Second of two parts.
my leg did not hurt right away. it ached a little, sort of a dull ache, and i decided that it must be OK. i refused to look at it, or let anybody else look at it; my imagination was too vivid. i pictured it black and bubbly, like burned cheese, and this was not something i cared to see attached in any way to my person.
so for the next day or two, i got up, got dressed, went to work, and tried to put it out of my mind.
but each day it hurt a little more, and i limped a little more.
and then on the fourth day, i got out of bed and realized that i could not walk.
i don't remember, now, who took me to the hospital. perhaps i drove myself. perhaps it was my parents, who lived about five miles away. perhaps it was B himself. (it was definitely not Scott Baio.) in any case, the ER referred me to the burn unit, where they told me that they needed to debride the injury first, to determine the serverity of the burn.
this did not bother me, because i didn't know what the word debride meant.
but i do now.
i will tell you this as gently as i can. every day, i walked into Miller-Dwan's burn unit and was brought to a room where i stuck my leg into a big stainless steel whirlpool bath of bleach and water. the swirling water helped loosen the dead skin. and then a dark-haired nurse who had little patience for my self-pitying whimpers dried me off and went at my burn for a while with tweezers.
and then, when i was weeping and in entirely too much pain to walk, they wheeled me back out of the hospital and somebody drove me home.
we did this every day for two weeks, until they were able to clear away enough dead skin to determine that yes, i needed a skin graft.
there's not much to say about that. once i was admitted to the burn unit, i understood the nurse's lack of empathy for my small singe. my floor was full of people who had suffered far, far worse than i had. most of them were swathed in bandages. my sniveling must have looked pretty damned Princess-like, in that context.
doing the graft was fairly simple: they simply peeled a piece of skin off of my butt and stitched it to the back of my leg. (i, of course, was unconscious at the time.)
the burn instantly stopped hurting; apparently oxygen is what causes the pain, and as soon as the burn was covered it up with new skin, the pain went away.
but my butt! oh man. i couldn't sit on that cheek for weeks. for months. the peeled spot was flame-red for years.
i was in the hospital for about a week. while i was there, B's mother called me long-distance from Chicago. "i hope you don't blame B for this," she said, sounding worried.
"of course not," i assured her.
but i did. quite unfairly, but i did.
they sent me home on crutches, and told me i had to stay on the crutches for four months. it was may, a lovely month, the start of everything beautiful and fun. but not for me. may, june, july, august--crutches.
crutches. all summer.
at work, i sat with my leg propped up on a chair. (this has become a habit, by the way. but at the time, it was necessary.) i needed to stay off my leg and keep it elevated, or else the graft might not "take" and they would have to do it again.
i remember one day B and a friend came into my office to borrow my big front counter--they needed room to spread out a map of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area so they could plan a trip.
there i sat, immobile, my bandaged foot on a chair, listening while they talked about two weeks of hiking and paddling in the wilderness.
and i seethed. but mostly, by then, i was seething at myself. there would be no hiking for me that summer. no backpacking. no long walks. no bike rides. a lost summer, because of my own stupidity.
and that hurt more than the burn and the skin graft and the breakup combined.