Diane Bixler, Health Coach & Author

Martinis and Machetes

The following events took place about eight years ago and are as accurate as remembered. The names have been changed to protect their privacy. While there is a photo from this night, taken in the hospital just before stitches, I felt it best not to share here. Not everyone can handle such sights.

James and I had company over, Bo and Marci, for some wine and cheese. James, of course, opted to “kick it up a notch” with a martini. We were enjoying the beautiful night on our porch, listening to the typical Florida sounds of crickets, owls, and whippoorwills. I don’t really remember who asked about the property behind ours, but James is always willing to trek through the woods, so we each grabbed a bike light, James & Bo taking along machetes, and off we went for a hike. Why machetes? Well, James maintains the trails, so any time he’s out there, he hacks a little (I think it’s more of a macho thing). Although most critters of the night will scamper away at the sound of others, there are wild boar, which can be aggressive. So off we went, lights and machetes, for a hike through the woods.

We started out, James taking out smaller branches as we moved. It’s about a mile of a trail, but opens up toward the end, getting swampy if it’s rained too much. We talked as we walked, and several times we heard something scurry off into the woods, but never got a look at whatever was out there with us. We came to the end of our trail, by the canal, and turned to head back.

The trail now was quite open, with very little trees directly around us, just an open grassy area. We’d spread out a little, Bo & Marci leading the way. They were heading a little to the right of where we needed to be to get back. James was behind me, heading more to the left. As we entered the wooded area again, I stopped to see where we all were. James had turned off his light and was making “spooky” noises. I could hear Bo & Marci laughing up ahead. I turned off my own light, deciding to really get them all. I stepped off the trail to the left, stood perfectly still between two trees, and waited. James would be coming up and probably wouldn’t see me. I could get behind him and scare them all pretty good. I was trying to stifle a laugh at the thought when “WHACK!” I grabbed my nose and cried out. I remember asking James, “What’d you do? Break my nose?” He turned on his light and simply replied, “Yeah, I think I did.” That is about all he remembers. Shock and alcohol make for a lousy memory.

Bo & Marci came back down the trail to us. Marci started talking a mile a minute, and all I could catch were words like “stitches…” “blood…” “emergency room…” At this point I was starting to put things together and realize I’d actually been hit with the machete. Bo wasted no time, grabbing me and starting to run. Finally, he put me down and let me walk the last bit to the house. I took off my sweater and was trying to use it to catch all the blood. I stood around watching them a moment, moving around the house, and said, trying to help, “I just need someone to take me to the emergency room.” No one really made any move in an outdoor direction. I thought maybe if I actually got into the car someone would volunteer to drive. I walked into the garage and sat in the passenger side of my car. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to see it, but I had to look. I took a deep breath and pulled down the mirrored visor. There was a huge gash across my nose, from the top left down, just ending over my lip. It was quite wide and I could see some white under all the blood. I put the visor back and relocated my hand to hold up my nose – I suddenly became scared it was going to fall off!

I looked over to the driver’s seat. No one was there yet and the garage door was still down. I walked back inside and Bo plopped a towel with ice over my nose. “I just need someone to take me to the emergency room.” I said again. “We’re working on that,” was the general answer. I just didn’t get it. Finally, Marci grabbed my hand and off the two of us went, leaving the guys behind to figure out the rest.

When we got to the emergency room, they were pretty quick to get me into the back. Marci was kind enough to go with me – I have no idea how she handled the look of my face. They asked questions and I answered. The doctor took a look at my face and listened to my story. He didn’t seem impressed. He explained he had another patient and that he’d be back soon, but I was going to need stitches (go figure). Marci and I talked, both more out of nervousness than anything. We couldn’t figure out where the guys were, and we were starting to get worried. Bo finally showed first, sans James. When asked, he wasn’t sure why James was taking so long to come to the hospital.

Finally James showed up, wearing leathers & carrying his motorcycle helmet. I didn’t think I could ride the motorcycle home, and he smiled, for the first time. Apparently, he couldn’t find my car keys. I explained they were (logically) in my lunch box inside the cabinet next to the stove. And why hadn’t he thought to look there… He left again (no kiss goodbye?) to get the car and returned at the same time as when the sheriff showed up. I think it was about this time Bo and Marci decided they’d had enough and went home.

Standard operating procedure (in case this ever happens to anyone else) requires the perpetrator to be arrested for a “cooling off” period. Like any domestic abuser will be calmer AFTER they have spent the night in jail. But anyway, they listened to my story, then listened to James, and very thankfully, did not arrest him. Sometimes it pays to know people…

Eleven stitches later (3 internal and 8 external), we went home. It was about 2 in the morning, and James pretty much passed out. I, however, sat up thinking of all the “what ifs…” What if it was a little higher, and I’d lost my eye(s)… What if it was a little lower, around the mouth… Or what if it were even lower, say the neck area… I didn’t sleep that night.

I was admitted into a study for facial lacerations, scarring, and healing. They took photos weekly during my recovery. For the next several months, it looked like I got too much sun. I was “grounded” by the doctors due to the depth of the cut. No physical activities for six weeks, absolutely no sunlight, stay out of the heat, and I was forbidden to sweat. Keep in mind, this was April in Florida.

Overall, it looks pretty good, and I consider myself pretty lucky. James finally recovered mentally and emotionally. He’s felt pretty bad about it, and for the first week, couldn’t look at me without painfully looking away, mumbling an apology.

I used to tease him that he needed new stories – I’d heard them all. They ended differently, but usually started the same. He’d get together with the guys and someone would say, “this one night, we were out drinking…” Well, he finally has a new story. I never thought it would end with “I hit my girlfriend in the face with a machete.”

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I'm Coach Bix, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author.

When I'm not working, cooking, or writing, I'm enjoying life to the fullest.

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