The day I saw my own knuckle
I didn’t expect to blog so soon again after my last post, but a mildly traumatising thing happened to me and so I am going to bang on about it. I can’t actually type properly at the moment so I apologise if there are typos and stuff.
Yesterday we were doing some tidying ahead of a property inspection. As usual, Will was grumpy about doing cleaning, and I was grumpy about him being grumpy. At one point I was cleaning out Joop’s tank and I went into the kitchen to chop up some fresh food for him. I suppose I was handling the knife quite grumpily. I have quite poor dexterity so I use an Easi-Grip knife, in fact it was a present from Will so I could help him chop onions more often when he was cooking. The website also has this amusing page.
To make matters worse, I was holding a sweet potato upright in an attempt to cut it longways, as Jupiter seems to enjoy eating things in longer slices for whatever reason. So there I was, grumpily trying to force this wonky knife through a stubborn sweet potato.
And then I slipped.
For a split second, my brain was like “oh, another kitchen knife cut, what a pain in the ass.” For a split second. Then I saw the sheer amount of bright red blood coming out. I instinctively bent my finger, and it shot down into a locked position. I saw bone, I saw inside stuff. I instantly lost my absolute shit.
Every time my finger bent, it got trapped in that position and went numb, and I had to manually lift it back up, and it was just awful. I cupped my hand around my finger and it just absolutely filled with blood.
For some reason I instinctively went and sat on the floor in front of Joop’s tank, where I created an actual puddle of blood on the carpet. Will has since cleaned it up, but you can see where I was.
I have not cried that much in a long time. I was sobbing SO MUCH. Completely and utterly fucking terrified and inconsolable.
Paramedics came quite quickly, I was embarrassed by how much I was crying (and how generally unkempt I was) but I couldn’t stop. It was a bit awkward as they literally Googled Ehlers-Danlos and Dysautonomia while examining me, and were entering info on some sort of chunky futuristic iPad-like thingy. It’s been a few years since I’ve needed an ambulance and I think those are new.
They told me I needed stitches, so I had to go in the ambulance. Will couldn’t come with me, he had to stay at home with elderly and frightened Freya. I have not been out without a familiar person for literally years, it was weird feeling so alone.
Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to go in my own wheelchair, despite how portable it is, as apparently they aren’t allowed to do that. This was news to me, and it’s actually a pretty terrible system, although obviously not the fault of individual paramedics.
So then it was a case of, how am I getting home? We have friends quite locally who can drive, but they happened to be on holiday at the same time as I exposed my finger bones. Even Dean and Mike are out of the country. So I said, “Well you can’t come and collect me, could you ask Callum if he’d mind walking me home?” and one of the paramedics said “What, from Winchester?” and I was like OH SHIT. I assumed we’d be going to the War Memorial Hospital if it was only stitches in my finger, but no, I apparently had to go all the way to Winchester. That hospital is so hard to get to and yet it keeps insisting on making appearances in my life.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to get home, or get about without my wheelchair, but I had to leave anyway, because I had an open finger.
I was crying less when I got into the ambulance, but still shaking quite a lot. At first I was just sitting in one of the green seats, and I was so distracted that I didn’t even feel car-sick. But the man suddenly asked me to move over and lie down on the stretcher. I’m not sure if my lips went white again or if I otherwise didn’t look very good.
Apparently I was in actual medical shock; I assume he meant the psychological kind, unless I literally lost enough blood out of my finger to cause the other type. There were definitely some tablespoons of blood on my carpet.
In hospital I was transferred to one of their wheelchairs, which unfortunately are not patient-controlled at all. They have tiny transit wheels and can’t be propelled (not that I could use my left hand anyway), so you are stranded wherever a member of staff parks you. This is not a good system.
I assume that hospital wheelchairs were changed to these ones en masse, because when they used to be the actual functional kind, patients would apparently steal them. But this fucks over people like me.
I was stuck in a waiting room for about 2.5 hours as blood slowly reached the outer layer of my bandage. The pain was unbelievable. I actually subluxed an ankle in the process of going out to the ambulance, and I just couldn’t feel it at all in comparison.
Eventually I got dragged into a room by an Emergency Department Doctor in the awful chair. Obviously, she had to unwrap the injury in order to treat it. And, oh God, when I saw it again, I had a bit of a panic attack.
There was definitely a lot of “Oh my God,” “Jesus Christ,” “Dear Lord,” and I think there might even have been an “Oh Long Johnson” in there, but not “Oooooh Trop Dangereux” because this was a very serious situation.
The doctor had to peel back the skin and bend my finger around, and I was NOT COOL ABOUT IT. I am not cool about things at the best of times, but dang did I freak out. I briefly lost my vision, went all palpitaty, had to ask to lie down.
Lying down meant that I stayed conscious for the next part, however. They should really be allowed to knock you out for stuff like this.
So, I needed stitches. But first, I needed local anaesthetic. That meant I needed to have a needle jabbed into my very tiny, delicate, and already severely injured, finger joint.
I did not react well, as you can probably imagine. I am a person who gave myself a vertical scaffold piercing at Halloween last year, and did not mind the pain or the needle or the blood. But this? No no no no no.
The worst part was that the doctor did not have a lot of patience for my panic, and was telling me that my finger should already have been going numb. Well, I know from experience that Ehlers-Danlos causes me to either take longer than usual to go numb from anaesthetic, or for me to need more than a person usually does. I had an occasion where it just didn’t work. Anyway, I had definitely not gone numb when she continued to, albeit necessarily, jab me with a needle in and around my still-bleeding wound.
Eventually I went numb enough for her to start the stitches with one of those curved needles. I felt the pressure of the thread being pulled through, but it didn’t hurt so much. I had the sense to look away for most of this, except for the last stitch, because this went through an area on the side of my finger that was not, in fact, numb.
I was bandaged again afterwards and I apologised for freaking out. I’m sure doctors see a lot in a single shift, but I know I didn’t make her day any easier.
I got pushed to reception where I managed to talk to Will, who had helpfully(!) decided that I would be fine getting a taxi home, all the way from Winchester, on my own, without my wheelchair, and so had told his mother not to come and pick me up.
I really didn’t have the energy to be enraged about it, mostly because I was too busy being terrified that I was going to be murdered on the way home, especially when the driver said things like “Do you live on your own then?” and “You can unlock the door if you want.” He was perfectly nice to me but I was freaked out anyway. I have not been alone with a stranger in so long and I really did not fucking appreciate it last night.
To cut this very long story short, I eventually got home, with a very painful left hand I can’t use for a while, and many lost hours of cleaning time. Really not how I wanted to spend my bank holiday Monday.
I’ve got to leave my current dressing on for 2-3 days and then change it. I can’t get it wet though; I am currently in dire need of a shower but I don’t have the energy for one yet anyway.
This whole experience reminded me why I have this pin on my jacket:
The “thin lines” of the emergency services. Once again, they saved my ass. The South Central Ambulance Service were the thin green line between me and the prospect of bleeding indefinitely onto my living room carpet.
I am having an aversion to all vaguely sharp things, and I’m not sure I’ll ever chop anything again. If I do, I might insist on a pair of these. Or maybe just a full suit of armour.
I’m sure I’ll get over this eventually. Just not for a while.