(Selfportrait @ IHK, still clutching the sock to my chopped finger)
That’s a Bon Qui Qui reference For those of you who are in the know, you know. For those of you who aren’t in the know, it’s an old skool MadTV sketch, google it
Soooooooooooooooo, last Saturday I chopped my finger pretty good.
I was using a brand new, super awesome and SUPER sharp Henkels butcher knife someone had just brought me from America. (Side note: the knives here are terrible and, with their lack of cuttability, can hardly even be classified as knives) I was preparing a dish to take to a joint birthday party for Ben Morris, Osobie (my friend Katie’s son) and Cameron (a grown up child turning 30). I was chop, chop, chopping away at some cilantro when all the sudden I caught my finger. I immediately dropped the knife and in an instant had grabbed a drying towel from the windowsill behind me and was clutching my finger. I look back at the cutting board to see the corner/tip of my pointer finger sitting on the bed of chopped cilantro, a piece of fingernail and all. I gasped and started pacing my small kitchen. Thinking, what an idiot I am. Definitely not as bad as the time I dropped a bowl onto my foot just as I was pulling a pot of boiling water off the stove and then flung the scalding water onto my inner forearm, but at that moment I wasn’t sure which situation was worse.
I called Loring, laughingly hysterical (as in: overemotional, out of control, frenzied, frantic, wild, feverish, crazed; beside oneself), I told her how I cut myself and she says, “Can you see some of your finger on the cutting board?” Well, you people already know the answer to that. Loring suggested I call Lisa, my visiting friend who also happens to be a nurse, and ask her opinion. Lisa came up and said I could go to the doctor. She offered to come with me. I declined; in a careless, overly brave and prideful moment. Even at her persistence, I said, “No. Who wants to sit in the waiting room? That’s no fun, you guys go on to the party. I’ll meet you there.” What a schmuck.
I took a boda to the nearby International Hospital Kampala. Upon getting there I discover all I have is a single bill, 10,000/= Ugandan Shillings. Of course, the boda driver did not have the change of 9,000/= so I walk across the street and buy a water to break the bill. Turns out the lady at the little snack shack also did not have change. She tells me to “first wait” and saunters off. All the while I am clutching my finger in a brand new, never used, white Old Navy sock. She returns with my change, I pay the boda and scuffle off to see a doctor.
I actually have “insurance coverage” at this hospital so I’d been there a time or two for treatment of bacterial infections. Although I was bleeding it didn’t cross my mind to go to the ER desk. Instead I went to the general desk and said I needed to see a doctor. They lady took my card, typed some stuff into the computer and told me to have a seat. She hadn’t even asked me why I was there! I quickly leaned over the counter and said, “Um, just so you know, I’m bleeding.”
I took my seat in the waiting area and that’s when my mind started racing. I realized I chopped the crap out of my finger and began thinking, what if they have to take my whole finger off? Then went on to think, well at least it’s just my left hand and not my writing hand, if they had to amputate. This could turn out to be kind of a cool thing to have, right? Like people would say, ‘what happened to your finger?’, and I’d be all, ‘oh there was this time when I lived in Africa….’
After about 40 minutes a nurse calls me back. She asked how fresh the wound was then put me on a gurney and went to get stuff to clean and dress it. She came back and thoroughly cleaned my wound, which, of course, hurt pretty bad. I had been clutching so fiercely with the sock that it had kind of attached itself to the skin and it seriously hurt to just pull the sock off. After she’d cleaned it she seemed baffled that it was still bleeding. She tried several different directions of squeezing and applied direct pressure to no avail. So the nurse conceded and called the doctor over. The doctor did all the same things and by that time I am weeping.
In Ugandan culture people do not cry. It is not normal and makes most people uncomfortable. So I sit there weeping and both the nurse and doctor are going, “Aaaaaaaayyyee, sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry.” Through my tears I’m all, “it’s okay, I’m fine, it just really hurts”. The doctor calls another nurse saying to give me a “painkiller”, the nurse comes back with a syringe. I’m holding my hand all, where will she inject that, thinking it’s a local anesthetic and that is just as the nurse is saying, “turn over, this is going in your bum”. Um, okay? For the record, the shot did nothing to aid in comfort. What the doctor did next was squeeze my finger pinching the fingernail on one side and my fingerprint area on the other. When she did that, my wound would turn white and stop bleeding. As soon as she let go it would start gushing again. At one point the doctor looks at me and goes, “Do you have a problem with overbleeding?”, “No”, I tell her. She then looks at me and frankly says, “Maybe you do, but just don’t know it.” I looked back at her and said, in equally as frank a tone, “I know, without a doubt, I do not have a problem with overbleeding!” Finally, (after Lisa’s suggestion via text message) they dropped some adrenalin directly on the wound to help stop the bleeding. They continued the terrible squeezing and, finally, decided to dress it and “see what happens” (I’m still silently weeping, by the way).
Shortly thereafter Dan and Loring swooped in to my rescue. Dan finds the doctor, says there is no reason for me to remain and demands they let me go. Which, of course, they did happily sending us on with some additional dressings. My finger throbbed and ached through the rest of the day/night and next morning.
Lisa redressed the wound for me Sunday afternoon. The nurse had put gauze directly on my wound so, again, it hurt like the dickens to have the dressing removed. I cried a little more. Lisa advised I take antibiotic to prevent infection, which is a big risk in the environment I live in. I was so annoyed to have chopped the tip of my finger clear off, knowing the whole thing would easier if I had just been able to get some stitches. For whatever reason normal cuts and scraps seems to take much longer to heal in Uganda. I figured I was in for a long haul of not being able to have full use of my left hand…typing, showering, washing dishes and so on. Loring redressed the wound for me Monday, same situation. Tuesday I shifted from a full dressing to a couple bandaids and by Thursday it was looking so good I decided to just let it get air. On Friday I spent a good portion of my day just staring at my finger, I couldn’t believe how fast it had healed. I am not kidding when I tell you it was a miraculous recovery. Not trying to be all hokey and over spiritualize things, but seriously folks (for those of you who saw the posts on Facebook), thank you for the prayers.
Here’s some pictures of the progression: (finally peeled the sock off, this is just after the nurse cleaned it) (Sunday during the redressing) (Monday redressing) (Monday again) (Thursday. The picture is blurry, but take my word for it, that sucker is looking good) (taken just now…Sunday night….you can hardly see anything there, right?! EXACTLY!)