Saturday, March 29, 2008
First, she should be OK

I've said several times before that I have been fortunate not to have been terribly injured myself; not to have seen someone very close to me terribly injured; and not to have come anywhere near confronting that which is worse. Today was a jolt to my comfortable little world.

At around 3 in the afternoon, as she was preparing a snack for the train ride up to San Francisco and a visit with some old friends, Kelley set about cutting an avocado. I was on the other side of the room, starting blankly at basketball highlights, when suddenly Kelley was screaming. Her effort to stab the pit of the avocado instead resulted in her stabbing the middle of her left palm. Blood was plentiful. Somehow she managed, in what must have been excruciating pain, to cooly direct me as to how to help: get up, go get a towel, call 911. The paramedics arrived (quickly, it seemed to me; it must have been interminable for her), Kelley was put on a stretcher and into the ambulance, and we were off to the hospital.

The on-the-spot diagnosis was encouraging: the human hand is very vascular, hence all the mess; the blood was not a deep red and so likely not arterial. After a spell in the waiting room we were ushered into a room/stall. Service was touch and go; Kelley was, of course, not the only patient in the building. She was hurting, and none too thrilled about what she thought/knew was coming. As we waited for the nurse and then the doctor, I did my best to calm her, but the effect was minimal. (It is here I must confess: First as we waited for the ambulance, and again early in her treatment, I had to retreat -- and that is the perfect word -- to the bathroom to splash some water on face. I left her side to calm my frayed nerves -- at the same time her actual nerves might actually have been frayed. I have never felt like less of a man.) All I could offer Kelley were my eyes to lock onto and my hand to hold.

The doctor arrived and removed the bandages. Blood began to pool again in her hand. He cleaned the area, then injected some anesthetic. "More please," Kelley insisted. As he worked, Kelley settled some. Another doctor irrigated the wound, and this is when I got my first look at the cut. (I don't know how you toughed it out, baby.) The first doctor returned to apply some stitches, to ask about our jobs and to poorly joke that this was a silly way to try suicide. Awful humor was offset by the determination that the knife had missed the tendons and muscles in Kelley's hand.

After another pause, the nurse came in to bandage Kelley up, give us prescriptions for painkillers and antibiotics, and generally instruct us how to care for the hand in the coming days. "What about the swelling on the top of her hand?" I asked, finally good for something. "Oh. ... Oh my," she replied before assuring us that it would go down soon. As of this typing, we are still (nervously) waiting.

All that was six hours ago. We took a cab home, tried unsuccessfully to get the prescriptions filled (downtown San Jose is terrific, as is not having a car), and got a couple sandwiches. I then had to go into work (from where I write). I'm signing off now though, and cannot wait to get back to Kelley.

We will wake up tomorrow and get the meds. Kelley's mom will stop by in the afternoon, on a pre-scheduled visit, and change the bandages and offer considerably better advice than mine. After a few days we will see a hand specialist, to make sure there is indeed no muscle damage. The stitches will come out. Time will pass, and heal. It sounds like hell, and the pain Kelley must have felt and is feeling makes me wince, but I can't help but feel we are a little bit lucky still.

(Kelley's swollen thumb up close)

Posted by Chris at 10:40 PM | 0 comments