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Cut over to the Red Cross and bleed to ensure emergency rooms get enough blood

In this file photo, Lauren Tice, right, talks with other blood donors as collection specialist Michelle Boozer monitors her progress during the Gift of Life Blood Drive at the Phenix City-Russell County Public Library.
In this file photo, Lauren Tice, right, talks with other blood donors as collection specialist Michelle Boozer monitors her progress during the Gift of Life Blood Drive at the Phenix City-Russell County Public Library. rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com

Online, you can find a 1970s “Saturday Night Live” video of Dan Aykroyd in drag playing TV chef Julia Child, who after an on-air chicken-deboning mishap says, “Now I’ve done it! I’ve cut the dickens out of my finger!”

She subsequently bleeds all over the set before passing out face down on the table. In raw chicken. Which is very dangerous.

Every bad cut is a moment of reflection, in a way: A time to pause and say, “Do I have to go to the ER or Urgent Care or call 911 or just put a bandage on this?”

For my last bad cut, I dropped by a fire station on the way to the ER, after fumbling a glass bowl of pasta that broke in my hands and sliced through the base of my right pinky.

It was vegetarian pasta, because eating meat is very dangerous.

I wrapped my hand in two bandanas and drove straight to the station, where the medics in surgical gloves peeled the bandanas off and put them in biohazard bags for disposal.

Had I not been bleeding profusely, I would have said, “Hey! Those were already red, and they cost like three dollars each! Kmart’s not going to be in business forever, you know!”

They packed my hand in gauze and tape and sent me on to the emergency room, the collective memory of stupid mistakes. (“How did you almost cut your finger off?” “I was trying to eat an ordinary bowl of spaghetti, except it didn’t have any meat in it, and ...”)

The first cut is the deepest, but the second also bloodies the set.

On Saturday, I was using a pocket knife to cut off the plastic ring that seals the screw lid on a drink bottle, because if you don’t break those rings, they get wrapped around wild animals’ necks and kill them. So they’re very dangerous.

The ring wouldn’t break, so I put too much force into it until the plastic snapped and the blade slid off the bottle and down the inside of my left thumb.

“Now I’ve done it!” I should have said, in a Julia Child voice. “I’ve cut the dickens out of my finger!”

Instead I thought of the comedy “There’s Something About Mary,” in which Ben Stiller gets himself snagged in his pants zipper before a cop yanks it free, and the next scene’s a paramedic yelling, “WE’VE GOT A BLEEDER!”

Knowing cheap cotton bandanas do not suffice, I ran cold water over an old towel, put some ice in it, wrapped it tightly around the cut and held it over my head until the bleeding slowed long enough to pack my thumb in gauze and tape it like a mummy.

So, no trip to the fire station or the ER, this time.

Unfortunately, this may mean no trip to the blood donor center this week, too. I was going to go donate blood, because the Red Cross (www.redcross.org) has a critical shortage, thanks to all the wildfires and hurricanes disrupting the supply.

But the agency has certain standards, for the blood it accepts, and I can imagine the staff staring at my mummy thumb and saying, “Oh, heck no! We’re not even going to ask whether you’ve ever eaten a mad cow burger in Britain or traded money or drugs for sex! You are not coming in here and bleeding all over our blood donor center!”

People who have not cut the dickens out of themselves may give blood, as they still have some left, but I may have to hold off.

On the plus side, I did get to keep the bloody towel, this time.

It’s not like I can just go to Kmart and buy another one, you know.

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