Friday night I was at home with Lexi while Elian, his dad, and his brothers were having a guys’ night. I decided to make some yummy brownies. Our oven hasn’t been working well, i.e., burning things, so I hung a thermometer right in the middle of the oven to see if the temperature in the oven matched the temperature on the dial. I cooked the brownies at 325, 25 degrees less than what the box said. When they were ready, I took them out and tried to read the thermometer. I wasn’t at a very good angle, so I reached in the oven and tilted the thermometer. I learned 2 things: 1) the center of our oven was actually 375 degrees, and B. I’m a moron. My unprotected forearm touched the top rack of the oven. I pulled back in pain, which made my elbow touch the hot side of the oven door.
What little first aid I do know includes that burns should be placed under running cool water as soon as possible. I went to the sink and did that, observing that this was the worst burn I’d ever had. It wasn’t just red. It wasn’t just a closed blister. I had totally burned the skin off, exposing a bright white layer of live flesh I had never seen before. Hmm. The total burn was two inches long but less than 1 cm wide. The depth concerned me, so I did what any 26 year old would do – I Googled how to treat a burn.
I wish I hadn’t.
A long list of articles popped up, and I clicked the first one. The very first sentence talked about how burns need to be treated very quickly in order to prevent further skin damage. SIXTEEN PARAGRAPHS LATER, this article still hadn’t told me what those imperative steps were that I should have taken 5 minutes ago. Frustrated, I hit the back button and tried the next few articles. They all agreed with the cool water treatment I had already applied. Then they all agreed that, without a medical background, I needed to assess what degree of burn I had. Each article offered several descriptive terms of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns, but I was not confident in my ability to decide if I was staring at a 2nd degree or a 3rd degree burn. Unfortunately, I needed to know that before I could appropriately treat the burn. Plus, each website said conflicting things as to how to treat each type of burn. For instance, some articles told me to put a wet bandage on a 2nd degree burn. Others told me to dry off the area and apply a dry bandage. Some told me to use Neosporin to prevent infection. Some told me not to apply anything, as creams would hold in the burn.
Fifteen minutes had passed since the burn, and I was frustrated. My arm hurt. I was starting to feel nauseous, which totally could have been a coincidence given my current status of super pregnant. So I decided to call Elian and ask him if he would be willing to continue guys’ night at our house, just in case I needed him. His instant reaction was, “Kelly, I need to take you to the hospital.” I’m not sure if it was just hearing his voice, or if it was hormones, or if it was stress, but as I tried to downplay the seriousness of the burn, I started crying. This convinced Elian all the more that he should come home and whisk me away to the ER immediately. I was upset for ruining guys’ night. I was afraid we were overreacting. I didn’t want Elian rushing home to get me, risking his life by driving way too fast and running red lights for a silly burn. But, I finally consented and waited on him.
It was 8 PM by the time he got home. His dad and brother came over to keep Lexi while we went to the ER. On a side note, one annoying thing about living in Olive Branch is there is no hospital. It takes between 25 and 45 minutes, depending on traffic, to get to the nearest Baptist hospital. Which does not comfort me in any way. When one of my children is gushing blood from her head, I don’t want to have to strap her into her car seat and listen to her scream as I hit every red light on Goodman/302 or Riverdale, depending on which hospital I choose. Not only would her screaming be extremely annoying, she’d probably bleed to death before we got to the hospital.
Anyway, we chose to go to the Southaven hospital. We’d never been there before and traffic was light. There was no wait in the ER, either! They took me right back, put me in a comfy chair, and gave me the remote to turn on the NBA Playoffs. The doctor came back, was casual about the burn, and told me it was a 2nd degree burn. She had the nurse clean it out and apply an antibacterial cream to prevent infection. They bandaged me up and sent me home with the cream so I could continue to apply it until the sight of my disfigured arm no longer freaks Lexi out.
I still don’t know if we overreacted. We asked the doctor what she thought, and she gave the stock I-don’t-want-to-get-sued answer, “Well, if you were in pain and were concerned, you needed to be seen.”
As they discharged me less than 2 hrs after I had entered the hospital (that’s an ER record, right?), we remembered that our ER copay, which used to be $100, had sky-rocketed to $250 when our insurance renewed in February. Doh!