“If you would have told me this morning that I would have lost part of my finger, I would have said you were fucking nuts.”
These words – graphic and all, muttered by husband after a plastic surgeon who specializes in hands, just amputated part of his finger.
Late Monday morning, I was sitting at my desk admiring my new computer monitor (a very early birthday gift from Rob). It was the start of my three day mini-vacation, I was playing around on Pinterest, manipulating photos in Lightroom and I had just started adding books to my Amazon shopping cart. Lola was sound asleep and Rob was outside working in the yard. A brief moment of peace filled my always worrying heart when suddenly Rob rushed in from outside.
“Babe, I’m sorry, but we need to go to the emergency room.”
“I think I cut off my finger.”
“You what? Let me see!”
Surprisingly on the calmer side (mind you I would have been crying hysterically and screaming if it were me), he pulled the bloody towel away from his battered finger and all I could see was blood, a bone and a fingertip flipped upside down and just barely hanging on.
“Holy shit” I exclaimed and then we both went into overdrive. I snagged up Lola, packed a full bag for her not knowing how long we would be at the hospital. My poor husband’s face began to sweat and you could see the pain was starting to kick in. He grabbed the stroller (hello, you just cut off your finger put that down- but stubbornly he wouldn’t listen) and ran out to the car. As soon as I got on the road, a cop was behind me. The one time I needed to really haul ass to the hospital, I was being followed by the police. Thankfully, he finally passed me and I began to speed to IU Methodist in Downtown Indianapolis. In that car ride, Rob did not cuss and he did not scream. He had a few moments of adrenaline-filled grunts, but somehow he remained his humorous self despite the traumatic injury that just took place minutes before. I dropped him off at the emergency room entrance and gathered up Lola and our things. By the time I entered, Rob had already been checked-in and minutes later his vitals were being taken. The horror stories of waiting for hours at an emergency room diminish when you have your hand wrapped in a bloody towel. He was immediately taken back and all Lola and I could do was wait.
After about an hour, I got anxious. I had to know what was going on. I suppose I was naive in thinking, they would simply put the fingertip back on and stitch it up. When I got back to Rob’s room, he was surprisingly cheerful and even laughing about what had happened. I would say the Morphine had a good part in his humorous demeanor. He had been given antibiotics, a Tetanus shot as well as digit blocks all throughout his hand to help numb his finger. He said the plastic surgeon had been called and he would ultimately have the say in how to proceed. The nurse came in after Rob’s IV fluid ran out and told us she thought the skin would be pulled over the finger. Again, I thought the finger would be saved. It was well after lunch and Lola needed to be fed. We gathered our things, gave Rob a big kiss and headed out to find the cafeteria.
When we came back, the lights were on brightly in Rob’s once dim room. There was gauze and tape everywhere and I knew he had just had surgery. His coloring was a bit pale and his hand was on a big blue towel, covered up. I asked what happened and he said the surgeon had to amputate part of his finger. I don’t know why, but I didn’t believe him and I asked him to show me. And sure enough, there was his hand that once housed five fingers, but now it had four and a half. He said the surgeon knew the instant he saw it that it could not have been saved. Once the bone is exposed, it runs a very high risk for infections such as gangrene. If it was the entire finger, they typically try to save it, but when it is the tip or just half, there really is no other choice than to let it go. He explained that there are so many nerves in the finger and simply sewing it back on doesn’t guarantee use of it. It would essentially be like a dead finger that would most likely cause more problems in the future. So there was no other option than to amputate it far enough down so he could have skin to pull over it to stitch it up. Rob said he watched the entire thing (except one gruesome part) and really felt OK with the fact he just lost part of his finger. A couple hours later, he was bandaged up, given instructions and was released to go.
I still didn’t quite understand how it had happened so I asked him to try and explain it to me. Apparently he had been trying to move these extremely heavy concrete slabs that our grill was sitting on. He got both of them over to the new spot he wanted to put his grill, but the one large slab was still on its side. He pushed it over and when it began to fall, it got caught on Rob’s glove he had been wearing. When it fell, it took Rob’s hand and the slab literally cut his fingertip off through his glove. He said had he not had those gloves on, this probably would have never happened. But unfortunately freakish accidents do indeed happen and now all he can do is move forward.
Two days later, he is in quite a bit of pain. It’s as if the finger is finally waking up and realizing something terrible has happened. But Rob is in great spirits about the whole ordeal…I have to say much better than I would be. Both his mother and I have shed tears over the fact that he lost part of his finger, but he seems unfazed emotionally. He has to take the bandage off daily to clean the wound and he goes back in two weeks to have the stitches removed. Luckily, I had three days off this week and was able to take an extra day off to help with Lola and with Rob. Despite not being used to having someone take care of him, I’m forcing him to just relax for the days I’m home. We are trying to get help this weekend with Lola so he can concentrate on just getting better.
I have to say, my husband is an incredibly strong man. Through all of this, he has remained cheerful, smiling and hopeful about all he can do minus part of his right, pointer finger. I’ve found him trying to do everything from answering emails, folding laundry, brewing coffee and today I even caught him painting the fireplace. The man just doesn’t stop. He hasn’t stopped making sure I’m happy and not freaked out about his missing finger (which I think all real men are missing a digit!!!) and he manages to get Lola to laugh even though I can see the pain he is dealing with. I’m in awe of his strength and his ability to move forward.
I decided to write about this because we didn’t want people to be suddenly surprised when they see Rob’s new hand. I asked if I could post a picture and without hesitation he said “yes”.
Yesterday, I went out and bought Lola a walker. I’ll write about it more in detail soon, but Rob did not hesitate to tear open the box and put it together himself. I annoyingly kept asking if he needed help and every time, he politely said “no babe, I’ve got it” and he did.
So I became curious about famous people with missing fingers and here are a few I came up with:
Apparently Darryl Hannah got her finger caught in a water well pulley at the age of three.
Jerry Garcia lost part of his finger while steadying wood his father was chopping.
Matthew Perry lost a tip of his finger due to an unfortunate door shutting accident.
Jazz legend, Django Reinhardt burned two of his left fretting fingers for playing the guitar in a fire.
And while he has since passed, James Doohan aka Scotty from Star Trek lost his middle finger due to friendly fire while stationed in Normandy as part of the Royal Canadian Army.
So just another story to add to our book. While the material has been good lately, I’m kind of ready for life to not be quite as exciting!