Wednesday, September 12, 2007

an unfortunate incident involving peppers

today one of the guys at work brought in some home grown veggies - a huge bag of delicious cherry tomatoes and a bag of hot chili peppers. because i had forgotten my lunch i went and grabbed a handful of tomatoes, which went very well with my old bagel, orange, and bottled water. however, as the end of the day was nearing and i became more munchie desiring, i started to nibble at the red pepper, which turned out to be sweet and mild. at the tip, at least.

as i coded i slowly bit off bits and pieces of the pepper, which crunched sweetly. i hit a few seeds, which weren't hot, and that's usually where the heat is contained. just in case, i threw out all the seeds in the next section, then proceeded to stuff the whole thing in my mouth.

just as i started chewing i felt a kick on my tongue, and realized this was a pepper that wasn't uniformly hot. well, i could use a bit of spice anyways, so i went ahead and chewed. but the burning sensation started to expand exponentially, and i forced myself to swallow the half chewed mass just as my eyes started to tear up.

hot peppers have a sort of delayed heat effect. and these particular peppers had a very prolonged heat effect. and what's worse is that these peppers take barely a touch against skin before the burning spreads. from the time i swallowed the rest of the peppers (i wonder if my stomach will be upset later) to now (about an hour later) i went through the following ritual of trying to ease the pain.

when my lips first started burning, it was toward the inside, near where my teeth had crushed the pulp and released the pepper oils. i thought it would be ok - i had some water and it was relatively cold. but i also needed something sweet so i ate one of the corn muffins i was saving as a breakfast. but that delayed effect kicked in, and when my water ran out, my lips only burned more because they were no longer being showered in cool liquids.

i walked calmly to the bathroom so no one would notice my folly. the water fountain is a wonderful, icy cool spout of relief, and i rinsed out my mouth there and refilled my bottle. on the way back it seemed that i might have a few minutes to recover before the lips started hurting again just due to the ambient warm air temperature.

a few minutes later my water was gone again, and i walked a bit more briskly to the bathroom. this time i decided to wash out my lips. i'm not sure if it was before or after - maybe it was due to using the bottle to have water cover my mouth (without drinking it), but the oils had spread and now there was the slightest tingle of pain around the edges of the lips. i started rinsing my mouth out under the cold water in the bathroom, which wasn't as good as the waterfountain. but using a paper towel to keep my face wet helped.

i think it was the second time i had to run to the bathroom that i started spitting red flecks, of pepper or flesh, i don't know. this time i arrived in front of the mirror and there was a circle of red swelling around my lips, and my eyes were all teary. i tried to use soap to wash out the stuff, and grabbed a new paper towel, which i now held over my mouth while walking around because it was the only way to feel like you're not being irradiated by atomic particles. that's when i ran into chris, and we started discussing code. i thought that maybe it would be ok and i could make it through, now that the lips were feeling a bit better.

half way through the discussion my eyes were watering and i reached up to dab at my right eye. mistake. whatever minute amount of pepper oil that had gotten from my lips, to the paper towel, to my fingers, was now on the tip of my nose and my eye. i almost couldn't type because one hand was holding my mouth in pain. i went to the bathroom once, rinsed out with some soap, came back, talked a bit about code, and decided that we couldn't continue and be productive. chris suggested i get some diary product.

with wet paper towel in hand i made it down to the kitchen, but realized that it closed at like 2. i ran to the bathroom (to actually use the bathroom this time), thinking "i should be careful with my hands..." well i wasn't careful enough and there's still a bit of remaining pain to this moment. as i walked back to the office wondering why no place was selling anything anymore, i made a godsent discovery...there had been an ice cream party from 2-4. and there were tubs of ice cream just sitting around.

so happily this incident ended with me stuffing my face with strawberry icecream with strawberries in syrup. i DID use some of it to actually neutralize the pepper oils around my face, but i ate the rest. of course for a moment i did consider using the ice cream to ease the pain in my other afflicted spots. but i didn't see how i would be able to apply it without a huge mess, so i just brought some desert back to my office.


and just now i scratched my OTHER eye, and immediately it's hurting. this oil is POTENT.

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