Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Zombie Finger or, how I broke my finger at Run For Your Lives...

So this one is just about my finger... how did I break it? Being a zombie at Run For Your Lives.

yeah, something's not right about that ring finger.
By Monday morning there was really no change in my finger. I had kept it splinted up with stuff I bought at Walgreens on Sunday morning. But I had also come to the decision that it was probably fine, and that I had just dislocated it, and "fixed it" by straightening it.

But Wil really wanted me to go see a doctor... which I frankly didn't have time to do, but I figured I should just go and see Dr. Deans so she could give me a clean bill of health.

They squeezed me in within a few minutes. Dr. Deans took a look, felt around a bit, and suggested I get an X-ray because "things feel kinda loose". Down to the radiology clinic I went, where they took three views of my hand. Then back upstairs, where I was put in a room to wait for the results. Ten minutes later, Dr. Deans burst in and said, "Well, it's a fracture, so we're gonna get you in to see the orthopedist today!"

Ah. I thought I would spend an hour or so with Dr. Deans then be sent on my way. I could see the day unraveling before my eyes. The orthopedist was over at Northgate, so I walked home, sent an email to my team that I would miss the next set of meetings, and then drove to Northgate.

Got to the office pretty early, and then started filling out page after page of new patient forms. It seems pretty cruel to make someone with a hand injury fill her name and address out 7 times. By the end, I wasn't even trying to make it legible anymore.

When I was taken back to the exam rooms, it turns out that, because I didn't carry an actual film x-ray (which had been done digitally in Ballard), they needed to take another set. (WTF?) Hopefully my insurance won't freak out about that. So I was sent over to have an additional set of x-rays taken. Awesome!

A few minutes later I met Dr. Scott Ruhlman, who confirmed the break by telling me I sure had done a good job on my finger. Of course, then he wanted to know just how I broke my finger, so for the umpteenth time I had to tell the story. (Dumb enough to break it, bad ass enough to straighten it, smart enough to take off my wedding ring...)

Dr. Ruhlman explained that I had a spiral fracture, which results in the ligaments in my finger slowly pulling the bones down toward the hand. What we needed to do is straighten out the finger, pin it in place, and let the bones heal. They happened to have an opening in their schedule for the next day, so I jumped on it. After all, who wants to wait a week to start getting healed? Besides, my mom was already in town, so she was able to stay overnight and take care of her little girl. :)

We decided there wasn't any point in trying to splint it overnight, so I walked out of the office with a big purple finger, and hurried in to the office for the afternoon.

Tuesday morning finger. Yep, still broken. 
Tuesday morning I got up early to finish a work project (score!) and then headed to the surgery center at 8am. More paperwork (of course!) but I was taken back to the pre-op area quickly. Got into my sweet gown, hairnet thing, and slipper socks, and waited. Oh, I also wrote my initials on my hand where I wanted them to operate. I LOVE THAT.

After a while Dr. Ruhlman came out to say hello, talk me through the operation, and answer any questions. He was going to try not to need an incision, but use x-rays and pins through the skin. (To be honest, I don't remember if this is what he did. Hey, I was doped!) He also told me he was going to do a Bier Block, which would numb my arm from mid forearm down, rather than just numb the finger.

Then I met the anesthetist, who told me he would give me a "slug of drugs" which would make me really relaxed so that I wouldn't feel the needles when they numbed my arm, but wouldn't knock me out. Of course, remember very little after I walked into the operating room and climbed on the table... other than meeting the nurses and explaining to the anesthetist why Brooks shoes were the best running shoes. Yeah, that's me, always working!

Then I was waking up ... seemingly mid-sentence with the anesthetist. He told me I chatted throughout the surgery. What on earth do I talk about???

I went into the recovery area and sat for a while. Dr. Ruhlman came out and said it went really well; a nurse brought me some saltines and apple juice (manna from heaven!); and my mom came back and hopefully did a better job of listening to the pot-op instructions than I did.

On the way home I picked up some percoset at Bartells... which I don't like much because it makes me feel queasy. I spent the afternoon trying to take it easy.

The first night was strange; while feeling came back pretty quickly to my pointer finger and thumb, my middle finger and pinkie were just dead meat. Well, not quite dead meat, because I could move them... but I couldn't feel anything. I remembered a colleague -- no stranger to finger surgery -- say that one of the possible side effects of a Bier Block was nerve damage, so I kept lying in bed worrying that I couldn't feel anything and trying not to cry. Of course, the numbness in those fingers also meant that my ring finger was numb... which means I didn't have any pain.

Went in to the office yesterday and almost immediately regretted it. But I was able to interview one candidate for a position and check in with my team, so it was worth it... Oh, and Jana introduced me to the Geico "Hump Day" commercial, so it was TOTALLY worth it. :) But I only held out till noon, when I headed home to work from the couch.

The feeling didn't fully come back to my fingers until this morning, though I still don't have much pain in my ring finger. Hopefully I am past the worst of it!

A few random thoughts: 

The only really good thing is that, since I already hit my out-of-pocket maximum for my insurance this year, I am not going to pay a couple of grand for a moment of folly. 

Percoset makes me break out in a sweat about an hour after I take it. Why is that?

I was really afraid that I would lose sensation in my fingers forever. 

Camels are inherently funny.

Forty-eight hours later and my hand is still quite swollen, I haven't managed to get the "iodine" off my fingers, and I am already bored of the splint. 


  1. Dr. Ruhlman is Eric's orthopedist, too! He does good work.

    I'm glad you are on the mend. At least the Bubble Run next month won't be a contact sport. :)

  2. Most unusual 'how I broke my finger" story I have ever read! And what are "pot-op" instructions?