Cliff Stitched the Lip

Parental Advisory: Gruesome and grotesque.

Seven fine stitches on the outside and one loose, absorbable stitch on the
inside; that’s how many I took late last night after a ‘bow to the bottom lip in
the opening minutes of our "Church League" game. I would have preferred to
finish the game, considering that we were less than two minutes in and enjoying
a lopsided 3-0 lead over the top-ranked and undefeated team in our division:
Problem was, the glancing ‘bow pushed my bottom teeth clear through,
puncturing the bottom lip-flesh and leaving a nasty gash. No, no, we lost,

D. drove up to the gym to pick me up because I’d shared a ride with a
teammate, and our reserves (a total of one bench player) were tapped because of
my early exit. D. drove me to the prompt care facility near campus and
they told me that it’d be a two-hour wait, so I dashed D. and Is. home so they
wouldn’t have to spend the entire evening sitting contagiously among the infirm.

One thing I miss most about playing organized basketball compared to playing
rec. league is the sports medicine staff. The nurse and physician’s
assistant (Cliff) were good in their own right. Good as generalists, I mean.
But they didn’t seem to understand that an elbow had smashed my mouth. In
fact, the nurse asked me whether I was sure it was my teeth that created
the wound. Next, I had a tetanus shot (this is actually an entry meant to
serve as a reminder that I had one 2.27.2007). It was close to 10:00 p.m.,
nearly two hours after the incident, when Cliff explained to me that he wanted
to take his time putting in the stitches and so he would need to discharge three
other patients (colds, flus, sprained ankles or knees) before going to work on
me. Fine. No problem. Although he did say that he had doubts
about whether my bottom teeth had gone all the way through the lip. He
thought the cut on the outside of the bottom lip was from the top teeth.
Not so, I told him. But he remained skeptical until, that is, he got down
to business with the stitches. Clean through, he said. But by that
point, I’d been lanacaned and I had a mouth full of gauze, so I said nothing.
Next there was a sanitary screen-cloth placed over my face, but with ~30%
transparency (CSS as equipment for living), I could see the shadows of the
hook-shaped needle and stitching thread. I could see Cliff’s steady (hey
now! are they shaking?) hands. It was like a diorama of ice fishing, the
hooks dipping again and again to the hole surrounded by blue, and I was peering
up from under the ice, only half able to see what was going on.

I’ll heal. It’s no biggie, really. Sure, my Hollywood career is
down the crapper, but, that might’ve been the case before I got bumped.
And for the next couple of days, I can whistle in chorus with myself. Still,
I’ll have the stitches pulled before next week’s game, so I shouldn’t have to
sit around feeling lousy for long. I do have a couple of small concerns
about an event coming up on Friday, though. We’re hosting prospective
students for visiting days, and as part of the program, we have a colloquium
scheduled for advance screenings of CCCC papers. I’m happy to be on the
list (even if my paper is, as of today, three-eighths finished), but I don’t
know how the talk will go, given that I’m somewhat sloppy with the b, m, p, v,
and w phonemes. Plan A: Remove all such sounds from the paper. Plan
B: Just get through it.

When I left prompt care last night, it was 11:39 p.m., approaching four hours
since the unfortunate event. Cliff sent me home with a prescription for
penicillin. His concern? "We’re going to treat this like a human
bite." I can resume normal activities, as long as they don’t involve
elbows, and I can eat anything "as long as there aren’t any crumbs." Such as?
Mostly yogurt and oat meal, I guess.


  1. 1. What a brilliant use of the blog: to remember things like once-every-several-years shots!
    2. Ummm…does it count as a bite if you bite YOURSELF? I mean, how does that introduce any new bacteria, since they were YOUR bacteria to begin with? Just wondering.

  2. It’s a sure way to remember when I last had a tetanus shot. No better way to hang onto that detail for ten years.

    As for the technicalities of biting and self-biting, I’d say this points out a clear flaw with relying too much on vampirical evidence. It’s clear teeth damaged flesh and that the teeth belonged to a human being. I guess that’s the medical definition of a human bite. All the same, I’m not hesitating for one second over taking the precautionary penicillin.

  3. Ouch! Sorry to hear about your injury. One nice thing about getting knocked out of the game early, though (know this from experience), is that you can forever convince yourself, and perhaps others, that the results would have been different had you been able to play.

    As for the self/self bacteria problem, it’s amazing, for all the interrelatedness of our many bodily systems, how discrete they can also be: one system’s harmless bacterium may be another’s pathogen. Or something like that.

  4. Heh, yeah. I’m sure the results would’ve been different (although maybe the L would’ve still been an L). In fact, I was half tempted to post a projection graph for how that game would’ve gone based on the first two minutes. Since I scored the first bucket (a three-pointer) and blocked the perpetrator’s shot once before he busted my lip, the trend-analysis would have me with 60 points, and 20 blocked shots in a 60-0 win. Well, yeah, and 20 jagged gashed in my bottom lip.

    Hmm, worth it? Probably not.

  5. but think: if you stayed in the game, i would not have had my best game yet! (though we probably would have won.) looking forward to next week. i’ll bring a needle and floss.

  6. True, true. And as you’ve seen night in and night out, I’m not the kind of player to go for forty minutes without a serious, serious crisis in energy.

    Yeah, bring a sewing kit. I heard that I wasn’t the only one made to bleed by the better-than-everyone Badgers.

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