January 09, 2007


I have written that I managed to stab myself in the hand with a screwdriver while working in the attic. It had almost healed but a week after the accident it swelled terribly and turned some colors not usually associated with the human condition. I went to the emergency room Saturday. They took blood samples and squeezed me in different locations while I vocalized emphatically. The doctor strapped an ID band onto my wrist and drew a huge arrow on my arm with a black magic marker, pointing at the swollen index finger. They put in an IV, laid me down on the gurney and wheeled it deep into the bowels of the University Hospital. After a while I was told to go into the shower and use this little blue sponge to sterilize my body as an operating room was free. The nurse warned me not to wash off the arrow. 'Hurry!' she said. I washed myself one-handed, trying not to disturb the IV nipple or rip the plastic bag taped over my infected hand. Then I put on county underwear and a little nightgown with disfunctional button holes. I climbed onto the gurney and they wheeled me away.

Earlier the anesthesiologist had stopped by to ask some questions about my sensitivity to various chemicals, and to tell me they would be putting a breathing tube into my esophagus and that I might not feel so good when I woke up. I learned later that a hip doctor had done the surgery on my index finger. Much better than one of those nerd doctors.

I woke up after surgery and felt exceedingly chatty and then after a few minutes it hurt a lot so they gave me a shot of opiates, and then everything was warm and fuzzy. I don't think I saw the same doctor twice, nor the same nurse. Nobody gave me a clear picture if I had just dodged a bullet or if this was as routine as a hiarcut. All I knew was that my hand was wrapped in enough bandages to insulate a small house and it hurt and the IV ached.

The nurses were impressed that had I ridden my bike to the hospital and kept commenting on it to the doctors. I guess people working in orthopedics have a special attitude towards bicyclists at this time of year.

I asked a few of the hospital folk if I would be able to go to work on Monday. Sure, no problem they said. So I went to the University and started giving my lecture. Felt terrible, light-headed, like I was going to pass out. Had to sit down, cancel class and go home. I saw a nurse that afternoon and she said that if I had been an industrial worker they would have given me permission to have a few days off-- apparently academics isn't real work in their eyes. It is disconcerting not to know exactly if you are sick or well.


At January 10, 2007 4:27 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

ow! that sounds painful. glad you went in, though. I was afraid I was about to read that you woke up without a finger or something. glad you are on the mend.


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