Upon going through my old posts I’d written but not published, I found this one I wrote as I was healing from a traumatic injury. I wrote updates in Italics.
The injury itself and the path to recovery were pretty interesting having never encountered anything like this before.
I lost the tip of my middle finger and fractured/twisted my pinky in a boating incident. By lost, I mean I really had no idea where the tip of my finger was. So, here’s what I’ve got for you folks who will hopefully never have to go through this.
THINGS NOBODY TELLS YOU ABOUT LOSING A FINGER
- Initially I was in shock and only felt a stinging sensation. The next day? It felt like my hand was suffocating and one by one my fingers were all going to die and fall off. Pain meds did little to ease the pain, I’m a red head and have a high tolerance. Morphine? Nothing. Alternatives? “Are you sure you gave me the meds, nurse? I don’t feel any different.” They helped me sleep, but did nothing for the pain.
- It took about two and a half weeks for a scab to form, and about two months for that scab to fall off. There’s the shooting pains, throbbing, nearby fingers stiff as boards, coupled with intense tightness. 5 weeks after injury, my Dr. encouraged me to use my hand as much as possible. I’ve never been able to relate to Chubbs Peterson as much as when I was trying to hold my phone in my mangled hand.
- Those phantom sensations are real. It more or less feels like the outline of my finger was still there. Got an itch on the ghost fingertip? Itch the opposite side, it’ll go away.
- You can never smoke a cigarette again. Apparently microsurgery (which is what was done on the fingertip) is so complex for the blood vessels that nicotine can cause the wound to open up again, no matter how much time has passed. Thankfully I’m not a smoker.
- Your fingernails won’t grow for a while. I didn’t need to trim the mangled hand’s nails for a month.
- Your fingers will look like sausages for way too long. In my case, I lost sensation in most of my fingertips regardless of injury or not. My right thumb was spared injury and sausageness, but it quickly got sore from having to do the work of four out of commission fingers (holding handles of plastic bags, etc).
- When my hand was in the bandage/splint, 98% of people wanted to know what happened to my hand. When my Dr. removed the bandage and didn’t put one back on my still bruised/stiff/scabby hand… 0% of people wanted to know what happened. In fact, I noticed people touching their fingertips to make sure they were still there.
- Typing on the keyboard, using the scrolly mouse thing and snapping my fingers will be different. (3 years later I still type incorrectly, don’t use the scrolly mouse thing, and can’t snap my fingers at all.)
- It takes about a year for the stub to fully heal. My doctors tried to cut back the nerves so I wouldn’t have any nerve pain, but whether I have nerve pain or not? I won’t know for quite some time. (3 years later: It still throbs, is still numb, tight, etc. It still hurts quite a bit.)
- You’re going to have to let people help you. With my injuries I’ve been dependent on a lot of people, which is completely against my nature. Completely. I’m looking forward to the day I can move back onto the boat and do some greasy boat work! (This took almost 1.5 years!)
- No matter how stable you are emotionally, seeking therapy isn’t a bad idea. No matter how positive you are, you’re going to feel disfigured. You ARE disfigured. Everyone notices right now, but I’m hoping not everyone notices a year from now. (3 years later: nobody notices. I got lucky and had amazing surgeons, there is no visual disfigurement in my pinky and nobody really notices my fingertip. PHEW! To add: it is hard to process losing a part of your body, no matter how small… dealing with this and the long-term physical pain has wreaked havoc on my life. Give yourself time, be patient, and allow yourself to grieve. Everything WILL be ok in the end!)
- The medical bills were $90K.
THINGS EVERYONE WILL TELL YOU ABOUT LOSING A FINGER
- You will automatically be advanced to Pirate Status.
- Apparently there are many celebrities missing fingers too, and I now know who they are.
- There are several other ways to lose a finger, especially on a boat… Yayyyy..
A collection of pictures from the injury and healing process.