8 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018.

I had just sampled an inferior pinot, dumped it out and was washing the glass to prepare for a better vintage.

Then, holding it by the dainty stem, I shook the excess water off.

BAM! The stem broke off, slashing me across my middle finger. There was blood and wine everywhere. The aptly named butcher block looked like a gurney in a segment of “Grey’s Anatomy” after a wino was being treated for a knife wound.

After hearing me scream, “Bad cut, I’m dying, I’m going to lose my finger,” She — who has played a nurse or two in her career — dropped her book and, as first responder, rushed in to clean up the scene with paper towels as I stood there holding the wound.

The following is true “wino” thinking.

As I stood there with half a roll of paper towels wrapped around my gushing wound, I stared at the pool of wine on the floor with a tear in my eye.

“Any chance of sopping some of that up?” I asked.

“Are you crazy?” she asked. It seems that whenever I do something, she asks that.

“It’s a $15 bottle.”

Reluctantly, she examined the wound. Her expression was not comforting.

“Will I lose my finger?” I wept. “That’s the ‘O’ (as in orange) and ‘9’ finger. I use that finger a lot.”

It appeared to be wide and deep. With my left hand, I poured a bit of the better wine into a stouter glass.

She, holding a basket full of bloody paper towels, asked, “What are you doing?”

“I feel queasy,” I whimpered.

“You’re losing blood and you’re still drinking?”

I shouted: “I feel queasy.”

8:48 p.m.

Emergency care. Thayer hospital.

Brittany, a young attendant who was her former student (She has former students scattered all over central Maine, which usually gets me special attention) escorted me to a room.

After a short wait, a man with an excellent haircut, white coat and nice manners arrived, examined the gash and, after numbing the finger, secured the cut (now officially called a “laceration”) with three stitches and assured me I would not lose the “O” and “9” finger.

“Will I be able to finish my dinner wine?”

“Not in the same glass,” he replied dryly.

Upon departure, I thanked my wife’s former student Brittany. “And thank the doctor for me.”

“Oh, he’s not a doctor. That’s Michael. He’s a P.A.”

P.A.? I thought OMG, I’m was treated by a Professional Accountant?

Four days later, the laceration didn’t look healthy. Drawing on my experience as “Handsome Young Doctor” on television, I suspected an infection.

I immediately went down to Express Care on Main Street in Waterville to have it checked out.

I was ushered into a pleasantly soft, blue-walled room by an R.N.

Within minutes, Alice, a smiling, soft-spoken, attractive young woman in a white coat and carrying a clipboard appeared.

I brightened. “You’re the doctor?”

“No, I’m not a doctor. I’m a P.A., a physician’s assistant.”

I was instantly relieved that I hadn’t been treated by a bookkeeper.

OK. I’m now thinking all doctors in Maine have gone to a golf clinic master’s program at Mar-a-Lago, leaving me here alone.

It seems that the medical world has changed. This is how it works: P.A.s (Physician’s Assistants) work interdependently with physicians. They provide diagnostic (you have a staph infection) and therapeutic patient care (smiling, speaking softly and increasing confidence) in virtually all medical specialties and settings (like the soft blue-walled room). They take patient histories, perform physical examinations, order laboratory (Alice swabbed my wound and sent the swab to the lab) and diagnostic studies, prescribe medications (four pills a day of an ugly antibiotic) and develop patient treatment plans (come back on Monday and have the stitches removed.).

While there, I discussed “Grey’s Anatomy” with Miranda at the desk and met David, who I thought was a doctor only to learn he, too, is not an accountant.

10 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 9.

My birthday.

I arrive to find I’m the only one there. And here I thought there was going to be a party in room 8.

A pleasant M.A. (Medical Assistant), Cassie, took out the sutures effortlessly, and with that, P.A. Michael instructed me on how to care for my wound. I left with the knowledge that an entire group of young professionals without one doctor’s degree among them saved my 9 and O finger.

So, doctors? You can stay in Mar-a-Lago for all I care. Central Maine is in safe hands.

Dear Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy”: If you’re looking for a new television pilot show, this is it.

P.S. I am now drinking my wine from a stainless steel mug. Hurrah!

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.