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Compartment 14B

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In which I learn the term, “Hulemaka flip”.

2005-01-28 - 2:29 p.m.

I will always carry a little bit of Hawaii with me.


At least until I either go to a doctor to get it removed or gouge it out myself.

On one of our last days on the Big Island, my legendary clumsiness manifested itself in a spectacular fashion. J and I were pulling up to one of many “scenic” lookouts and decided to stop to take a picture. Since my door was blocked by shrubbery at the edge of the narrow turnoff, J grabbed the camera and headed across the road.

Feeling a pang of guilt at making him do the photographing and not wanting to miss the view myself (it certainly wasn’t my bossy nature that wanted to dictate how the shot was to be taken, no, no, no), I scooted across the seat and hopped out of the van after him. I didn’t hurry exactly, I certainly didn’t run, yet I must have gained some momentum because when my sandal caught on the lip of a previously unforeseen lip of asphalt, my fall was absolutely spectacular. I do know that I registered the fact that there was broken glass strewn on the ground in front of me so perhaps I instinctively threw myself forward in an extra effort to regain my balance or at least hurdle the hazard.

I went down. Hard. And with enough forward motion that I rolled. In fact, I barreled into the backs of the knees of an unsuspecting tourist admiring the view. I was dirty and I was scraped, though dirty enough to not know whether I was scraped extensively or not. The blood welling up on my elbow was enough to tell me I had at least one bad scrape. The dirt was a fine, powdery silt that coated wherever I’d touched ground.

J spread a towel on the seat so I wouldn’t get a lot of dirt or blood on it and we made our way back up the road about a mile to a botanical garden we’d passed. They were incredibly nice and grabbed their first aid kit and hustled me into the back room. When it became obvious that I could tend to myself they brought J in to keep me company (he’d been parking the van) and left me with the kit and a sink to clean up and administer what I wanted. Liberal swabbings of paper towel took the patches of dirt off me, though it took a few revolutions for J to spot them all. I washed my elbow then sprayed it with Bactine then poured hydrogen peroxide over it, spread Polysporin on it, and taped a large patch of gauze over it. I wasn’t able to get all the dirt out – the fine brown smudge of ingrained silt wouldn’t wash off, nor could I take out a couple of dark lumps under the skin.

My friends, did I touch ground! When all was said and done, and I’d cleaned up and changed, I’d managed to get dirt on both elbows, both legs, hands, back, and butt. When I say “butt” I mean not just on my shorts – I had dirt IN MY UNDERWEAR! My trajectory scooped dirt into the top of my shorts where it had apparently sifted downwards…

I told the guy who’d given me the first aid kit and he covered his face to hide his laughter and said, “Girl, you got yourself good! You did what we call around here a ‘hulemaka flip*’!”

I’ve changed the dressing on my elbow a couple of times since and I think that most of the fine stuff has come out. Unfortunately, there are still a couple of conspicuous lumps of crud under my skin. The question is now, do I wait to heal and then dig them out when the area is less tender? Or do I try to get them out now? And do I do it myself with an Exacto blade and tweezers or do I go to the doctor? Anyone got an answer? I don’t think it’s infected but there is some definite fluid still oozing out under the Tegaderm I’ve put on.

Some people leave their hearts in San Francisco, I took part of my vacation spot home.


For the record, I can’t find this term online so I’m not sure I’ve got the spelling right. Sounds good though, don’t it? Much more interesting than, “I fell down and went bang.”

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