It’s been a bit of a crappy week in the real world. Last Saturday I was whittling a fairy house for the garden. Despite the Kevlar gloves I was wearing, I managed to put the hand chisel straight into my right index finger just near the knuckle.
It was painful and swollen the next day but later that night it started to turn red and leak pus. I was pretty sure it was infected so I started some antibiotics and went to work like a moron. The next day at work, things were no better so I spoke to my GP and she agreed to add in a second antibiotic on the proviso that if it got worse I had to go to A&E.
Sure enough it got worse.
So I went to the local A&E and was seen by one of the consultants. I had bloods done and was cannulated and given a stat dose of IV antibiotics. Not a fun way to spend my day off. I was hoping to be sent home but instead I was referred to a different hospital to see the Plastic Surgeons.
I arrived there are 4:30pm and I wasn’t seen by the Registrar until 8pm. I finally got put in a room at 9pm and then got my first dose of their choice of IV antibiotics at 11pm – six and a half hours after arriving at their ward. I thought “time is tissue” but obviously I’m wrong. I did ask the nurses at 9:30pm about antibiotics but was told I would get them on the drug round and would have to wait. Oh well.
I had been put on the CEPOD theatre list for the following morning which meant I wasn’t going to get home. I had a bit of a break down through the night due to the pain and the nurse and junior doctor walked in on me in floods of tears; not something I’m that familiar with.
Anyway, they started me on morphine which was pretty horrible. No “buzz” and didn’t seem to be that good a pain killer. It just made me feel sick. However, it did seem to buy some time until I was allowed some more anti inflammatories. I spent the rest of the night sitting up at the nurses station as I couldn’t sleep and I reminisced about night shift in that very hospital. We traded some fun stories and that kept my mind off the horrendous pulsating noxiousness of my hand.
I was fasted in case I needed a general anaesthetic so I wasn’t allowed breakfast which was a shame, mainly because all the pain killers were starting to take their toll on my stomach. At 12 noon, the porter came to take me to theatre and I had the joy of wearing an arseless hospital gown. Thankfully, the surgeon agreed to do the surgery under local although I’m not sure if this was the best option as the injections I had into the palm of my hand and around the finger were excruciating until the local kicked in. I also had to wear a high pressure cuff on my forearm to stop and bleeding and this was very painful.
After about 30 minutes he was all done with his cutting, prodding, scraping and irrigating. I was bandaged up and that bloody cuff was let down and I was transferred back to the ward. The surgeon and I spoke at length about what the next part of the plan would be and he agreed that I could get home after a further 2 doses of IV antibiotics and then continue on oral meds from then on. However, despite my constant pestering about “when can I get back to work” he refused and said I could only go back once the wound was completely healed do to the infection risk to both me and my patients. This left me extremely frustrated. However, I reflected on why doctors make the worst patients and if I was in any other job I would just be taking the time off and getting sick lines without batting an eyelid. I guess this comes from being part of a generation of doctors that were told “the only way you can have a day off is if you are bleeding out of your eyes!”
I was ready to leave the hospital at 9pm that evening but the poor junior doctor was so snowed under that she didn’t get round to writing the discharge letter and prescribing my medications until almost 3am. By that point she was in tears and I felt so sorry for her. However, I was glad when she finally dealt with my bits and pieces and I was finally able to get home.
So, as I said at the start, it’s been a bit of a crappy week. I’ve spent several days in terrible pain with no sleep, I’ve missed two days of work and I’ve been on the other side of the knife with several painful examinations, cannulations and injections. My hand is still a mess and I can’t really move my index finger without the sensation of a lightsaber being forced up my arm. And worst of all, I have to shower with a bag on my hand!
I’m not sure how things will go in the next few days and I might need a further washout if it continues to discharge pus. So I guess here are a few things I might want to think about in the future:
1. Gloves don’t mean shit
2. Seek medical assistance sooner rather than later
3. Be less of a doctor and more of a patient, and finally,
4. The job is not the most important thing in the world.
I promise to write more posts in the future but this post has taken ages due to the one handed typing.