Food for Thought-The Portrait of An Idiot and The Dog Who Chewed His Finger


Every night, I watch television. Between guessing incorrect phrases on Wheel of Fortune and affirming my own moral superiority at considering pet adoption from the news channel who cares about me, I see advertisements for prescription medication. These exquisitely filmed one minute dramas, featuring beautiful people with well managed retirement portfolios, appeal to the side of me that doesn’t sell door to door sand on an island known for its abundance of sand. Yes, deep inside, I want to be like the Cialis and Xarelto men. Give me a silver head of hair, an Italian suit, and the ability to wear ill fitting knit sweaters from Norway on rainy days. Like the people in the commercials, perhaps I too can master the art of the carefree laugh while holding a handmade coffee mug with both hands.  All to soon, the dreams collapse, the commercial ends, and the sunset fades.

It’s not long after Arthur Fonzarelli offers me a reverse mortgage on the sand shack when an ominous voice, claiming to represent a law firm in Lagos asks, “Did I have internal bleeding while taking Xarelto?” No, I didn’t. My internal bleeding came from other things. I ate far too much spicy food. To be specific, I consumed peppers by the jar load. If I couldn’t buy them in America, I ordered them from bootleggers in Indonesia, smugglers in Zanzibar, animated coyotes on television, underground pepper dealers, and a place called Amazon dot. com. For a while, it was really out of control. Fed Ex hired extra drivers to handle the number of deliveries I was receiving from pepper farms in Louisiana, South Africa, and some place called Cayenne. One can’t grow peppers in the sand. Lord knows I’ve tried. If you could, I’d be the semi-legal pepper king of the southern Outer Banks. I’ve also tried selling bicycles to the blind and lawn mowers which mow sand. The bicycle idea would have worked but the guy I hired to run alongside the blind bicyclist and tell him where to go could only accompany one rider at a time.

One of the drawbacks to isolated island life is the limited access to medical care. We’re out here; floating west of Jesus and east of Buddha’s big toe. There’s no going back. Helicopters take you away if you’re really sick, ambulances if you’re moderately sick, if you’re bleeding internally from eating seven Bhut Jokias and dehydrated after selling sand to the surfers, you might be peppered out of luck. If I was to keep eating peppers and feed my addiction, I would need to learn how to treat my condition beyond the Rolaids, Tums, and other antacids on offer in the local grocery store. Surgery, according to Web MD and Wikipedia was the only true way to stop internal bleeding. Again, the amazing people at Amazon came to the rescue. With no more than a minute or two of key word searching in the card catalog, I found a book called Do It Yourself Surgery for Dogs: Managing Unseen Tragedies Beyond the Veterinarian’s Door. I know what you’re thinking. I don’t know how to do surgery.  Exactly! This book would allow me to teach my dog how to find the cause of and stop my intestinal hemorrhaging.

With the included tools (a scalpel, dog sized operating table, a bottle of dog-cohol, sutures, ether, and band aids) the book’s step by step process should enable any dog to operate successfully on their beloved human companion. What choice did I have?  My dog could do this. Isn’t the essence of the pioneer spirit embodied in teaching man’s best friend to sew stitches on gaping wounds?

Here’s where I need to make a confession: dogs lack opposable thumbs and the fine motor skills to do major operations. The authors of the book, nor their publishers, included this information in the introduction. After duct taping the scalpel to her right paw, the dog wanted to shake (a common action she enjoys as a sign of good will and confidence) my hand.  Wearing only a hospital gown, I sat up on the couch and shook her paw, at which time my right palm was sliced open. My pinky and ring finger were also liberated from my hand. I was already screaming in pain when she put her surgical ready paw on my left leg, creating a further incision. By this point, I’m bleeding all over the room. My external wounds have nothing to do with the internal consumption of peppers. Despite my flailing, the dog seems bored and I’m a bloody mess.

There’s not much to do but wait. When the bleeding stops, I hope to muster the strength to convince her to trade a chew toy for my fingers. UPS will be here soon with more peppers. Maybe she’ll have room for another return in the back of her truck. I’m getting my money back for Do It Yourself Surgery for Dogs. Those people had no idea about dogs, surgery or peppers. I’m certain they had never read their book. I know I never will.