Jun. 3rd, 2017

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Yesterday around 1PM I was admitted to the ER with 2nd degree chemical burns to my face and chest.

I AM OKAY.

I have been working so much and so hard lately that I haven't been taking the time to really ensure I'm taking the proper precautions around all of our standards and reagents. The one I work with the most frequently at this point is Nitric Acid. I was attempting to make a new standard and I needed 1ml of nitric acid and I went to dispense it without realizing the cap was on the pump dispenser. When I pushed the pump down, it splashed all over me. I ran immediately to the emergency shower wash and eye wash station, pulled the handle, and stood under the water while I removed my contact lenses.

I was Mightily Praised at the ER for my presence of mind. "You did all the right things" they told me. "You've made everything a lot better."

It fucking hurt like hell. When the ambulance came I'd been soaking in water for nearly 15 minutes. I don't remember much. I gave someone John's phone number. Someone else wrapped me in a sweatshirt and a lab coat. Someone else kept hugging me and holding my hair back from my face. I have never been so frightened in my life. I wasn't even frightened for myself. I was scared that somehow this would hurt the baby. It seems so irrational now, but hydroFLUORIC acid can get into your bloodstream and kill you. What if nitric could also poison your blood??? Would my stress levels hurt the baby? I had no way to know.

When the EMTs arrived they put me on the gurney and took me away. I was shaking uncontrollably and sobbing. My heartrate was 140 and my pulse was 140/80, but my blood oxygen was excellent and they were encouraged by the fact that I had no pain in my eyes and my pupils were responsive. They were the kindest and funniest people I've ever met. The one who sat with me held my hand and the driver kept cracking jokes to make me laugh and distract me.

They did not cut my wet clothes off me, I'm happy to say. One of the ER nurses helped me take off my wet clothes and they wrapped me in heated blankets while they checked my vitals again and read off my information. They asked if my pregnancy had been uncomplicated; I confirmed that it had been normal thus far. Then the nurse asked if I wanted an ultrasound to see the baby, would that make me feel better? I said yes. I could be permanently disfigured and not give a fuck as ong as my baby was OK. And baby is. So perfect looking, and so active. It was moving all over the place, bouncing and wiggling and kicking and touching its face. This was a fantastic distraction while they gave me TWO IVs and a dose of fentanyl for the pain. It began to work almost immediately but I never felt tired or out of it. I had too much adrenaline in my system, I think.

John came to the hospital, as did three of my coworkers - two of them to see me and make sure I was OK, and the third was our HR/accounting rep to set up the worker's comp claim. They stressed to me that I should not receive any bills and all my care would be paid for.

I look like hell, but I feel a lot better. I have a lot of mixed feelings. I'm angry with myself for not being more careful. I'm angry with my job for overworking me to the point where I didn't even see that I was working in an unsafe manner. I'm grateful to the wonderful EMTs, ER nurses, and the chaplain who held my hand and prayed with me in the trauma room before they were sure my eyes weren't damaged by the acid.

So, the upshot is I got a bonus ultrasound of my baby. My advice is: do not attempt to get a bonus ultrasound by getting nitric acid on your face. Just ask your OB/GYN to schedule one for you.

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June 2017

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