There I was trying to be supermom, making homemade frosting for the cakes we made earlier. My first mistake was making frosting with an immersion blender (for those of you who don’t know, its a stick blender that fancy people use to make smoothies and creamed soups). My next mistake was scooping butter out of the blades with my pointer finger. That blender turned on just as I put my finger in and whirrrrrlllll….here we are, post surgery to repair two lacerated tendons.
But there was some good news out of this ridiculous escapade. Even though I had a very deep cut, I did not have to get a tetanus booster and did not have to worry about developing tetanus — though both things certainly crossed my mind. We’ve all heard of tetanus, but what is it? Tetanus is a bacterial infection and it has no cure. It affects your nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles — hence the nickname “lockjaw.” According to the CDC, tetanus leads to death in about 1 in 10 cases.
Where and how do you get tetanus? The bacteria live allover, in places like soil, saliva, dust, and manure. When you have a deep cut or puncture wound, the bacteria can climb right in and start wreaking havoc. So, here’s where my first stroke of good luck came in: I was injured on a clean kitchen tool, not some dirty old nail in my back yard. While its not impossible to get tetanus from a blender, its a lot less likely (unless your kids have been using the blender to make mud milkshakes).
My second stroke of luck was that I am up to date on my Tdap shot (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis). I made sure to get my booster shot right after the birth of my five year old daughter so I could protect her from getting pertussis from her new mom. (I also made both my parents and husband get their boosters as well. Even though my parents had both had pertussis as kids, a previous pertussis infection doesn’t provide lifelong protection). If you are pregnant, or just recently had a baby, make sure you are up to date on your vaccine as well. Infants, too young to be vaccinated, are at the greatest risk of death from pertussis. And mothers are estimated to be the cause of infants developing pertussis in about 30-40% of cases. But, back to my finger…the Tdap booster lasts for about ten years, so I remain well protected. And while I was glad not to have another shot that night in the ER, you can bet that I would have acquiesced if the doctor had told me I needed one.
I’ll be working with one hand for a few weeks now, so I leave with that. But to recap: 1) Avoid sticking your finger in moving blenders.; 2) If you do encounter a vicious kitchen tool or get impaled by a rusty nail in your backyard, make sure your Tdap is up to date; and 3) Pertussis and tetanus are alive and well. I want you to be too…so go get vaccinated.