What a crazy 24 hours it has been! My cleaning day, yesterday, was a shorter one and went smoothly. I was heading home and swung into the grocery store to pick up some hamburger buns for dinner, along with some fries. I was at the self-check when my husband called me. I was just finishing up a call with my best friend and called Lance back when I was done. When he answered and I hear him blurt out through his tears “I love you baby! I had an accident and I hurt myself.”
I asked him what type of accident. “I cut my thumb.” I started to ask him how bad (this is not the first time his thumb has done battle with a saw. I was his doctor last time and did a fabulous job if I do say so myself) when a different male voice comes through the phone. Its one of the paramedics. He tells me what hospital they are taking Lance to and that the surgeon is going to meet them at the hospital, if I want to meet them there. (Does anyone say no to this?) I asked if Lance had cut his thumb off and the paramedic responded yes. Crud.
I hop in the Jeep, rush home to put the groceries away and alert Mason to what is going on, then head toward Bellevue. They were taking Lance to Overlake Hospital. It’s about 4pm when I’m heading out so traffic is going to slow down my progress. Frustrating, but I make pretty good time, anyway.
When I finally arrive at a little after 5pm (so, I was speeding when I could), I figured they would already have Lance in surgery or be about ready to take him in. No and no. They haven’t even cleaned the blood off of his hands. The on-call hand surgeon hasn’t responded to his page or shown up. There was gauze folded in half around his thumb.
I grab paper towels, wet them, and begin to wash off Lance’s hands. He asks if I want to see it. I say sure. He double checks. I repeat my yes. He gently unfolds the gauze. Oh my. His thumb, from the top knuckle, is hanging on by mostly skin. Oh my. I am seeing more of my husband than I had ever wanted to. I go back to cleaning the blood off his hands.
I ask Lance when they are taking him to surgery and find out that the surgeon is basically MIA and they are sending him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Ok. Deep breaths. Only one of us gets to be crazy at a time and Lance most definitely has the crazy card in his possession, though he isn’t being at all crazy.
The nurse comes in, gives me some wash cloths to use to clean Lance up with, and check on Lance’s pain level, have us sign some paperwork, and tells us that its better if we complain to the hospital than if they do because the hospital administration is more likely to hear us than the staff. I was already feeling like things weren’t being properly handled, but I’ve never been in this situation before and am unsure of the proper procedures. It just doesn’t seem right, but there is so much going on with getting him ready to transfer to Harborview that I just kept taking care of Lance.
I meet Lance at Harborview. It wasn’t too long before the hand specialist shows up with his team and checks out Lance’s thumb. Of course, there are the million questions the have to go with this – how did you cut your thumb, how wide was the blade, allergies, etc. Then, cleaning the thumb. Apparently, this had not even happened at Overlake because the beginning of the wash poured through his thumb, coming out nearly black. Just what did they do at Overlake besides attempt to relieve his pain?
After the assessment, washing, and wrapping of his thumb with a splint to help stabilize it and hopefully reduce some of the pain, they take Lance to x-ray. He comes back and then we sit, waiting, for hours. By this time, they have him so doped up, Lance is nodding out. He wakes up about 9-ish and tells me to go home. They haven’t even gotten him into a room. We are still in the ER. I feel bad leaving him but he insists.
I get a call from Lance at 7 this morning telling me I can come pick him up. I ask him about surgery. Surgery finally happened at around 1 am this morning, almost 11 hours after Lance cut his thumb off. “I thought they wanted to keep you for a few days?” Lance: “Yeah, that was if they could save the thumb.” I make myself a coffee, go check out my garden (a bunch of new gladioli noses!) to wake myself up enough to drive, let Mason know I’m heading out to pick up Lance, then start the morning drive into Seattle.
Lance seems to be handling losing half of the thumb on his left hand ok. To be honest, I think half of that is just show. Since we have gotten home, he has had a couple of emotional spots. Im ready for him to have the complete meltdown I am sure will happen. How could it not? He just lost a part of his body.
He goes for a follow-up appointment in a week to see how the thumb is healing. I can’t bring myself to call it a stump. Lance is opiate immune so narcotics for the pain are out. He is taking 1000mg Tylenols and he says they take the edge off, a little.
The poor guy keeps trying to do things like he always has and keeps running into the fact that, at the moment, he hardly even has a hand with all of the gauze. I can tell he is really uncomfortable in his skin, right now. He started to lie down to take a nap, something he should be doing, and ended up deciding to take the dogs for their afternoon walk. Maybe he is just needing to do one of the things he did before and not run into the obstacle of his hand. I love that man so much. My heart breaks for his loss, but I know, with time, he will adjust to his new configuration. We got this.