*Caution Graphic images* Dodgy fingers update! – ***Caution do not read or open if squeamish***

Hopefully the right pic now!

Amputation of fingertips

As it looks now As it looks now

It’s 4 months now since I chopped off the ends of two of my fingers with a hedgecutter.  The hedges are coming down in my garden and I am replacing with fencing! :), I still have a recurring nightmare where I look down and see the end of my finger hanging off, and have a strong aversion to hedgecutters now!  Lots of people have been asking for an update on how my fingers are doing, so here it is.  See below for a current picture and what it was like before.

As it looks now As it looks now

Warning do not look at if squeamish Warning do not look at if squeamish

The less badly hurt finger is almost normal now, with just a little bit of scar tissue and a lump on the end, and a tiny bit of numbness.  The worst finger which had virtually no nail left and an inch missing from the…

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*Caution Graphic images* Dodgy fingers update! – ***Caution do not read or open if squeamish***

As it looks now
As it looks now

It’s 4 months now since I chopped off the ends of two of my fingers with a hedgecutter.  The hedges are coming down in my garden and I am replacing with fencing! :), I still have a recurring nightmare where I look down and see the end of my finger hanging off, and have a strong aversion to hedgecutters now!  Lots of people have been asking for an update on how my fingers are doing, so here it is.  See below for a current picture and what it was like before.

As it looks now
As it looks now
Warning do not look at if squeamish
Warning do not look at if squeamish

The less badly hurt finger is almost normal now, with just a little bit of scar tissue and a lump on the end, and a tiny bit of numbness.  The worst finger which had virtually no nail left and an inch missing from the end also looks pretty amazing considering!  It does still hurt quite a bit, and its shorter than it was before, and straight across rather than having a nice rounded tip, but its “really quite impressive” as the hand surgeon said.  Even more impressive he said is that my fingerprint is also coming back, which doesn’t often happen.  He informed me I should not commit any murders as “you won’t get away with it now!”  Not that I was planning to do any!   It is still painful and numb on the end, with a raised lump of scar tissue and swollen nerve tissue on the side of my finger. Sometimes I forget that if I even slightly touch it it really hurts, and last week I ended up jumping around in the supermarket when i accidently used that finger to select the banana picture on the weighing scale in the supermarket!  Resulting in a bit of jumping around and some funny looks!  If I compare it to the same finger on the other hand it is shorter than that one, but still no one would notice unless they looked closely, and the nail has completely grown back so looking at the finger from that side you wouldn’t really know.  I still type with that finger stuck up in the air at the moment!  I have to gently tap the end of the finger daily and massage it to help desensitize it.  Apparently nerve damage can take up to a year to get better.

So I can only emphasise again the benefits of moist wound healing and hydrocolloid dressings for a pretty quick recovery.  Whilst a bit expensive, it was worth it as the nail grew back 40% quicker giving protection to the injured finger underneath.

I count myself very lucky to have had such a good hand surgeon, and lucky that I didn’t need a skin graft as was first thought.  Having done several food and nutrition courses in the past alongside my reflexology training, I am sure that eating a really good diet with lots of protein, vitamin e, and healthy fats also helped the skin to regrow.  As soon as the skin had grown over the wound, I searched on the internet about healing of scars.  I found that many extolled the virtues of rosehip oil. Even scars that were over 20 years old showed marked improvement after using Rosehip oil.  Rosehip oil was found to regenerate the skin, and reduce scars.   I found that Neals Yard, Wild Rose organic Beauty Balm, described as a one pot multi use wonder balm, really helped to keep it moisturised and helped the healing process, and I am sure has helped with skin formation as it is high in vitamins and fatty acids.  I have been massaging my finger as instructed daily with the balm.  So I am now definitely  encouraging others to buy it to help with wound healing as well.  https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/deborahallan   In addition I took Gingko which helps to give good circulation to the extremeties. I hope all this info helps someone else who injures themselves, or had some old scars.

I would also like to say thanks to all my friends who have been amazing helping me when I couldn’t do anything, and for everyone that has asked how I am doing.  Thanks to all of you 🙂

Bus journeys and the passengers who made me laugh!

I am sort of getting to grips with bus timetables, I seem to have some sort of mental block with them and find them very confusing.  Maybe its sub conscious because I don’t really want to use them, having been so used to a car for years.  But anyway the journeys make for some interesting happenings!  Today I need to go to Hedge End, there is no direct bus, so I have to go from  Totton to Southampton, then get another bus from Southampton to Hedge End.  This journey would normally take me 20 minutes, but it will take me instead one hour and twenty minutes!  mmm!  So I get on the first bus, and the bus driver is lovely.  He asks me all about my injury and then says “no, don’t tell me anymore I feel queasy”!.  We get to West Quay, where the bus terminates and he tells me to wait.  All the passengers get off, and he takes me to where I need to go to get a bus to Hedge End, just me on the bus!.  How lovely is that!  He tells me the number of the bus I need to get and wishes me a lovely day.  The kindness of strangers again!  I am then left waiting for the next bus to Hedge End which is 20 minutes away.  A lady asks me what bus she needs to get to Woolston.  Well its no good asking me is it!, I have absolutely no idea, being a complete bus novice until the last week or so!  I explain I am not familiar with bus routes and normally drive.  She asks me what I have done to my fingers.  I tell her the story of the hedgecutter!  I think I must now have repeated this at least 150 times or more.  The lady is not English, I am not sure what nationality she is but her English is not that good, but certainly much better than any foreign languages I can manage.  She replies “Nooooo, you should not be doing this DIY”!.  “There you are being a good lady trying to get your jobs done, and look what happens, you do this, this is not good, DIY is not good!!”.  “You don’t want to be doing this, you need to get a man to do it for you, get that man indoors on to it”  I explain there is no man indoors!  🙂  But I am not sure she understood quite what I was saying. She is very enthusiastic in insisting I never ever do this again, I reassure her that as I have a reoccurring nightmare about it now anyway, I won’t be doing it again, but will pay someone instead.  She says she hopes it all gets better soon, and jumps on the next bus.  I am left laughing and smiling to myself like a mad person!

The next bus driver is not so happy, he sighs and tuts about me not having the right money! I didn’t know you were supposed to have the right money, I am just an idiot newbie! I tell him I am an idiot newbie, but  he is clearly miserable and has a face like a wet weekend!  I try to smile and cheer him up but he is having none of it!  The complete opposite of the other bus driver in every way! Just another day on a bus!  So to any bus drivers reading this, just remember this may be the first bus someone has caught in a very long time, they may not no the system, they may be an idiot, but don’t treat them like one!

My fingers are throbbing a bit now, having seen the Hand Surgeon again last week.  He was concerned that my worst finger was not healing too well, so I had to go and see him.  Another local anaesthetic was put in my finger, ouch those hurt so much 😦  He waits for it to go numb, and then after a bit when he clearly thinks it should have gone numb, he squeezes the end of my finger!  It is not numb!  I shoot out of the chair about 2 foot!  making him and the nurse walking through jump out of their skins.  Oh my god that flipping hurt.  “So its not numb then?” he says.   “No, its definitely not numb”, I reply.  We do laugh about it, but I think it might be hysteria on my part!  Eventually it is numb and a lot of dead skin needs to be removed, I don’t look.  I can feel a lot of pressure but no pain.  The hand surgeon says having removed a lot of dead tissue he is now a lot happier, because he can see some new skin forming underneath, but its going to throb again for a few days 😦

At least there is new skin forming! I wish it would just hurry up and get better. I am not sure I like my changed lifestyle!

The curiosity of random strangers

Its amazing how life can change in a blink of an eye.  I wonder if I had cut my hedges on the Sunday as I originally planned instead of the Saturday whether I may not have cut my fingertips off!  It’s a bit like that film Sliding Doors, is everything that happens pre-destined or not?  According to some it is.  But anyway for the time being some things have to change.  No driving :(, this is a struggle having been reliant on a car since I passed my test at 17.  I don’t even know how to catch a bus!,  Well that has lead to the use of public transport and the usual delays with trains etc. I realise how rubbish the timetables are and some journeys which would take 15 mins by car, take 2 hours because there is no direct train or bus! No shopping with my car – I have to start doing my grocery shopping online.  Its a whole new world!  I end up ordering the wrong sizes of things and stuff I don’t normally buy! The delivery driver that comes to deliver my shopping asks me what I have done, and then tells me in graphic detail all about how his friend blew the end of his finger off with a firework!  He then passed out so was not much help to his friend! I have to go to the hairdressers to get my hair washed, and the lady there shows me her finger which she cut the top off when she slammed it in a door!  Everywhere I go people tell me their injured finger stories.  It’s also really strange that random strangers are so interested in my bandaged fingers!  I frequently get asked when I am out and about by people I don’t know, what I have done. They all have a fingertip story to tell!  Kitchen mandolins seem to feature frequently, as do wood saw’s and power tools.  Be warned!

I am contacted for a reflexology appointment.  I explain I won’t be able to do this for a while, and my customer tells me how she cut the end of her finger off on a sharp children’s slide when young.  Ouch!  She texts me a picture, I had never noticed her finger before, it only has a small nail and not a complete one.  I am reassured that people are not really that observant of these things when the bandages are gone.

My friends come to take me out for some food.  I have to go for the soft menu choices as I can’t use a fork to hold anything! So mashed potato and fish it is!  It takes me a lot longer to eat than normal.

I pop into the supermarket for just a few things I have forgotten on my shopping order.  I am standing in the queue when I see a guy looking at my hand.  He is in the queue in front of me.  He waits until I have paid for my shopping then offers to carry my bag for me!  Its got hardly anything in it and I can manage it with my good hand, but I don’t like to say no, as he is being kind.  He asks me how I have injured my fingers.  By the time this is over I think I will need a board on my chest with the details “chopped off fingertips with hedgecutter” , so I don’t have to keep repeating myself!  The random kind stranger carries my bag to the exit for me, and is then going a different way to me.  He tells me how he once injured his foot!  At least this story is slightly different!  He wishes me well with my recovery and is on his way.

I think this experience is definitely making me more sympathetic to those people that are at home all the time with no one to talk to. I have done some voluntary work before, and this makes me think I will do some more in the future to help people who can’t get out and about and need help with everyday things we usually take for granted.

The Kindness of strangers and friends

I’m so lucky that I’ve had a lot of friends and my parents coming over and helping me do things. I am surprised by the number of things that are difficult, I can’t hold jars or grip anything with my left hand so that I can open them, I can’t hold anything with my left hand to chop it to cook. There are a lot of things that are really hard like getting dressed and trying to get my hand through sleeves, tying laces.  All of a sudden you realise how important your fingers are. It also makes you appreciate what disabled people have to put up with all the time, and mine is minor in comparison. My mum has to wash my hair for me. Styling my hair has gone out of the window, its the wash and go look now! My friends have been picking me up and taking me out, buttering my bread for me, and all kinds of silly everyday things we take for granted 🙂  I have had flowers, get well cards, fresh fruit all chopped up ready for me to eat, and been very well looked after. 🙂

My neighbours have been brilliant, all offering their help, and one in particular, making me a curry, then a chilli, and a chocolate cake!  It’s amazing having so many people that are willing to help me out. It would be really hard to survive if it was just me. I am genuinely very surprised and grateful at how kind people can be, even strangers.  I have had doors opened for me, my coffee carried to my table for me, the list goes on.  When we hear all the bad stuff on the news all the time it makes you realise how inherently good and caring people most people are on a general everyday level.

I don’t know if it is something to do with fingers being so sensitive or the fact they are more on show but its amazing how enthusiastic the support has been, I have had other quite bad injuries in the past without so much help. But there weren’t the same graphic photos of the injury to show!. Of course, all injuries are bad, but I think there is something about finger injuries that make people cringe, judging by their facial expressions when I tell them what I’ve done!  Their lips purse together, their faces screw up, and ouch or ooh is the common expression!

I am still keeping my fingers up in the two finger salute!  If they move below the level of my heart each heartbeat is like a little painful twitch in my fingers.  Anything such as walking or getting the heart rate up, and the throbbing is there. I can see I will be unfit by the end of this as I am not doing much of my normal exercise.

To start with I struggled to do my dressings twice a day and to look at it. it’s really not for the squeamish. I have trouble even looking at some of the photos I have to send to the hand surgeon, and it’s my fingers!  But now I am getting used to it a bit more.  It has to be done, so I just get on with it. I guess I get to see the healing process along the way.

There is a continuous tingling and heat sensation in my fingers along with occasional sharp pains like getting a needle poked into it! All part of the healing process I guess.

Moist Wound Healing & the two finger salute!

When I see the hand surgeon I am advised of the benefits of moist wound healing to speed up the recovery of my fingers.  So for any of you out there who may have injured yourself, I can definitely recommend it, and the dressings don’t stick and have to be soaked off like normal dry dressings which just causes more pain.  I can’t say that i was aware of this, or certainly only vaguely in the back of my mind do I remember reading about this, and previously had been advised to let wounds dry out, which is not the best method.

Moist Wound Healing has actually been around since the 1960/70s, when it was proven that there is a 40% shorter healing period with wounds healed in a moist environment compared to a dry gauze dressing or letting the wound dry out and form a scab.  The scab is just the bodies way of preventing environmental hazards entering the wound.  Scab formation delays the healing process.  Instead a simple barrier such as vaseline over the wound, or a specialist dressing, such as Jelonet dressing gives a barrier, keeps the wound moist and stops the formation of a scab and  there is much less scarring at the end.  Just a plaster or dressing is needed over the top of this.  The liquid secreted from the wound apparently contains a number of  agents which support a successful healing process. If the wound dries out this doesn’t happen.   Modern materials used for wound dressing  are designed to promote the moist wound environment. First clinical studies performed during the 1970s document the healing time reduction with this method. Despite this, it took another 30 years for Dr’s to start to implement the moist healing into general medical practice, and the message is still not really getting out there. The main moist wound healing advantages are the 40% shorter healing period and a much lower pain factor.  However in the 1960’s/70’s they didn’t clean the wounds often enough, and left with a moist dressing infections got into the wounds.  All that was needed was simply to wash the wound with water twice a day, and reapply a moist dressing, instead of just leaving a moist dressing in place. Dr’s became concerned that moist wound healing lead to infection which wasn’t the case. This has stopped the adoption of  moist wound healing practice and set us back years.

There is documentation indicating that even the ancient tribes dressed their wounds to keep them moist with fine linen soaked in oil. The Greeks applied animal fat and wrapped the wounds, and the Romans applied ashes, oil and herbs and wrapped the wounds.  Clearly they knew a lot more than us!

Since then, multiple studies have established that a moist wound environment facilitates cellular growth and collagen proliferation. Dry wound tissue is more prone to infection, scarring, delayed healing and pain.  Having had a dry dressing put on at A&E for the first couple of days I can definitely say it was much more painful.  Once I saw the Hand Surgeon and was advised about moist wound healing, it was considerably  less painful and also you are not damaging the new cells forming by pulling off dry stuck dressings.  So I am very grateful I was advised about this by someone very knowledgeable, as I definitely think I will avoid any skin grafts with this method.

My fingers are healing slowly, but I realise because I am having to hold them up out of the way when typing and when doing lots of things due to them still being very painful, I am actually walking around giving a constant two finger salute! Looking a the urban dictionary of the two finger salute it can mean various things.  But I am going for a victory salute!!, and I shall be victorious over my injuries!

fingertip in dustbin!

After two days I am back to the hospital to see the Hand Consultant.  The nurse soaks off my dressings as they are all stuck!  It doesn’t look too good, and has gone black.  The Hand Surgeon takes one look at it, and says “I am really sorry, but the ends are dead the bits stitched back on have not re-attached and we will need to remove it, or the rest of the finger will just get infected”.  He tells me he will need to give me a local anaesthetic, which after the last one I am really not looking forward to!  But obviously all that training has paid off as it doesn’t hurt anywhere near as much as the one at A&E!  I comment on this, and the Hand Surgeon says” yes, we need to give the A&E staff a few injections in their fingers so they know how much it hurts!  There is a technique which makes it much less painful.”  My finger goes numb, and although I can’t feel anything hurting, I can feel the movement and sawing action!  The end of my worst finger is chopped off again, and I am trying not to look, but all of a sudden I see out of the corner of my eye, the chopped off bit being lobbed across the room in to the bin!  I mean I know its dead but it did seem a bit disrespectful to my fingertip and very unceremonious! 🙂 that fingertip has served me well for years! There is something quite odd about seeing bits of yourself getting thrown away. Judging by the amount of stories people keep telling me about their lost bits of fingers, I almost feel there should be a ceremony for them, or perhaps a cemetery!  The lost fingertips burial ground!

I am then advised on keeping the wound clean and using moist wound healing.  Wash off twice a day, apply vaseline to keep it moist and then cover it.  Lovely!  Keep it up for a couple of days again to stop bleeding and reduce swelling.

Off home I go, to start my regime for several weeks!

When I get home my boss contacts me about doing the payroll! Well it doesn’t matter if someone has died, you can’t see, or you have no fingers, people still need to be paid!  I can only type with one hand, but its very slow, and its very difficult if you need to use shift, alt, and ctrl doing it with the wrong hand!  Especially with the other hand up on the desk in the air to help stop the throbbing.  I realise there is going to be a lot I can’t do.  No driving, no reflexology customers, I have to cancel them all, and no restaurant reviews.  I also realise that all of my jobs involve a lot of use of fingers!  its going to be a long few weeks!  I wish I had looked after my fingers a bit better 😦

Off to bed and I have the same reoccurring nightmare, where I look down and see the top of my finger hanging on just by a thread!

Chop your fingers off and get a date?!

The first night and my fingers throbbed all night, the antibiotics and strong painkillers made me feel sick, and delight of delights I had to look forward to the task of changing my own dressings twice a day, just to make myself feel even worse by looking at it!  If I didn’t feel sick before I certainly did after!  I wasn’t given any dressings at the hospital (NHS cuts no doubt!), so thought I had better make a trip out to get some. Of course now I can’t drive so its walking everywhere. It’s amazing how difficult it is to get dressed, sticking your arm through your sleeves without actually touching your fingers is a work of art, and as for pulling up your knickers! Well!  With the use of only my right hand, they have to go up in stages, you pull up one side with the right hand, you lean across to the left and with the same hand, whilst trying not to bash the dodgy hand, you try and pull up the opposite side.  Its not easy, and those pants just don’t feel right all day!  I realise it will now take hours to get ready!  I can’t do my hair so just stick it up in a clip!  Glamour has gone out of the window. Even doing that with one hand is difficult.

Eventually I go out with my arm in my sling.  A guy cycles past me, turns round and comes back and says “what have you done to yourself?”  I explain I chopped the top of my fingers off whilst trying to cut the hedge.  After a sharp intake of breath, and a facial grimace which could out do gurning, he says “I think you should get your partner to do that for you”. Now if I had fancied him, I might have said I don’t have a partner, but I don’t say anything!  He then says “well if you need any help cutting your hedge I’m your man”.   To which I reply “my dad is going to sort it for me”!  He then tells me the story of his father in law who chopped off the end of his little finger whilst working at a saw mill, apparently only half of his nail now grows back.  Little do I realise that this is the start of the never ending stories about chopped off fingers, and the extreme facial expressions!

Bandages and sling

The Dr. said to me “grip my hand really tightly while we put the local anaesthetic in”,  so you just know its going to hurt a lot! which it did.  I said to the poor Dr afterwards, hopefully you won’t need hand surgery now as well for crushed bones!  My fingers are all cleaned up with saline, the hanging off nail removed, and all put back together.  I look over at my poor mum, who has suddenly gone very pale!  I said to the nurse “is my mum ok?”  “No she isn’t” she said, “quick head between your legs before you pass out”! Next minute my mum has ended up on the bed next to me, so there we are together!  Some time later after dressings, bandages etc my arm is put in a sling.  Then I have to wait for the prescription for strong antibiotics to be brought.  I am told I might need a skin graft if it doesn’t heal well.  Then out of nowhere, coincidentally, a specialist hand surgeon walks by, and seeing my hand all bandaged up asks me what I have done.  He talks to the nurse, and judging by their conversation it seems he is not hopeful the stitched back on bits will survive.  That is not what I wanted to hear!  He asks me to go to his clinic on Monday, so he can assess the damage.  He tells me to make sure I keep my arm up for  a couple of days to reduce swelling, pain and throbbing, and try to move and bend the fingers if possible.  I am sent home.

My mum has to clean up my kitchen when we get back, as blood was splattered everywhere where I went in to get the phone to call for help.  The garden and patio looks like someone has been murdered! Its like the chainsaw massacre.  I look on the internet for info on finger injuries. A common injury it seems.  Apparently Kirsty Allsopp has cut the very ends of hers off with a mandolin in the kitchen!

Even with painkillers it throbs constantly and I have no sleep that night, and how do you keep your hand up while you are in bed?!  Not looking forward to the prospect of having to change the dressings twice a day myself!