(This post is rated PG-13 for its graphic depiction of blood and gore.)
Regular readers of my blog (all three of you) know that Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is a carpenter by trade. He’s pretty handy with a hammer and careful with his cuts, but occasionally, there’s a slip-up that involves copious amounts of blood. Oddly, I’m completely calm when I hurt myself, no matter how much blood there is. But when it’s Tom or, worse, my children, I have to do a lot of deep breathing to maintain my composure. Sure, outwardly I appear calm but inwardly, I’m screaming.
So, the other day, Tom had a wee mishap in his workshop. Or, as Ambrose Bierce put it, he had “an inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable natural laws.” Fortunately, it wasn’t of the power-tool-digit-loss variety. Rather, it was of the very-well-sharpened-razor-knife variety. Basically, he sliced away, in one fell swoop, a large portion of the skin on the side of his index finger.
And, golly, cut fingers sure can bleed. And bleed. And bleed. He literally left a red trail from the workshop up to our house. When he appeared with a completely blood-soaked towel at the door, my chest tightened and I felt like I might pass out, but I quickly grabbed a roll of Bounty’s from the kitchen and we dripped our way to the bathroom. He washed it well with soap and water at the sink, and I unrolled about ten paper towels and wrapped them around his finger. I kid you not—they were completely blood soaked in about ten seconds. (Bounty- The Quicker Picker Upper!) Understandably, we were both a little panicky at that point, but I unrolled more paper towels, pressed them to his finger and mentioned the possibility of going to the Emergency Room.
“What can they do?” said Tom. “It’s not a cut they can sew up…it’s a deep loss of skin and tissue.”
My chest tightened again. More deep breaths. I had to admit he had a point. Fortunately, a half roll of Bounty’s and many deep breaths later, the bleeding finally eased up enough for us to quickly wrap a bandage around his finger, then more paper towels and some tape. It bled through all that, too, but at least he stopped dripping.
So, Tom took it easy for the rest of the day, and we thought we had it licked. But he had a job interview the next morning, and we thought perhaps that an enormous blood-soaked bandage might not be the best job-interview accessory. So, that night, we decided that ten hours should be enough for the wound to have formed a clot so we could change the bandage.
We were wrong.
If anything, it bled even more than before after we unrolled the bandage from his finger. It simply would not stop. And this was a full TEN HOURS after the accident. Tom, understandably upset, started yelling at me to “put the bandage back!” In the midst of our panic, I seemed to recall reading somewhere about some kind of spice that helped stop bleeding. So I said, “Press the paper towels on it and let me look up on the internet that spice that stops bleeding!”
“A spice?!!! Forget the #%*& spice!! Put the bandage back on NOW!” Tom looked a little crazed, as would most people waving a bloody paper towel wrap the size of a hot dog bun on their finger, standing over a sink watching their blood run down the drain. But I figured just putting the bandage back would likely give us the same result it had earlier. So, trying to ignore his yelling, I googled “spice that stops bleeding,” breathing deeply and cursing our infernally slow dial-up connection.
What came up, among other weird home remedies, were spices like turmeric and cayenne powder to stop bleeding. I cringed at the thought of sprinkling hot cayenne pepper on a deep wound. Then I remembered our book by Joe and Terry Graedon, Best Choices from The People’s Pharmacy—What You Need to Know Before Your Next Visit to The Doctor or Drugstore. Fortunately, it was nearby, and I frantically thumbed through the index.
And there it was in the index: bleeding, black pepper for 448-49
I ran to our kitchen and pulled down our economy-size tin of ground black pepper and raced back to the bathroom. Tom, looking askance at the black pepper tin, reluctantly pulled back the paper towels. The wound immediately began to gush blood like a fountain. I took a deep breath and poured. I’ve got to say—it wasn’t easy dumping a tablespoon of black pepper on a deep, open, bleeding wound.
But, praise be, it was a miracle. The bleeding stopped instantly. We both stared incredulously at the small black mound of pepper on Tom’s finger. It was utterly astounding to see just how fast it stopped the bleeding. Now I should add here that it burned, according to Tom, like unholy fire. But even that stopped after a few minutes. We wrapped it with a bandage and some tape, leaving the pepper in place. And the bandage stayed blood-free for Tom’s job interview the next day.
A couple of caveats: For a deep cut that could be stitched, it would probably be better to go to a doctor. And you should wash the wound well with soap and water (if available) before applying black pepper. Also, I reckon the pepper should be ground pepper. We usually use the unground peppercorns, but I’ve always kept the ground pepper on hand (no pun intended). Thank God for that. Can you imagine holding a peppermill over a bleeding wound, trying to grind out enough pepper to stop the bleeding?
So, perhaps you’re wondering if Tom got the job he interviewed for. Well, no. He’s still looking. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. There must be plenty of people out there looking for a “seasoned” veteran with a lot of “pep.” Oh well…we’ll just have to see how it all “shakes” out.