I pressed a wad of tissues on my head as blood trickled across my face. My friend Jasper and I frantically looked for a taxi, but they had all vanished. This was not how today was supposed to go.
As usual, I had taken a bus in the morning from Huangdao to Qingdao to do some editing at the Redstar office. Once I got to the office, I got some articles from Jasper, the editor, sat on the couch, and began to edit. The office has two levels. The first is fairly expansive with a drum set to the left of the door, a set of couches on the right, and offices and a coffee bar on the far side of room. Near the offices is an exposed, winding metal staircase that takes you to the second floor.
After I had finished editing a few articles, I walked past the staircase to talk to Jasper. He gave me a few more articles, and I turned around only to hear a crunching sound. That would be the metal staircase meeting my head. I had forgotten how low the steps were. Initially, I wasn’t too worried until blood began flowing down my face.
Some of the Redstar staff quickly gave me a bunch of tissues, which I forcefully pressed onto my head. Blood was still flowing down my face. Someone asked if I felt lightheaded or faint. If there was any more blood, I thought I might pass out. Jasper grabbed my arm and took me to the elevator. Time to go to the hospital.
First hospital visit – unsuccessful. Apparently this was just a clinic. They didn’t treat people with head wounds. We walked back outside, and Jasper asked someone where the nearest hospital was as I pressed the tissues on my head. We tried to get a taxi but no such luck. Another 10 minutes later we found the hospital. I was hoping not to be rejected here too.
Second time’s a charm. The nurse escorted me to a small, windowless room and had me sit down. Then I removed the wad of tissues and let her inspect the cut. I was afraid blood would begin flowing again. But it didn’t. She cut some hair surrounding the wound and then cleaned it with cotton swabs doused in alcohol. It felt like someone had set my head on fire. Since she thought I didn’t need stitches, she wrapped gauze around my head and under my chin. I looked like a wounded soldier.
Next step – tetanus shot. They did a pre-test to see whether I had any allergic reaction. The rash wasn’t a good sign. Instead of a shot, I was given an odd assortment of herbs and insects to drink twice a day for two days. I didn’t mind an herbal tea, but scorpions and cicada shells seemed a bit extreme. I think I needed a second opinion.
So I called my friend Gretchen, who was a nurse, and asked her to inspect my head wound. She thought I needed stitches. I didn’t relish the idea of visiting a hospital again. Then her husband, Rob, suggested superglue. At first, I thought he was joking. But Gretchen said it could work. Either I could get stitches at the hospital or Rob and Gretchen could superglue my head in the bathroom.
I chose the latter. It’s not everyday your friends get to superglue your head. I went to the bathroom where Gretchen prepared the necessary items. Apparently, they didn’t have medical superglue, just normal superglue. I hoped it wasn’t too toxic. After treating the wound with alcohol and antibiotic cream, Gretchen pressed both sides of the cut together and Rob superglued the top. It was over before I knew what happened.
The saga wasn’t over yet. I still had to drink that herbal remedy. I wasn’t sure if it would kill me or cure me. But there was only one way to find out. For the first herbal tea, I excluded the scorpions and avoided some of the larger cicada shells. After boiling the concoction for an hour, I poured some of the the brownish liquid into my teacup. It was bitter but not as bad as I thought. Later on, Jasper strongly urged me to include the scorpions. Supposedly it was the most potent part.
I wasn’t so sure, but I decided to add the scorpions to the mixture the second time. The stingers looked especially menacing to me. After an hour, the broth had turned to a murky brown. I poured some into my cup. This time, the drink was oily and bitter. At least I could say I had drunk scorpion tea. I wouldn’t be doing that again.
In about two weeks, my head wound should be healed and the superglue gone. But now I’ll always be wary of any metal staircases, and I won’t be drinking any more scorpion tea in the future, if I can help it.