Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)

“Cecily, we have to go to the hospital right NOW!”

My husband, John, was standing in the doorway between the mudroom and the garage clutching his hand in a towel. He was still wearing his snow blowing gear and furry hat.

It took me a few seconds to process what was happening. I had been upstairs, still in my pajamas with crazy morning hair, when I heard him shouting my name from downstairs. The tone of his voice was unlike anything I had ever heard so I came running. That’s when I saw him in the doorway.

“I cut my finger off. We have to go NOW.”

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. This isn’t happening. I ran upstairs to change into clothing and then oddly stood there paralyzed. What should I wear? Really? Can I really not find clothing – ANYTHING – to put on? I grabbed jeans out of the closet, a sweat shirt and a baseball hat to cover my bedhead.

Earlier that morning, John had gone out to snow blow our driveway and also the bottom of our neighbors’ driveways when the accident happened. I had taken the day off as a vacation day because we were scheduled to leave for a trip to New York City with my parents once the roads were clear enough to drive on. This is why I was still sitting in my pajamas in no hurry to get ready. But now I was in a hurry that made my thoughts blur.

When I finally got downstairs, John was already sitting in the car. I could hear moans that made my knees buckle.  Oh my God, oh my God. I can’t believe this is happening.

I drove as quickly as I could, but the roads were still snowy. I apologized to John that I couldn’t get him to the hospital faster but he understood that wrecking the car in a snowbank would not help our situation. At one point, I glanced over just as John was pulling back the towel to look at his fingers. I shouldn’t have looked.

John asked to be dropped off at the door of the ER while I parked. I dropped him off and he ran inside clutching the towel around his hand. Fueled by adrenaline, I hastily pulled into a spot and ran across the parking lot, tripping over snowbanks. As soon as the intake nurse saw John and heard what happened – “Snow blower accident” – she called back to the ER and John was ushered in immediately.

Our fear, of course, was that John would lose the top of the middle finger of his right hand; but when the ER doctor inspected the xray and the finger, he told us, to our relief, that the finger would heal. He sewed the back of the finger and glued the front. Then he bandaged John’s two injured fingers, gave us a prescription for pain and sent us on our way.

He told John to see a doctor, whose name he gave us, on Monday. When John did see the doctor that following Monday after a very pain-filled weekend, the doctor was quite cavalier about the injury. He told John that he would get his stitches out before our trip to Mexico in a week and a half. He didn’t do any follow up x-rays nor did he really look at the finger. He covered it back up and told John to come back in a week.  He gave John no instructions other than that. I had my doubts about this doctor and I vocally expressed my distaste for this doctor’s methods to my husband.

At the appointment that was supposed to be the stitch removal appointment, the doctor removed the bandage only to find that the finger was not healing.  The tip of the finger was still as mobile from the rest of the finger as it has been the day of the accident. The doctor wrapped it back up and told John to check back when he returned from Mexico.

At that point, my ire boiled over and John had to admit that it was time to follow my advice and see the specialist, which he did the following afternoon. This time, the specialist gave John detailed attention. He took his own x-rays and closely inspected the finger. He gave John a rinse that he was instructed to soak his finger in three times a day. He also gave John oodles of fresh bandages, a new splint, and an antibiotic as we were going to be traveling out of the country. He didn’t rush John out of the office but took his time to discuss the condition, the prognosis and gave him more information about the healing process than he had previously received.

While the prognosis of the healing process was less sunny than the previous doctor’s “prognosis”, it was more factual and oddly calming. Even though John could have been discouraged that his healing process was going to be more protracted than originally communicated, he relaxed in the awareness that this doctor knew what he was talking about and thereby also knew how to treat this injury in a more specialized way.

So here are my takeaways:

  1. Men – listen to your wives! I try not to be the “I told you so” wife, but for some reason, when it comes to the care of my family, my gut has never steered us wrong.
  2. Every part is needful. One injured digit can hinder your entire life.
  3. Fake news isn’t good news; so don’t be afraid of the truth.
  4. Serious wounds should not be left covered.

What about you:

  • Have you experienced wounds either at your own hands or those of others?
  • Do you have an internal wound that just won’t seem to heal? Does it rear its ugly head every time you are about to make progress in your life?
  • What do you think is the greatest benefit of being a part of a community, either a church, a support group, or a work or school community? What is the greatest challenge?

For more on my Takeaways, read Part 2 coming soon!

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