My peripheral vision is not great, particular in the area in line with my left ear. You know how cars have this “blind spot” you have to turn your head to check and if don’t do it during your Drivers’ Test, you’ll fail? Well, a weakness in my left eye has blessed me with a similar limitation. There are objects standing ahead of me and to the left that I have absolutely no awareness of. Until I walk into them.
I tried to improve this situation, by visiting a “peripheral vision” specialist named Moses Albalas, but after a handful of remedial sessions, he informed me that was it.
“You can’t help me?” I inquired, in a tone I hoped was free of desperation but it probably wasn’t.
“I’m not God”, he replied, in a line that sounded overly rehearsed, “I’m just Moses.”
And so, it was with considerable shock but little surprise that I recently found myself striding into an open cabinet door in our kitchen and whacking myself in the forehead – and I mean hard, like if neighbors were asleep, the noise would have woken them up.
At first, I was stunned, as anyone would be who had slammed into a solid object they had no idea was in front of them. Then I felt angry. And then I got ice.
I extracted an ice pack from the freezer and wrapped it in a dishtowel. I then repaired to a nearby bedroom – the one with the best television in the house – I lay down, and I watched baseball, pressing the dishtowel-encasing ice pack directly to an area I was sure would imminently sprout a substantial, forehead-inhabiting goose egg.
After about fifteen or twenty minutes, I lifted the pack from the abraded area and I reflexively glanced at the dishtowel.
I must have hit the vertical edge of my cabinet door. I had expected swelling. The blood was a surprise.
An unwelcome one, as you would expect. But there it was. The white dishtowel. Sporting a heart-pumping patch of red.
I know blood is important. But my preference is to never see any of it. Blood belongs on the “inside.” Blood on the “outside” is always trouble.
I made my way out of the bed trying carefully not to drip, and I proceeded to the adjacent bathroom, where, though it was the last thing I wanted to do, I looked in the mirror. I would classify that action as brave, though, admittedly, the non-brave in such evaluations have notoriously low standards. Besides, what choice did I have? Whether I looked at it or I didn’t, I was still unquestionably bleeding.
What I saw was an inch or slightly longer - shuddering breath - gash, East-West, about dead center in my forehead. North-South? If you were driving on my forehead, you would arrive at the “accident” sooner heading South from my hairline than heading North from between my eyebrows. Given an equal amount of traffic in both directions.
It looked hideous. The words “Emergency Room” and “stitches” duked it out in my panicked imagination. But there was also a glimmer of pride. My jagged head wound bound me together with the iconic goalies of yesteryear who had played hockey without a mask. Bower. Sawchuck. Pomerantz. I liked the sound of that triumvirate.
Quickly exhausting my medical know-how, I grabbed a tube of Neosporin from the First Aid kit, slathering the goo generously over the cut. The bleeding soon subsided, and eventually stopped. I knew this from the “toilet paper” test.
You know “toilet paper” test. You intermittently dab the area with a piece of toilet paper, you examine the residue, and if the traces of blood progressively diminish, you are gratefully in the clear. You could tell I was nervous. The “intermittentlies” were about five seconds apart.
After a few minutes, I started to scab up. But it still looked disfiguring. As it was not the sexiest of injuries, I immediately went to work fabricating a plausible, if not actual, explanation.
My initial prepared response to “What happened to your forehead?” was:
“I joined a cult.”
The extended slit looking ghoulishly Manson-like.
My next explanation, should my listeners be unconvinced by the first one, was:
“It was a freak tomahawk accident.”
My third, more grounded though geographically dubious explanation:
“I cut myself shaving.”
This last one was the particular favorite of Matthew, who cuts my hair, and with whom I had an appointment the afternoon after the “incident.”
Traditionally, I would always set Matthew to work with a specific instruction. Such as:
“We are visiting Toronto. I want a haircut that says I haven’t changed.”
Today, Matthew’s assignment was particularly challenging:
“I want a haircut so good, people will pay no attention to the gash on my forehead.”
Matthew dutifully tried his best. But, considering the output of hair I am currently harvesting, he did not have a lot to work with. The “best I could hope for” outcome, as I discovered later that day, was,
“Nice haircut. What happened to your forehead?”
With foresight – and the appropriate techno-skills, which even the casual reader knows I do not possess – I would have included a picture of the – let’s call it a saber slash though I actually walked into a door – to accompany this narrative, a visual aid to supplement the story, and possibly enhance my readership via a fortuitous linkage to a “Greatest Head Injuries Of All Time (With Pictures)” website.
By now it’s too late. The scab is rapidly flaking off, the mutilation, starting to fade. Too bad. My newest explanatory subterfuge may be the best one yet:
“My brain is expanding, and it’s exploding through my skin.”
Though I admit my judgment may be impaired these days. I did give myself a pretty good knuck.