Friday, April 21, 2006

Serious Cuts

Warning: Contains some graphic description, but not too much. There's more on TV than here.

I've debated on whether to blog about this, for I don't want to admit how stupid I was. But, I suppose everyone has their stupid moments. Self-recrimination is awful. After much thought, I decided that I had to share what I had learned.

The Accident
Wm had spent the day wrapping his legs from knee to foot in vet wrap. For those of you that are not "horsey", this is a colorful, stretchy, somewhat sticky material that is used to keep bandages on horse legs. He had completely wrapped one leg, looking much like a burn patient, and was wanting to do the other. He asked me to cut the vet wrap.

Now, I don't own a pair of scissors that would cut paper, or so I thought. If I went looking for a sharp pair, I couldn't find them. I grabbed the only sharp pair I own, and cut the fabric, not knowing that his finger extended underneath. He screamed, and I discovered that I had cut the tip of his finger, severing a piece of skin about the size of a pencil eraser. Nothing is worse than the feeling a mother has for injuring a child, no matter that it was unintentional.

The Treatment
From this moment of stupidity, I did some things right. We applied pressure to the wound, got him (and us) calmed down. We put the flap of skin inside a baggie, which we placed inside a baggie of ice. We headed to the emergency room three miles away.

The people there are very kind and reassuring to Wm. The doctor, however, sadly told me that they could do nothing but bandage it, and that it would heal fine, with perhaps a scar there. Being young, he had an advantage. So, they bandaged the finger, gave a prescription for antibiotics and sent us home, telling us to see a hand specialist when we could. I looked for the baggie, but they'd evidently thrown it away. My instinct was to keep it, but I let it be overridden by the "experts".

The Next Day
...I took William to the Jewish Hand Center, which is one of the, if not THE, best hand center in the world. They do amazing things there. The first thing the doctor there asked me was where was the skin that was cut off. I deflated like a balloon. "You mean you could have used it?" He smiled sadly and nodded. The skin could have been used as a "biological dressing", keeping the wound less raw. It would be much like a skin graft. Occassionally, it grows back, though not always.

And while he told us to finish the antibiotic, he said that rarely do such wounds become infected with proper care. "No, matter," he told me, patting me on the arm. "It will heal fine." Then, he took photos with the most high tech cell phone I've seen and sent us off after bandaging.

What I Learned
I've tried to use this whole experience as a learning experience for me and the girls. It will all come out okay, now. Here are some things though I wish I had done.

1. Of course, never cut anything that anyone is holding, even if your scissors never work on anything else. I guarantee you they'll work on fingers.

2. Keep all pieces regardless of what the doctor in the ER tells you. You can throw it away later if it turns out to be useless, but better safe than sorry. The ER did several times asked how did I know to put the piece inside a baggie and to place that sealed baggie inside another with ice? (I don't know, it just seemed to make sense at the time.) They said often, pieces are put directly into ice which makes them soggy and unusable.

3. Find out if your city has any "specialties" and where to go for them in non-life-threatening emergencies. In the Louisville area, we have the Hand Center and a Heart center . Knowing what I know now, I would go directly to the Jewish Hospital ER, because they work more closely with the Hand Center. (God forbid I have to go again!) Of course, nearest hospital if it is a life-threatening emergency.

4. Whenever you think you just can't handle one more thing, it'll happen.

5. Having your four year old hug you and say, "Mommy, I 'give you." (forgive) does much to soothe a soul.

6. Mommies are better at bandaging than strangers.


jar said...

A coworker of mine cut off a part of a finger (the tip could not be put back on)and it is healing beautifully.
A former student of mine (3 year old) had part of a finger lopped off with gardening shears (accidently). That could not be put back on either.

Thank you for sharing your story. We all do silly things and the hardest thing is to forgive ourselves. Hope that tomorrow is easier.

FatcatPaulanne said...

I cut the end of my finger like that a few years ago when my oldest son was about 3. It healed just fine and the scar is actually very tiny, which is surprising since the part that came off seemed big!

Don't blame yourself. Accidents happen!

pita-woman said...

Reminds me of the time my husband sliced open his finger while attempting to pry frozen porkchops apart w/a sharp knife. Glad "W" will live... That first hospital you took him to scares me!, and I tend to avoid it like the plaque! I suppose because we get so much of our business from their patient list.


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