Sunday, December 4, 2011

Homemaker Monday: When a Digit is Severed

Welcome to the 162nd weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This portion is in progress. Thanks for your patience. :)

MINE: Homemaking isn't just cleaning and cooking. It's chauffeuring, party-planning, tutoring, playing therapist, nurse, and sometimes, like this week, emergency medical technician...

As I read advice over the internet, I find conflicting reports about how to care for a severed digit if you are planning on taking it to the hospital, along with the victim, to be reattached. Thus, this anecdote should not be used for medical advice, just entertainment. You should talk to someone who knows what they are doing if you really want to know what to do with a severed digit.

Anyways..... The 4 five and under, myself, my dear friend, and two of her kids were sitting outside, enjoying the warmth and a little bit of free time before it was time to start lunch. The kids weren't getting along so well, though, so after becoming weary of the continuous fighting and whining, I told the 5-year-old boy and Twin B that they needed to go inside and stay there for a while until they could get along. They went inside and I turned back to my friend to continue our conversation. Soon, however, I could hear them starting to argue again, then I heard the slamming of the wrought iron screen door, then a shriek, then saw my friend look over my shoulder, eyes wide, and heard her say, "Oh, no."

I turned towards the door and saw the 5-year-old boy crying, no, wailing, and holding his finger, which was dripping blood. I ran over to him, grabbed his good hand, and pulled him toward the sink to administer first aid. My friend stayed outside with the other kids.

Upon putting his finger under running water, I was shocked to see how damaged it was. After rinsing for a few seconds, I quickly wrapped it in a clean rag, then I froze and thought for a second. I didn't remember seeing any nail, and the finger seemed shorter than it should have been. It then hit me, like a lead brick, that a part of his finger was missing, and that I would need to go find it.

My first instinct was to simply pick him up and sit him on the island, next to where I had retrieved the clean rag, and to tell him to wait while I went to look for something. He obediently stayed. I then went back to the door and got on my hands and knees and began looking for a piece of finger. It was difficult, however, because there were a lot of wood chips and dry leaves the color of skin and I kept picking up things that weren't a finger portion. My friend soon saw me on my hands and knees and asked what I was doing. I told her that I thought part of the 5-year-old's finger came off and I was looking for it. She got down and started helping me. No sooner did she began, than I glanced over to the bottom of the door, and attached to it, by a thin line of blood, was what I was looking for. I pulled it off the door and put it in my hand, and when I looked at it, I gasped and nearly threw up because it was the entire top portion of the 5-year-old's finger, from about 1/4 inch below the base of his nail, cut off at about a 45-degree angle. I think what got to me the most was the fact that his little fingernail was dirty, just like it always was when it was attached to his body. I was holding a portion of my son's body in my hand, a part so familiar, and natural when it was attached, but so horrifying when dismembered! I let out a curse word, which I'm not proud of (I guess too many PG-13 movies), then I ran back to the kitchen, and I don't know if I got the 5-year-old boy off the island or put his severed finger portion in a bag of ice water first, but somehow, at some point, the 5-year-old boy ended up on the couch, with his severed finger in a Ziploc bag. I then called the local doctor to see if he was working in town, but there was no answer, so I told my friend I was going to have to go to the big town. Without hesitation she said that she would stay with the little kids and take care of lunch for my big kids.

When we got into the car, I wasn't sure exactly where to have him sit. I didn't want him on my lap, because it is dangerous to drive 15 miles on curvy roads with tiny shoulders with a child on your lap, but I wanted him where I could see him, so I decided to buckle him into the front seat. We started to drive, and his cries became whimpers and he said "Mom, I might die," and I said, "Son, no you won't, because your bleeding has stopped and you are going to be okay." He stopped crying then, and said he wanted to go to sleep, and I said I could understand that because then he wouldn't feel anything. And he asked if the doctors were going to be able to sew it back on, and I said yes, I think so, and then after a few moments of silence, he said in a soft voice, "I feel like I'm dying," and I looked over and he was reeling sideways, passing out. I grabbed his shoulder, and jerked him back up, and yelled "No, no, no! You can't go to sleep right now! You have to stay awake until we get to the hospital!"

He was deathly pale, I thought maybe he was going into shock, so I just tried to distract him from going to sleep and drove faster.

We finally arrived at the hospital after what seemed like hours, and I put my purse across my shoulder, and grabbed the ice bag with his severed finger portion in one hand, and picked him up and carried him like a baby into the hospital because he didn't have shoes on and because I didn't think he could walk without fainting.

I walked through the emergency room doors and up to the front desk, held up the Ziploc bag, and in my broken Spanish I said, "He cut his finger, and it is here in this bag."

I was quickly taken to a bed in a room with other beds divided by light blue curtains, and the 5-year-old boy was examined by two nurses, a doctor, then another doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, who was summoned from a nearby hospital. Having the 5-year-old boy examined by him made me feel reassured, because I knew he was an expert. After examining him, he spoke very fast Spanish words to me, and I thought I understood that he was going to take him into surgery, put him to sleep, and attempt to reattach the finger. I know he said much more than that, but that was all I got.

I had changed the 5-year-old boy into a hospital gown by this time, and one of the nurses started to pick him up and carry him out of the room. I followed her and offered to help, but she said she was fine. I followed the entourage into another room, then I saw the nurse handing the 5-year-old boy to someone else through a long, tall paneless window, which I thought was odd, because I didn't know why it wouldn't be a door. I then realized that this was where I was going to be separated from my son, and I asked if I could go in, knowing what their answer would be, and they said no. The 5-year-old boy started whimpering and I grabbed his hand and said he would be fine and that the doctors were going to fix his finger and that it wouldn't hurt at all.

And then they ushered me out and closed the door and told me where I could sit and I waited, and tried to call John, which was very difficult because I had forgotten my cell phone and he was 3 hours away at work, and I had to call many of my friends and family and ask them to try to reach him, but it took so long, and then when I finally was able to reach him, he was in a meeting and couldn't talk to me, so I had to face more silence alone and then I began to try to remember what the statistics were as far as deaths from anesthesia and I began praying really hard.

Soon, to my utter relief, my father-in-law and sister-in-law walked into the lobby and I felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders. While they were there, the 5-year-old boy was finally wheeled out, and the doctor was able to tell them that he had successfully reattached the finger portion. My FIL and SIL were able to understand everything that was said and to my great relief, translated it for me. All the news was good, the instructions clear, and my family left promising to bring me something to eat and drink. I told them I couldn't eat, but they said that I would be there several more hours and at some point, I would probably be hungry. I agreed and accepted their offer.

After thanking them and wishing them good-bye, I went into the recovery room with the 5-year-old boy and waited for him to wake up. He was sleeping so soundly, and his previously ashen face was now peachy with rosy cheeks. He looked wonderful. I laid down on the sofa next to his bed and fell asleep for a few minutes until the nurse returned and said she needed to give him a shot of antibiotics. The act of pulling down his underwear brought him out of his sleep, and he began to whimper and cried when he got his shot, but quickly quieted when the nurse turned on a TV high in the corner of the room, flipped the channel to a cartoon, and gave the 5-year-old boy the remote. He would later tell his sister that this was his favorite part of being in the hospital. We don't have TV.

For the next three hours, we watched movies together, intermittently napping, and sipping on drinks. It was relaxing and pleasant and nice to spend time alone together, and to feed my boy the vegetable soup he was served.

Before being discharged, my FIL returned to help me check out. What a relief it was to have him there. He also kindly agreed to go to the pharmacy on the way home to pick up the 5-year-old's meds so I wouldn't have to stop. I owe him and my SIL a debt of gratitude for all they did for me, especially for the delicious sandwich they brought back to the hospital which I was eventually hungry enough to eat.

And I love living in a small town, because while at the hospital, the 5-year-old's kindergarten teacher called to see if we would still be in the hospital when she passed by on her way home, because she wanted to come visit. Unfortunately, we were about to be discharged. While we waited, another friend called to let me know he had heard what had happened and to see if there was anything he could do. These little gestures completely warmed my heart and made me want to be a better person. And upon arriving home, the 5-year-old boy was presented by his 6th-grade brother a poster his class had put together at school. In the center of the poster in block letters were the words "GET WELL SOON!" and surrounding that were sweet notes from each student in the class. Intermittently taped between the messages were pieces of wrapped hard candy and chocolate! It was adorable!

In conclusion, all's well that ends well. The 5-year-old boy plays like nothing happened and we will return to the hospital on Monday to see how the attachment is going. Wish us luck!

And thanks, as always, for listening!

OURS: Now it's your turn! Can't wait to read your homemaking tips! Thanks so much for your visits and links and have a great Homemaker Monday!


Nancy @Real Food, Allergy Free said...

I'm so glad there was a happy ending to that story! We had the same thing happen to my neighbours little boy. The wind caught the front door and slammed his 3 year old finger. It was during a birthday party. Scared us all to death but it's been 3 years and he doesn't even remember it.

Jill@ said...

I shared my amazing grain-free carrot cake and my holiday butternut squash

Salsa Mama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Salsa Mama said...

Sorry, i deleted my comment because I used names. :) My heart goes out to you and the 5 yr old!! So glad everything seems to have worked out well. It's so good to have so many people around that love you guys!!

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Haha, no problem, Salsa! Thank you so much. It IS wonderful to have some many people who love us! :)

Carrie @ My Favorite Finds said...

Oh my stars. You kept way calmer than I would have. Way to go mama! Thanks for hosting today!

Sarah said...

I hope he continues to improve quickly and it just becomes a story he tells to gross out his friends. My heart dropped when I read the title and I am relieved that there is a happy ending.

You did an amazing job staying calm! Our emergency room visits have been comparatively minor, and I must say I was traumatized and exhausted for days afterward. I admire your strength, but I am glad you had support at hand so you didn't have to do it alone.

Kimberly T. said...

Poor Boy (and Mamma)! I'm so glad he's okay. Hope everything is still looking great after your visit today.

Jenny said...

OH NO!!!! How terrible for you both! We always worry about doors getting slammed on fingers at our house (8 kids), but I've only thought about fingers getting broken..... now I'm going to be even more worried ;D Your reaction was great and I'm so happy things worked out the way they did- praise GOD!! Hope the check-up goes well and the healing is speedy!

Brian + Cheryl B. said...

Hugs to my friend Jen!!!!!!!!

So thrilled that your tale has a "happy ending"!!!

For me, it vividly brought to mind two different incidents.

One, was when I was about 8? We were all dressed for Wed. night church service, standing looking out the window watching the neighbor kids building a snow man. (My mom was getting herself ready.)As kids do, we (my sister and one brother (the other one wasn't born till years later) had our hands and noses on the glass, as though it would help us get closer to the action. The glass broke, leaving one of my brothers fingers dangling by one thread. All these years later, I can still vividly see it in my mind.

The people whom usually gave us a ride to church, instead took my mom and brother to the hospital. Well, the man did. The wife stayed with us girls.

They were able to completely reattach the finger. You can still clearly see the scars form it.

Fast forward many years. Brian's and my sons ranged in age from 10 to 16. I was up at camp working as head of the dining hall. Brian was home alone. the youngest two sons were out of town with grandparents. The older two were out of state on a missions trip. Early in the morning I get a message that Brian was on the phone. HE NEVER CALLED!!! I knew that something was wrong with somebody, and thus did not want to take that call!!

He was working third shift at the time. During the night the shearing machine he was working on, cutting industrial grade steel, had also sheared the ends off of two of his fingers.

I wrote out instructions for the teenagers whom were working with me and left! While they had found the tips of his fingers in his work gloves, they were too damaged to reattach. They had been severed just above the base of the nails.

Our hand surgeon was amazing! Brian's hand now looks quite normal from the top. They got the nails to regrow out and everything. It's only when he shows you the undersides that you can see the difference. Or, when he puts the length of his fingers on both hands up against one another.

He had to keep his hand up above his heart for weeks!! He couldn't drive, ... heck, he couldn't even pull his own pants up. No matter where he was.

I sincerely hope that the five year old heals beautifully. And that somebody brings you some amazing chocolate therapy!!!

Ginger said...

My son lost his right index finger at the hand knuckle at age 12. It was quite traumatic, but 13 years later he functions just fine.

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home said...

Oh my goodness! I think I would have went into total panic mode with something like this! I'm glad it all worked out for you!

Alison @ Under the Big Oak Tree said...

I'm squeamish, so I couldn't read your entire story...skimmed it. But I wanted extend get well wishes to your kiddo!

Lynn said...

Oh my stars! I am so sorry you all had to go through that. Glad it ended better than I thought it would at the beginning of your story.

I am so impressed how you kept a calm and some what cool and collected presence of be honest....I don't know if I could have. Way to go Jen!

Jamie said...

I hardly got through that without vomitting :( You poor thing! He will surley be fine but I'm sure you will be scarred for life! Glad he's okay and hope you never have to go through something like that again!

Expat Mom said...

How scary! As a mom, you get used to the usual bumps and cuts, but those serious injuries are really, really heartstopping. And I don't think there is anything worse than your child telling you he thinks he's dying.
My 5 year old has been through 4 surgeries and it is never fun. I'm so glad your little guy is ok. At the very least, he's going to have an awesome story to tell his friends! Nothing gains you respect like having a finger chopped off!

Wende said...

You both were so brave. Glad to hear the happy ending.

Amanda B. said...

Oh my goodness, that poor boy! How scary for him and you!! Praying that everything with the attachment goes well!! Ouch!!!

Pablo Smith said...

Wow, Jen. That was really intense. That sweet boy. Thanks for writing it in such detail - you are incredibly cool under pressure. I don't know that I would have known what to do - but now I will! Give him a big hug from me.

Christine said...

I went through a similar incidence with my daughter when she was 18 months old. My boys were riding an old exercise bike at a relatives house and the wheels had spokes. She stuck her hand out, probably out of curiosity and got her ring finger into the spokes and we also after my daughter brought her to us and rinsing the blood off realized that it took the end of her finger off below the nail,I had to say to my husband go find the rest of her nail, he informed me that, "that isn't funny".
"No, it's not, go find it!"

I do have to say it was the fastest we ever got back into a room at the ER. They had a plastic surgeon who specialized in hands reattach it and now she has a finger that is a bit shorter than it would have been otherwise due to bone loss, and her nail grows around the tip of her finger.

She is now 17 and had the choice to have surgery to graft bone and straighten out the fingertip. It is such a part of her now that she has chosen not to do it even though it is painful at times.

By the way, back then we were told that my aunt "packaged" the finger correctly by putting it in one baggie and then putting it inside another baggie that contained the ice. She had seen something on TV right before this happened.

And.... The excercise bike was dismantled and in the trash within an hour.