22 June, 2006

The Countdown

In our house, there is no such thing as sleeping in. Well, I should clarify that by saying that there is no such thing as sleeping in past 6:00 AM. There are, however, great Saturday morning where I am allowed (by the miracle of modern television) to go back to bed after Connor wakes up at 5:30.

Saturday, May 13th seemed to be one of those great Saturday mornings where I was allowed to return to my nice comfy bed and lay my head down. In fact, I was fortunate enough to lay there until just after 8:00 AM. As was the norm, about 8:00 the two boys started to argue… well, I should say that Connor started to yell at Aiden for some unknown reason. There was nothing unusual until my wife and I heard Connor announce “I’m going to slam the door! Ten; Nine; Eight; Seven…” Just as I was beginning to think that I would have to get out of bed to separate the boys and defuse the mounting battle, Connor reached the end of his counting, “Three; Two; One!” The door slammed and instant chaos broke out. Connor screamed out in pain as he ran into our room, holding his hand.

I immediately jumped from bed to find… Now, before I continue, I should mention that if you are easily upset by blood or other gore, you should stop reading now. You have been warned. And now, back to the story… to find blood oozing from between his fingers and dripping on the carpet.

One of the greatest advantages to having a touch of Autism myself is that when things like this happen, I don’t have the silly emotional response that most people have. In fact I just deal with the problem as if nothing unusual were going on. This is something many people have commented on throughout my life and at one point lead me to be interested in a job in Law Enforcement.

My reaction to the blood was simple: I needed to get Connor over the sink so he wouldn’t ruin the carpet. I grabbed him by the wrist and shoulder and moved him along to our bathroom sink. As I did this, my wife jumped out of bed and asked, rather frantically, what she could do. Her curiosity about what had happened was leading her towards Connor, where I new she would see the gore and most likely pass out. I wasn’t in any position to take care of her and Connor, so I sent her to get me some paper towels to help clean the wound. (Yes, I know paper towels are not the things you want to use to clean a wound, but if I sent her for gauze, she would be right where I needed to be and would see the injury.)

I began washing the injured thumb in the sink so that I could get a better view of the wound and decide if an ER visit would be necessary. As the blood was washed away, I realized that this would most certainly something that my home supply of gauze and bandages would be able to address. (Ok, here is the REALLY disgusting description, so don’t read the next two sentences if you are squeamish!) The thumb had a laceration just behind the nail which went about 50% of the way through the thumb. I could tell, just by looking at the digit, that the bone was most likely shattered, as the tip of the thumb was not holding itself rigid.

My wife returned with the paper towels and I started to dry and add pressure to the wound to try to control the bleeding. At this point, I needed to get sterile gauze on the wound, to prevent infection and lint particles. The great thing about having two hands is that I was able to hold pressure on the thumb with one while getting the gauze from the drawer with the other.

A little note here on gauze. At the store you can buy all kinds of sterile gauze pads. In particular, you have the option of buying synthetic or natural materials. All we had in the drawer where the synthetic kind. I will NEVER AGAIN have these anywhere in my house, for reasons that will become apparent in just a moment. I began wrapping his thumb with the gauze and with cloth tape to keep it together. As I wrapped the wound, I realized that I didn’t have a Telfa pad (In case you are not up on emergency medicine, Telfa is a product which combines a layer of cotton with a poly carrier, allowing for absorption without adhering to the wound.), so I hoped that the synthetic gauze would not stick to the wound too badly. Unfortunately, I could already tell that the gauze pad was simply passing the blood through and allowed it to pool and clot through it, sticking it to the wound.

With the immediate wrapping of the wound out of the way, it was time to get Connor to the emergency room. Everyone dressed quickly and rushed out to the car. My wife drove as I continually watched Connor for signs of shock and did my best to keep the hand elevated. Amazingly enough, Connor was pretty much acting as if nothing really had happened. Of course he was in pain, but there was the same lack of emotional reaction that I was used to experiencing in myself. Truly a good thing, as my wife was feeling enough emotions for the whole family.

I will save you from having to read about how we passed the time between being triaged in the emergency room to the point of discharge, which was a about 2 hours of me trying to entertain Connor. Suffice to say that the x-rays showed as I had suspected, the bone was shattered and now was two pieces with a whole lot of particles between them. Due to the proximity of the laceration to the nail matrix, stitches were ruled out and we ended up just wrapping the thumb up, splinting it, and going on our way.

What followed our discharge from the emergency room? Well, you will just have to wait for me to write part 2 of the story. Next: The Aftermath!