Sunday, September 7, 2008

Respect the Pepper

I had a near death experience yesterday. Yes, I do believe I almost died. There I was, stripping the seeds from a jalapeno pepper, minding my own business and making some yummy fresh salsa. Having done this plenty of times in the past I was trucking along all the while attempting to keep the children from getting too close to the vicious oils of the hot pepper.

It wasn’t until about thirty minutes later that the burn started. When I say burn, I mean the sensation of being cooked alive in boiling hot oil, turned on a spit over hot coals, and then having one’s hands ironed to get the wrinkles out.

I could see the burn spreading across my hand. It started in between my fingers and slowly worked its way toward the back of my hand. I doused my hands in cool water and scrubbed them with soap for the tenth time (I’m a little OCD when it comes to washing the pepper oils from my hands). It didn’t help.

A paste was made from baking soda and water and I squished it through my fingers and let it permeate my skin. It felt great for about one minute and then the burning came back with a vengeance. Thus commenced the long search for something, anything, that would relieve the agonizing death-throes that were pulsating through my body.

I tried soaking them in lemon juice, white distilled vinegar, yogurt, rubbing alcohol. I sprayed them with Dermoplast and coated them in aloe infused with Lidocaine. I even sunk so low as to soak them in milk. Nothing helped and as the night wore on the burn spread and worsened.

In desperation I swallowed three Tylenol. It was suggested that I take Benadryl. I took two. I cannot ever remember medicating with Benadryl. It made me very sleepy; and then when I went to sleep it made me wake up. I don’t drink alcohol, but if we kept it in the house I am convinced that I would have made a slobbering drunk out of myself to dull the pain in my flaming hands. It was that bad.

The only thing that would offer any lasting relief was to clasp an ice pack in both of my hands like the dear treasure it was. The whole experience got me wondering. Of all the times I have handled hot peppers in the past I had never had an issue like this before. I suddenly realized that this time I had stripped the seeds from the pepper with my fingers instead of using a knife to do so. This is a monumentally idiotic- and painful- thing to do.

Upon awakening this morning the searing pain in my hands was gone. The incident that should be so fresh in my mind is already fading, as experiences accompanied by large amounts of pain are wont to do. I should have liked to write about all of this last evening before the event was handed over to my treacherous memory, but a person would have had to pry the ice pack from my cold and lifeless hands, as I would not put it down willingly, even to write.

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