Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The night I was getting ready to go to a gay bar and ended up at the Royal instead

[Note: I will preface this with a huge I-know-this-is-completely-silly-and-insignificant-and-even-hilarious-and-even-though-I-cried-at-the-time-I-did-laugh-afterwards. But sometimes the little things count too and perhaps the whole thing was blown up in my head because of something else going on in my head at the time. Perhaps. No, definately. Point is, I am overly aware this was so not a big deal.]

I quickly grabbed my finger and stared wide eyed at my friends. The music was on, to get us pumped. We were getting ready to go out. I'd had a wine. Bad time to use my pocket knife. It had gone in deep and I didn't know how deep. Wasn't ready to look. My friend C looked at me and frowned.

"I cut myself" I said, "I can't look".

"I'll look, show me", she said.

I held out my finger, still wrapped my my other hand. I flashed her for the briefest of a view and then rewrapped it tightly. Then I showed her again. I looked at my other hand. There was a pool of blood in my palm.

"How bad is it?" I asked.

"Not bad, come inside and I'll wash it."

We went in and I felt my blood drop onto the floor. In the bathroom she ran the cold water and put my hand under. I saw a flap of flesh moving under the water. It looked like I'd split the end of my finger in two. Blood was going everywhere.

"There's a flap, I'm going to go to hospital", I told C.

"It'll be okay, I'll put a bandaid on tightly".

"I want to make sure".

She looked at me dubiously.

"I love my fingers!" I said, feeling worried, "I just want to make sure it's okay".

"You'll be okay", she insisted, applying the bandaids. But I'd already made up my mind.

I walked into the emergency department at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and waited behind another patient in the administration queue. There were chairs in the waiting area, red chairs and blue chairs. The red chairs are reserved for patients allocated by triage, the signs read. The man in front of me had a huge bandage on his hand and was immediately given Panadine forte. I instantly felt under-injured and perhaps a little hysterical for coming in with a little cut on my finger. It had seemed much worse at home. I looked down at the bandaids keeping my finger together and saw the blood had seeped through and a big lump of blood was congealing at the top of my finger.

Maybe not hysterical, possibly just cautious.

The lady behind the administration desk took my details.

"What's your marital status?" she asked me.

"Single, no wait, divorced".

"And who is your best emergency contact?"

I thought a moment and realised I didn't have one. I gave my parent's details, and then lamented that I had to give my parent's details. Going to hospital blows at the best of times but having to give your parent's details for emergency contact. Wahhh. (*whispers* still glad I'm divorced though...)

I was sent to the triage desk where a man assessed my injury. He asked me to describe what happened. He took my pulse, 130. High. Maybe my initial diagnosis for hysteria wasn't far off the mark. But then again, I had cut myself and the knife had gone right into my finger, maybe by a whole centimetre! There was a flap! I'm phobic of amputation (phobic, phobic, phobic) and it was [correction: is] my favourite finger. The one I wrote with, texted with, played plants v zombies with! If I'd let it go and it got bad or fell off or something I'd be devastated. I wrote for a living for goodness sake!

My temperature was normal but blood pressure was also high. He asked me to take a seat. I didn't sit on the reserved red chairs.

After a time it started throbbing. I'd avoided crying so far, although feeling like I wanted to.

After some time passed I returned to the man in triage, "I think the bandaid might be too tight, can I remove it, do you have scissors?" I asked him. He seemed surprised I hadn't been seen and directed me to the nurse’s room. A nurse came in and asked me what I'd done. I showed her the bloody bandaided finger, and described the pocket knife incident. The nurse took my finger and gently started to remove the bandaids by peeling each layer back slowly. It hurt a lot and I was scared she might rip off the flap, instantly regretted the decision for adhesive protection.

She reassured me she'd be careful and take them off one by one, and she was, but I still cried like a baby. A big, 31 year old baby, scared of being in a hospital ER on a Saturday evening and having part of my favourite finger ripped off.

She finally got the bloodied bandaids off and took a look, "it might need a stitch, and I'll get you a Panadine forte for the pain", and left to get the blissful pain dullers. I declined the two she offered, instead taking just one.

"You'll need to wait in the waiting area for the doctor now", she said after bandaging my finger with an oversized cushiony bandage.

I tearfully returned to the waiting area. It didn't take long for the doctor to call my name. Thankfully it was a quiet night. I followed him into a curtained area and he indicated a bed for me to sit on.

"So what have we got here?" He asked me, turning to face me from his computer.

"I cut my finger with a pocket knife."

"Ouch! Ok so first let's do your medical history."


"Any allergies?"

"Maybe Amoxicillin...and Elastoplast adhesive."

"You on any regular medication?"


"And what are you taking that for?"

"Anxiety disorder."

The doctor raised his eyebrows and looked me in the eye, "was the injury intentional?"

I shook my head, "no".

He came over to where I was sitting and took my pulse. He frowned, and pulled out his smart phone, turned on the stopwatch and took my pulse again.

"Pulse rate is rather high", he commented.

No kidding, but I kept that to myself.

He unwrapped the soft bandage and examined my finger. I winced when he touched it, my earlier determination to be brave dissolving with the pain. Thankfully I'd run out of tears.

“It looks like it’s starting to clot properly and the skin seems to be holding in place”, he informed me.

“You’re kidding?” I said, instantly feeling mortified (mortified) for driving to hospital and making such a big deal of the pitiful possibly-centimetre-deep cut.

“I can give you a stitch to make sure it doesn’t move if you like?”

“Yes, please”.

The anaesthetic hurt more than the cut. (Still, no more tears.) He swabbed the area with cotton wool and saline, rinsing the inside of the cut carefully and wiping away the fresh blood. He prepared the suture and I looked away as he inserted it into my skin. I watched while he fastened the one little knot, and thought it was appropriate I have only the one.

One little stitch all on its lonesome in the skin of my favourite finger.

“Now get outta here”, he said with a grin on his young face.

“Thanks Doc, have a good one”, I felt myself blush as I departed.

I walked back to my car, took myself home to bed, and felt the Panadine forte carry me off into a blissful exhausted slumber.

One little cry baby in her favourite place (bed, with toast and bread roll crumbs), with one little stitch in her favourite finger.

No comments:

Post a Comment