Our treadmill gave up the ghost yesterday. Numerous attempts to power it on failed. The two attempts that seemed to work were head feints since when I pressed the Start button the power went off.
Since it was Monday I had to get my exercise. I decided to roam around the neighborhood. I put on jeans that I seldom wear because the front pockets are small, put my grizzly bear strength pepper spray in the right front pocket–like I always do, and went out through the front door.
After a satisfying 50-minute walk/jog through the neighborhood I reached the junction of the sidewalk and the walkway to our front door. I had to pull the pepper spray out of the pocket to get my house keys. What exactly happened next wasn’t clear at that moment, but I heard the canister spray and the next thing I knew my eyes and my forehead were on fire.
Somehow, I got the front door unlocked and stumbled into the house while screaming for help. My wonderful wife ran downstairs while I tried to explain what had happened. Wisely, she suggested I get in the shower and rinse my face with water. I must have told her to call 911 and she did, relaying to me that the dispatcher had given her the same advice. When I didn’t sense any relief, she had the dispatcher send a crew, I assume with at least one EMT. The crew arrived promptly, but informed me that unless I was having trouble breathing, which I wasn’t, there was nothing they could do for me and that I would just have to stay in the shower with the water running on my face for 20 to 30 minutes.
After 25 minutes or so, the burning subsided to the point where I could open my eyes. After about 30 minutes I got out of the shower. Even though I had been sprayed outside, the inside of the house also became affected. The rescue crew told my wife to open all of the windows in the house.
I can tell you the first five minutes after being sprayed might have been the most awful experience of my life. I could not see and I thought I might be blinded for life. The burning pain was indescribable.
A “post-mortem” revealed that I had actually sprayed my shirt, leaving a burn mark on the skin underneath, and had not sprayed my face directly. The spray that reached my face was “rebound” from the abdomen. I guess I was fortunate in that way–the label indicates that permanent eye damage can result from a direct spray in the eyes–but I sure as hell did not feel fortunate, especially in those first five minutes. Here is a picture of the canister:
OK, I am not living in Ukraine or starving in Africa. This is a “first-world” problem. Still, I only wish this experience on my worst enemies. Yes, I know the more common expression is that I don’t wish this even on my worst enemies; I’m only human.
“If you prick us, do we not bleed. If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.”
Why do I carry the spray? Perhaps it’s my background of being raised in a dangerous city, perhaps it’s because I have seen multiple coyotes roaming the neighborhood during the day while I walk.
This morning I am still not 100 percent. The back of my throat still feels a little burned and my eyes are still uncomfortable. I guess no cosmic front has arrived to blow the cloud of sh*t out of my life.
I can tell you that acquiring a replacement treadmill is now of the utmost importance. I can also convey that I have not completely ruled out continuing to carry the pepper spray on long walks through the neighborhood.
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