Monday, January 31, 2005


Lo, these years gone by, I used to play a lot in a history group call the Society for Creative Anachronism. It specializes in medieval history, including using weapons made of rattan in combat. Make your own armor, go to events, become a character, etc. Due to the normal incidence of people getting injured even without meeting in a ring to hit each other with sticks, there was always someone around with some first-aid training. The local guy who was pretty much in charge of this went by Andreas, and was a fully trained EMT- it was his real-life job.

One summer my then-wife and I went to a war between Ansteorra(Oklahoma & Texas) and the Middle Kingdom(Kansas, Missouri and somewhere else). The first thing that happened was we discovered the wife was allergic to chiggers; when you find this out in a campground that has just been mowed for the first time in a couple of months, you've got a problem. If you're not familiar with the little bastards, they are a tiny- as in sharp pencil point tiny) little red insect that gets into your skin to feed on your blood. They inject an anticoagulant like a mosquito, but the itch caused by a chigger is a mosquito times ten. Unless you're allergic, then it's times God knows what. Since this was a War, there were a number of medical types around, including at least one doctor, and they provided a tube of some ointment that helped some. I had no chigarid, and nobody had any nail polish I heard of, so that couldn't be done(chigarid is a liquid that you dab over the chigger, it dries and kills it and helps kill the itch; nail polish will kill the bug also, though it doesn't seem to help the itch much). So she used most of a tube of the stuff and spent a large part of the weekend fairly miserable.

My own need for assistance came from clumsiness. I found a loose end of a wire on a sword hilt, and drew my knife to seee if I could push it back into place. Oops, slip, and the point skated off and sliced through my left hand on the thumb side of the index finger knuckle. Ok, wipe the knife off and sheath it, sheath the sword. A friend named Brian was standing there while I did this, and inquired did I have a bandage? Yes, of Course, I have bandaids in the tent! So I hold my left hand out so as not to drip on the floor and dig out a bandaid. Then we decided I really should wash it off first, so we walked about a 1/4 mile to the faucet, and rinsed it off. Then I stood there dripping red as we had the thought that, you know, bandaids don't stick real well on wet skin. Looking about, we spotted Andreas, set up with all gear handy near the water. So we walked over. "Andreas , to you have any gauze?"

Andreas was a BIG guy, currently sitting on a stool swapping stories with people. "Do I have gauze, of course I have gauze." Pause. "What do you need gauze for?" I held up my hand and said, "I cut myself".

You know how even a small cut, if you have water on the area, winds up looking terrible? This wasn't too bad a cut, but it had been bleeding fairly well, and now my whole hand was wet, so I now had red literally dripping off.
I'd never seen his face change that way. It froze for a second, and he jumped up and said "Sit down!"

"It's not that bad, I just need to-"


Ok, ok, I sat down, and he sat down with a whole kit and began cleaning. Happily it had missed, or maybe barely nicked the vein, so after proper cleaning he put a pressure bandage on it, fairly bulky because of the location. So far so good. By the time he was done he had calmed down, and everyone there who'd looked at my hand and went "!*&$*!" had calmed down. However...

The bandage made it look like I'd damned near cut my hand in two, and I spent the rest of the weekend explaining no, I hadn't slipped with an axe, or no, it hadn't happened in the battle. But dammit, if I'd been single I could have played it into some interesting times. "Yes, it WAS bloody awful. But you just can't stop in the middle of things, so when all was over I wobbled over to the healer, and now I can't use my hand very well. Can you get that lace loose yourself, darlin'?" "Why no, I can't; however, if you'll roll this on we'll see how I work one-handed", etc.

I thought about introducing this in fairy tale fashion, except this is all true. Including that I used to hit people with sticks. For entertainment, I mean. Not for- never mind.
(start of a southern fairy tale: "You're not gon' believe this")

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