Saturday, September 18, 2010

Things to do (and not do) with produce – Part two of three

September 18th, 2010
So, today’s posting is all about what NOT to do with produce. Let’s begin with the newspaper recognition I received:

When life gives you lemons, visit the emergency room By JIM SMITH Created: 07/14/2010 02:30:34 AM PDT (Daily Democrat)
For want of a fruit picker a Woodland resident now has a lot of stitches. Since fruit is now turning ripe, "K's" lesson is instructive. The Woodlander who lives in an older part of town needed a lemon for a recipe. Rather than using the fruit picker in her garage, our intrepid tree-climber decided to shimmy up her backyard lemon tree.
Lemon trees have a slick bark as K found out when she lost her footing and slid down to the ground getting cut in the process by the pruned remains of tree branches. Roughly paraphrased, K looked down and saw parts of herself that shouldn't be seen on the outside of the human body. Fortunately, the Woodland Hospital emergency room was able to repair the extensive damage. Her experience should serve a lesson to those with fruit trees: Wait for fruit to fall to the ground if you don't have a fruit picker handy.

            I will confess that I am using this article without permission from the writer, but hey, he wrote this little editorial without MY permission (insert sardonic laughter here). But seriously, if I ever wind up in a situation where I’m getting paid for this (or perhaps next time I see Jim) I’ll get the official permission. (Note: On September 20, I did get permission. Thanks, Jim)
So, Jim pretty much summed it up in a nutshell and if you have a weak stomach, perhaps this is where you stop reading for a few paragraphs. I’ll insert a stop reading and a it is safe to read now marker to let you of weak stomach and heart know when to stop and when you  may resume reading this post.
On or about July 7th, 2010 (I used to write Court reports, can you tell?) I was cooking dinner for our family (something I’ve done somewhat consistently since I’ve been unemployed because . . . well, I’m home and Sarita works all day.) The menu: trout, cous cous, and a salad. Pretty quick and easy, eh? So, the recipe called for a lemon and I recalled that our lemon tree still had a few lemons on it. Our lemon tree grows kind of at a slant and I generally kind of walk up the slant and shake branches when I’m only looking to retrieve one or two lemons. So, up the tree I went (all of three feet off the ground), branch shaken, lemon fallen and I’m ready to descend.
Apparently Birkenstocks ® are not really a good shoe to wear when shimmying up a tree. So, coming back down the tree, which as Jim pointed out is slick, I slid. . .
You know how citrus trees grow “suckers” and it is recommended that you cut them off. Well, that’s what I do. From here, I can only surmise that the tree figured since I cut its limbs off it was time for revenge. . . I lost my footing and stop reading slammed my chest against the tree and slid down the rest of the way. One of the little, VERY sharp branch stubs stripped my shirt right off of me and another filleted my left arm. Here is where it gets REALLY gross. I landed flat on my feet and felt a twinge of pain like one feels with a scrape. Then it dawned on me that my shirt was in the tree. Finally, I noticed a large amount of yellow globules all over my chest and shoulder. I glanced over my shoulder and saw even more of the disgusting substance on my back.
It is safe to read now so, I’m standing on the ground, naked from the waist up and pretty sure this is not going to be resolved with the first aid supplies we have. I ponder a moment – I’m in the back yard; 12 year old daughter who loves crime shows but is WAY squeamish about seeing people get hurt (she hates hospital shows) is within 20 feet of where I am. Wife is in kitchen which is a good 100 feet from where I am.
“Honey? Sarita? Can you come here a second?”
Sarita comes out and does this freeze and freak thing all at once. Really. My science teacher wife who has children dissect the organs of pigs, is at a complete loss as to how to handle my current situation.
My response, “Honey, I need you to calm down and take me to the hospital. NOW.”
We live less than a mile from the hospital, and oddly enough, I wasn’t really bleeding much, so it just made sense to not call an ambulance.
The hospital in Woodland, California is AMAZING. Really. They took one look at me and decided that my name and date of birth was enough to admit me. Even cooler, they didn’t even flinch when Sarita introduced herself as my wife. She was by my side through almost everything that night. The time that spanned from me being injured and being back at home was 5 and a half hours (one and a half hours of that in surgery.) Incredible! I wound up with over 25 internal stitches (I’d grazed the muscle) and over 50 external staples.
I REALLY did not want to get stuck spending the night IN the hospital. And when I came to, I was told that the criteria for me going home was: 1) I had to be lucid (I have a wicked sense of humor. Jumped that hurdle within minutes.) 2) I had to pee. No sweat, where is the bathroom? I can do this. I’ve been doing it since birth. 3) I had to NOT be nauseous . . . well, I wasn’t . . . until I started moving about. So, I lied. They wheeled me to my car, Sarita drove me home and within minutes I was emptying my already empty stomach. Hey, I figure I would have barfed either way and at least this way I got to sleep in my own bed.
The healing process was gnarly, and there were some moments when my surgeon was thinking I’d have to get a skin graft (ginormous area of the injured area “died.”) but thanks to alginate ointment (kelp) and acupuncture (thanks Rasa) I was able to dodge that bullet.
So, roughly 72 days later I’m pretty much all better. Nice. My left upper arm is mostly a combination of extreme numbness and extreme icky tingly feeling, but all is good. When I wear tank tops and people ask about the scar, I just tell them I was surfing in Maui and a shark attacked me.


  1. Shark attack huh? lol! That'll teach you to prune a tree huh! keep writing Kym, its great :) - Jackie

  2. So that's the rest of the story! I'd been thinking you were in the lemon tree to build a weekend getaway (aka treehouse).

    Kym, you are such a good writer ... I was laughing so hard ... sorry!

  3. Tana, I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. And thanks for the compliment.