Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chapter 2

So about ten minutes after I shut everything down the other night I realized that I hadn't said how I put my fingers in the saw, just the sound it made and the effect it had. Basically I wasn't holding the saw properly.

My left hand started out at the end of the saw then moved up towards the bar (the part that has the chain) and I ended up sticking my fingers in the exhaust for the wood chips.

Anyways, back to the story.

We walked into the ER at Stevens for my first trip ever only to find the place totally empty. I started to fill out paperwork but ended up having Brian do it for me. I could still write but I was so cracked out on adrenaline that I couldn't keep my hand still. As we were about to sit down and wait for me to be called I turned around to see my boss was already there waiting on us. She asked how I was doing and sat down with us while we waited for me to get called. This was to be the beginning of the onslaught of finger mangling stories I would soon be hearing. Probably 80 percent of the people I know have done semi devastating damage to their hands or fingers. Turns out my boss had actually had her thumb mostly severed by a malfunctioning bucket. I won't go into her story (she can write her own, this is about me) but needless to say I was much happier with some skin and meat gone from the ends of my fingers than have my thumb dangling by a shred of skin.

My name was called and I followed a nurse back to a little office where she checked my vitals and assessed my situation. As she was entering in my information we were chatting a little and I mentioned how dead the ER was today. "Lucky you" she replied. "Not exactly" I said as I held up my hand. She smiled politely but apparently didn't think my joke was very funny, go figure.

I went back out to wait with Brian and my boss for my name to be called. A few minutes later someone came to get me and took me back to the to a room that had three walls and a curtain. I thought for sure that for an injury as gruesome as mine they would want to shut the curtain to keep the faint of heart from seeing my mangled fingers but they didn't. In fact I thought it was funny how people that work there just came and went like it was just another day at the office (keep in mind this is my very first ER trip, in fact I'd only been in the ER area once before with Sarah when she sprained her wrist).

The doctor came in and took a look at my fingers then started gathering stuff to start the repairs. The first thing he did was give me a local anesthetic around the base of my fingers. I still wasn't in any pain at all but in order to the amount of stitching he had to do, I'd need it. The anesthetic turned out to be the second most painful part of this whole process (stay tuned, the number one will surprise you!). Then he started asking me questions, how did I do it, when was my last tetanus shot (which was forever ago), etc. While we were waiting for the anesthetic to kick in they gave me a tetanus booster and what was to be the first of many Vicodins.

After a little while longer he brought over a large syringe with a cup around the end of it to spray saline water into my cuts to clean them out. As he was doing this I realized that I could still feel him brushing against the wounds on my fingers. This was ultimately a good thing because it meant only a spot of my finger was going to be dead to sensation, not the whole thing. He was actually a little surprised I could still feel given the amount of damage to my middle finger. He gave me a test poke with the stitching needle and when I told him I could still really feel it he hit me hard with anesthetic again. After that we were in business. While I was waiting for him to get the rest of his stuff together I snapped a couple pics. In order to spare the faint of heart (sissies) I won't post my gory finger pics in the blog but I will put together a photo album I can update with pictures ( I take progress pictures every other day).

Right about the time he finished all his cleaning and waiting for the second round of anesthetic to really kick in Sarah and my mother showed up to see the damage. I was relieved that Sarah didn't kick my ass in the ER (she actually still hasn't *crosses fingers*) but I was really surprised both of them came back and took a good look at the mutilation.

He went to work on my pointer finger first because it was the least damaged of the two. There was basically just a gouge across the side. It's actually hard to say how many stitches he put in there but it was quite a few. When he was satisifed with the pointer finger he went to work on my middle finger. Let me tell you, he had his work cut out for him. Sarah and my mom left the hospital to go get my car from work about the time he was getting started on my middle finger and Sarah was back before he was done... it was bad. He started out by doing a few smaller stitches and after a few minutes informed me he was about to do his first 'anchor' stitch, the kind that would eventually close up the chunk of meat that was missing from my finger.

The ER doctors were all actually really cool. We joked around a little and he even made a little fun of a guy someplace else in the hospital that was moaning like a giant baby. I knew I was in good hands when they started taking bets on what was wrong with him and the guy stitching me turned out to be right. (he'd dislocated his shoulder in case you're wondering)

After the doctor was satisfied with his work he started talking about how much time off I'd need. Originally he only thought I'd need a couple days but while he was working on my middle finger he remarked how painful this was probably going to be and maybe I'd need three instead of two... great.

He sent an orderly in to wrap (the hell) out of my hand with more gauze, Ace bandages and two splints. They told the orderly or whoever he was to use some sort of gel thing that wasn't supposed to stick. I even specifically asked him, will this stick to my mess of a finger to which he replied no, absolutely not. More on that later.

The ER doctor disappeared for a little while during my bandaging and when he came back he had some good news. He had called a hand specialist for me, while the guy was in surgery, to see if he could see me the next morning. I kind of got the feeling he was calling in a favor but that could just be my inflated ego talking. At any rate he came back with a number to call at the specialists office and told me to call immediately when we got home. He said to tell them his name and that he had talked to the doctor directly and got the ok.

After that we were all set. By the time I came out of the ER Brian and my boss were already gone along with my mom and apparently my mother in law (she stopped by to see me but didn't want to see my fingers so she waited in the waiting area). I left the hospital all put back together with a prescription for 20 Vicidons and 40 Keflexes (an antibiotic).

We actually weren't at the hospital very long, I got there about 10:30 and we left about 1:00 so that meant it was lunch time. I was starting to get the munchies from the Vicidon so we went to Sarah's mom's house where she was nice enough to order us lunch.

I think I'm going to call it a night here folks. Don't think that because the main part of this tale is over that it's going to be boring now! The excitement is just beginning. Check back often!

Monday, August 31, 2009

This is an attempt...

I am going to try to give my account of the events that have happened to me in the past month... mainly my fingers being shredded by a chainsaw.

Obviously my fingers are getting better (I'm actually typing this, very slowly as opposed to hunt and peck with my right hand while my left hand whimpers in pain) but it still takes me a long time so my posts might be somewhat limited. If I keep up with this, the first one should be the longest one.

Since some people don't see me very often they probably don't know that I did this to myself. Hopefully this will catch you up to speed. If you heard the story you can read it anyways, I'm that interesting.

August 6, 2009 started out as a normal enough day at work. We had our morning break, had our regular discussion on how we would bring about world peace and then headed out to our first job of the day. Luckily for us the job wasn't ready. We were all pretty happy about this because it involved crossing highway 99 and setting up a ton of signs (for traffic control). We happily left, reveling in procrastination. Why do today what you can do tomorrow, plus as I said, it wasn't ready.

Off to Bothell we went for an ill-fated job on Lockwood road. Part of the reason we were so excited to work here instead of Lynnwood was because it meant a 'sign-cation'. For those not in the know this particular road was undergoing a widening thus requiring the utilities to move their plant back to accommodate the wider road and to do this they closed it.

I was feeling froggy so I decided to jump. I grabbed my harness and got in the bucket before my buddy Brian (a notorious bucket hog) could beat me to it. The transfer was easy enough to do before lunch but hard enough to be interesting I figured what the hell.

In order to begin the transfer I needed to top the pole (shorten the pole) so we could lift our line over the top and swing it to the pole about 10 feet behind it. In order to do this safely (har har) we make a cut about 3/4 of the way through the pole from one side and about the same from the other side about 4 inches below the first. This way the pole top doesn't fall until you break it away. I had just finished making my first cut and was about halfway across my second cut when the saw (electric) made an noise like it was bogging down then sped back up. It's hard to describe the sound, imagine the sound a table saw makes when it first comes into contact with wood. Unfortunately for me the sound the chainsaw made wasn't caused by wood, it was caused by a bad combination of glove/fingers.

Now the funny thing about this whole situation is I didn't even know what happened at first. I honest to God didn't even feel the chainsaw get me. That said, it didn't take long for me to figure out something wasn't right. Suddenly my fingers (the pointer and the middle) on my left hand felt like they had been stomped on. I stopped the saw and pulled my hand away only to find a hell of a mess.

Now I'm not one to panic but when you look down and see your precious left hand shredded things start to go through your head. It may be hard to believe but the first words out of my mouth were rated g. Thats right, I didn't even swear (swearing came later, and is still going for that matter) the first words out of my mouth was 'oh no' followed by 'OH NO!!!!!1!!!1!!1!!11!!!'.
I immediately began to boom down to the ground, repeating oh no over and over again. As I was making my decent Brian had noticed that something was wrong. Seeing my shredded hand and glove he deduced that I had cut my fingers off with the saw and immediately called 911.

For some reason contact with the ground freed up my mouth to become more creative with words to use, most of which I won't repeat here. As I got out of the bucket I pulled my glove off and threw it to the ground, I figured the longer I waited to pull it over my fingers, the worse it'd be. Dave, another one of my coworkers immediately started scavenging for a towel to wrap my fingers. The first thing he pulled out was a filthy dirty cloth... oh hell no, I wasn't bleeding to death. After further scrounging we found some clean paper towels and I wrapped my fingers and applied pressure (luckily I'm a first-aid savant).

Now if anybody reading this has ever been badly injured you know the feeling of adrenaline that comes along with it and let me tell you, I was juiced. Shane (another coworker) and Dave tried to get me to sit down while Brian went to look at the street signs for the ambulance. Anybody that knows me knows I'm a stubborn ass so I wouldn't sit down. Brian was just about done with the 911 operator and saw that I was still wandering around. If I said I didn't feel like a scolded puppy I'd be lieing, he made my ass sit down (he used to be a volunteer firefighter and knew better than to let me wander around).

So there I sat shaking with adrenaline and trying to keep blood out of the work truck. It suddenly dawned on me that an ambulance was actually coming, for me, and this wasn't a bad dream. About that time I heard the siren in the distance and wondered aloud to my coworkers why they had to drive up making such a fuss. Seconds later the ambulance arrived, lights flashing, sirens screaming all for little old me. As I looked up I saw every worker on that road stop what they were doing and look at me. I've never enjoyed being the center of attention and this was definitely no exception.

The EMTs came over and took the paper towels off giving me my first good look at my newly modified fingers. They took some gauze and wrapped both of my fingers individually then taped them together. From there I was escorted to the back of the ambulance to get my blood pressure taken. I don't know what it was but I imagine it was a little higher than normal.

As they were wrapping up their quick assessment of me they told me I'd need to go to the hospital. Ok I said in a daze.

"What hospital do you want to go to bud?"

No freaking clue. Up until this question I'd been very clear headed. I told them my full name, address, age, etc. without any problem but a hospital, come on. I've lived in this area for 17 years and at that moment I couldn't name a hospital in the world, let alone in Washington. About the time my brain was accepting I had to go to a hospital one of the EMTs suggested a coworker could just drive me. I don't think I have ever jumped on an idea that fast in my life.

When they were going to drive me the were going to make me lay down on the gurney and strap me in. That was just as humiliating as having the ambulance pull up on the job site. As I looked up I saw my wonderful coworkers taking my picture with their camera phones (aren't they wonderful) of me sitting in the ambulance, I didn't think they needed any more of a story to go along with the pictures.

Brian pulled the truck around and one the EMTs gave me a towel 'in case it leaks'... yum. I got into the truck and off we went to Stevens.

Now, about this point I decided I should probably call Sarah and let her know what happened. Being the sweet and loving husband I am I didn't want to panic her so I composed my voice the best a could (still juiced on adrenaline) and dialed the phone. Now, I didn't have a clue how I was going to tell her without freaking her out. Our conversation went something like this...

her: Hey you, how's your day going?

me: If I had to go to a hospital, which one would be the best to go to?

her: Stevens probably, why do you ask?

me: I kind of cut my fingers on the chainsaw at work.

her: WHAT!!?!!?!?

me: It's ok, the EMT said I'd need stitches. Brian's driving me there right now.

her: What? How bad? Do you want me to leave.... etc etc

At first I didn't want her to have to leave work. For those that don't know she works down in Bellevue and vanpools so it's not easy for her to get home in the middle of the day. After talking for a couple more minutes I decided it would probably be best to have someone with me to take me home, etc. Might as well be my wife right? She said she'd get a cab and be there as soon as she could.

After getting off the phone with Sarah I realized I had better call my dad and tell him before someone else from work did (we both work at the same place). I assured him I was fine and told him to stay at work and I'd be in touch with him later. After that there was only one more call to make to my mom. Luckily she was down near Bellevue and was able to pick Sarah up so she didn't need to get a cab.

Well folks, my finger is burning and tired so I"m going to wrap it up for tonight but stay tuned for tomorrows continuation of my harrowing story. More pictures to follow as well....