Thursday, June 30, 2011

How can washing dished get you into hospital for surgery?

Yes, you read the heading right! I was washing dishes on what we planned to be a lazy Sunday afternoon when a plate fell off the drying rack. It broke on the way down on a mixing bowl. I instinctively and without thinking threw my right hand out in order to catch the falling plate and it sliced my right hand open on the fold of the ring finger. The plate broke anyway!

I clenched my fist in reflex and pain to stop the bleeding and grabbed a tea towel apply pressure. I called my wife Carrie to assess it with me. I slowly and painlessly (surprisingly) opened my fingers and we saw quite a substantial wound. We both looked up and said “we are going to the hospital”.
Off to the hospital for stitches for the first time in 14 years. The hospital was as hospitals come – full of paper work and waiting. I got to sit down in a treatment room but I think that this was mainly due to the amount of blood on the two tea towels and my shirt. After an initial inspection and brief history – the nurse went to do something or call someone to come and help. No problem. I was left sitting on a bed with my hand on a waterproof sheet beside me. What happened to elevate the wound? All was good until I felt a warm sensation come over the back of my hand beside me (my palm was facing up). I looked down and figured out that the wound was bleeding quite a lot and now half covered the waterproof sheet. Time to do something!
I got up and started to walk around outside the room. A doctor walked passed and asked a nurse what this patient is doing walking around (talking about me). I told her that I was waiting for someone to help me with my bleeding hand. She actually came to help me which was a little surprising.
The next 30 minutes consisted of pain and arterial bleeding. Well, actually, only about 10 minutes of pain because then the local anesthetic kicked in and it was “pain free”. The doctor was stitching me up when I had the sudden urge to vomit – not cool! I had a momentary thought of keeping it to myself but then common sense kicked me in the head. I told the doctor and was given a bucket. I lay down instead of using the bucket.
After I lay down and Carrie returned after processing the mountain of paper work, it was okay and the rest of the time was pretty peaceful. The doctor finished stitching up the wound and the nurse bandaged it up and let me go. The whole indaba took about 2 hours after having to pay on the way out, which delayed thing somewhat.

The instructions were to keep it dry, clean the area twice a day and return in about 7 days to get the stitches out. I asked the doctor when the feeling would come back after the anesthetic wore off. The answer was about two to three hours. I was told that if there was any loss of sensation (feeling), that I must return to have it looked and possibly surgery to fix it. I am a person who follows doctors’ orders properly (except the Chiropractor) so religiously I keep it dry with a packet when showering and cleaned it twice a day. Actually, Carrie cleaned it. After a couple of days, the wound started to heal nicely and movement started to return slowly. It was slow mainly because of my being scared of popping stitching and opening the wound again. Seeing this I decided to start keeping the bandage off and get some air to it as well as for more freedom of movement.
Thursday, 16th June, is a public holiday in South Africa and we had planned a easy morning with family coming to our house for lunch. I was taking the gauze off my healing hand when it pulled a stitch or something happened and the wound opened up and started to bleed profusely once more. I managed to get to a tea towel to it. Once more, we were on the way to a hospital. On good advice of an experienced friend, we headed off to Entabeni hospital. Once more, I was shuffled into a treatment room and Carrie was shunted off to fill in the paperwork. The doctor on call was ready and waiting which was great because this time the cut was sore and squirting blood everywhere. Once again the next 30 minutes were very painful but local anesthetic sorted the pain out.
The doctor said, because I could not feel the outside of my right ring finger, I needed to see a surgeon to reattach the nerve to attempt to get the feeling back as soon as possible (if possible). That’s all good and well but I do not have cover from medical aid to go to a surgeon to get it fixed – I have to be admitted to hospital. Another long story short – I was admitted on the Friday morning for surgery on Friday afternoon. I was under general anesthetic for 47 minutes and came round pretty quickly and was soon eating dinner whilst Carrie and her friend Tammy were there with me.

All in all – a long story but that is how washing dishes got me into hospital!

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