Slice of Nose

Jesse Christen

Jesse Christen

In early August, my wife, stepson and I were visiting my hometown. When it was time to leave and say goodbye, we stopped by my Dad’s place. He was in his usual relaxation spot: the living room floor.

My dad loves his dogs and his Doberman, Ivan, is far too large to sit in one’s lap, so the floor makes an excellent spot to spend quality time with his best friend.

We stepped inside and I yelled, “Hey dad.” He then rose from the floor and it happened.

The combination of a throw rug, a slippery wood floor and leg that had fallen asleep caused my dad to slip and fall.

Boom! He was down on the floor.

He soon rose. The first sign was not good; he was holding his nose and blood was rushing out of his hand and on to the floor. Where his hand held his nose was a little too flat.

“Shit dad,” I said. “You broke your nose.”

I was wrong. His nose was worse than broken. He removed his hand to reveal the damage. “How does it look?” he asked.

It looked worse than the carnage they show in a slasher horror flick. The nose was ripped in two and cartilage was sticking out. No matter how good movie special effects are nowadays, they still don’t hold a candle to real carnage.

“We need to go to the emergency room right now,” I said, sounding calmer than I felt. At the hospital, the nurses did a good job of quickly attending to his needs, but the craziest part was yet to come.

My dad had hit his nose on a large ornamental heat-grate — the kind found in old homes like my dad’s. At the emergency room, the nurse told me he was missing a large piece of tissue from his nose. And if I could find it, the doctor could sew it back on.

“Oh great,” I thought. “One of the dogs ate it. Either that, or it got shredded in the heat-grate like a piece of cheese in a cheese grater.” But I returned to my childhood home to look for a missing nose.

When I returned I went right to the heat-grate. Upon first inspection I found a couple a small pieces of skin stuck in the slots. “Oh no, the cheese grater effect had occurred,” I said to myself. I then lifted the heat-grate up, and there’s my dad’s nose. Oddly enough, I recognized it as his nose; the familiar small v-shaped scar on his nose was staring at me like a long lost friend. I hurried back to the hospital with it.

If the surgery went well, dad would get his nose back.

Several months have now passed. The surgery was a success, although my dad’s nose is still healing.

The strangest part of the whole experience was the reversal of roles. In my 28 years, I’ve been used to my father looking after my injuries. He’s taken me to various doctors for illnesses, injuries and even surgery. Now I helped save the nose of the man who survived the Battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam. And this wound is worse than any injuries received during the war.

I now feel a little older. I had to take care of my dad, rather than the other way around. It also teaches me the lessons of the randomness of life: crazy things can happen right in the safety of your own home. So live it up. If it’s your time for something bad to happen, it will, wherever you’re at.