Monday, March 25, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 787: It's SH's fault for leaving


There. You have been warned.

The saga of the missing fingertip returns.

It's been a week and a day since I neatly sliced off a 1/4" by 1/2" piece (I measured) of my right little finger. As far as body parts go, this is probably one of the least important, but it has been surprising to me just how many activities that finger needs to be involved in, even if it is not performing any useful function. But by virtue of being attached to my right hand - and I am a right-handed person, the right little finger is involved. It is not useful, but it is still part of my body. Just like in that reading where all parts of the body are equally important in the Body of Christ. If I were Baptist, I could quote you chapter and verse. But I am Catholic, so all I can tell yu is I think we read it in the past year. Definitely in the past three years, as the church is on a three-year cycle with the readings.

So. When I cleaned the wound and put on a bandaid, I did not apply any anti-biotic ointment, as this did not seem to be a good thing to do with raw flesh.

I just put on a bandaid and then went to the bed and lay down with SH as we tried to recover from the trauma and the drama.

According to the medical experts online,  I should have sprinkled turmeric on the wound. That's supposed to help, although I think all it would have done would have been to give me a yellow finger and yellow sheets.

I tried changing the bandage on Monday, but it wouldn't come off. I realized the gauze had been sucked up into the scab and fluids.

On Wednesday, I tried soaking my hand in warm water so I could remove the bandage. I asked SH for help - I needed him to trim bandaid number two away from the wound. (I had a primary bandage and then another one over the top of my finger just for extra protection.)

I would have trimmed it myself but as we all know, a right-handed person cannot operate scissors successfully with her left hand.

SH did as I asked, but he almost passed out. "I keep thinking about that fingertip, sitting on top of the fennel," he moaned.

For indeed it had been fennel that I had been slicing when I sliced my finger. I had been making a fennel-orange salad with hazelnut oil vinaigrette and pine nuts.

It was delicious. I asked SH on Sunday if he wanted the rest of the Fingertip Salad. He was not amused.

I almost passed out trying to remove the primary bandage. I took my hand out of the sink and sat on the bathroom floor. Then I thought, "Maybe I would feel better if I were to lie down."

So I did. And remembered that I had been meaning to wash that bathroom rug for a week or two now.

I asked SH to bring me a bowl of water and a book so I could sit in the bathroom and soak.

Unfortunately, five minutes of soaking didn't do the trick. I decided I was just going to keep the same bandage on there until it healed.

Which would have been fine except for -


Last night, as I was falling asleep, I thought, "My hand stinks. I thought I washed my hands after taking the hambone out of the soup, but maybe not." It was not a pleasant odor. It did remind me of raw meat, which is a smell that turns my stomach. One time, after making a few dozen hamburger patties for a party, I went without hamburgers for a year because I was so grossed out.

Then today, my finger hurt a little bit. I happened to get a whiff of it.

Oh my.

It stank.

As in, putrid.

I cut off Bandaid #2 as well as I could - I used my sewing scissors, which are sharper than the junk drawer scissors.

Yes, I would have asked SH, but he left town on Thursday for a week. Conveniently so he wouldn't have to deal with my finger and also just ahead of the snowstorm that left five inches of snow in our driveway.

Then I wondered how to get the attached gauze off. What remained was gauze and some latex hanging off a pus-y, stinky, red wound.

It had to come off.

I tried calling my sister, who is a neo-natal nurse practitioner.

She didn't answer.

I tried calling my friend Ilene, the former blogger and the Bodacious Red-Headed Pediatrician. (Who had very cute twins five months ago.) She didn't answer.

All right, I thought. It's to the internet I go.

I had completely forgotten about my Aunt Pat, who is a nurse, and my cousin Kim, who is a nurse, and Mrs S, my parents' long-time friend, who is a nurse. All these nurses I could have called but I decided that the internet was better.

Only I couldn't find good advice. Salt water, regular water, ER. amputation. The options were vast.

Then I remembered I could call my insurance company nurse line.

I called. It took me an entire minute - I timed it - to get to a nurse after going through all the stupid menu options. Honestly, Blue Cross, if you don't want people to talk to a nurse, then don't have a nurse line.

Then it took a good ten minutes - maybe 15? - before I could get any useful information from the nurse. She was a nice lady, but after I told her that I had 1. cut off the tip of my finger 2. a week ago and that 3. there was some pus and a bad smell and 4. the bandaid gauze was still attached, she insisted on going through the decision tree with me.

As in, she still asked if the wound was on my leg, arm, or torso.

No, I said through gritted teeth. It's my finger.

Was it bleeding?

No, I said. This was a week ago. The issue is that the gauze is stuck.

Then I made the mistake of asking if she would please just tell me how to get the gauze off and she went off on a little speech about how she had to ask all these questions because even though they didn't apply to me, they might apply to someone else.

I wanted to scream, "Are you completely incapable of hearing what I told you and using your brain?"

Then I thought, "Does Blue Cross think its nurses are so stupid that it has to give them this decision tree? And if they have to ask all the questions anyhow, why pay a nurse? Why not just hire someone who is barely literate?"

We finally got to the point, which was her telling me I should call my doctor or maybe go to urgent care.

Not with a $2,500 deductible, sweetheart.

Oh yes. My great employer-provided benefits. During the benefits presentation last fall, the insurance guy spent 20 minutes explaining Obamacare. That, coupled, with our horrible benefits, has me convinced that the company plans to dump us all onto Obamacare next year. Yay.

I asked how I could get the bandaid off in the meantime, as I do not think I need to have a medical professional remove a bandaid.

She advised me to soak it in warm, soapy water, then put on antibiotic. And then call the doc.

I rolled my eyes. Soaked the bandage. Had a book on the counter next to me. Every time I finished a chapter, I would pull a little on the  bandage. After six chapters, it finally came loose. I swished my finger in the water and pressed the pus-y part a little.

Then I went to facebook to complain about the nurse.

Which was when I remembered that my friend Brian is engaged to a nurse. She gave me instructions on what to do after asking that I send a photo of the wound.

Taking a photo of the outside of your right little finger using your left hand is not so easy.

I explained that the white, puffy skin was because bandaid #2 had been wet since Friday because I had been doing dishes and not doing a good job of keeping my finger out of the water, even though I had it daintily lifted upward.

She told me that SH needed to do the dishes.

I would post a photo here of the finger but that would be gross. I'll leave it to your imagination: Imagine a photo of a finger with the nail painted bright red.

Only it's not the nail.

You're welcome.


webb said...

By now you are probablyfine, altho a bit of cleaning sooner would probably havehelped. Seriously, t h o, have you had a tetanus shot in the past ten years? Not worth a trip to the doc, but perhaps your pharmacist? Just a thought. Sorry you are having a bad time with it.

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop said...

Well hello there. taking off the blogger har for a moment and putting on the acute care nurse practitioner hat. First of all, kudos to you for not just running to the ER like so many people do when they feel jus that wee bit off. Your nurse friend is right. Keep it clean. Wash regularly with soapy water, and bandage with clean gauze. No. More. Dishes. Period. Keep it dry. If the pus and smell don't start to improve, OR...((IMPORTANT)) start to feel a bit off and flulike or notice that the redness is starting to track up your hand and arm, get thee to the doctor, as it will be time for some antibiotics. No more plastic bandaids and dishwashing though, seriously. We Wisconsin girls are tough, but we are no match for bacteria.
Sincerely, The Highland Nurse Practitioner Fashionista

Class factotum said...

Webb, I had a tetanus shot last summer. I did everything I could before I lost SH's good insurance and got on my horrible, awful, doesn't even deserve to be called insurance work insurance. I had my shots, I had my mammogram, I had my physical. You name it, I had it. Stupid insurance.

Kristin, thank you for the advice! Next time, I will have another person to ask. I actually wrote this a few weeks ago and have healed quite nicely without problems, although it's going to be a while before the tip of my finger is not sensitive. Until then, I have the perfect excuse not to hold hands during the Our Father.

Gaylin said...

Wow, quite the adventure in near-amputation!

Glad to know that it has healed up, do you have a lopsided fingertip now?

You know scars make you tough or sexy or something else depending on the book you are reading.

I hope SH washed the heck out of the dishes until you were all healed or you at least bought rubber gloves!

Anonymous Mother said...

You can compare notes with your Aunt Mary who had the tip of her thumb cut off in a pulley when she was a little girl.