I’ve been reluctant to tell this story of the recent events in my life because I do not want to scare anyone from canning. I do want to let people know what can be done to prevent what happened to me and I still think that people should preserve food. It is one of the most rewarding things to do. What happened to me is totally preventable, and maybe that makes me a bit of a dumbass. Here’s my story:
Sunday night I was pressure canning with the big 14 quart All American like I’ve done so many times before.
As I screwed on the lid I asked myself through groggy eyes and foggy pregnancy brain if I was doing everything safely.
I was doing it right at that point except I mismatched an old glass lid and rim jar with a gem jar meant for a short, metal lid and rim. Like this:
I had put Vaseline on the rim of the canner and screwed down the wingnuts evenly a little at a time. I sat in the kitchen and watched the pressure carefully as it climbed up to 11 lbs.
It took a couple of hours to can the stew and I was eager to get it out. I waited for it to depressurize and I screwed off the lid. Here’s my MAJOR mistake: The mismatched jar would not have mattered (other than it may not seal) if I had simply let the jars cool down in the canner before removing them.
LET THE JARS COOL IN THE CANNER BEFORE REMOVING.
As other advice I could add to not can when tired. Read your manual and proper recipes. Seek the advice of professional canners who use modern methods and canning companies. Another thing I will start doing is writing up a list of safety reminders and I will go over it at the start of the new canning season. I had simply forgotten this year.
As I went to pull the jar up, the lid blew off due to pressurized heat and the hot stew came spewing out onto my face, hip and almost my entire inside of my right arm. It also got my daughter a little on her back as she was in the kitchen when it happened.
Right after, I had my eyes closed and I didn’t quite know what had happened but Nova was screaming. I yelled for help and led her to the bathroom to wash it off to stop the burning.
I called my mom and she came over right away. All I could do to soothe the pain was to keep it under cool water, for hours. My mom sat with me for most of it. My neighbour and good friend came by and talked with me and then made food for everyone. My dad and partner got busy cleaning up the mess. I felt immersed in it all; in the pain and in their collective care.
I got into the shower to wash out the stew and contemplated what it will be like to be in my house in labour in pain and naked in the shower. This is coming up in just a few weeks.
Again, I found myself amazed and in awe of how beautifully people come together to help one another in an emergency. This time was different as I was the person being helped. It really shows the true colours of life when tragedy hits. It is the happening that highlights all of life making you see how whole it is. Through our vulnerability we bond and are reminded how fragile and precious life is.
I need these reminders.
Once the pain was at the point that I could have it out of water, we went to the hospital.
As I poured water over my arm while waiting for the nurse, and all I could think was “thank you, thank you, thank you.”
It felt a little insane, because for what would I be grateful in such hard time?
For cool water, for friends, for food,
for kind nurses, for family and for life. I always think to myself during hard times that something good will come of this. And it always does.
Just to be alive and to feel all that it means. Sometimes it means pain. And in the pain we find what matters:
Many people are giving me ideas
Of remedies to use and saying to go to the hospital. I’ve been going everyday where they re-dress the wounds and put flamazine (antibacterial silver) on it. Thank you so much everyone for the kind words, support and advice!