A Well-Seasoned Man

(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.


13 Responses to “A Well-Seasoned Man”

  1. June Says:

    My stomach flipped at least twice while reading this…even with your warning to be prepared…but what a story! And what great information! We’re at least 40 minutes from the nearest hospital and I’ve tried not to worry about one of us having an accident of this sort. Now I have something in reserve to do should it ever (hopefully never) come to that. You can bet I’ll be checking my cupboard and making sure ground pepper is up there! And now I’m wondering WHY it works. It may have to become a Friday Fact!! 🙂

  2. CountryDew Says:

    That’s a very good tip. My husband is always cutting or banging up some digit or the other on his hands. I am allergic to black pepper but I do keep some around for him. Now I know it has even more uses! I am glad your husband’s hand is better and I hope he finds what he’s looking for soon.

  3. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    June and Country Dew: One thing I didn’t mention in my post was how incredibly well Tom’s wound has been healing in the days since his mishap. Not only did the black pepper stop the bleeding, it seems to have healing properties, as well. I should mention that we did put triple antibiotic on the bandage, but we left the pepper in place. We’re still amazed that it worked so well. It’s definitely a condiment worth its “salt.” 🙂

  4. colleen Says:

    This is uncanny because I cut myself quite badly over the weekend. I was taking out the trash and the bag swung and a broken cup inside stabbed me. We used cayenne to stop the gushing blood. It’s my second time using it and it works instantly. The cut is on the back of my leg between my ankle and calf, the area needed a lot for walking. I’ve been crawling around the house…can not walk! I haven’t posted about it yet, but I’m sure it will turn up soon.

    I’m using the antibiotic cream too.

  5. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Colleen: Ouch. I’m so sorry to hear of your mishap. It sounds painful. But I’m glad you had already discovered one of the “kitchen cabinet” remedies. Joe and Terry Greadon mention cayenne also as an alternative remedy for bleeding.
    Hope you have a quick recovery and are able to get up and about soon!

  6. wesleyjeanne Says:

    My goodness, Beth! I’m glad your remedy worked. I’ll say a prayer on the job front, too.


  7. Going Crunchy Says:

    Oh my gosh, I had that freaky “something bloody” shivery feeling up my backbone several times when reading that story. About two years ago a friend of my sister’s dad (I know that sounds strange) cut hsi thumb off while using his circular thingie saw in the shop. They couldn’t ever find the thumb! There were all sorts of thumb hunts at the house!

    I’m so glad that you guys got to “thumb” nose at fate and pepper worked. I’ll have to remember that one.

  8. luckypennies Says:

    Haha, every time I get the oppurtunity to tell this story and remedy, I do. I think it’s so cool. I just have to remember that some people don’t have stomachs as tough as mine.

    Y’alls’ puns are so goofy. 😀

  9. Judy Says:

    Beth, Thanks for the info. That is something I have never heard before about pepper. Thanks for stopping by my blog. We do have a lot of country artists from Kentucky and I had not heard of yours but looked her up and listened to some of the music and really liked it.

  10. Marty Martin Says:

    Hi Beth,

    Looking for an email address to contact you about your blog. Would you mind emailing me? I have a website centered around western NC and Asheville and we are looking for guest bloggers.


  11. Whereas I Shamelessly Exploit My Husband’s Injury To Achieve Only Modest Fame « Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl Says:

    […] stories.  He said so himself here. And I offer as proof the fact that he featured my post about the time Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man stopped bleeding with a condiment, not one, but two times on Blog Log.   So here I present the sad, sad story of Blue Ridge Blue […]

  12. eemilla Says:

    Wow. I cannot imagine being able to do that.

  13. (22) Thirty Days of Grateful Praise: Black Pepper « Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl Says:

    […] https://blueridgebluecollargirl.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/a-well-seasoned-man/  and https://blueridgebluecollargirl.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/of-fireworks-fireflies-fingers-and-the-fourth-of-july/ […]

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