Terri breathed in deep as the blood pulsated and splattered on the cabinet and pooled on the kitchen floor. Her heart raced and pounded in her chest. It matched the pumping of the blood. She had to calm down. She had to slow the blood loss. Her brain registered that. Her body did not.
The room seemed to appear on a movie screen. She sat in the audience and watched the bloody scene before her.
“Get a towel around it!” she shouted from her viewing position.
Finally, Terri snapped back to reality and grabbed the towel that hung over the cabinet door under the sink. Wrapping it tight against the cut on her hand, she gingerly stepped over the glass pieces scattered on the floor.
Keys. She needed to find the car keys.
Taking another steading breath, she stopped moving and let her eyes roam around the room. On the coffee table? Kitchen table? On the counter? There! Her purse lay in the seat of a kitchen chair where she had dropped it coming in from the store. The keys peeked out from the unzipped purse.
As she grabbed her purse, she noticed the darkened red of the once pale yellow towel. She needed to the hospital quickly.
On the way to the car, she kept muttering, “Calm down. Breathe deep.”
She had awkwardly got her purse under her arm while keeping pressure on her cut hand. Opening and closing the door was even more difficult. She nearly left it hanging open, but managed to get it to click into place with a bit of maneuvering with her elbow.
The car was even more difficult, but she managed to get in and close the door. Pulling the keys out of her purse while holding her hand tight against her leg, she realized it was the right hand that was cut. She’d have to use her left hand to start the car. Twisting the key around as well as her torso, she jabbed and missed the ignition.
“Calm down. Go slow.”
After two more attempts, she got the key in and turned the car on. More awkward moves got the got in gear.
Slowly, she backed the car out of the driveway. Terri shifted gears again as she grimaced in pain. Pressing the gas pedal was the easiest part. Calm and speed could be partners after all.
“I don’t understand!”
Her words echoed in her mind as she barely paused at a stop sign before turning right with only one hand.
“Stay calm. Focus,” she reminded herself.
She nearly ran a red light but caught herself in time. It was a good thing as a minivan passed by in front of her.
Her hand throbbed. The shock was wearing off, and the pain was becoming too much of a distraction.
“Just like you to find the negative in everything.”
She kept her hand pressed against her stomach as she drove toward the hospital. A warmth against the her skin told her the blood was getting on her shirt. How deep was the cut?
Relief flooded over her as the entrance to the hospital appeared on the other side of the four way stop. Slowing slightly, she sped through once she knew no other cars approached the controlled intersection.
Realizing she couldn’t park well with only her left hand, she pulled into the handicap spot and left the car there. With her hand held tight to her chest and her purse hung over her elbow, she pushed forward into the ER’s main doors.
Terri didn’t get a chance to ask for help. One look at her and the woman at the admitting desk called out for help. Three figures in scrubs ran up to her as she gave in and let her legs collapse. A wheelchair took her weight as voices swirled around her.
“My hand. I cut it.”
She let herself fall into blackness.
“I don’t understand why you are angry. I only asked for help.”
“It’s not that. It’s your tone.”
“The one you always have when you are trying to point out how worthless I am.”
A beeping sound was the first sound that penetrated the darkness. Its steady sound slightly comforted her. She lay still for several minutes before the smell around her pricked at her mind. She wasn’t at home. The smell was too…medicinal.
Her eyes flew open. Beige walls and a geometric patterned curtain filled her vision. Hospital?
Memories dumped on her like a tsunami. Glass. Sound of breaking. Pain. Blood. She had driven herself to the hospital.
Terri glanced down and found her hand tightly bandaged. A dull throb pulsated up her arm. Sliding her eyes around, she saw the IV in her left arm. A large bag of saline and a smaller bag of possible painkillers hung from the IV pole.
She closed her eyes and sighed. All was being taken care of.
The curtain rustled. Terri opened her eyes to see a young woman in scrubs smile at her.
“You’re awake. Are you in pain?” The nurse walked over to inspect the IV bags and then Terri’s vitals.
Terri found her mouth dry as she tried to respond. Licking her lips and swallowing, she managed a rough, “Not sure.”
“Let me get you some water.” The nruse disappeared around the curtain.
Terri focused on taking deep breaths. The pain in her hand gradually increased as she became more aware. In a few minutes, the nurse reappeared with a Styrofoam cup with a straw in it.
“Want to sit up a bit?”
Only then did Terri realize she was flat on her back. She nodded and watched as the nurse pulled a lever to raise her head a few degrees.
“Here you go.” The nurse put the straw against Terri’s lips.
The cool water was a welcome relief to Terri as she sucked on the straw and let the coolness linger in her mouth before swallowing. She felt the first couple of swallows hit her empty stomach with a frigid shock that rippled out to her fingers and toes.
Finished, she laid her head back and sighed. “My hand…”
“A nice cut you came in with. We stitched you up. Nearly twenty stitches. Now that you are awake, maybe you can elaborate on what happened.”
“Why are you so surly?”
“Do I have to explain?”
“The pain…” Terri began.
“I’ll get you some morephine.”
Terri glanced up at the smaller IV bag. “That’s not it?”
The nurse shook her head. “No. Since we had no idea what had happened, the doctor ordered a round of antibiotics. I’ll be right back.”
“Just be patient.”
“Stop saying that.”
Terri’s head began to pound as the pain in her hand increased. The minutes dragged until the nurse reappeared with a small syringe.
“So how did you get such a nice cut?” The nurse worked on the computer at the side of the bed and scanned Terri’s wrist and the label on the syringe.
“A glass.” Terri blinked. “I was washing dishes, and a glass broke.”
The nurse nodded as she connected the syringe to the IV tube. “It’s amazing how many injuries occur from everyday actions in the kitchen.”
“When can I go home?” Terri wondered if she had turned the faucet off. Was it even on when she cut herself?
“Please don’t go!”
“As soon as the doctor okays it and your husband arrives.”
“Why? Please come back!”
“Jon? He knows?” She felt the pull of the morphine but snapped alert at the mention of her husband.
“Yes. He was listed as the emergency contact. Should be here soon.”
“How long have I been here? Her words began to slur.
“About an hour. Just rest.”
“Jon, can you help bring in the groceries?” Terries words came out winded as she balanced the bags in her arms and held the door open with her backside.
Her husband sat on the couch and stared blankly at the television. It was a rerun everyday after spending the morning job hunting. Every weekday for six months.
Terri signed. “Jon, please help me.”
He looked up at her, his eyes slightly bloodshot. “Give me a minute.”
Terri shook her head and made her way into the kitchen to sit the grocery bags on the table. “Never mind. I’ll do it.” Ice cream was melting in the car.
“Now why do you have to say that?” Jon narrowed his eyes.
“Because I don’t want to leave the trunk open for the next hour while you finish whatever you watching.” Without waiting for a reply, Terri walked out to retrieve the rest of the groceries. To avoid a third trip, she loaded her arms until the bags cut through the light sweater she wore. She tottered toward the house and fumbled with the door that had closed behind her. Finally, she got it open and waddled into the kitchen where she lowered her burden with a loud sigh. Her arms stung from the pain of the plastic bags piled on them.
“Just like you to find the negative in everything.”
Her head shot up at Jon’s words. “What do you mean?”
His eyes remained on teh television.
“Jon, what does that mean?”
“You had to comment on me not doing things the way you always want them.” He never looked at her.
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.” She stood for several moments as her husband glowered at the show he had been watching. “Please listen.” Her mouth tightened. “I don’t understand why you are angry. I only asked for help.”
He turned toward her. “It’s not that. It’s your tone.”
Terri blinked. “What tone?”
Jon gave a snort. “The one you always have when you are trying to point out how worthless I am.”
She shook her head. “You know I don’t believe that. I can’t get you to talk to me. Why are you so surly?”
“Do I have to explain? I’ve lost my job of ten years. I can’t find another one. My own wife has to support me. What kind of man am I?
Terri felt tears prick her eyes. “Honey, I know it’s hard. Others are facing the same challenge. Just be patient.”
Jon slammed the remote down on the end table and shouted. “Stop saying that! You are not the one turned away day after day.
She took a step toward him. “Please, Jon…”
“Shut up!” He stood up and reached for his jacket slung over the arm of the couch.
Terri rushed toward him. “Don’t go.”
He ignored her and stomped toward the door.
“Please don’t go.” Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks.
The door slammed shut. Terri stood alone in the living room. In a whisper, she pleaded, “Why? Please come back!”
Terri felt heavy. She licked her lips and felt a straw placed against them. Greedily, she took the straw and drew in several gulps of cold water. Her mid pieced it all together quickly. Hospital. Hand. Stitches.
She didn’t want to open her eyes. Sleep was all she desired, but she had began to throb again.
Reluctantly, opening her eyes, Terri blinked at the bright lights, but her eyes widened at the sight of Jon holding the cup she had just taken a drink from.
“Jon!” she whispered.
Her husband leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Hush. You don’t need to say a word. Let me talk.” He rubbed his hand over her hair. “I’m sorry. I’m the reason you were hurt.”
She shook her head. “An accident.”
She held up her good hand. “Hush. Sometimes words complicate things.”