If you have just joined us, you can read Part 1 here
When last we met, I was headed out the door, more than a little afraid of what I was going to see. I can deal with a lot of stuff, but seeing people I love injured just about knocks me out, every time.
TW waved his "injured" hand at me. I gasped involuntarily... His finger - more accurately, the end of his finger - was bent over at an odd angle. What the hell? Dear God in heaven, I thought, He has somehow broken that finger...
Remember, Gentle Reader that TW is a *mechanic*. For a Really Big Airline. Without his hands - both of his hands - he almost cannot function at work. Prior to 9/11, there were "light duty" jobs - things that an employee who was recovering from an injury or surgery could do while recuperating, without fear that they might further injure themselves while trying to do their "regular" work. After 9/11, "light duty" mostly disappeared - another victim of the (many) cutbacks that the Really Big Airline has undergone in order to keep their planes in the air. If TW can't work... things are going to get really grim, really fast for us financially. My gut instinctively tightened as my mind raced through all of the possible consequences of what I was looking at.
I swallowed hard, and jumped into the drivers seat. "OK." I commanded, "Tell me what the hell is going on. You broke your finger? Are you in pain?" TW said no, no pain - and it was really strange, because he didn't even know when it happened. He was just working in the cockpit of the plane like always, brought his left hand up to do something, and... he couldn't help but notice that this finger was bent over all weird. He showed his supervisor and crew chief, and they sent him over to the Medical Department at work. Medical took one look, and told him to go to his doctor. By now, we were pulling up in front of the hospital. TW grumbled a bit about walking all the way across the parking lot to the medical offices, and I had to tell him that he was going to the ER. He protested that it didn't even hurt - he thought he was going to see our regular doctor. As we walked in to the lobby of the ER, I explained to him why we were there, instead of seeing our family doctor.
For "ground zero" of our local H1N1 epidemic, it was eerily quiet in the ER. We were the only people there except for an elderly lady who had just been transported in from a local nursing home. I asked the nurse why it was so empty, and she told us that we had come in at one of the two times that were guaranteed to be quiet. Friday late afternoon/evening, no one *wants* to be there; typically the only people they see are car wrecks. The other time, ironically enough, is *during* any major football game. She told us that once the game is over, they are flooded with every kind of problem imaginable, but during the game... nothing.
After the "intake" was done, TW was led to a cubicle that was clearly used for orthopedic cases. There was a rack with crutches, stacks of splints, and a whole shelving unit full of gauze rolls, casting materials and surgical tape. We didn't have long to wait - the young doctor who bounced in to the room didn't even introduce himself - he took one look at TW's hand, said "Yep, it's mallet finger", introduced himself as an afterthought, and then told us that we would have to go see a specialist on Monday. He put a temporary splint on TW's hand, and cautioned him to take it easy - no lifting, holding, or twisting with that hand.
We went home, a bit frustrated that we were going to have to wait all weekend to see the specialist. Needless to say, TW immediately got on the Internet to learn about Mallet Finger.
He promptly told me there was no point in worrying about it, because he was just going to have the end of that finger amputated. He showed me a web page that went into quite a bit of detail regarding the various methods of treating Mallet Finger, and showed me that the success rates were pretty dismal. I was kind of shocked - I couldn't believe that people might actually choose to amputate their finger, rather than at least *try* to fix it, but there it was...
...and there was the date. The research data that TW had found was more than 30 years old!!! Once we got past that, it became obvious that there would be some things to try before just jumping to amputation...
Monday morning arrived none too soon for me. I love TW - I truly do - but there are times when he can drive me insane. Primarily, when he is sick or injured. Let's just clear this up now:
TW IS NOT A GOOD PATIENT.
Just so we are all on the same page.
The specialist is very nice. He is calm, and explains everything that he is going to do/can do/might do/won't do. TW asks questions, Specialist answers them. In very short order, the decision to operate ASAP is made; Specialist does not want to wait any longer than we have to. Surgery is scheduled for four days hence - Friday. Thursday will be taken up with pre-op fun and games like x-rays, blood work, etc.
Specialist's Nurse hands me a shopping list of supplies I am going to need for TW's "home care" after the surgery. I look at Specialist, Nurse, and TW. "What if I can't do this?" I asked...
Continue on to Part 3!