Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Drop finger

I have been in construction a very long time, and have had all sorts of minor injury. I have never broken a bone though, or torn a ligament, or a tendon, nor even had to go to the hospital for anything more severe than a cut.

I stressed out my right hand enough last year that I learned to write with my left hand, but that's mainly because I am a bit of a workaholic (see my post Northpaw.)

A couple of months ago I was tucking sheets into the couch, to make a good bed for my daughter, and as I pushed them in the crack between cushions, my left middle finger made a snap. I didn't think too much of it, because it wasn't painful, but I did manage to snap a quick picture of it, because it hung at an odd angle. The other finger behind it is actually permanently bent UP, because of the strain of three years of jamming trees into cold soil in northern Alberta ... perhaps another time for that story...

At any rate, it didn't hurt, so Jenn and I, thinking it was out of joint, tried to pull it back into place. No luck. I figured something was wrong enough to go to the hospital, and by the time I got there, the pain had started.

Triage in Belleville General took less than four minutes. It was splinted, and felt a bit better, and within an hour and twenty minutes, they had done the x-ray and referred me back to the specialist. The plastic splint that they gave me was very different than anything I'd ever seen before, and they showed me how to put the tape on it to keep the right pressure on it.

To know for certain that it was severed, the specialist snapped it again. Then it really hurt. He explained that it is called 'Drop finger' or 'Mallet finger' and that tucking in sheets and other such activities actually are the leading cause. When the stress bends it too quickly and with force, the tendon (which usually holds the finger straight) snaps. Then he explained that in my case it had severed cleanly from the bone, which was actually less preferable to the tendon taking a portion of the bone with it, because bone heals more quickly.

I was very thankful I went to the hospital. Without prompt treatment, it wouldn't right itself, and waiting even a day or two would mean the tendon would recede back into the finger, and it would never heal.

I was a little paranoid about bending it, as the specialist told me that even bending it once would reset the eight week countdown.

Great. Take the forgetful, spacially-challenged Sprung, and make him follow directions fully for a whole two months. I came up with a complex system, where I wrapped the finger in gauze, then put the plastic splint back on, and then another piece of cloth put between the gauze and the tape to hold it on. If I didn't get it wet, it would last all day. That way, on and off construction sites, I didn't have to change it every so often.

Eight weeks, though, was a challenge. I woke twice in that time period to find that the splint had come off in the middle of the night, and my finger was just out in the open. Groggily I would turn the light on and find the splint in the bed, keeping it straight, wondering if it had bent when I didn't notice, and whether or not I had to start counting from that day now.

It made for some humour. When anyone asked what happened, I would stick it up as if giving the finger, and say "I wore it out." Really, though, it was more of a nuicance. I worried, though, when I first started taking the splint off, that it wouldn't heal.

The end result? Well, I now have a lump on the finger farther up, where the tendon receded. Aside from that, it keeps itself straight, and I can once again type and write with it. The first two weeks after I took the splint off were the hardest. It hurt like hell, a deep-down body ache that went right up to the elbow. But then, even that subsided, and now it's back to normal.

It truly is amazing how the body heals.

My wife, Jennifer's, blog can be found here:
Cleverly Disguised as Cake

And my first novel, squeakyclean, here:
eBook, pdf, mobi, epub, rtf, lrf, palm, txt
Kindle US
Kindle UK
Kindle Germany

No comments:

Post a Comment