Friday, August 17, 2012

a brand new disease

I just needed a tiny bit more stress, didn't I, lord? Tonight, coming home after a haircut to find my house blessedly empty, no Johns, Richards or Kevins, no hammering, ripping or smashing, I poured a glass of rosé, kicked off my shoes, and went out to the deck to sit in the dusky sun and read the newspaper.

And stepped on a nail. Carpenter John had ripped up bits of the deck today for Richard the termite man. He'd carefully put the planks back afterwards, but had missed, obviously, this nail.

My foot was bleeding. It was a rusty nail. All I wanted to do was sit and drink a glass of wine and read the newspaper, but my foot was bleeding and the nail was old. When was my last tetanus shot? No idea. I washed the cut and went on-line, to read that tetanus is almost always fatal - lockjaw etc. What to do? The very last, last, last thing I wanted to do on a Friday night at 6 p.m. was to go to Emerg with a little puncture in my foot.

I called my friend and student Liz, a nurse, left her a panicked message, and went upstairs to check my files, pulling out the file folder marked "Medical." Wonderful - my last tetanus shot was in May 2002. If your shot was within ten years, you are safe. Mine was within ten years, 3 months. Am I safe?

I call the Ontario health line. Liz calls from her car and advises me to soak my foot in soapy water and see what the Teleheath nurse says. The nurse calls. I'm sitting on the deck with my foot in a bowl of soapy water. After many questions, she tells me to get a new tetanus booster within 24 hours. That's okay. That's tomorrow. I can deal with that.

I have drunk 3 glasses of wine in quick succession. Will that help? Certainly. Termites and tetanus, my friends, that's the subject of today's lecture. Disease and pestilence. We're getting biblical here.


  1. Beth,

    I'm sorry to hear about this mishap, although the telling of it was hilarious. I read it aloud to my roommate, and she burst into laughter at the line, "I have drunk 3 glasses of wine in quick succession."

  2. Beth - what a nice name - perhaps I was hoping to repel bacteria with quantities of alcohol. Swabbing it on the wound in my foot might have been more useful, but I preferred to ingest it. Awoke the next morning with a throbbing foot AND a throbbing head. Glad to provide you both with a laugh, though.