For the first time in my almost 32 years I had to visit A&E, I was at my new house trying to undo a package that was secured with zip ties, with a knife. It slipped and as my hand was downrange I stabbed/impaled my left index finger with the knife. It didn't hurt at all at the time, I just remember seeing the blood and thinking "oh shit" and "that's a lot of blood", I walked fairly swiftly into the kitchen from the garage and stuck my finger under the tap to clean it. It was still bleeding a lot, so I wrapped it in a clean dishcloth I had and applied pressure. That's what I know from first aid courses I've been on. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding. So not only had I sprayed water all over my new (to me) kitchen when investigating some piping under the kitchen sink, I have now dripped blood everywhere. As I was alone (I had gone there to pick some bits up before meeting my friend that was visiting town, then we were going to go visit our mutual friend for a curry night), I tried to call my dad. For the second time in my life that I've had to call my dad when I was in a bind he didn't pick up.. (the first time I got crashed into, in my first car). So he got 3 missed calls and about a 3 minute blank voicemail whilst I had to put the phone down to deal with the immediate bleeding issue. I tried ringing the home phone and that did get answered. Once I had communicated that I had to go to A&E and he was on his way, I finally got to sit down (in a camping chair since no actual furniture yet..). At this point I actually got cold sweats, I imagine from shock, though I didn't feel too faint. I normally don't like blood at all, and it will make me feel faint. I had also downed about 2 cans of fanta as I just needed something cold. I think the having to deal with the bleeding issue had starved off the feeling faint etc. I was in the "oh shit I need to do something" zone and that lasted until I got to sit down and wait for help.
Once my dad turned up (about 20 minutes later), the first thing he did was go wipe up all the blood in the kitchen.. didn't ask how I was! Then it was into the car and onto A&E. He dropped me in the road outside, so I had to walk in. First I was met with big signs about Covid, then when I talked to reception they asked me if I have have had a recent cough or a fever (not the best time to need healthcare..). Then they asked why I need care, then I was asked to sit down and wait. It wasn't that busy in the waiting area (it was a Sunday evening) and it wasn't long until I was called to the assessment room, so they could triage me. They asked what I had done, and when I said I had cut myself with a knife they asked if I'd cut anything off.. "I'm pretty sure it's all there" I said. They said I had done a good job with my emergency dishcloth bandage to stop the bleeding. They also asked if I wanted it back, to which I declined. They bandaged my hand up and sent me back to reception to wait for someone to see me. Again it didn't take too long for my name to get called, and for me to go through the door to the actual A&E side. Which is good as my hand was still leaking and the bandage was starting to turn pink.
The nurse guided me to a treatment bay and asked me to sit on the bed so she could clean the wound and have a look. She also commended me on my emergency dishcloth bandage for stopping the bleeding. She was like "Wow, you've certainly done a good number on this, it looks almost like a puncture wound" at this point I did start feeling faint and had to lie down. The wound didn't actually hurt that much until she started spraying saline solution into it to clean it up. She steristriped my finger back together and bandaged my hand up all neatly. When she was doing the assessment we did find out that there was some numbness on the side of my finger that pointed to nerve damage. So she phoned the hand specialists in Oxford. They wanted an X-Ray, so my nice bandage had to be cut off, and an X-Ray taken. Thankfully the X-Ray showed no damage to my bones. I was re-bandaged up, and then within 3 hours of stabbing myself I was discharged with a course of antibiotics to take for 7 days (3 of the biggest tablets I've ever had, per day), and an appointment at the hand specialists in Oxford the next day. I also missed curry with my friends.
The next day I was driven to Oxford by my dad for the appointment with the specialists. Again there was a bit of waiting around, before I my name was called. I sat in an armchair in a curtained enclosure whilst a nurse cut my bandage off, I could then see my damaged finger all steristiped together. Again I felt faint and had to have some water. The nurse also got my dad so he could come sit with me which was nice. After another period of waiting a consultant doctor came to inspect my finger. He made me move it lots and push and pull against his finger, which was fairly painful as it pulled against the cut that was starting to heal together. But whilst he was happy with my finger movement, he wasn't with the numb bit on my finger. It was nerve damage he said as had probably severed the tube the nerves are in, and that I would have to have surgery to fix it. If I didn't have surgery then there was a risk that the nerves would regrow in the wrong place and it would be very painful. So I signed the consent form, and they would call me the day before my surgery but couldn't tell me when it would be. Hopefully within a week. I also got a tetanus top-up jab.
That was Monday. On Tuesday I got a call that my operation was to be the next day and I had to be there at 8am. I also couldn't eat anything past midnight (I had a cheese and pickle sandwich around 7pm), or drink anything past 6am. Other than some water with my antibiotic tablet. Once there I checked in with the nurses, then it was some more waiting in reception. Then I was was taken through to the ward. They took my weight and gave me a robe and socks, but said I don't need to change into them until it was my time. Then it was more waiting. First the Anaesthesiologist came to see me to discuss what kind of anaesthesia I was to get. I said I don't particularly want to go to sleep with a general and he said a regional anaesthetic would be fine. Where he would just make my whole arm numb so I couldn't feel anything but I'd still be awake whilst they were operating. This was still much preferable to me than being knocked out. I've had a general before when they put a camera in my lungs as a child (at the same hospital actually) and all that I remember is being in a room with doctors etc before it, and then in a ward eating a cheese sandwich afterwards.. I don't really want to experience that again just because the whole going to sleep til it's done and not knowing weirds me out. After his visit there was more waiting, then the surgeons came around to discuss the surgery with me, and what they would be doing. They then marked my arm with a sharpie to point to what was being operated on.
So Left index finger, then a dot on the finger as well. Then it was back to waiting. A lot of waiting it turns out. They came around at about 10am, and I didn't get collected for surgery until 4pm. As I didn't sleep that well and I had to get up early to be there for 8am I spent most of the day napping. I was also very thirsty since I hadn't drunk any water since I had at my tablet around 6am..
Eventually I heard my name being discussed and the nurse came to see me, then I had to change into my robe and some compression socks. Putting socks on one handed is very hard, especially so when they are compression socks.. Turns out the socks are only needed if you are having general, but as my consent form listen general as well as regional I needed them. I was then wheeled to theatre, or rather the pre surgery room where there either numb you up or put you to sleep. They did put a cannula into my hand and give me a sedative but I didn't feel too much different so I guess it just took the edge off. The Anaesthesiologist then whipped out the biggest needle I've ever seen (it must have been like a foot long) and started injecting my armpit (with the help of an assistant) with drugs to numb up my arm. He was using what looked like an ultrasound to see where my nerves were then was injecting the drugs near them. I didn't look too closely even though I still had my glasses on. I just stared at the ceiling. A couple of times he poked too close and it made my arm spasm. It wasn't too painful, just a very weird feeling. This took around 20 minutes and once it was done and my arm was suitably numb I was wheeled into the theatre.
Once I was in, I had to shuffle myself onto the operating table. This is where it got a bit surreal for me. The Surgeons started to prepare for surgery, they covered my arm with a sheet and put it up against my face, which is fine since I was definitely not looking in that direction anyway. I was looking at the wall where there was a clock and a bunch of other medical stuff. I could also see the Anaesthesiologist who would be monitoring me, as well as the heart rate/blood oxygen meters etc. He did speak to me a fair bit to put me at ease, his assistant also talked to me about my hobbies and what food I liked to cook to take my mind of it. The surgery took about 40 minutes. I didn't feel any pain, I only felt some movement. The surreal bits where mostly when they were looking for my nerve tube to sew it back together "Where is it? I've found the bad boy!" and that they were just shooting the shit about life and what they were currently watching on Netflix to each other just like I would with my colleagues. Except they were poking around inside my finger instead of fixing some janky webserver issue. Once they had sewed my nerve tube back together and sewed my finger back up/bandaged it up a lot, I was wheeled to the recovery room. Here I finally got to have some water, as well as just relaxing and lying down whilst they took my vitals until I reached a stage where they where happy to wheel me back to the ward.
It was 2 hours between leaving the ward and returning, so I spent nearly an hour in the recovery ward being monitored. Though it didn't feel like that at all. My arm was very much still numb. The nurse also removed the cannula which was the most painful part of the whole ordeal as it took a bunch of hand hair with it. I had been told that my arm would be numb for a while, I would be able to move it at the elbow around 9pm at night, but I wouldn't be able to move my fingers until around 10am. Getting dressed with a completely numb arm is interesting. Before I was allowed to leave the hospital I had to drink something, eat something, and go to to the toilet. I had a cup of tea, a cheese and pickle sandwich (clearly cheese sandwiches are linked to me having anaesthetic..) and a pee. Turns out buttoning up jeans with one working hand is very hard.
Having a fully numb arm from the shoulder down is weird. It's also very heavy and you have to move it around with your other hand. As described, around 9pm at night I could move my arm at my elbow, but when lying down I discovered that I could move my arm towards me but I couldn't move it back as it was too "heavy" but if I was sat up then gravity helped out. I woke up at 9:30am but still couldn't move my fingers. I slept a bit more and then about 11am I could wiggle them bit. In all it took about 30 hours for the numbness to completely wear off.
Then it was just more life with a hand in a bandage, like showering with a gallon ziplock bag over it. I did buy a cheap foam sling on Amazon and it made it more comfy for things like car journeys. It's very hard to do things one handed. Getting dressed is a chore, putting on socks especially so. I had to have my dad tie my shoelaces for me, and I bought my first pair of jogging trousers simply as they don't have buttons. I also had some interesting nerve developments, like when I brushed my arm against a hot radiator in the bathroom and it made my arm spasm like I had been shocked.
After 7 days I had another appointment to get the bandage removed. The nurse cut it off and I took one look at the damage and felt all faint and had to have some water and lie down again. I'm not good with injuries. Normally I would have had some hand therapy to help me heal from it, but due to the cononavirus issue I was given a leaflet, and told probably wouldn't be able to use my hand properly for a few weeks. It's now exactly a month from my surgery and my stitches have all dissolved/come out, I'm just left with a pretty gnarly scar.
I have about 80% movement in my finger compared to before the accident, but the side of it from the cut to the tip is still numb. It will take months for the feeling to come back completely, if it does at all. The nerves regrow at about 1mm per day. For a few weeks after the surgery I would get pins and needles feelings in my finger if I extended my arm too much, and if I poked the top of my palm below my finger, I could feel it in my finger tip.. but the weird nerve shit has mostly subsided now.
If I reach for something at an odd angle, or over exert my finger I get some weird sensations. I also can't yet use my finger like before, It's also very sensitive, which should reduce over time helped by inducing sensations onto it as per the leaflet I was given. Holding things is also interesting with the numb bit as you have lack of feedback. On the plus side we have been in lockdown so I've not needed to drive to do too much.. I can type with more than one hand now though which is handy for work! From what I've read online it can take from 6 to 8 weeks from surgery for it to be healed enough there is no pain, and can do stuff more normally. So that's 2 weeks to a month away for me. I'm very thankful for the great service the NHS provided, they fixed me up in no time from A&E to the specialist to surgery, all within 4 days. I'm definitely more aware of what I'm doing now with sharp things, and my friends are too, as they don't want to "Craig" themselves.