Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Trip To The Emergency Room (or how I almost lost my fingers)

What a series of unfortunate events happening to me on Friday and Saturday. Friday afternoon, as I was closing my garage door, the left side spring supporting it snapped. This spring helps keep the door open when you raise the door up. Without it, you need a sturdy piece of lumber or a stepladder to prop it open. I immediately went to OSH Hardware Store to buy the spring but noticed that they were having a 15% off sale the next day. So I decided to wait. In the meantime I had to park my car on the street overnight which was a risk by itself because of the neighborhood I live in and it is a Honda Civic, the No. 1 most stolen car in the U.S. The next morning, I was relieved to see that my car was still there, then drove to Home Depot to see if they were selling the garage door spring for lesser. They did indeed beat OSH’s price by 50%.
Later in the day after my run and lunch, I took my tools and the new spring to the garage and proceeded to try to replace the broken spring (but not before I read the instructions on how to do it on the internet). I propped the garage door open with a piece of lumber, then I was able to attach the new spring but it was not as taut as needed because even though it was easier to raise the door, it would not stay up. So I tried using a wrench as a lever to stretch the spring so I can hook it into one more link on the chain. As I pulled on the wrench, the door rose slightly and the piece of lumber fell away, thus making the door close on top of me. Well, my left index and middle fingers were caught in the hinges of the garage door! I became horrified and scared because I couldn’t lift the garage door and the hinges were crushing my fingers. All I could do was cry out for help in an alley usually bereft of people. I don’t know how many seconds passed by but it felt like forever, when a teenage boy came and lifted up the garage door enabling me to free my fingers. There was no blood but my index finger looked like a mangled mess. It appeared as if the bone had been crushed to a pulp because of the deep indentation that the door hinges caused and that the skin was the only thing holding the finger together. I thanked the boy, showed him my fingers, told him I have to go to the emergency room quickly, and hurriedly closed and locked the garage door. I splinted the index and middle finger together before I left, then drove myself to the hospital. When I got there, the E.R. parking lot was full so I had to drive slightly farther to the parking structure then walk back to the E.R. Imagine to my surprise, there was only one other patient in the waiting room who was registering already, and in less than a minute, I was registering myself. After about 10 minutes, the triage nurse took me in to assess my condition. By that time, blood started to circulate back to the crushed finger. The pain wasn’t too bad, it was more of a numb feeling. When the nurse asked my pain level, I told her, probably 4 out of 10. I went back to the waiting area until a bed became available, which happened maybe 30 minutes later. While in the waiting room, I was finally able to wash the injured area with soap and water. When I was finally escorted to an empty bed, there were a few more minutes of waiting until a nurse checked on me, then another several minutes before a nurse practitioner came to assess my injury. By that time the index finger was perfusing well and with good capillary refill, meaning there was good circulation in the area. The nurse practitioner said there was probably no fracture but they were going to do some x-rays anyway. I told her that the finger looked much worse earlier. So x-rays were taken in 4 positions. It was a relief to learn later that the results were negative for fractures. The only treatment they gave me was soap and warm water wash and a band aid, then I was sent packing home. But not before I had to use my credit card to pay for my $100.00 insurance co-pay. Yikes! It would have been cheaper for me to hire a handyman to do the garage job! Nevertheless, I was so gratified and relieved that I haven’t maimed myself permanently. I could have lost at least one, if not two fingers if that angel of a teenager hadn’t shown up when he did. I didn’t even get his name. Whoever you are, thanks again from the bottom of my heart, buddy.
This incident effectively ends my attempts at do-it-yourself jobs that I know nothing about. Pay someone lesser now rather than pay the E.R. more later when things don’t work out (and still have to pay someone to complete the job because I couldn’t finish it). Oh, my!
Thoughts that came to mind when my fingers were being crushed by the weight of the garage door: my charge nurse who lost the phalange of his right index finger years ago because a patient slammed the door on it, and the movie 127 Hours where a hiker had to amputate his own arm to save himself. Believe me, I did not exaggerate about the fear I felt while I was trapped momentarily underneath that garage door then seeing my fingers afterwards thinking I had done permanent damage to myself. Surviving this experience is one thing that I can be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
This incident is enough to give me PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) symptoms for the next few weeks. Trip to the Emergency Room + 3 hours + 100 dollars = peace of mind that nothing was broken or needed to be amputated. I went to work afterwards thinking that there is indeed divine intervention.

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larrydlp said...


Noel DLP said...

sinabi mo, Larry. sumakit dahil sa katangahan, hahaha!

larrydlp said...

haha... never knew you had an aptitude for handyman work :D

Noel DLP said...

obviously, I don't :D