If you missed the first post about my accident, you can read about it HERE
I awoke the next morning from my Percocet induced slumber with my arm so swollen, it felt like someone had been inflating it with a basketball pump while I slept. My whole left hand was bruised and my fingers looked like puffy green sausages. My fingertips were gray and numb to the touch.
I studied the paperwork they sent home with me.
“Please return to the ER if you present with any of the following symptoms: Excessive swelling, numbness, graying of the fingertips…”
I alerted my sister and she helped me onto a nest of pillows in the back of her car. The ride to the hospital felt excruciatingly long and by the time I arrived I was gritting my teeth and writhing in pain. I sat in the packed waiting room for some time before I stopped a nurse and showed her my fingertips. She looked concerned and brought me into one of the only free rooms, in pediatrics. She loosened my cast, which helped relieve the pressure, gave me some morphine and sent for the doctor.
The doctor was young and pretty, but with a cruelness in her eyes that reminded me of the popular girls in high school, who wore little sundresses and heels but spat on nerds in the hall ways.
“Let me see this.” She said grabbing my broken wrist and yanking it towards herself while stuffing a stethoscope into the cast.
My sister looked like she was about to jump out of her chair and attack the woman.
“That’s broken!” I yelled. “Please don’t pull on it like that!”
“I have to check your pulse” She sneered, continue her attempts to stuff the end of her stethoscope inside my cast with my bloated hand.
She stopped and gave me a weird look. “You’re wearing the scrubs we discharged you in last night?”
“Yes…” I said. My appearance had been the least of my worries and I couldn’t even get my arm over my head to remove them.
“Are you…homeless?” She asked, glaring at me suspiciously as though I had thrown myself in front of a car just to score some sweet intravenous drugs.
I just stared at her stunned, but my sister interjected “YES SHE HAS A HOME!”
Evil Dr. Barbie pursed her lips and left the room. “I’ll send someone for x-rays”
Thankfully I was left under the observation of the nurses and technicians after that, who monitored me for the entire day, giving me morphine every couple hours.
I didn’t know it at the time, since no one bothered to explain what was happening, but I had been in the early stages of Compartment Syndrome, which is caused by excessive swelling after a trauma. Your swollen limb can actually block the flow of blood to itself, leading to death of the tissues and nerve endings. If I hadn’t returned to the ER so quickly, I could have lost the use of my fingers or even needed to amputate my arm.
So make sure if you experience any symptoms like that after an injury, that you seek help right away…and I hope you find a doctor friendlier than mine!