On September 1 I decided to bake a cake. The ingredients included chopped nuts. I used a food processor to chop the nuts and somehow also managed to chop right through my left index finger, slicing the nail into 3 parts, exposing the bone and, apparently, crushing the tip of the bone.
The blood started gushing out, and I immediately put my finger into my mouth. After a full minute I thought I should probably look at it. Where seconds before there had been a functioning body part there was now a mangled mess of flesh.
Mum was out shopping, so I grabbed my headset, my handbag and as an after-thought a cloth. There was no way that I could put pressure on the wound, but I was thankful that I had taken it later when I realized the cloth was drenched with blood.
I called mum and got a taxi to the hospital. I wasn’t in pain, I was in shock. The nurse took some pictures of my finger with his smartphone and sent them to the plastic surgeon, before sending me for an X-ray. The pieces of my nail was just sitting there, connected to nothing, but not removed either.
The surgeon came to see me and mum and explain what would happen next. He said that I should sleep in the hospital that night. The worst pain came from the disinfectant, I had to put my finger into this brown liquid for 15min, brown liquid with burned and hurt more than the actual injury.
The finger was bandaged and wrapped up all nicely to await the next day’s surgery. I had an uncomfortable night. Odd phrases kept coming back to me “finger reconstruction” “skin graft” “bone exposure” “physiotherapy” “crushed finger”. I fell into an uneasy sleep with strange dreams about shadows. The glass panel next to the door let in all the light from the hallway and the sleeping mask did not help.
The next morning I called the nurse and she wrapped my hand in plastic so I could shower. My room was a single room with a private shower. Very Dubai, more space and luxury than is actually needed.
I was wheeled into surgery and only remember waking up with a rather sore throat, due to the intubation. It gave my voice an excellent quality, I could sound like Fenrir Greyback from Harry Potter.
Checking out took longer than I ever thought. It was more than 3 hours after the surgeon had seen me and told me I was cleared to go home that I was finally able to leave. I had some hospital food, it was actually quite good, or I was just so hungry that I thought it was good…
I left with my arm in a sling and both my index and middle fingers wrapped in tight bandages. I don’t know why both fingers were wrapped together, I guess it was to keep the injured finger company. I also had a really large plaster on my thigh. This covered the area where they had cut some skin to reconstruct my finger.
The following Wednesday (7 Sept.) I went back to the hospital. The bandages were removed and my middle finger would no longer be wrapped up. New, loose bandages were placed over the wounded finger. The skin graft looked like a piece of chicken skin to me, but the doctor seemed pleased.
Another week later (14 Sept.) the metal wires which had insured my finger bones healed correctly, where removed and I was sent to physiotherapy. The finger wasn’t swollen, but it looked swollen due to the local anesthetic that the doctor had injected before pulling out the metal. The physio gave me “exercises”, yes, finger bending exercises. I couldn’t make a fist, I couldn’t bend the top joint of the finger, no matter how hard I tried. A few days later (17 Sept.) I could finally bend the finger a little further.
Without my finger, I could not cook or clean or vacuum or make my own bed. I could not cut my food, pour my water or do anything which I was so use to doing automatically. It felt weird asking for help for perfectly ordinary things, like making coffee.
Yesterday, some of the scabs and dead skin came off, revealing beautiful new pink skin under it. Still waiting for a new nail to start growing. The nail bed was totally destroyed by the food processor, so I really hope and pray that a new nail will grow again.
My finger will heal again, but this just gave me a fleeting glimpse of what it might be like when you injure yourself in a car crash or get an amputation. It’s weird, you know you’re hurt, but you still feel like living life as if you aren’t.