Last night during a delicious dinner made by my husband, Doug, amateur chef extraordinaire, I bit down hard into my Thai pork basil curry with yams, zucchini, and eggplant and hit the calloused divot on my tongue, which I have clamped on before. That’s what happens when I eat and talk at the same time—my two favorite activities. No doubt about that!
The blood spurted out. Very scary to say the least. The tongue is very “vascular”, meaning that it is filled with capillaries ready to gush out blood at the least provocation. My mouth filled. Rushing to the bathroom mirror, I gasped to see not only the blood but a flap, u-shaped, in the center of my tongue, now lacerated so deeply that it was loose. What Doug reported was an avulsion—no, not revulsion—a severe laceration of the tongue that is not quite completely ripped off. Not quite. And mostly children and horses succumb to this trauma. The wonders of Internet research!
Two hours later, the ice cubes in my mouth were covered with blood, the large sized Ziplok baggie was filled with blood-drenched paper towels, and the blood had not decreased at all. So, I knew I couldn’t sleep that night without reassurance from someone with medical experience.
On Halloween night no less, at 11:15 p.m., we were in the ER room with about ten other people—no one in costume–waiting for medical attention. Not so bad, I thought. Wrong. Even though I had reported nonstop bleeding and the tongue flap, the others in the waiting room had certainly more serious emergencies: a man with severe gout and pain in a wheel chair, several 20-something males with slashes on their upper thighs. Ask me how I know? One of the less shy guys with low-slung jeans, pulled them down and scrunched up his boxers to show the slashes to his girlfriend. I winced, and swallowed the blood down my throat.
Around 1:00 a.m. the triage nurse called me in, kindly swabbed the tongue and gave me a box of gauze pads to exert strong pressure to staunch the bleeding. Then, I was instructed to go back and sit down in the waiting room. By 2:30 a.m. there were a lot more young men with a few female supporters (companions?) waiting. One had fainted. Another had severe trauma to his head. His friend seemed very calm. Asked me if I had that day’s Monterey Herald (I was reading the Wall Street Journal), because he wanted to see an article about himself working at the Fish Hopper restaurant.
At almost 4:00 a.m. I was too wiped out to stay. My medical emergency didn’t seem so bad now. The bleeding had stopped, but my tongue was so swollen my mouth wouldn’t close. We left, explaining to the triage nurse we understood the circumstances.
Walking out the exit door, it looked like a gathering place of young people loitering in front of a Seven-Eleven. With police standing next to their cars. I refused to jump to conclusions about what happened to the young men inside. I just knew we all had wounds.