leave work and get him to the doctor for antibiotics. On one of these visits I was sitting in the waiting room whining to God (why meeee…?), a couple walked in with a newborn connected to some kind of monitor. Instantly my prayer changed to ine of thanks that my baby had been born healthy, and all I had to worry about was a little infection once in a while.

  3. Adam Blumer Post author

    Thanks, Kristen. Just recently I had a similar experience. Someone dear to me is going through some very difficult circumstances, and I realized that wow, my problems are really nothing in comparison.

  4. Adam Blumer Post author

    Thanks, Mom. I’ve done similar things too. It’s always a humbling experience, and I always wonder when I’ll learn my lesson. Sometimes I’m a pretty slow learner. Love you.

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