Friday, December 19, 2008

The Hand Chronicles

Well, this has certainly been one of the worst weeks ever! On Tuesday, Michael called me before I left work to let me know that he was at the emergency room after having sliced his finger on a table saw at work. I asked him how bad it was and he didn't think it was that bad. Oh, but it was. And while some of you may think a cut thumb is nothing to freak out over, you try taping your thumb down and going a day without it. There's a reason Mother Nature gave us opposable thumbs; it ain't brains that put us at the top of the food chain, folks.

WARNING: DETAILS IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH MAY INDUCE SQUICKY FEELINGS OF DISGUST AND NAUSEA. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A STRONG STOMACH BUT LIKE TO PUNISH YOURSELF, CARRY ON, BY ALL MEANS, DON'T LET ME STOP YOU. BUT DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU. OTHERWISE, SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH TO CONTINUE!

After the people at the ER got him cleaned and looked at the wound, they informed Michael that the tendon was sliced pretty bad and referred him to surgeon. He didn't slice the tendon from the side, but rather longitudinally, meaning it's still attached, but we don't know how much. A saw blade is not like a knife blade and the cut itself is rather shredded. Some of the skin had been hanging a bit and had lost some of it's blood supply and the ER staff decided to stitch it up too. Since then though, it has not regained any color, which means it may be dead. Fun.

So after having his hand cleaned and sewed up, Michael called his dad to tell him about the accident. They got to talking and decided that it was strange Michael was referred to a plastic surgeon and not a hand specialist. Papa Guerra called up a retired hand surgeon friend of his (I'm still amazed at all the people my father-in-law knows even after all these years!) who recommended a doctor to us that had studied under the same doctor he did.

Off we went to visit with this doctor who literally poked Michael's thumb and then declared that we were going to have to operate. We were floored. Both of us have never had surgery and this doctor, whom Michael affectionately refers to as Dr. Ass Clown now (his real name is Dr. Ira Lown), did nothing to ease our fears about the procedure or what would happen. He never even looked us in the eye and we had to ask questions that we felt we shouldn't have had to, like 1) who will perform the surgery, 2) where will it be 3) what's involved 4) will Michael be put under, etc. His attitude was cold and uncaring, his bedside manner was lacking and we felt that we were nothing but an inconvenience to this man.

We both left in tears, feeling anxious and upset. Michael called his dad to let him know what happened who then called his hand surgeon friend, who was like, "Ah, HELL no!" (Ok, maybe he didn't say that exactly, but he felt terrible about having recommended such a jerk to us) He asked to meet with us the next morning to discuss the situation and help us find another surgeon. We met with the fella the next morning in a coffee shop and immediately he did all of the things that Dr. Ass Clown should have done but didn't. He conducted some flexion tests and a pin test to see what Michael could still feel in his thumb and then explained to us the best and worst case scenarios. He also explained how the muscles and tendons in the arm and hand and thumb work together and what it looked like underneath the skin. And to top it off, he used Papa Guerra's computer to find another surgeon and then called the office to schedule an appointment as a professional courtesy!!!

Needless to say, this was much needed. We met with the other doctor, Dr. Sanjay Sharma, this morning and he was WAAAAAY better than Dr. Lown. He explained things to us, and after conducting several tests and looking at the injury in depth, decided that he wanted to see how much the wound would heal on it's own before rushing into surgery. THIS was very welcome news to us as we were looking at a 6-8 week recovery time for Michael, which is not a good thing right now. As it is, the longer Michael is out of work, the longer he goes without a paycheck which is not good for us, especially since we just moved and Christmas is next week.

Dr. Sharma also sent us to a hand therapist who made a special brace for Michael to wear to prevent him from moving his thumb back accidentally and to help keep the thumb slightly flexed. We also have stronger antibiotics since it started to look like the wound was getting infected.

Things are looking up, but it's still iffy since we have to wait until the 30th for the final verdict on surgery. In addition, with Christmas coming, things are a little tight, but we're going to see what we can do about working some Christmas miracles in the meantime. We are incredibly thankful towards "Uncle" Jim Pedicano, who has been instrumental in making this hand we've been dealt (ha ha!) much more bearable and more informed. On a side note, I am now three degrees of separation from the famous Oscar Brockett, writer of the Theatre History textbooks that every college theatre program uses, as Uncle Jim is married to the man's daughter. That bit of info is going in the vault :o)

We'll keep you all posted on the outcome as we hear it and thank you in advance for any and all prayers, well wishes, and happy thoughts sent our way!

Peace,
Kelly and Company

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