My Medical Nightmare - Short Story

  The first full day of my vacation on St.John's Island. For once I was actually relaxing on a vacation, not frantically looking for a photo opportunity. My wife and I pulled the car over right next to a pristine sandy beach. We waded into the surf and just floated in the crystal clear water. It was so relaxing. She commented how it was the first time she saw me just relaxing and enjoying myself on a vacation, in a long time. It was getting close to dinnertime, and we walked back to the car, dried off and headed back to our luxury 5 star hotel. On the way, I asked her to stop at a liquor store. I grabbed a six-pack of my favorite beer; surprised the price was about the same as it was back in the states. We headed for the hotel. She went in to take her shower first. I forgot that this brand of beer did not have twist caps. I did not have a bottle opener and mentioned to my wife. She told me to just go into the wet-bar and grab a bottle opener. The cabinet was locked and it had a tie wrap on the handle that I would have to cut. I then decided to just try to do the macho thing and pop the cap with a knife. I grabbed my brand new serrated scuba diving knife that had a notch in the blade that I thought I could use to pry off the beer cap. I set the bottle down on the coffee table and positioned the cap edge in the notch. I then tried to pry off the cap but the knife slipped off the cap and struck my left thumb, right to the bone. I could see the gash was deep but there was no blood. Then all of a sudden it began to gush and squirt blood a good 2 inches out. It seemed to spurt in a rythmic manner. I yelled to my wife that I think I was in trouble. She screamed what have you done now. I shouted to her that I opted to use my dive knife but it slipped and I cut my finger pretty bad. I said there was a lot of blood. She ran out took one look and ran for the phone to call the hotel main desk for help. The blood was spurting all over and I could not stop it. For whatever reason I decided to grab my thumb and hyper extend it backward toward my wrist. The blood stopped. The staff arrived at our door, grabbed some towels and wrapped them around my hand. I held both hands on top of my head, and they rushed me to an awaiting minivan for a 15 minute trip to the nearest clinic. When I arrived the nurse on staff sat me down and asked to look at the wound on my head. I told her it was actually my thumb and I was keeping my hands up above my heart. She asked me to lower my hands and allow her to examine the injury. I warned her that if I let go of my hyper-extended thumb, the blood would start spurting again. She said it's ok I am in her care now and it was OK. I released my thumb and extended my hand to her. She was stunned as the blood began spurting like a little water fountain, and she said, 'you've got a pumper. Translation- I severed a small artery. The blood was now all over her the bed me and on the floor. She tried direct pressure but I was still bleeding profusely. I was beginning to feel faint and my wife just held onto my other hand. A doctor then arrived, came over, examined the wound and exclaimed that she could not treat this type of wound. I looked at my wife and thought to myself, Oh my God, I'm going to bleed to death on the first day of what was going to be a scuba diving vacation. The doctor ran over to the phone and summoned another doctor who arrived probably another 20 minutes later. He took one look, applied some kind of solution to the gash, and the wound began to clot. He examined the wound more closely probing it with forceps and then asked me to try and extend or straighten my slightly bent wounded thumb. I then felt a very un-nerving sensation inside my forearm, like something was wiggling around. My thumb would not straighten. I yelled out that I could not straighten my thumb. He asked me to calm down and diagnosed the injury as a severed artery and tendon. He said that the bleeding was stopped and that he would apply some stitches to the wound. The doctor then tried to contact my general physician back in CT, but they refused to except a collect call. He could not believe it. He released me to return to my hotel and asked to see me the next day in his office. I met with him the next day and he relayed my options to me. We made arrangement's to catch an earlier flight and leave the island after a few days, to return home to the states and meet with a hand surgeon in my hometown. A surgery date was set and I was anxious to get the severed tendon repaired. The medical treatment nightmare would then continue on the day of my surgery.

   I fasted for about 12 hours and arrived with my dad at the hospital around 7:00 am. I met with the nurse to get my IV attached to my arm. The nurse seemed to struggle to find the vein and asked for assistance from another nurse. It almost seemed like the nurse was in training. She reinserted the IV and began to move it around beneath the skin. I watched the needle moving under my skin and then the other nurse offered to finish the job, but not before I fainted. My dad said they left me slumped over until they got the IV in properly. They brought me back with smelling salts. Next stop, the anesthesiologists. I met with 2 anesthesiologists who began to describe the method chosen for my hand surgery. It would be 'a local block'
It would involve the insertion of a cathoder into a major vein in my neck. It would be twisted and pushed into my left arm, and I needed to communicate to them where I felt it as it was snaked through my arm. They warned me if it moved toward my lung, it could collapse my lung. The nurse attached the IV bottle to the IV in my arm. The anesthesiologists then said they were ready to begin. They had me turn my head to the right, and then pierced my neck with the cathoder. When I flinched and yelled out, they yanked it back out and looked at the nurse and asked her if she had started the IV. She had not. She turned the knob and I was then hit with a numbing whole body rush. They waited a couple of minutes and one of the doctors said I should now feel like had drunk a six-pack of beer. Not funny, and I'm sure they were aware of how a received the wound. They then inserted the cathodar and I helped them guide it through my neck, shoulder, and upper arm. They released the 'local block' medication, and I immediately began to fell the numbing affect beginning at the insertion point. They asked me to lie back onto the stretcher and wheeled me in to the ER. The surgeon arrived and asked if I wanted to watch the procedure, to which I promptly declined. The placed a cloth barrier and strapped my arm down. After about 10 minutes the surgeon asked me if I was comfortable and ready for the procedure. I said yes. Unbelievably, when he began to apply the scalpal to my stitched wound, I could feel it slicing into me and I yelled and tried to pull my hand away. The surgeon freaked and asked the anesthesiologists if they were certain the medication had been administered properly. He then used some kind of instrument and poked my arm, beginning at the shoulder and moving down toward my hand. I could feel him poking me mid-forearm and he was stunned and visibly angry. He then asked the anesthesiologists to apply a general anesthetic. I was out cold in a matter of seconds., what a house of horrors it had been. 

   But, I am happy and pleased to say the procedure gave me back 100% of my extender tendon. I have since refused to have any surgical procedures at that particular hospital.