Flashback Friday: First Aid

Let us put the past week of civil rights violations, idiot mechanics and potentially nasty skin bumps behind us and speak of pleasant things. First, two new articles at the Examiner: Baby Bedtime Gift Basket and Surfer Room Makeover. And below, I offer you a giggling baby. I may market this at $0.50 a view as an alternative to Prozac.

Today’s Flashback Friday is inspired by Hawaii’s rainy season, which started earlier this week and aggravated the knee I dislocated in 2005 in the process of picking up my cell phone. Really! It was the most mundane injury ever. Anyway, I dislike the rainy season because of that, and also because my customary flip flops become slick, smelly, and ripe for slipping and tripping. With a baby in my arms I can’t be flopping about the sidewalk like a fish, so I force my feet into close-toe shoes and hope for sunnier days.

About a year prior to that knee injury, I was living in Madrid with a host family. Host families are funny things, it’s like a blind date with an authoritarian figure that doesn’t speak your language but does occasionally wash your undies. Because I have no talent for languages, I was placed with a roommate but didn’t need her to translate to see that our host mother had some control issues. A nurse by occupation, she had several quirks (my doorknob stuck, for example, and I was often accused of opening the door too loudly) and wanted to be involved whereas I wanted, mostly, to enjoy the quiet. She was nice enough, but I tried to avoid her interventions at all costs as they turned into animated and loud affairs where I was yelled at for eating tomatoes after it was determined that I normally do not eat tomatoes (true story).

One night, out on the town with friends, we ordered wine. Oh, how we ordered wine. And cider. There may have been a platter of wings. I know that there were churros con chocolate from the chocolateria at 4am, reason enough to visit Madrid for anyone who likes using sugar-encrusted pastry to dip up pudding-thick hot chocolate (and if you don’t like that idea, I don’t want to know you). And there was rain, lots of rain that poured down the steps of the Madrid Metro, carrying the filth and pestilence of the urban street with it. And obviously, boarding the 6am train home because in Madrid anyone who goes home on the last midnight train is a sucker, I slipped and fell on the stairs in my seasonally inappropriate rubber flip flops.

This didn’t concern me until that afternoon, when upon waking after passing out on top of my bed fully clothed, I discovered my foot was encrusted in red and black foulness. Close inspection revealed a long gash in my foot, scraped open as I slipped and my ankle rolled. Gently clutching my head to filter the harsh glare of the sun, I ascertained that though filthy, I probably didn’t need stitches for my social blunder. Not wanting to succumb to whatever infection lurked in the stairwells, I knew I needed something to kill the germs and wash out the wound. The problem was that all the first aid materials were in my host mother’s sanctum sanctorum, not to be accessed without specific permission and in my case, pantomime. Not an option.

Gingerly lowering myself in the tub, I swabbed my foot as well as I could with the shower gel. It took care of the external layers of grime, but I could see lots of specs of…something…deep in the cut. It was then that I remembered a souvenir bottle of Absolut Vodka I had picked up a month or so before in a Greek duty-free shop that was collecting dust in my closet. Pouring a shot or two onto a clean sock and thinking that sock that would have served me better the night before, I steeled myself against the nauseating fumes and slapped it against my foot.

The sting was appalling. I yelped like a poodle. It had a wicked bite, but as the days wore on it seemed as though it had served to keep any infection at bay.

So the moral of the story, children, is to keep a bit of vodka or other grain alcohol in your emergency travel kit. An airplane-size bottle will do nicely. Perfect for antiseptic purposes, if you just want to freshen up your juice, will save you from gangrene.

Hey, I didn’t die. It worked well enough. (Hmm, “Hey, I didn’t die” = future memoir title?)

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