Red Hand Truck: Part 6 – The Nurse

The Nurse

I made a beeline to the front desk, pain rising quickly. “I burned my hand,” I said, out of breath.

The receptionist yelled back, “She’s here”. Next thing I knew I was in a chair next to a sink with my hand under cold running water. The nurse had me by the wrist. Firmly. My hand was facing up under the water, my forearm pressed into the side of a stainless steel sink. It hurt.

“This is going to hurt,” she said.


“This will hurt. I’m very sorry. Grit your teeth. Try to keep breathing. I have to scrub your hand.”



She started scrubbing my hand. She had a serious brush and she was not afraid to use it. Wire I guess. I’m not sure. But this was not something she did with any hesitation. There was no “test scrub”. She began to vigorously scrub my hand and I began to scream bloody murder.

I thought this would stop her immediately. I thought that yelling would stop her in her tracks but no. She started humming and talking low but she continued to scrub with total focus.

“I know it hurts honey… it won’t take that long. I’ll scrub as fast as I can. I have to get your hand cleaned.”

I thought she was insane. She had to be. I screamed as loud as I ever have in my life because I thought she must have missed the plot. This was a doctor’s office and what she was doing was inflicting supernatural pain.

I screamed some more, still thinking she would stop what she was doing, or possibly some other nurse will come in and slap her silly. I couldn’t see behind me but I sensed another person in the doorway. No one intervened and the scrubbing nurse  was unfazed. She maintained a firm hold on my wrist and she continued to scrub. Harder than ever it seemed. Sobbing now, I yelled at her, “I can’t stand it.”

“You have to stand it honey. It won’t be that long. I know it hurts but I have to do this. We’ll only have to do this once. It’s very important, there is no other way.”

She sounded sane. She sounded kind. How can that be? And so what. Damned bitch.

I tried to jerk my hand back but she held it firmly and scrubbed with all her might. Fast. She scrubbed fast and the pain was incredible. It was out of this fucking world. She was digging in my hand with the brush. Digging and twisting. Sobbing, I contorted my body and slid off the chair onto the floor. I wound up sitting on the floor faced away from the sink while she held my arm up and bent it backward over the edge of the sink, palm up under the faucet, scrubbing like hell. Scrubbing, humming, singing, soothing.

“As soon as I am done scrubbing we can give you something for the pain and it won’t hurt anymore, honey. I am so sorry, it’s almost done. I’m almost done…”

I stopped with the protest. I quit yelling. I knew she is helping me. I knew it so I gave up. I gave in and I gave over.  I succumbed and I cried and cried and cried and cried.

She scrubbed while I sobbed.  She sang and I sobbed.  She scrubbed and I cried out of control, buckets of tears. Tears just came and came and came. It was now like an accident in slow motion that just kept going and going and going. It was surreal the quantity of tears that had run down my face. Tears and tears and tears.

My whole arm was screaming, so I rolled my head back and forth to check out. I consciously looked up and looked around the room for a window. I’d had enough. I wanted to leave my body now and I felt a calmness come over me. Had I transcended? Fractured something? Was I dead? I didn’t care. I couldn’t stand the pain.

I stared at the corner where the ceiling meets the wall and I began to drift off just as I heard her say “Okay honey, you’re done”. This brought me back with a jolt and a wave of gratitude I’d survived.

“Don’t look at your hand. Just keep you head turned,” she said. “You don’t want to see it, it’s pretty bad. Just give me two minutes and it won’t hurt anymore. Hang on.”

Skip to Part 7 – The Doctor

21 thoughts on “Red Hand Truck: Part 6 – The Nurse”

  1. Well I didn’t expect it, I’ll tell ya that. I went in there thinking they were going to look at my hand a fix it on the spot with no trouble of any kind.

  2. A friend of mine, Jokerman, says had that happened to him he would have beat the nurse with the wire brush. (Mars in Scorpio)

  3. I don’t know. As far as I know this is what had to be done. I am just telling the story (and it is one fuck of a story) exactly as it happened with all my weirdness and idiocy intact. I didn’t know what the hell was going on… obviously. I had never had such an accident in my life or known anyone who had. I really couldn’t believe the whole situation and I will stop here or I will ruin the story.

  4. I have heard of that — I have had it done to me! — for an abrasion where dirt and asphalt were involved, but with a burn? They usually disinfect with heavy duty (soft!) antibiotic ointment. I had a burn recently and no one got near it with a brush. (((elsa’s burn))) No more wire brushes!

  5. omg every other line made me bray outloud & tear up. Holly crap. I once saw skin shriveling & shrinking in real time right after someone burned their hand working on an engine: absolutely brutal. I cant imagine the scrubbing bit. cant cant cant.

    So two minutes later you were “spared”? A drip takes two minutes to kick in…

  6. I couldn’t even read all you wrote re the scrubbing, I honestly think my blood pressure has gone up just reading it. It’s like a scene from a nightmare or a horror movie!!!

  7. WOW.

    for those surprised by the wire brush debridement… if they had not scrubbed Elsa’s hand she probably would have lost it, or the scarring would be so bad she wouldn’t be able to use it.

    they use ointment for less severe burns.

    I have a friend who was a burn nurse at a major trauma center. they use leaches too, for circulation.

  8. OMG Elsa, that is harrowing! Poor thing! I guess I understand after reading what Satori wrote above, but Jesus, isn’t there another way? I was kringing and tearing up like I felt what you felt. Yikes! I hope you don’t even have to go through THAT again!! And as far as the comment of Mars in Scorpio, well I understand their anger at that, I mean at least she could have explained first why she had to do it! {{shudders}}

  9. well I’m glad you went to the doctor in the end from what Satori said: you were able to keep your hand!!! I notice people with Capricorn have this very high tolerance it has to really bad for the Caps I know to get help. SO glad you went~

    anyone knows the reason why they’re not giving pain killer first? am wondering if its because because they want to make sure the person still has undamaged nerve paths or something.

  10. happened to my SO after he grabbed the bottle of gasoline someone threw into the bonfire next to him… and it exploded. he said the debridement was like nothing else he’d ever experienced, and he’s never been easy on himself…

    goddess, me too… this one is a doozy.

  11. What I want to say you Elsa (I can’t because a stuck in traffic) why did not you give her a punch to “Misery”? a good one, with your healthy hand?

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