A Gory Story

I don’t think the following story is particularly gory, but as certain friends of mine have complained that it is, I felt it only fair to put a warning on it!! And here’s the spoiler – it’s all okay in the end ;)

So, I was cutting up cabbage for dinner on Monday night, and managed to cut my thumb. I didn’t really feel it, but I heard the sound of the nail being cut – I’ve cut fingernails several times without cutting my fingers. I looked down and saw blood coming out of the nail – I’d cut right across and into my left thumbnail! I only took a couple of seconds to look at it before deciding to go straight to a doctor. I wrapped it up in paper towel straight away, but not before blood ran all through the fingers of my left hand!

I called a few people to find someone to go with me and went straight out into a taxi. The pain started to hit on the way to the doctor and I called a friend to talk/pray/be distracted. I also called home cos – I wanted to talk to my mummydaddy! I didn’t cry at all, so that was my one little-kid moment ;)

I went to the clinic I’d been to before for my tendinitis, and a friend/surrogate Mum met me there. The only GP on duty was booked solid for 3 hours but they put me in a room and he was right in. He messed around with my thumb, then said that even though the main nerve and the blood flow was okay, I’d cut the nail bed so he didn’t want to touch it. He knew the specialist hand surgeon at BJU (one of the better English-speaking hospitals, just down the road from my house) so he called ahead and sent me there.

She was in surgery but sent an assistant doctor to look at it. He went back and then she broke surgery to come and check it out so I could be prepped for surgery while she finished the other operation. She’s a specialist reconstructive and plastic surgeon, so that’s amazing.

I got a needle put into my right hand for blood tests and the IV anasthetic!! Very cool. Hurt a lot going in though. I also had to get a tetanus shot – in the bum! Just great. Actually, it didn’t hurt so I suppose I shouldn’t complain ;)

Before the surgery, Dr Li (the hand surgeon) and anesthesiologist (Dr Wang) came down to have me sign release forms. I signed the last one and Dr Wang asked if I had a Chinese name. Dr Li said “Why do you want to know her Chinese name??” and Dr Wang said “I like Chinese names”. I of course did not mind, and as I wrote my name, my friends were cheerfully chipping in about how I can read/write/speak Chinese. The doctors really liked my Chinese name, and we quickly got into a discussion (in Chinese) about where/how long I’d studied Chinese. Dr Li was fascinated to learn that I started in a public high school.

I went into surgery around 10pm. When I got to the OR there was Dr Li and Dr Wang plus two nurses and an assistant doctor – he was excitedly telling me about a computer game character called Tanya. Dr Wang started telling them I could speak good Chinese and was explaining how to write my Chinese name (in Chinese). Just then a nurse asked how tall I was (in English) and I replied in Chinese without even thinking about it. That cracked them all up!!

Dr Li was fussing about this and that – I couldn’t work out if she was a grumpy doctor or if she was teasing. But then the others started laughing so I figured she was just teasing. Dr Wang leaned over and said quietly “the OR is like a big family” It was really cool – I felt so comfortable! Not nervous at all. It wasn’t until later that I appreciated that.

I had that weird half-sleep anasthetic. Dr Wang put me to sleep just long enough for the local to be put in my thumb and take effect, then brought me back to the half-sleep state. You may or may not know that I talk lots when I’m tired – just saying whatever goes through my head. In this way, I managed to chatterbox my way through the ENTIRE operation. Dr Wang was rather amused by me, along with all the rest of them. Not least of all because I was speaking Chinese the whole time. I just couldn’t stop!! I remember apologising for how much I was talking and wondering out loud why I was speaking Chinese and Dr Wang said “mei guan xi, wo me dou xi huan ni” – “no problem, we all like you”. Very cute.

The surgery took twice as long as Dr Li predicted cos the cut was deeper than she had realised beforehand. I came out at around 12:30am, with 8 stitches in the thumb, 1/4 of the thumbnail gone, and lots of TINY sutures in the nail bed. It took a while for my head to de-cloud, but not too long. My flatmate was waiting for me in the recovery room (she arrived before I went in for the operation, and waited til I came out while my other friend headed home). We got home around 2am – what a night!

I didn’t go to work on Tuesday, and was feeling pretty good – but the local still hadn’t totally worn off. It was just starting to when the dressing just FELL OFF!! So I went down to the hospital and the doctor re-dressed it for free. When she was looking at it she pointed out some of the sutures to me and explained a bit of what she’d done. She seemed quite proud of her work – which made me feel good! She gave me a little cheek about looking after it this time, that it wasn’t allowed to come off every day! So that’s the story!

I’m fine, just in a LOT of pain. Saw the doc again this morning – the follow-up scheduled after the operation. She seemed a little concerned about how much pain I’m in, and wants me back again tomorrow. At first she said to come back tomorrow if the pain didn’t decrease today, otherwise to come back Monday. Then she changed her mind and told me to come back tomorrow anyway, that she wanted to check it. She wants to make sure that I don’t get an infection – because I cut myself with a kitchen knife, and it went in deep. I’m already on antibiotics, and she said that if they don’t do the job the only alternative is an IV antibiotic! But I don’t think it’ll come to that. She says it looks really clean and everything, it’s just the level of pain that she isn’t happy with.

Anyway, that’s enough gory details! Bottom line: I’m a bit sore and sorry, but I’m fine. And I’ll be more careful around knives for the next little while!

** In fact, it was about a year before I could bring myself to chop up a cabbage again!

thumb-surgery

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