Tag Archives: doctor

only a flesh wound (a busy afternoon for me–part 1)

23 Oct

On June 30, I was cleaning up the garage and decided to cut up some scraps of wood into kindling.  When I realized that some of the pieces were longer than the distance from my fingertip to my thumb, I tried to think of what I could make out of them.  (My grandfather always maintained that if, after a project, you had left over any wood longer than the distance from fingertip to thumb, then you misfigured.)  I sketched out a plan for a box for my biking stuff–helmet, seat cover, mirror, tire pressure gauge, and such–with the frames being lap joints and the actual sides being pegboard.  I sized the wood and set up my saw with the dado blades.  After cutting a dozen of the sixteen pieces, I accidentally grabbed the moving blades.

It was much later that I realized the pain was like a terrible burn.  I turned off the saw and yelled into the house.  My wife came and saw me walking in small circles and holding my left arm up.  She went back in and came out with a dishtowel.  I pointed out it was one of the new ones I had just given her for her birthday and we shouldn’t ruin it, so she got a different one.  She dispatched our daughter to call 911 while she tried to make me sit down and drink a little water.  I felt better, but we both knew I needed to go the ER.  Much later, my wife told me that, as she was talking to me and trying to calm me down, she also was furtively scanning the garage floor for anything a doctor might need to reattach.  She told our daughter to cancel the EMS people, and we went to our local ER, about four miles away.

On the way out of our neighborhood’s hilly and curvy streets, we passed the largest fire truck the station could send.  It was what EMS had sent to my house.  When they arrived, my daughter greeted the fire fighters, told them they had just missed me, and thanked them for coming so quickly.  They agreed not to submit a bill since they had not actually seen a patient or potential patient.  I really like our fire fighters.

I am very stubborn and a bad patient, but I did agree to getting out at the ER door while my wife parked the car.  My normal skin tone is pale, but apparently I looked even more ghostly than usual because the admit nurse looked alarmed when I walked in.  She sat me down and began asking basic questions for admittance, questions I would answer several more times before I went home.

My wife came in, and we went back to an examination room.  Two doctors and a nurse appeared and assessed my injury and asked me the same basic questions the admit nurse had asked.  I volunteered my average resting heart rate and blood type; I talk a lot when I am that nervous.

My relationship with needles is a fraught one.  They don’t frighten me, but I don’t like them.  If I were diabetic and had to inject myself daily, I would be dead.  When I give blood, I have to close my eyes, cover them, and turn my head.  The nurse at the ER had my IV in before I realized that’s what she was doing.  Whatever the hospital pays her is not nearly enough.  My IV contained a pain killer, an antibiotic, and something to counteract the nausea that the pain killer would cause.  The pain killer was my favorite.

The doctor cleaned everything thoroughly so I could see the damage.  My wife would only take quick glances.  For the first time, I got a good look at what I had done.  I could see the bone on my left index finger between the distal and proximal joints (I picked up some terminology), and the side and pad of my thumb were an icky, meaty mess.  Nothing was missing, though, as far as I could tell.  The doctor wrapped everything securely and told us he could not sew anything up because he was not a hand specialist.  So, he sent us to the ER in the next city, but he called ahead so we wouldn’t have to wait when we got there.  He offered an ambulance, and it was very tempting, but financial reality won out.

I don’t know why I didn’t think to grab my camera on the way out of the house when all this started.