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Friday, September 26, 2003

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What have you done with that corkscrew?

Yesterday a story appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune that we feel compelled to pass on to our readers in its entirety:

ER visit is nothing to crow about

by Robert Kirby

My life is a chronicle of senseless injury. For half a century I have discovered the stupidest methods of hurting myself. Heck, I once put myself in the hospital with a penny.
I am less than pleased to announce that this fool's errand continues. On Tuesday, I checked into an urgent-care facility with a pierced tongue that would not stop bleeding.
This particular injury rated about a 5 on the Loon-O-Meter, or slightly higher than the time I hospitalized myself digging a hole and just below another time when the last thing I remember was Larry Erdmann saying, "It's my turn to drive."
Tuesday's injury had nothing to do with being drunk, showing off or responding to some brainless dare. All I did was eat lunch, specifically a chicken sandwich at a local restaurant.
OK, I was in a hurry and chewing like a hound dog. A sharp piece of chicken bone or possibly an entire unprocessed beak stabbed me in the tongue and set off the bleeding.
I have sent myself to the emergency room before because of lunch. Several years ago, while making a toonerfish sandwich, I sliced my finger open and had to go to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
While waiting for the doctor to sew me up, I perused a display of items the emergency-room personnel had removed from human noses and ears, including coins, live ammunition, beans, pasta, batteries, insects, toothbrushes, buttons and a corkscrew.
This was the only trip to the hospital that ever made me feel good about myself. Judging from the display, I was not the stupidest person on Earth. There were other self-injurers ahead of me, some apparently so devoid of intelligence that they barely missed being classified as cardboard. Really, what kind of a person shoves a polliwog up his own nose?
This time I was easily the dumbest person in the room. There were sick kids, injured construction workers and a pregnant woman. Nobody else who I could see had lost a fight with a sandwich.
While my tongue hemorrhaged, I filled out my life's history for the receptionist. In the space marked "reason for visit," I wrote, "assaulted by chicken," and in the space asking for the head of my household I wrote "certainly not me."
After swallowing several more pints of blood, I saw a doctor who stanched the bleeding, told me it was definitely not a beak wound and then had the gall to refuse to give me any morphine samples.
I left the emergency room feeling sorry for myself. Try as I might to keep the whole affair secret, word would eventually get out. And there was no way Sonny, Larry or Killer would let me live it down.
Later, my wife and I visited Dan Bammes. Dan suffers from multiple myeloma and is in University of Utah Medical Center getting a bone-marrow transplant.
Seeing Dan made me realize just how petty my injury was. Also, it's tough to watch a friend suffer and not be able to do anything for him, or so I thought.
They brought Dan dinner while we were there. It was chicken. I threw myself on it to save him.

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby welcomes mail at 143 S. Main St., Salt Lake City, UT 84111, or e-mail at

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©2003 Don Bull, Editor


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