the great finger update

Well, my finger officially has a nickname – Frankenfinger. While he looks pretty good, he’s misbehaving when it comes to the swelling and usage, so until he earns his way back to my good graces, he’s stuck with the name.

When the saga started on June 26, things didn’t look so bad. I was lucky to not lose my finger, and really optimistic.

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June 26

After I learned that I needed surgery and had most probably severed the nerve and maybe the tendon, I was terrified. What would happen if I didn’t regain feeling? What if I had severed the tendon? How would I crochet, or do transcription, or sand woodwork, or any of the bajillion things I use my right hand for? But I had to be optimistic that surgery would work.

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July 10, just home

Surgery was on July 10th, and the whole process itself was fine and only took about an hour. I was completely out for it with IV anesthesia which was great because I didn’t have a “hangover” afterwards. I was left with a “flipper” as my friends nicknamed the hand, and it looked like it had lost a fight with an Oompa Loompa thanks to the beta-dine. And yes, I was stuck with that color skin for a good 5 days.

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July 10

We learned very quickly that narcotics don’t affect me. I woke up the next morning at about 5 am crying the pain was so bad. Even with that, the most frustrating thing was my inability to do simple things. Right after surgery, the Man had to help me get dressed. When we went to an estate sale that Sunday to take my mind off the pain, he had to help me button my jeans. I couldn’t hook my own bra for almost two weeks.  And forget opening packages, getting lids off, or carrying anything. I had never felt so vulnerable.

July 13th I got to see it unwrapped for the first time. The first thing I thought was, “Wow, I’m going to have a fabulous scar.”

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July 13

They did exploration to see if I had hit the tendon – I did not – and they repaired the nerve and gave it “insulation” as it was explained to me. My mother also informed me it looked like I had tiny spiders on my finger.

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July 13

All in all, I was told everything looked good, though, and I’d be out of work for a week. I think the hardest thing was keeping it elevated, especially when I returned to my office where I’m on a computer the majority of the day. Despite that, it started looking good and healing nicely. When I finally got the stitches out on the 20th, I was ecstatic.

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July 22

A few days after getting stitches out (where I almost passed out) the purple surgical marker finally started coming off – YAY! But now begins the long wait. I have some feeling back which is an amazing thing in and of itself. Most of the side that I damaged now at least “tickles” if you touch it, but Frankenfinger is mostly unreliable. He sucks at holding a coffee cup, using chopsticks is a comedy routine, and I still have trouble turning on the car with him, but he’s getting there.

I went to my first therapy appointment this past Friday and they were able to remove a LOT of dead skin, the remaining scabbing, and gave me exercises.

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August 2

So here he is today, new raw skin and all. I’d be more optimistic if the swelling were under control, but all in good time.

this little finger…

This little finger is going to the surgeon 😦

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I thought it was odd that the day after the injury I couldn’t feel the tip of my finger. The Man and I gave it until late on Sunday to remove the dressing because it felt like I had pulled a stitch and I had bled through the dressing overnight. It was then that I realized I actually couldn’t feel the side of my finger from the middle knuckle to the tip.

I was able to get in with the hand specialist on Monday – he squeezed me in thankfully. Short story? I’ll be going in for surgery on the 10th. It turns out, in my infinite talent and grace, that I managed to either mangle or sever a nerve, and possible damaged the tendon. It explains why I don’t have much pain, but is the oddest sensation in the world.

Keep my poor little finger in your thoughts and prayers!

gardening nightmare

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I had my whole Friday planned out.  I had already finished a transcription job and started another, but wanted to take a break and get some fresh air.  My garden beds were in sore need of attention, so I hooked Abby up to her lead outside and began weeding and pruning.

The Rose of Sharon that is near our backdoor had grown out of control, and despite the fact that it’s about to bloom, I decided to take out the hedge trimmer and give it a good cut. Armed with gloves and my ladder I began the task of taking about 2 feet off the top. I was almost done when the trimmer got caught on a branch and began falling. I think I tried to catch it but I’m not sure how exactly it happened.

All I know is that in the next moment I watched my finger get mangled in the teeth of the still running blade. It was about 1:15. I calmly got down off the ladder, went inside the house and started running my hand under water. As I watched the blood pumping out and filling the sink, I knew I was in trouble. I grabbed paper towels and wrapped them around my fingers. I knew I had to go to the hospital. I called The Man who was at least an hour away and left a panicked voicemail. I put the cat in the living room, ran up to the third floor of the house with Abby panicked and following, closed all the puppy gates and bedrooms, grabbed my purse, gave her a treat, and drove to the hospital as the paper towels saturated through with blood.

The hospital is exactly a mile from our house but I swear it took forever to get there. There was no parking in the ER lot so I had to parallel park on the side of the building and walked in the wrong entrance. I calmly asked where the ER entrance was, not realizing I was shaking violently. The receptionist gasped and ushered me to the entrance of the ER.

The triage nurse kept telling me how brave I was as I told her I was going to pass out. My blood pressure was around 85/60, and that’s after that horrible cold, muffled feeling of passing out began to subside.

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I didn’t have to wait very long to see the PA, and it turns out I know her through my work at the university. I have to say seeing a friendly face put me at great ease. I even managed to take a “selfie” of my gauze wrapped fingers. I still hadn’t seen the damage. I knew my finger was still attached, but I didn’t know how bad it was, and the pain didn’t give any indication until fifteen minutes or so after getting into a room and the adrenaline of getting myself to the hospital started to wear off.

The Man arrived in record time, shaking his head, asking about nerve damage, and telling me I was never to touch a power tool again. It was then that I realized how terrified Abby must be, that my hand was covered in blood, and there were spurts of it on my shirt as well. The PA liberally numbed my fingers – in addition to lacerating my pointer, I had nicked my middle finger as well.

The good news is I didn’t get the bone, and probably missed the tendon. I did need four stitches, though, because as she washed the wound out, according to The Man, the skin was flapping. Armed with a bandage, splint, tetanus shot, and scripts for antibiotics and pain killers, I went home. I have to follow up with my primary care, and see a hand specialist. I still can’t feel half the finger and can’t reach for anything with my whole hand or I get a searing, electric pain shooting through the finger.

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But I’m lucky.  The weekend I had so many plans for has been spent trying to avoid anything involving my hand, which is unfortunately my dominant hand. I’m terrified about permanent damage, and feel mostly helpless. I can barely fold laundry, have to eat and drink left handed (which is amusing), and can’t start my car. If I don’t get feeling back, I’m not sure how well I’ll ever be able to crochet again. But at least I still have my finger at all. My advice? Pretty common sense…  Don’t be rushed or careless with tools. Don’t wear damp gloves while using tools. And don’t try to catch a hedge trimmer.

Keep me in your thoughts, dear readers.