Friday, December 4th, 2009

Almost every night of my life I go to bed with a plan as to what I will be doing the next day. Almost every single day, something goes awry.

Thursday, December 3rd, I went to bed, and my Friday looked like this:

  • get up
  • have breakfast
  • go to hand therapy
  • get out of hand therapy and go to the vet to pick up medicine
  • get gas
  • go home to have lunch
  • go to see Little Women (The Musical)
  • go home to drop the kid off
  • run to Costco
  • take kid to the show she is assistant stage managing for
  • go home and get more work done
  • pick kid up from the show
  • eat dinner
  • go home


On Friday I got up and I had breakfast and went to hand therapy. Hey, so far, so good.

I sat and waited and waited. Hand therapy has never started late before, but I used the time to contact the person who had my play tickets. I had forgotten to get them from her when I saw her on Saturday, so the new plan had been she would hand them off to somebody else who was going to the play. I wanted to find out who had the tickets.

She still had the tickets.

Hand therapy finally started, late, and of course, ended late. Instead of heading to the vet, I needed to go pick up the tickets. At breakfast the kid had suggested we could go out for lunch, but on the way back from getting the tickets (ticket holder and I don’t live near each other) I called and told the kid to just eat. We were going to be very tight getting to the play.

Got home and looked up the address from the place the play was held, because the tickets just said the name of the theater, assuming I’d know. I got the address and went out to the car. The nav system was unfamiliar with the address. It knew the street, but the construction was too new to have the address listed. That got me close. We sorted out the rest and pulled into the parking lot 5 minutes before the show was scheduled to start.

Little Women happened. It ran A LOT longer than I was expecting. We rushed home so she could get ready to leave for the show. I wanted her to go with me to gas, Costco, and the vet because I didn’t think I’d have time to come back for her and still get her downtown for her show.

I went upstairs to use the computer for a few minutes while she gathered her snack and stuff for the show. I was sitting at my computer when I heard crashing and thudding. I yelled out to her… got up and started moving, and yelled out again.

In response, I hear, “It hurts.”

Fuck. So, I’m moving faster, but not sure where she is. It sounded like something tumbling down the stairs. She wasn’t at the bottom of the first set of stairs. “Where are you?” I yell, as I am about to open the basement door to look, but she made a groaning noise from the kitchen so I went in there, to find her sprawled on the floor, kind of sitting, with her legs akimbo and tangled in the barstools. “What did you do?”

“I fell, and my hand is stuck.”


“I tried to stop myself from falling, and I can’t get my hand out.”

I got closer to her and moved the barstools out of the way. Her legs were REALLY tangled up in them. Then I took a look to see what she was talking about. Her right arm was up and twisted around and her hand was palm flat against the fridge with the hand through the refrigerator handle. Her fingers were through the freezer handle (side by side).

“You have to get up, you can’t move your arm from that position. You’ll have to lift with your body.”

“I can’t. I’m stuck. It hurts.”

“What hurts? Your elbow?” (things are twisted around really awkwardly)

“No. My hand.”

I try to lift her off the floor by her armpits to give her a better angle on moving her hand. She shrieks at me. I let go. I move a barstool and tell her to use it to lift herself up. She tries but collapses in pain.

I look at her hand again. It seems… fine really, just in the door handle. It went in there. Take it out.

I tell her I’ll try to move it. I touch it. She shrieks. I try to slide it. She shrieks. I poke at her shoulder and elbow again and ask where it hurts, and again she tells me her hand. I get some ice out of the in door dispenser and put it in a baggy to put on her arm.

“Look, you’ve got to get your hand out before it swells up and really gets stuck.”

“Believe me. I’d LOVE to,” she snarls.

I begin looking at the door handle to figure out how to remove it.

Now I may as well take a minute to point out something you might already know. I’m not soft and cuddly. It isn’t that I am bad in a crisis. I’m just not very comforting. This makes me bad for some people. I like information. Then I want more information. Then I want a plan of action. Then I want action. I’d like all this extremely rapidly. I’m not warm and nurturing, and I don’t do “everything will be just fine” unless I have some kind of proof that things are going to be fine.

My kid tends to get a little anxiety filled in a crisis, and with the anxiety comes a lack of clear communication. I want a description of the pain so I can try to figure out what is happening. She just keeps letting me know there is pain. We’ve been having this same thing happen since she was little.

It isn’t that I am completely lacking in maternal instincts, but… it is kind of overrun by my instinct to, “leave the squawking one before the noise and weakness and fear draws predators to the rest of the pack”.

So, because I cannot get a good assessment of pain out of her, I try threatening her. “Do I need to call 911?” One of the things I passed onto my daughter through a lovely combination of nature and nurture is a complete dislike for strange people invading our home, and any medical person ever touching us, ever, but especially when they are unknown, and we are in pain and feeling vulnerable.

“Well I can’t stay like this!” she snaps.

Oh. Interesting. She is open to the concept of needing to call 911. That has NEVER been her response.

I decide it is time to call her father. He’s nicer in situations like these and has more of a calming effect. I do this while digging out the refrigerator manual in hopes of finding some instructions on how to remove the door handle, but my initial examination of the handle has not left me feeling hopeful.

Him: Hello?
Me: I think you need to come home. I’ve got a bit of a problem here, and I actually think I’m going to have to call 911.
Him: What?
Me: It’s fine, but Z fell and is in pain and she’s kind of stuck… you should just come home.
Him: Okay. But, what’s going on?
Me: I don’t know! She fell and she got her hand (I start laughing) stuck in the refrigerator door (I say, laughing all the way HOHOHO).
Kid/Regan MacNeil (and yes, I think her head might have spun around) screams: Yeah it sounds fucking funny, but it fucking hurts!
Him (who cannot actually hear WHAT she is screaming): Stop saying 911, you are freaking her out.
Me: Just come home.

I look through the manual, but it has no instructions for the door handle. I continue to encourage her to keep trying to get out. This continues to annoy the shit out of her. I tell her I that I didn’t bring any of my saws from California, so I think I’ll need to call 911 so they can saw it off. “But, I still need my hand,” she informs me. I try to reassure my suffering from shock child that the saw would be for the handle, and not her arm, and I laugh at her a bit more. She tells me she needs to call her stage manager, because she won’t be able to do the sound board like this.

I again try to ascertain what type of pain she is feeling, is it deep bone pain, or surface pain. She tells me she can’t feel her hand at all anymore.

Well, fuck.

I explain to her that I think it is time to call 911, and she doesn’t argue in the slightest. I pick up my phone to call, but there is an incoming call.

Me: Hello? Where are you?
Him: I’m on my way. WHERE is she again?
Me: In the kitchen.
Him: I don’t understand. What’s going on?
Me: Look, you are just going to have to see it. I need to call 911 now. Are you almost here?
Him: Are you sure?
Me: I’ll see you in a few minutes.

I call 911, and start my call with “This is going to sound really strange, but…” and proceed to explain that my daughter is stuck in the refrigerator door handle. Blah blah blah. Help. She tells me she is sending the police and paramedics and that they will get her out.

I look through the manual again. Troubleshooting does not cover this issue. At all. Fuckers.

Her father arrives home, gives me a WTF look, and I wave him toward the kitchen. I hear him trying to convince her to, you know, just take her hand out. More anger and pain and frustration (and possibly pea soup) spurt out of her. He laughs at her less than I do, because he is much nicer.

I go out to look for the cavalry. The first to arrive is a police officer. He tells me to give him a couple of screwdrivers, and he’ll get her out. He asks how she is doing. I tell him she is freaking out. He tells me to take care of her, and he’ll take care of the handle. I don’t bother to explain to him that it would actually be more efficient to switch roles. I give him the requested screwdrivers and go out to meet the pulling up EMTs.

The police officer is totally unable to get her out.

The EMTs (3 of them) come in and check her shoulder and elbow and then poke at her fingers a bit. They slather lubricant all over the bits of her hand they can reach, the door, and the handle. Then one guy tries to brace the door and pull on the handle, to flex it and give her a bit more space. He slips and just opens the door a bit instead. More screaming. Later she told me it took everything she had not to kick him. He got the door shut again, pushed his fist against it with more force, and pulled on the handle again. Another guy grabbed her arm and hand and forced it up, and she was free. There was a valley in the back of her hand, near her thumb. At the deepest part it was about 1/2 inch in.

They tested everything and determined that it wasn’t broken, and we all chatted as the officer worked on the police report. They’d never seen anything quite like it before. They admitted to being very curious when the call description came up on their screen (maybe that’s why they sent 4 guys?). One lamented not getting a photo of it with his cell phone before they got her unstuck. Uh huh. Internet, anyone?

Anyhow, soon the emergency services crew were gone, and the family tried to salvage what we could out of our day.

By Monday we did end up needing to take her in to have her hand checked because she was complaining so much of cold intolerance, and her hand was often physically colder than the other one. The doctor ordered x-rays which verified the previous determination that nothing was broken. She said the cold intolerance was due to crushed nerves and capillaries. Supposedly she should be in good shape in about two months.

So, yeah, neither one of us have proper use of our right hands.

Give me a fucking break.

I had to invite strangers into my house.

To rescue my teenager from the fridge.


This is my life.


ETA: I did get the handle off later. It would not have helped. Actually, it just would have injured her more.

Hop Woof
An Incident

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