Last night I experienced one of the most terrifying things of my life. I would have written about it then, but due to extenuating circumstances (which I will later explain), I absolutely could not.
I’m writing this both as a warning and because I think that someone out there may find it funny. However, before I begin- let me preempt this tale by saying that I am embarrassed and still a little bit shocked.
Here goes... I was home alone and excited for a nice quiet evening of cooking and writing.
My mom has this new cookbook, Hungry Girl, and it’s fantastic. It’s full of low-fat junk food recipes. I can’t personally think of anything better. Therefore, I had decided on a first course of “guilt free” Jalapeño Poppers-“Jalapeño Swappers.” Naturally, the first ingredient was jalapeños- an ingredient that I had surprisingly never worked with before. I unknowingly took out the pack of fresh peppers, and followed the directions to “halve the jalapeños lengthwise and remove the seeds, stems, and membranes.” Hungry Girl reminded me to wash my hands “frequently” and be careful not to touch my face and eyes- which is all well and good. But what Hungry Girl should have said was to be more fearful of these unassuming little peppers than of rabid dogs- and to not go near them unless armed with multiple layers of impenetrable latex gloves.
Jump ahead about an hour- I had cut, stuffed, seasoned, baked, and thoroughly enjoyed these “jalapeno swappers.” Halfway into my main course (a large Mexican salad of sorts), I feel a tingling in my ring finger and pinkie on my left hand.
Shortly thereafter, the same thing happens to my right hand. Then all four of my tingling fingers start burning and going numb. I try to ignore it and take a shower. By the time I get out of the shower- both hands are in searing pain and I am convinced the tips of my fingers have gone numb.
I start googling (never a good idea) “numb burning fingers.” At which point, I had thoroughly convinced myself that I was either enduring the beginning stages of heart failure or some kind of neurological/pinched nerve emergency.
I admit, I am a bit of a hypochondriac but I had never experienced such an odd onset of symptoms and unexpected pain.
My hands felt like they were on fire, and I was in the throes of a full-blown anxiety attack- my numb hands were shaking, my heart felt like it was in my throat, and I could barely breathe. I was about to call my sister and make her come over to drive me to the emergency room when my mom came home from dinner and saved me.
To be honest, I could barely speak and it took her a moment to decipher what I was telling her about my emergency. It went something like this;
Mom: Hi Morgan! How was your night!
Morgan; My Hands....Burning...Hot! I cant feel them! Dying! I'm dying…what do I do? I'm scared...really scared. It’s my heart…I think its my heart. They burn. Help me.
Mom: Morgan, are those jalapeños?
Mom: Did you make jalapeños for dinner?
Morgan: Yeah, why?
Mom: (Laughing uncontrollably) You're nuts, you know? You burnt your hands when you were cutting the jalapenos. Stop freaking out. Google “jalapeno burns” and figure out what is the best remedy.
About a half hour later, I was finally convinced that I wasn’t, in fact, dying and my hands were immersed in a bowl of skim milk, while my mom rubbed my back to calm me down.
I then spent the rest of the evening watching Woody Allen movies with my hands coated in Fage Fat Free Greek Yogurt. (Hence- why I couldn’t type).
As drops of yogurt plopped onto my jeans and my heart slowed to a normal rate, I had to laugh at myself (and thank god for parents).
I went to bed at around 3:00 a.m. clenching blocks of frozen spinach in my hands in order to dull the searing pain. Needless to say, I woke up in a pool of water and thawed spinach…but at least I wasn’t dead.