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Injuring yourself when you live alone

Injuring yourself when you live alone | After the Heartbreak
Injuring yourself when you live alone
Me showing my bandaged finger

This post is taking AGES to write as I only have 9 fingers. Well, 9 operational fingers. One of them is out of action thanks to a ‘kitchen incident’.

Anyway, let me tell you the story of what happened last Sunday night, and importantly, what I’ve learned from the (somewhat stressful) experience.


I was slicing a sweet potato on the mandolin (vegetable slicing gadget), making a vegie quiche for my tea. I know those things are very sharp so I planned on slicing only halfway down and then using the plastic holder for the rest of it. Apparently I went just one slice too many. [shudders]


The first thing was….where is all this blood coming from???? I looked at my finger and noticed that it was unusually ‘flat’ on one side of the tip, and at this point, copious amounts of blood began to run down my hand. I grabbed the kitchen towel and tried to put pressure on the wound, but hey….it was the tip of my ring finger so not easy!

Leaving a trail of red blood drops on the floor I ran to the bathroom and threw open the cupboard where I keep my first aid stuff. Hmmmm…. different sized band-aids. With blood now dripping down my arm and spreading all over the wash bowl and floor, I came to a quick conclusion that a band-aid was definitely not going to do the job.

finding only bandaids

The kitchen towel was soaked through by now and I spread the mess even further by having to reach for the hand towel on the other side of the room. I looked around and though “What if the Police just happen to come by? The bathroom looks like a murder scene!” [Not sure why the Police would come, but I may have become mildly hysterical at this point.] 😅 😂 🤣

Should I ring someone? As I have only just moved into a new house I don’t yet know my neighbours. Besides, feeling a bit whoozy and still clutching a blood-soaked towel around my hand to stem the blood flow, I didn’t think I could work the touch-screen on the phone.

Me with an injured leg

The last time I had a relatively bad injury was when a falling branch took out the side of my leg, but that time I rushed inside and Norbert took charge, sat me down and calmly proceeded to patch me up.

This type of tender care stopped after he died, so now I am trying to navigate a life where I live alone and have to look after myself.

And then I had a brainwave! Norbert used to have a large first aid box which we took with us when we went into the Outback. He used to say “Where we are going, it’s a long way to get any help.

Over the years it had been depleted as we occasionally pilfered the contents, but I remembered that it came to the new house because it was one of those items that just got thrown in at the end when I was too tired to make any more decisions. I thought it might have been with the ‘garage stuff’.

first aid box in garage

I rushed to the garage….still trailing blood drops…..and quickly scanned around the contents on the shelves. “There it is!!” Somehow I got it inside and threw open the lid.

“Yes!!” Still some thick pads and a packet of gauze bandages in the bottom. The packaging had deteriorated over time but the bandaging was in good condition. Best of all, I found a little bandage clip. I was wondering how I was going to do this with only one (left) hand.

Without going into any more unnecessary detail, I got the wound under pressure and neatly bandaged. I took a couple of Panadol as it was really throbbing, and then put myself to bed with a pillow to keep my arm raised.


A new day is always a positive thing – and I’d survived my mishap. While throwing towels into the washing machine and cleaning up the evidence of the apparent ‘murder’ (with my left hand), I did some thinking. What if it had been worse? What if I hadn’t kept Norbert’s first aid kit…or didn’t know where it was? Should I have rung someone?

They say that most accidents happen in the home, so maybe living alone is a big risk? I mean…with my left hand I couldn’t even use scissors to cut the end off the bandage. What can I do to mitigate the risk for future injuries? I say that with some resignation as Norbert used to roll his eyes at my occasional accident-prone ‘occurrences’. 😆

me trying to bandage my finger

I was lucky that although there was a lot of bleeding with this injury, apparently this is common with the tip of a finger and it wasn’t a really bad injury. It was enough to make me consider what I learned from it though.


I wasn’t prepared for anything more serious than a small cut. I guess I figured I live in a town with a doctor not far away. I wasn’t thinking about what I might need URGENTLY though, even before calling anyone.

old lady lying on floor

It was pure luck that Norbert’s old kit hadn’t been chucked during the move, and that there were still a few supplies in the bottom….albeit old items.

I hurt my finger. What if it had been a foot, or something that prevented me freely walking around the house looking for what I needed? I remember when I broke my toe, how quickly one can become debilitated even with a small injury.

It had been a while but I still remembered basic first aid processes i.e. put pressure on and keep my hand raised, as stopping the bleeding was paramount.


I have stocked up my first aid supplies, and Norbert’s old First Aid case is now brimming with fresh gauze bandaging and other essential items for all sorts of injuries and traumas.

I have a book on basic first aid and it sits on the top of the case, all ready in case I need some immediate guidance with something. I’m also considering doing another basic first aid course to get myself up to date. Can’t hurt.

The case is no longer in the garage, but is kept in the middle of the house where it can be quickly accessed from any room. ALSO, I’ve put it at floor level so in case I can’t walk, I can crawl there if necessary and still access everything in it.

first aid box under cupboard

As for whether or not I should have called someone (or an ambulance, considering I couldn’t initially stop the flow of blood), I’ve done some research on that. At the time I didn’t think the injury warranted it, however it’s quite possible that because I was alone and a ‘Senior’, it might have been viewed in a different context.

…attempts to define a “health emergency” often fail to appreciate that the definition is dynamic and depends on context.”

When is it OK to call an ambulance

Anyway, I’ve since found the Health Direct Symptom Checker which might prove useful in some circumstances. It’s Australian but I’m sure other countries have something similar. I’ve downloaded the app and put it on the front of my phone.

I would definitely have tried to call someone if I hadn’t managed to get the bleeding under control. I’m not entirely silly. 😋


I’m feeling much more prepared now, and I consider myself lucky to have had a ‘little’ injury which has taught me this valuable lesson. It’s sort of like that pregnancy scare long, long ago, that made me go and get the Pill. 🤣

Living by yourself and doing things alone (including travelling) does not have to be risky. It does mean though, that you have to consider situations more than those who have a partner or share their home with others.

It’s all good though, and I’m healing nicely. Is there anything else you think I can do, to be better prepared? Have you ever had a similar experience?

Marlene is an Australian widow who has written about all the good, bad and ugly stuff that happened after her husband Norbert died tragically. Marlene responds to all comments.

  • Moira says:

    Well I know only too well the dangers of the Mandolin ! Having sliced and diced part of my fingers before.
    My only suggestion would have been to call the Ambulance HO. Talk to the operator and explain the situation. Sometimes they dispatch a Paramedic to check to see if you needed transport to hospital.
    At least they could apply a pressure bandage or give you support.
    Other than making a mess it seems you have managed the situation, well done !
    It seems the first aid kit has a spiritual connection with your well being 🙂
    Did you get to eat anything that night ? Keep smiling and stay safe 😃
    Cheers Moira

    • Marlene says:

      Thanks for the response Moira…and it’s good to know that I’m not the only one to do silly things like slicing off bits with a mandolin. I think I would have called someone if I had been genuinely worried, but I was doing OK with managing the situation….apart from making a huge mess. 😀 Yes, I did get to eat the dish as it was the topping I was slicing. Oh, and I did take the bit of finger out first. LOL

  • Andrea Huntey says:

    So glad you are ok Marlene!!! What a trouper you are.
    I have had a few minor mishaps living alone and your story reminds me to keep my first aid kit full!!!
    When I go up into my attic to get suitcases or change my air filter, I always think-what if something happens when I am up there or I fall-so I always bring my phone with me. The new normal of life alone make us more aware of certain situations. Heal quickly and I am happy you were still able to write a thought provoking piece!

  • Linda says:

    Oh, jeez, I did exactly the same thing with the mandolin! Fortunately, my adult son was visiting and I didn’t totally sever the end of my finger. Now I have a glove for slicing! This is one of those things about being a widow that no one tells you about, and I am so glad to know that I am not the only one. I love the photos on your page!

  • Katharine says:

    Wow, your blog is just the thing I needed to see today. I am going through all kinds of “how am I going to do this by myself” scenarios these days. Just yesterday I broke a drill bit (I purposely used a titanium bit so that wouldn’t happen!) and when the drill slipped I fell onto a ragged tree branch and gouged my hand. Blood everywhere! I was able to easily walk to the bathroom and patch myself up but it started me thinking about all the ways I could incapacitate myself. I am having to put serious thought into who I should call in a case like this and nothing has come to me yet.

    • Marlene says:

      Hey Katherine, I’m so pleased that you have found my experience helpful. I have friends who I can call in a real emergency…and of course I could call an ambulance….but one thing that really sank in for me that this all depends on having a phone handy! Now I make sure my phone is with me ALWAYS, and especially if I’m doing anything a little risky like climbing a tree. 😁

  • Erin Clelland says:

    The last time I cut myself like that, for some reason the sight of my own blood made me woozy and I passed out. My son was with me at the time and partially caught me as I went down, preventing me from face-planting on a hard tile floor. As it was, I still hit the side of my head and was mildly concussed. Now that I live alone, there’s no one to catch me. I guess if I get a cut, I better just sit down on the floor immediately and hope I can handle things from there.

    • Marlene says:

      Hi Erin, thank you for sharing your experience. I have come to the conclusion that I will not spend time worrying about what might….or might not….happen. It doesn’t actually help. 😁 You sound like you’ve come to a similar conclusion that all we can do is prepare as best we can, and then just live life. We’ll be fine. 🥰
      Cheers Marlene

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