It looks like Francie, she of the tiny hands, will not be practicing piano any time soon, thanks to the injury she sustained this week. Of all my children to need an ER visit, I would have put Francie at the bottom of the list, but you never know when a freak accident will occur.
Her hand will eventually be fine, so I am sure that enables me to remain much more calm about the whole affair.
On Thursday night, the children and I headed down the highway to my parents' town and went to their annual parish festival. It's something we all look forward to, and since we missed it last year, we definitely wanted to squeeze it in this year.
It's about an hour's drive, so that meant Rob, who was on call, could not come with us, but I knew I'd have plenty of help once I got there, so we went ahead without him.
I should have known right then that I had just signed up for illness or injury, because it often seems to be the case that Rob is not with us when I have to handle blood or vomit. And it's a shame because he handles it so much better than me. He's a trained professional.
The night had been lovely, and right before it was time for us to go, Francie and I headed off to ride The Hanglider. The Hanglider is one of those rides where you sit in a car similar to a Ferris wheel, but the wheel moves fast and sideways and kind of flings your car out as you come around.
Francie and I love it, and we ride it every year that I'm not pregnant. So we haven't gotten to ride it much in the past few years.
We had our ride, and we were ready to get out of our car when The Incident (as Francie calls it) happened.
The ride operator (and I will not be mean, but he did not look like he had it all together) unlocked the bar across us and quickly flung it wide open so that it would not swing back and lock again. All standard procedure for his job.
What no one knew was that Francie had not cleared her hands yet, and the door swung back and crushed her middle finger on her left hand.
I saw her from the corner of my eye, and then I heard her scream. Not crying. SCREAMING.
She kept screaming as she held up her hand and blood poured down her arm. There was so much blood that I couldn't even see the injury. And that's when my adrenaline kicked in.
I jumped out of the car and picked her up. We ran past the ride operator, who didn't say anything. I don't even think he knew what had happened.
I held her hand up as blood kept pouring down her arm and then down my arm, and we ran past all the people waiting in line to ride. I'm sure we were very reassuring to them.
Luckily, I could see an EMS station right down the hill and so we ran -- me trying to put pressure on a wound I couldn't see, and Francie screaming her head off, calling for her father.
The EMTs were very nice, and as they tried to distract Francie I could hear them talking to each other about her finger possibly being crushed. They washed her wound very well, but I still couldn't see it because I had to keep Francie calm.
They put two band-aids on it and sent us on our way, but they were soaked through in about two seconds. This girl was bleeding. A LOT.
Both of my brothers were working at the festival, and thank God that my youngest brother saw us and applied a good pressure dressing to Francie's finger. By this point, she was ill from crying and the pain and I just hustled everyone to the car.
I called Rob on the way home and told him the whole story, and when we finally made it back home and put all the other children in bed, he sat Francie down to have a look.
Rob unwrapped my brother's pressure dressing, which was soaked with blood, and then peeled off the top band-aid. He didn't go any farther, he just said "Hmmm." That's not exactly what I like to hear from him. I knew that "hmmm" meant he was unhappy with the way it looked.
That "hmmm" meant "hospital" in Dad-Speak.
I finally got a peek at part of her injury and I'm not going to lie: it was ugly looking and I was afraid that she had really damaged the tendons in her fingers.
The tip of her finger was a dusky purple color and Rob could see the top of a cut that was deep. Or, as he said, "I can see subcutaneous fat. We need to get her checked."
My sister, God bless her heart, drove over to sit with the rest of the sleeping kids while we took Francie to the hospital.
We waited for a long while, and Francie, who was exhausted from pain, fell asleep. When the doctor finally saw her, he confirmed what Rob had suspected.
She had a deep laceration that would require stitches and there was blood collecting under her nail that was causing her a significant amount of pain. She would need some holes put in her nail to release the blood. He also wanted an xray to make sure she did not have a broken finger.
He asked us about pain medication, and that's when Francie rolled over, looked him in the eye, and said "YES!" She comes by that honestly.
Thankfully, after the xray came back, we saw that she did not have a crushed or broken finger. She just needed the blood under her nail drained and then have her cut stitched.
The doctor gave her a digital block, which means he injected pain medication into the nerves on either side of her finger, and then he set to work.
I was so proud of Francie in the ER. She, who usually has a fit of tears over a paper cut, was so brave and she did not cry. I've talked to several adults who have had a similar kind of crush injury, including my dad, and every single one of them have said that it is terribly painful.
My girl held up really well. She was afraid, but we were able to talk with her and distract her while the doctor worked on her finger.
By the time we were leaving the hospital, she was looking tired, but in much less pain. She keeps her stitches in for ten days, and she might lose her nail although that is looking less likely from the way she is healing. Compared to what could have happened, her injuries look minor. She could have easily had nerve or tendon damage, crushed the bone, or lost the tip of her finger.
But there is no follow-up care, other than keep your hands clear of the doors on carnival rides, of course. We are so thankful.
So, how's your summer going? Hopefully crush-free . . .
Warning: pictures of her hand from this evening's bandage change. I can't begin to tell you how much better her finger already looks.
The doctor made four small holes to drain the blood. It's a great sign that the nail is not black and you can actually see her cuticle.
This is the stitched tip of her finger where she had her deep laceration.
This is her finger pad, which got chewed up but didn't need stitching.