Call me Frodo (8/31/2002).
You have cut off the tip of your finger. This is the first line of the blue ER discharge instructions titled “Finger Amputation.” At first I was surprised at how easy it is to cut off a finger and keep going. Of course, if you have to cut off a finger, it’s best to cut off a pinky. Since my right pinky is now about an inch shorter, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the return key. But all things considered, I thought I was doing fairly well. Didn’t feel anything until about 20 minutes after I cut it off. And even then it was about an hour and a half before the pain was unbearable. I don’t think it’s the level of pain that gets you but the fact that it is constant. Not even throbbing, just a constant solid level tone of dull pain, like a emergency broadcast system test signal turned into re-bar and jammed into your finger tip. The ER people told me this was because the bone was exposed.
Labor Day Weekend, 2002 – Saturday, August 31st at about 4:30 PM, I sliced the end of my right pinky finger off while putting a groove down a piece of wood that will hopefully wind up in a display case for model trains. The project is on hold. I was putting a groove down a piece of wood when, in my mind, several things happened at once. The clamps came off the wood. The tool bucked up off the wood. I kinda caught the blade contraption with my right hand. And I thought, “I didn’t just cut my finger, did I?” I have no idea what caused what.
Since the tool I was using was designed to make a 1.4 inch of wood disappear, I lost that much bone and flesh when it went through my finger. So even though I made it to the hospital with the tip, there was a piece of the jigsaw puzzle missing.
This is how I came home from the hospital.
GOD BLESSES YOU BIG IN VERY SUBTLE WAYS.
When I cut my finger off, I had a choice of hospitals. My first inclination was to go to the only one that accepts my PacifiCare HMO insurance. Presbyterian is probably 20 minutes away. Once in the car sense prevailed and I directed Michelle towards one of the Garland hospitals. Once on Walnut, I had a very strong feeling that we should go the Baylor Medial Center of Garland, and not just because it was a half-mile closer. Turns out the Dr. Bruce Byrne, hand surgeon was on call. This a specialty that is not normally found in the ER. We were still there for just over 5 hours. But Dr. Byrne was able to give us our options and eventually perform a procedure right there in the ER. I didn’t have to be sent to surgery, which probably would have meant a huge out-of-pocket expense or a delay while I was transferred to a hospital that accepted my insurance. God was with me. I went to the ER. They fixed me up and by about 10:30 PM I was taking my first Hydrocodone. Good stuff. At one point during the rest of the three-day weekend, I was playing Battleship with Paul. I couldn’t get the pegs into the little holes and I had a tendency to dose off between moves. Battleship moves don’t really take that long. I stopped taking the pills as I went to bed Monday night, got up Tuesday morning and went to work. I believe I even got there 30 minutes early. But I wound up leaving about an hour and a half early because a day of typing and mouse-work just didn’t suite me well. Now it’s nearly the end of the week and I’m beginning to think the reason craving nice big warm meals is the finger. I feel a little ‘off’ but not sick. The finger is still swollen to a sausage shape, but it doesn’t throb constantly. So overall, I’m good.
It’s not pretty though. I had a few good days, but eventually, I felt an unbearable itching and sharp pulling pains around the stitches. These are the stitches that Patrick took to calling my “Spider-Skin.”
If you look closely, you can almost see the shallow scar from where the blade almost continued through my next finger.
Two weeks later the stitches came out and the new finger tip became less sensitive. I still have a paper-like covering over the tip. And I have to wear a compress bandage most of the time to help with the swelling. When will the swelling end?