Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Frailty of the Human Body

I got a good reminder today of just how frail the human body can be. I was working on removing some litter and dibris from a stream and I slipped in the mud. I fell forward and caught myself with my hands. Unfortunately, hidden in the mud was something very sharp - I assume a broken bottle - and I slashed the palm of my left hand quite deeply. When it first happened, I thought maybe I stuck my hand in a hornets nest or something as it felt almost like I got stung - a weird electric-like pain shot up the edge of my hand (kinda like when you whack your funny-bone). For an instant I even thought maybe there was some sort of poisonous frog buried in the mud that bit me. I knew it must be either that or I had just sliced my hand so deeply I hit a nerve. I was hoping for the poisonous frog. At least that would make for a good story. When I pulled my hand out of the muck and saw lots of blood, I knew it wasn't some exotic poisonous bite - it was just plain old boring broken glass. Oh well. Maybe I can have a poisonous frog bite some other time.

Fortunately, I was with some friends when this happened and they quickly took me to a medical center. It took 6 stitches to close up the cut. I also got 2 shots (one in the arm and one in the hip). One shot was for tetanus and the other was some sort of antibiotic. The doctor said I pretty much got the worst possible cut - a deep puncture and slash by a piece of broken glass in a swamp. There are all sorts of bacteria possibilities. So, in addition to the two shots, I also have a 7 day prescription for cephalexin.

My hand now looks like this:

If you really want to see what the actual cut and stitches look like, take a look here. Note, it's probably not a nice view for the squeamish.

My biggest concern now is the loss of all feeling in part of my pinkie. (Well, honestly, my biggest concern now is whether I'll still be able to take karate classes, but saying that will just make people think I'm crazy, so I won't mention it, except in this parenthetic aside). If I poke the side of my pinkie with something I dont feel it at all. I'm pretty certain that tingly funny-bone feeling I experienced when I first cut my hand was some nerve being cut. Due to the possibility for infection, the doctor asked me to come in for a follow-up visit tomorrow. He also said if I still don't have feeling in my finger he'll send me to a hand surgeon.

I was initially very depressed about this whole situation. I don't like the helpless feeling of being injured and having to depend on others for assistance. Then there's the whole thought of possibly getting some nasty infection from the swamp. Then there's the lack of feeling in part of my finger - will it come back? And on top of all that, there's the possibility of my whole daily routine of karate practice being disrupted since I can't currently make a fist or hold anything well with my left hand. So as I said, I was initially very depressed about this injury - probably the most depressed I've been in the past 5 years. But now, several hours after the initial shock of the injury, I think I've regained my emotional balance. There's no sense worrying about it. And being depressed about it certainly isn't going to make matters any better. I've found I've been able to take the Zen approach of accepting the current situation for what it is and not what I imagine it could be, acknowledge my feelings about it and just continue with life.


Phil Alberg said...

Ouch! That's gotta hurt. It's a good thing you can still write with your type hand.

I had a friend in college who could read palms, and if I'm not mistaken you just butchered the line that indicates how many children you're gonna have. So either you'll never have children, or the stitch scars will now indicate you'll have many children.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

- Phil

P.S. Y'know, I betcha you could still play board games with that bandaged hand...

B said...

That stinks! But the human body is also remarkably resiliant--I'm sure you'll be back to karate in no time. In the meantime, you've got an opportunity to do some other things you've been neglecting.

And don't worry--I'm sure they can fix that pinky. I know two different people who've had similar cuts and had to have surgery but then all was well. Although it's not like you really need that pinky for anything :-)


The Elder said...

Ouch...that reminds me of when I slashed my hand with my jacknife years ago. Feel better and I hope you will be able to resume karate in time.

Linda said...

So has the feeling come back or are you off to surgery?

Mostly Torn said...

Nope, the feeling is still gone in part of my pinkie. But it's only been a couple days. I went to see an orthopedic specialist and he said it's unlikely the nerve was completely cut as I have feeling in much of my finger above the cut. His reasoning was that the nerves for the finger tip share the same path as the rest of the finger, so if I have feeling in other parts, the nerve is still intact. He said it might take a while for the feeling to return.

My only concern (which I tried to explain to the doctor) was there is a connected path up the length of my finger where I don't have feeling. It's not a straight line up the side, though. It starts in the palm (where cut is), then runs up the middle of the finger, and then turns around the outside edge of the finger tip. But, he seemed to think if I have feeling on the rest of the outside edge of my finger then the nerve is most-likely not severed and is just damaged. I'm trying to believe what he says, but I often find it hard to just have blind faith in the expertise of a stranger.