Today’s tale was brought to you because a young colleague ended up with graphite slivers in her finger. Her plan was to dig them out later and I was like NO. It doesn’t look like much but those slivers are nasty and they hurt significantly more than a wood sliver does.
Then I preceded to tell her the following story as a cautionary tale. It has a happy ending but it was kind of scary at the time. It’s ancient history though as our children would have been 4 and 6 at the time or so I believe.
To this day I have only a vague idea of what started the quick downward spiral but I do know it had a profound impact on me. As a cautionary tale it gives on pause for thought should they ever be in a similar situation.
After a small cut while camping (and yes I washed my hands) I ended up with a significant case of cellulitis and developed septic shock.
It was more like an abrasion than a cut and after I washed I never thought about it again. I was camping alone with my two young children. Funny I just remembered that I dropped the entire pot full of KD (an easy camp meal with two kids and no man to bank the fire) onto my sandals. We had toast with peanut butter and honey while waiting for daddy to arrive. Later on after the children were settled my finger started aching.
Which was when all the excitement started. Back in those days you could still drink in campgrounds. It was May long weekend and there was a plethora of teenagers. The night was wild and unruly and there were cop cars and broken glass and fights.
And my throbbing finger. Which definitely was feeling worse for wear. I tried to get my wedding ring off but by that point my hand was already too swollen. And red. Yes it was that as well.
Opening hour of the little hospital and I was registered. The doctor looked at it, said it was infected and gave me antibiotics. He told me to double dose for the day.
We spent some time at the beach but by mid afternoon I was feeling pretty crappy. We ran into a RN acquaintance and the discussion went that perhaps it was time to seek more medical attention. So I went and laid down in a friend’s camper while Ron packed up the tent and all the stuff. Our friends feed the kids. No one checked on me for what seemed like a long time. When Ron came back I could hardly stand and the swelling was part way up my arm as was the red steak. It was now getting scary and we were over an hour to the city.
My man drove like the driver in the Hot Rod Lincoln. I remember that the power poles were just flying by and that song lyric went into my head. His hope and desire was to find a police cruiser and get an escort to the hospital. We didn’t pick up any flashing lights in our rear view mirror and our children slept the whole way. I was too scared to fall asleep. By now my heart was absolutely pounding in my chest and my toes were starting to hurt.
I don’t remember a lot of the ER time but one clear memory was them cutting my ring off of my finger. I also recall that my blood pressure was like 76/48. The IV was slammed in and drugs started pretty darn quick. The next 8 hours are pretty hazy in my head.
We were so lucky that my cousin and her husband lived about 30 minutes away and they dropped everything to come pick up the kids. I have no idea if they took them to our house or theirs but I am sure at the time I was quite worried about them. I don’t actually remember them in ER coming to say good-bye and my recollection of Ron over that time period is pretty vague. I suspect maybe he stayed part of the night but I just don’t know. The pain was pretty intense in my arm and I’m pretty sure they snowed me with some kind of pain medication.
By mid morning the antibiotics were definitely having an effect. By mid afternoon I felt more human and less scared but the swelling wasn’t going anywhere. Early the next am we consulted with the plastic surgeon to explore the wound. I do remember the pain of this quite vividly. He picked out the tiniest piece of metal from my miniscule wound. Then I started to get better although I was in the hospital for several days of antibiotics. My IV went interstistial on the second day which was a blessing in disguise. I took that opportunity to have a shower before they started a new one. Remember we had been camping? Two days of laying in a hospital bed smelling like smoke is brutal. I only had one hand though as the other arm was quite swollen. My husband came into the shower with me and washed my hair and my body for me. The vows did say in sickness or in health and he came through with flying colours.
My cousin came to the house daily to look after the children and Ron went to work. She would meet him at the hospital at 5:00 with the kids and then go home. They would have a quick visit with me and then go home. I didn’t feel up to reading a book and the visitors were far and few between so they were very precious when they did show up. Someone arrived with a Subway sandwich for me which was like the best thing after a few days of hospital food. The best visitor though was my work friend Edith. She soaked my hands in kidney basins of warm water and cleaned my finger nails. She didn’t tell me at the time (she came to visit on day one) that my arm looked like I had necrotizing fascitis (flesh-eating disease).
One of our funniest family stories came out of my hospital stay. As previously mentioned the food is pretty crappy. Six-year-olds on the other hand are always hungry. Spencer asked if he could have some of my supper. He proceeded to eat the meat and potatoes. He then stated “those are the best potatoes mommy you should get the recipe”! They didn’t look or taste as good as the ones in the photo below!
I had to organize a quick OPD visit for a colleague last summer from a gardening scratch so he heard the tale. It’s long and had a happy ending but as a cautionary tale it is a good reminder to take care of those cuts, scratches and slivers.