Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Burn baby burn

I have a problem. When I'm cooking, I want the food to turn out just right, so I obsessively follow the recipe as much as possible. Usually this turns out fine, but occasionally I'll miss a step or forget to chop an ingredient, so I end up doing two or three things at once and stuff gets rushed in the kitchen.

And when things get rushed in the kitchen, someone gets hurt.

Last night, I was stir-frying the vegetables at the same time as boiling the noodles at the same time that the Mister was chopping the garlic that was supposed to already be in the stir-fry. The noodles were ready, so I quickly dumped them into the colander and, thinking that I'd emptied the pot of all the water, slung the pot back onto the eye.

Only problem was I hadn't gotten all the water out, so I effectively sloshed the just-slightly-less-than-boiling water down my left arm.

It didn't hurt so bad at first. It more just startled me. I abandoned the kitchen and ran to get a towel to dry my arm --"stir the vegetables!" I cried as I ran down the hallway, and THAT is when the pain set in.

Eventually the pain got so bad that I was brought to tears, and thus the Hubs started freaking out. He doesn't really know what to do when I cry or when I'm in pain, so combine the two and he's a hot mess. He sent out a distress signal to the other Americans in the house and our next door neighbor came to the rescue.

He is in the apartment right next to us, and is married to a Thai woman who doesn't speak that much English but has the kindest heart and sweetest smile. She brought over an unlabeled jar of some mystery ointment. She said she brought it from Thailand and she uses it on herself when she gets a burn.

My instincts told me to turn down her kind offer, but I really didn't have an alternative, and I didn't want to be rude. The smell of menthol filled the air as she gently applied the poultice to my burn.

I'll be honest, it only succeeded at making the pain worse at first. I think the nerves were still too pissed at me for burning them to calm down, Thai ointment or not. Eventually, though, the pain started to recede and I applied the camouflage green stuff to my arm again. MIRACLE! The pain immediately started to decrease.

I was left with big green patches all over my arm, and this stuff stains anything it touches, so sleeping was going to be tricky...

Enter my Mister with a boy scout-esque solution: Wrap my arm in paper towels!

It worked well enough. I think it didn't hurt that our sheets were black, so even if I got anything on them, I wouldn't have known!

Today my arm just felt like it had a bad sunburn, so I'm hoping tomorrow it'll be good as new. In the meantime, I have yellow stains from where the magic ointment didn't come off, and I look like I don't know how to apply sunscreen.

The must frustrating and scary part of the whole situation was the fact that neither of us knows the name of any of the hospitals here. We don't know where they are, and we don't now which one to avoid (there's always one). We don't have a car, and we don't know what phone number to call in an emergency. 911? 999? 411? And even if we did know the number, we don't speak the language, so it would be impossible to tell the person on the other end of the line what we needed! This was part of the cultural experience I wasn't hoping to have to deal with, and hopefully we'll never have to use the emergency services in this area during our time in Saudi Arabia...but it's definitely a challenge of living abroad that I'd forgotten to prepare for.

Vicariously yours,


  1. yikes. yay for mystery voodoo ointment!

  2. Wow! So sorry to hear your story about the burn. I can tell by the pictures you suffered a bit. I hope this comment reaches you and finds you with no more pain.
    Take care.
    Stacie Stark

  3. Hope your arm feels better. I love your quilt, I always wanted to do that with my thousand crew tshirts and never have! Who made it for you??