Ouch! Doing Dishes is Dangerous
Fair warning: The photos embedded in this entry are not for the faint of heart.
Does anyone actually like doing dishes? (Gonna take a wild guess here and say there are crickets chirping in the background.)
Let me go ahead and tell you a story about why I literally never want to do dishes ever again. Settle in, kids. It’s story time.
But I thought to myself, “Well, since she’s coming over after, I should probably do these dishes I’ve been putting off for three days so she doesn’t think I’m a slob.”
What could go wrong?
So there I am, minding my own business in my kitchen, doing a chore that I’ve always hated doing when I’m utterly betrayed: A wine glass breaks in the middle of its soapy massage. In a split second, my pinky finger goes from being a standard-issue pinky finger to a literal gaping wound.
My first thought is, “Oh crap*, there’s a flap of skin hanging off my pinky.”
My second thought is, “Oh crap*, I’m bleeding. Like, a lot.”
And then I stopped thinking about it long enough to wad up some paper towels and wrap them around my finger. I stood there in my kitchen with the water still running, looking at the blood splatters that had hit the wall, sink, and floor. Even though it had only happened seconds ago, I couldn’t remember exactly how bad the cut had been. There’d been skin hanging off–but did I need to go to the emergency room? Or would they laugh at me and send me home with a Band Aid?**
I made a quick decision to go to the urgent care a few blocks away (well, I thought it was a few blocks away). It took about a minute and a half to get my dog situated so I could leave, and I sent a text message to my friend to tell her “haha, actually go without me, I’m gonna go get stitches.” I wasn’t completely sure that I actually needed stitches; I’d never had them before, and I wasn’t a medical professional. How could I make that call? But either way, I’d be spending my room in some medical facility waiting for someone to look at my bloody little finger.
Outside on the street, I started walking toward the nearest urgent care while simultaneously struggling to operate my phone while holding the paper towels around my finger to try to stop the bleeding. I called ZoomCare. This is the approximate conversation:
Me: Hi, can your locations do stitches?
ZoomCare Lady: It depends on the severity of the wound. We can do basic stitches, but if it’s a major wound, we recommend you go to the emergency room.
Me: How do I determine what’s a major wound?
ZoomCare Lady: I can’t make a recommendation.
Me: I’ve never had stitches before–I don’t even know if I need them. But, like, there was a lot of blood, so. I think so?
ZoomCare Lady: Like I said, if it’s a major wound, you should go to the ER.
Me: When’s the next available appointment?
She booked me at a different location because they had an earlier appointment. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to keep walking instead of just taking a Lyft. I called my mom on the way (“Guess which of your daughters is going to spend her Saturday afternoon getting stitches!”). It was good to be on the phone with her, because even though she’s 3,000 miles away, having someone who is aware of the fact that I’m getting lightheaded on the streets of Portland from the sheer blood loss was comforting.
When I got to ZoomCare, the lady peeled back the paper towels a little bit and said she’d be able to stitch it back together for me. Hooray! I didn’t have a “major” wound!
… That is, until she took the paper towels all the way off and realized that the wound was curved rather than straight. She quickly determined that nope, she would not be able to stitch me back together. They’d have to send me across town to their faux-ER location.
This time I had the good sense to take a Lyft.
I feel like this is a good part of the story to tell you that everyone who saw my ridiculous wine glass wound was Very Impressed by it. Not only did the doctor stitching me comment on the size and shape of the cut, but one of his doctorly friends had to come in and see it because–yes, this happened–his brother was the front desk guy at the ZoomCare and had told him about my “impressive laceration.”
The best and worst thing to come out of the whole experience was that I was effectively given doctor’s orders not to do dishes for a while while my finger healed.
Doctor: Do you have a boyfriend… or a roommate?
Me: No. Why?
Doctor: I was just going to say that this would be the perfect excuse to never have to do dishes again.
Me: Ah, yes. The old “I can’t do the dishes on account of the one time they attacked me” trick
The whole experience was weird. About an hour or so after the initial slicing of my finger, I realized I couldn’t feel parts of it. My whole finger felt like pins-and-needles, and the bone at the first knuckle felt sharp and sore. They said the pin-and-needles part was probably because I cut the nerve. Fun, right?
For the next few days, me and my 10 stitches bonded. I spent more time than I’m willing to admit to staring at my bandaged appendage thinking, “Oh my God, it is so cool that you can literally sew the human body back together.”
I actually had to call out of work sick on Monday. The official reason given was “Pinky Finger Injury.” I wish I could’ve seen my boss’s face when he got that text message, but he was sweet about it.***
I had to keep my hand elevated, or the pain became almost unbearable. But it wasn’t “normal” pain. I have a hard time describing it, but let’s try this: Imagine if some extremity had fallen asleep and you were experiencing the standard pins-and-needles sensation. And then the extremity gets set on fire. And then, on top of all of that, it just starts throbbing incessantly. That’s what my pinky finger felt like for 8 days.
I couldn’t have any prescription pain killers for two reasons:
(1) I would’ve felt ridiculous taking heavy-duty pain meds for my pinky finger and
(2) they needed me to be “aware of the pain” in case it got infected. Apparently fingertips are high-risk for infection, and that would be “very bad.” In theory, I knew that infection wouldn’t be good, but I also knew it was probably extra terrible since they wouldn’t even tell me what the “worst case scenario” would be for infection.****
The stitches were ready to come out 13 days after the Wine Glass Incident of 2016. It’s been a week since they came out, and it’s still not pretty. I also still can’t feel parts of it. The woman who took out my stitches had these insightful words to say about the potential nerve loss: “You’ll either get the feeling back within the next six months, or never.”
Today, it’s healing well. They tell me it probably won’t leave a terrible scar because it was a relatively clean. This is a slight bummer to me; I’d rather be able to see and show off the scar than to say, “See this tiny thing here? I got that doing dishes.” Ten stitches is, apparently, not a minimal amount of stitches. But considering all the ways it apparently could’ve gone wrong, I’m thrilled with how well it’s been healing. I’m even optimistic that the feeling will come back sometime in the next six months (maybe).
Oh, and I still haven’t done the dishes.
* – There is a slight chance that this was not my expletive of choice.
** – My therapist will later tell me that this is directly related to my fear of inconveniencing people, and that she’s proud of me for actually seeking immediate medical attention instead of waiting.
*** – Intersecting plot line: A week and a half after my injury, my manager accidentally sliced his left index finger while making dinner. The third member of my team would get a paper cut on her thumb the very next day. #cursed
**** – Death is probably always the “worst case scenario,” but in this situation I think they were just avoiding telling me that a bad infection could mean losing the tip of my finger, or my entire pinky. Thanks for sparing my anxiety, doc.
My family is cute.