When the Doctor Is the Patient

Jun 19 2012 Published by under [Medicine&Pharma]

Yesterday afternoon I finished my clinic and met my son at the gym. After 2.25 miles on the treadmill with an episode of What Not to Wear, we headed home to prepare a healthy quinoa and shrimp salad for dinner while my husband dined with a visiting professor.

Bloody gash (using image from http://bit.ly/MaYhPq)

While pitting an avocado, my super-sharp Cutco chef's knife made a quick cut through the seed and into the web between my index and middle fingers on my left hand (artist's rendition at right). This sucker bled. Even with direct pressure that made my fingers numb and mottled, we still had blood in the salad bowl and on the counter and in the sink and on the floor and...you get the picture. After about 5 minutes, the blood still gushed (although clearly not arterial) and it became clear that this was a wound I could not treat with SuperGlue.

My son, a future chemical engineer who really does not like bloody stuff, drove me at an alarming speed to a nearby emergency department. I learned a couple of things:

  1. It is difficult to fill out the registration sheet when you must apply pressure to one hand with the other to keep it from spewing blood on the desk
  2. When they have you do it anyway, you can bleed on their counter without guilt
  3. Standing at the ER desk with your hand spewing blood gets you into the treatment area pretty damn quickly

They got my finger numbed up, flushed the bits of avocado out of the wound, and put 4 stitches in to close the hole. For the first time in my life, I have stitches unrelated to a planned operative procedure.

My middle finger felt bloated and tingly the rest of the evening as the lidocaine wore off. I woke up once when I rolled over on that hand. This morning that finger is still a bit stiff on the keyboard, but otherwise feels fine.

Probably the most amazing part of this episode is the timeline. I jabbed myself at 6:45 pm. I signed into the ER at 7:00 pm. I signed out of the ER at 7:45 pm. It helps to live only 4.2 miles from an ER and to get injured when no one else was suffering something more dramatic.

We made it home before the avocado blackened and finished making our salad.


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