Disaster is Always Just Around the Corner
I want to apologize to all my readers. I haven’t put up any posts lately. On Saturday July 23, a beautiful sunny day when all seemed right in my life, I was helping one of my sons who is an “over-the road” truck driver maintain his semi-truck. It seemed that his air conditioning wasn’t working properly. So we were trying to figure out why his AC compressor wasn’t coming on. While I was tracing a wire, I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that the engine was running. Like most modern cars and trucks, the radiator fan is electric, and can turn on and off without warning. And yes, I knew that. But I was so fixed on tracing this wire that I forgot about the fan.
The wire I was tracing ran under the fan housing. Suddenly the fan kicked on while the index finger and the middle finger of my right hand was inside the fan housing! The results were catastrophic! I yanked my hand out of there quickly, but the damage was done. While I felt the violent impacts of the fan, I didn’t really feel any pain. When I looked at my hand I was shocked to see most of the top of my index finger was hanging on by a small flap of skin! The middle finger had several deep slices in it as well. I pushed the tip of my finger back over the bone while my son ran to get a clean towel and shut off the truck.
At this point I was bleeding fairly profusely. so I headed into the house, went to the kitchen sink and stuck my hand under the faucet. Of course LeaAnn came running to see what the problem was. When she saw my fingers, she gasped and said “ You need to go to the hospital now”! The nearest hospital to where I live is in Springfield, Missouri which is about 40 miles away.
Being Male, I said, “Naw, I’m all right”.
Heading for the Hospital
Unfortunately my son agreed with his mom, and said, “We’re going to the hospital now. Dad, give me your keys”. So I washed as much of the grease and dirt off my hands, and my wife wrapped me in a couple of towels and a baggie full of ice. By this time enough time had passed that I was starting to feel some real pain, and also I was kind of dizzy and nauseous. So I went to the Isuzu Trooper, climbed in the passenger seat and we headed for town.
My Trooper is my baby, and I really don’t like anyone else driving it. Josh (son) is over 6’2”, weighs about 300 lbs, and he wears size 15 shoes! So he couldn’t push the clutch without hitting the brake pedal as well, and also had terrible problems mashing the gas pedal. Remember, he spends almost all the time in his Kenworth tractor which is scaled just right for him. So I got to sit in the passenger seat of my Trooper, bleeding profusely, feeling like crap, and watching him maul my baby! When I complained to him he just said “Shut up Dad, I’m doing the best I can”. If he wasn’t almost twice as big as me, I would have spanked his hind end on the spot! Then he changed the channel on my radio! Sacrilege!
Life in the ER
Fortunately, most of the drive to town was highway, and the exit to the ER was as soon as we got off the freeway. So he drops me off at the entrance to the ER, and I walk in to the desk. By this time the towels wrapped around my hand were soaking wet from blood and melted Ice. The lady at the desk looks at my hand dripping on her counter, raises her eyebrows and says, “Sir, please step back”. I comply, and an aide with a wheelchair magically appears and whisks me off to a triage room.
A nurse comes in, unwraps the towels, and says “ Well that doesn’t look good”. So she bandages my fingers, and puts a really tight wrap around it and sends me back to the desk to get my information.
When the lady at the desk asks for my insurance information, I pull out my Veterans Administration card, and hand it to her. She says “ You need to go to a VA hospital”.
I reply “No, you need to call the 800 number on the back of the card and they will authorize it”. So she runs off a copy of my card and hands it back to me and tells me to sit down in the waiting room. Josh comes in from parking my truck and we stare at the TV on the wall playing cartoons. Fortunately for me, I had my tablet and the hospital has wi-fi. So we sat and sat and sat. After about 2 hours, my name is finally called and we follow the orderly through a completely bewildering maze and finally wind up in an ER room.
The orderly removes the bandages on my hand, and has me lay my hand on a bag of ice. Then a young lady comes in with a giant machine which turns out to be an X-ray machine and proceeds to take several x-rays of my hand. She leaves and we sit and sit and sit….. After another hour or so a nurse comes in and forces me to take off my shirt and put on one of those horrible gowns that ties in the back. Luckily for her, she lets me keep my pants on!
The Doc to the Rescue
Finally a young lady comes in who looks too young to drive and says,” Hi I’m Amy, your waitress.” No, I’m making that up. she really said she was my doctor and asked me what happened. So we proceed to tell her the sad tale of the day while she pokes at my hand. Then she says, “You are really lucky. Because you kept your finger tip on your finger, and kept it iced, I think we can save it” So she leaves the room and comes back in with a nurse holding a tray with what looked like a complete set of medieval torture tools.
First the nurse gives me a valium (YEA!), and then they proceed to jab me with a giant horse needle all over my hand. It took the nurse pinning my arm with all her strength for the doctor to accomplish that torture. Next she gives me a series of shots in my arm and thigh. After about 5 minutes I notice that 1: My arm aches 2: My thigh aches, and 3: My hand feels like a big block of wood. But at least, it’s quit hurting.
After that the doctor relaxes and pulls out a curved needle and thread and proceeds to neatly sew my fingertip back on. By this time I’m starting to feel pretty cheerful about the whole situation, so I chat Amy up as she works. It turns out she’s over thirty, is the resident at this hospital, and has been here several years. I tell her that I have grandchildren almost as old as her, but she doesn’t seem too impressed.
Then she moves on to my middle finger and neatly sews it up. When she’s done, I thank her profusely, and she lectures me about not banging my hand around while it’s completely numb. And it really was dead in an interesting kind of way. She also tells me that my index finger was going to turn black over the next few days. She writes me a couple of prescriptions for antibiotics, and says I can go to my primary care doctor in a week or so to have him look at it and check for infections.
So I ask her if I could just monitor that myself, as appointments are not easy to get at the VA. She agrees with the caveat that if any redness or streaking occurs for me to come in at once. Finally we get to go home-
We had been at the hospital for about 9 hours at that point. I know I got carried away by telling all this in excessive detail, but it was pretty much the most exciting thing that happened to me in a long time! (I hope it’s just as long before anything else like that happens again.)
The Lost Week
After the anesthetic wore off I found out my whole hand really hurt. So for the last week, I’ve been moping around the house driving everyone nuts. Mostly I’ve been reading up a storm- sometimes 2 or 3 novels a day! Today when I got up, I felt the best I have since it happened. I went out and mowed my jungle of a front yard, and then proceeded to run over a tarp and completely jammed the deck on my lawn tractor. So that ended the mowing
After I cleaned up, I went ahead and removed the stitches in my middle finger. While it’s not completely healed, it only has a regular band-aid on it, and it doesn’t hurt on the tip. The index finger has a long ways to go, probably a month or more. But that’s OK, it’s still all there!
Now I can type with 3 fingers and a thumb on my right hand, and all on the left. I’ve probably slowed down about 20%-30% on my words per minute, but at least I’m back up and working. I’ll be putting several posts out over the next few days.
How Prepared Are We for Medical Disasters?
I couldn’t help thinking about how disaster can occur without warning to any of us at any time. I wondered what I would have done if there hadn’t been a hospital or if there weren’t any electricity! With the state our country is in, we may be facing that in the near future. I realized that for all my preparations, I needed to work on my medical prepping. I’ve got a good first aid kit but this disaster was way past a first aid kit.
How about you? How prepared are you to take care of your medical needs and the needs of your family? It’s a sobering thought.
On a more cheerful note, I wanted to let you know that I’m almost finished with my first book on Renewable Energy, which I’ll be giving more details about soon. Look for an announcement here. It will be free on Kindle Unlimited, and probably relatively inexpensive to purchase.
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OK, let’s get back to it. See you soon!