Bump in the Night

Some of the most disturbing things happen in the middle of the night.

Picture this… late Thanksgiving night, you get home from “out of town” and you feel a bit down (I’m not trying to rhyme). It’s about 1AM but you’re in such a shitty mood that you grab your favorite blanket and curl up on the couch and watch Star Wars (episode 4) with a quart of punch-flavored Gatorade and your two loveable dogs.

Yes, of course, it’s me… and I fell asleep just as Luke, Leia, Hahn, and Chewbacca escape the Death Star. Molly had found a palce to sleep on the floor and Casey (70-something pounds) was sleeping on my chest. I fell sound asleep and the next thing I remember was waking up to Casey (my black lab/chow) growling viciously at me and then in a split second his mouth (and teeth) had bitten down on my mouth. What a way tp wake up, huh? I jumped up with my hand covering my mouth, feeling like he had shredded my entire mouth, and ran to the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t want to remove my hand because I didn’t want to see what had happened so I paced around the house for a couple minutes before I could bring myself to do so.

I walked into my master bedroom and removed my hand but there was blood all over my hand and all over my mouth so I couldn’t really tell yet what had happened. All I knew is that my lips, the skin under my nose, my gums, and it felt even my teeth were in an uncomfortably painful condition. I rinsed off my mouth enough to see what had happened and discovered that he had sliced my top lip all the way down, completely separated my top lip into two pieces. What was I supposed to do? It was 3AM, I was shaky, in no condition to drive (yet) and didn’t know where else to go besides an emergency room in San Marcos 16 miles away… 3AM Thanksgivign night. And spending a ton of cash and a really long wait in a depressing place like that really isn’t what I had in mind. But one of the first things I thought was, “wow, this is going to change the way I look from now on.” Unless, or course, it can somehow seal itself shut again without stitches… but even with stitches it’s easily going to leave a really nasty scar most probably for the rest of my life. And on my mouth… not noticeable at all… sheesh…


Right after the teeth tore through the lip…

Anyway, it’s not that Casey meant to bite me. He suffers from really bad dreams and if he’s awoken, or sometimes awakens himself, he’ll lash out at whoever’s close to him at the time. But after the first snarl/snap he realizes that he’s not dreaming anymore and snaps out of it. That’s what happened, but this time it was too late. Casey followed me around the house while I was pacing, while I was in the bathroom tending my wound, while I was sitting, wondering what in the world I was supposed to do. Later, when I laid down, he gently sniffed at my mouth in a caring way. He looked so incredibly sympathetic the whole time. I knew he was sorry, and that made me wonder something.

If I did go to the hospital and they found out how this happened, would Casey be in danger of losing his home? Would they take him away for something like this? I still don’t know, haven’t looked it up, but if there’s a chance, I’d rather let my lip heal itself than get someone else involved in my injury. So I thought to myself, “maybe I can wait it out until tomorrow morning, keep something pressed up against it to lull the bleeding until I can go to a family practice doc/clinic. So after about an hour I went back to sleep on the couch.

I got about an hour of sleep before I woek up again (and I dreamt of nothing but examining my wound so when I woke up I forgot what it actually looked like). I felt better by the time I woke up, not as shaken, and not quite as panicky. It didn’t appear, obviously, that the slice was going to heal in the next few hours so I started to get worried again. As long as I don’t move it, the gash appears to look alright and a little closed (see below), but it opens back up really easily. I don’t want to go to the emergency room where I’d spend alot of money and they’d end up sewing my lip back together, but at least if I go to a family doctor it’s alot less money and I may be able to convince him that there’s another option besides stitching me up. I’ve gotten away with it before, taping myself up, and it worked. But this may be a bit harder to keep from opening and closing since it is ON MY MOUTH.

So I went back to sleep around 5:30 I think (3 hours ago). Casey was really worried about me so he crawled back on the couch, then laid on his side facing me and laid his head on my chest. This time I kept some distance between his head and my face.


Sleep on it a while and it’ll heal itself, right?

So when I woke up for good I called the doc’s office. They’re closed until Monday. It sounds like if I need to go for any sort of professional medical help that I will have to go to the emergency room in San Marcos. But I think I’m going to give it a day, see if it’s possible for it to even start healing closed on its own. Will probably have to put myself on a liquid diet via a straw so I keep my mouth as still as possible, and try not to talk and move my mouth.

You know, since I’ve been living alone again I’ve never felt as alone as I did in the middle of the night. Casey could have targeted a few inches higher and bit my eyeballs, or a little lower and gotten my throat… and who would have been around to do anything? At first I wanted to just call whoever was nearest but I’d feel like a baby for doing so since I obviously wasn’t in any real danger of dying or anything. But what an unreal thing to have happen at 3AM, night after Thanksgiving, holidays, just when you’re starting to feel really alone, waking up from a dream to the sound of a snarling dog biting at your face and then looking at yourself and realzing that your face has been “changed”, you don’t know what to do, and you have nobody there to take care of you. Just when you think you can take care of yourself something like this happens to make you question it. I think I’d be better at taking care of someone else than myself in a situation like this. At least my infamous stubbornness doesn’t interfere when taking care of someone else.


Okay, I ended up going to the emergency room. Drove to South Austin Hospital (AKA St David’s), they put me on their fast track and I was out of there in no time. They injected my lip with anesthetics and gave me what looks like 7 or 8 stitches, maybe more, maybe less, all the way around, inside my mouth and out. It’s all goopy right now so hard to see anything. I’ll spare you the “after” photo. They did a great job, and hopefully it shouldn’t look to weird when it heals. But the anesthetics have worn off now and I just got home, have a prescription for codeine which i’m going to TRY to deal without but the little suturing procedure made me really really sore so I might have to give in just this one time. I’ll be on the couch for the weekend doped up and watching movies – already feeling dopey right now from the pain and haven’t even taken anything yet! Now THAT’S how you spend a holiday!

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