Thursday, June 02, 2005

Ai Chihuahua Mama!

On Friday, May 27th, we got everything packed and loaded for our 4-day Memorial Day Weekend Trip. We were on our way by about 11:00 am. Everything seemed OK. The weather was good, our mood was good, kids werent fighting. All in all a good start!

Well we made it a whole 2 hours into our Memorial Day weekend trip when we had our first adventure. We were just coming up upon the town of Fillmore, Utah. Dawn Ann had been woodcarving on her Mahonri project - (her seemingly interminable wood carving project). She was putting her tools away, when we hit a bump -- and next thing you know, one of the carving tools jabbed deeply into her left thumb (on top between the first and second joints). Her carving tools are very, very, sharp. The knife went in nearly 1/2 inch. Being so sharp, it went in very cleanly, and nearly painlessly too -- at first. Ai Chihuahua Mama! Thats gonna hurt!

Fortunately, the knife went in at a low angle, nearly laterally. The wound was shallow, but in the process she had severed a vein. Blood started gushing out like crazy! As it turned out, her hands were already right over the little garbage can we have in the center console area of the truck so we didnt have a lot of blood stains to clean up in the truck.

Immediately, Dawn Ann grasped the cut thumb with her other hand, and held on tightly. There was a pretty good stream of blood dripping off of her hand, but her direct pressure was able to eventually control the bleeding.

All this was happening as we were barreling down the freeway at 75 mph. A ranch exit was coming up, and we were about 5 miles outside the town of Fillmore, Utah. We took the exit, and pulled over. We got some of the extra napkins that were left over from our lunch, and tried to clean her up as best as we could. We put about 4 folded over napkins over the thumb and then Dawn Ann continued holding it with direct pressure. Being a nurse, Dawn Ann realized that having an ice pack would also help control the bleeding. So she asked Amy to get her an ice-cold can of pop out of the ice chest, and held it against her thumb, over the napkins to act as a cold compress.


Front Entrance to the Fillmore Community Hospital

We got back onto the freeway, and headed on toward Fillmore. After driving through most of the town, we found the Hospital, and made our way to the emergency room.

As we entered the hospital, I stayed at the business office and got Dawn Ann Admitted, and took care of the insurance coverage.

Dawn Ann went into the ER with a nurse, where they cleaned up the wound, and called-out the Dr. on-call. He was just next door at the family clinic, but we knew it would be a while until he came.

I described the nature of the accident to the hospital staff, and where we were (in our vehicle) at the time of the accident. The hospital office staff said that they would have to submit the claim first to our auto insurance. Their experience was that if the health insurance carrier learned that the accident took place in the vehicle, that they generally will deny the claim outright, unless it was first submitted to the auto insurance carrier.

So I had to go out and get my vehicle insurance certificate out of the glove box of the truck. They photocopied both my health insurance card, as well as my auto insurance card. They will submit the claim first to the auto insurance carrier. If the auto insurance carrier denies the claim, then I am go get a copy of the denial letter, and send a copy to the hospital. The hospital will then submit a claim to the health insurance carrier, along with the denial letter form the auto insurance carrier. It will be covered one way or another -- but things like this can take months to reach a final resolution. And that's just for the ER room charges. There likely will be a whole set of additional charges for the physician, (for his 5 minutes worth of time) as well.

While I was learning more than I ever really wanted to know about the intricacies of hospital insurance billing, Dawn Ann was having a nice chat with the RN at the hospital. Dawn Ann is an RN herself, and they had a nice time chatting about things they had in common. (Hospitals that they had worked for in the past, etc.) Dawn Ann had scoped out the hospital, and decided that she could work there. (She is always wanting us to move to a small town. After we pass through nearly any small town, we nearly always hear Dawn Ann exclaim: We could live here! As nice as that would be, small towns don't often have the kind of employment that I need to support a family.)

We had to wait about an hour for the Dr. to show up. While we were waiting, the great question was this: Stitches or Super Glue?

Dawn Ann was decidedly in favor of super glue over stitches. (Actually, Dawn Ann was rather emphatic about NOT getting stitches. I recall her saying something to the effect of: I won't have Stitches! I won't! I won't! I won't! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME! -- or something to that effect.) As you can see from this little outburst, our Ai Chihuahua Mama is not the best of Patients in a medical setting. Isn't it funny how these fine medical people generally do not make very good patients. Alas, such is the case, Im afraid to say, here.

So Dawn Ann and the RN on duty, Karen, laid out the super glue on the tray near the hospital bed, hoping that the Dr. would get the hint that super glue was the only way to go!

The last time Dawn Ann had stitches in her hand, was when she had her previous major woodcarving accident (We'll call that "The Case of the $5,000 Pinewood Derby Car". -- but that's a whole other story, for another time.) The kids were more than happy to divulge their mama's complete medical history to the hospital office staff. The kids mentioned the pinewood derby incident, and how mama had to have micro-surgery on her hand to reconnect the nerves in her index finger. The hospital staff recommended that it was time to hide mama's carving tools!

One thing that she did learn from her $5,000 pinewood derby car was that the burning and tingling sensation from the lidocaine - intended to deaden the thumb in order to sew the stitches -- was, to her, WORSE than getting the stitches in the first place! She was prepared to have the stitches WITHOUT anesthetic. Actually, she was prepared to have the stitches, without anesthetic, as long as she could hold my hand, and crush my fingers while all this was going on. Now I dont know whether she would have derived more comfort from my great calming and loving presence, or from knowing that someone else was suffering pain right along with her as she was crushing the life out of my fingers. (Hint for men trying to comfort their wives in time of pain or suffering, such as in childbirth, or, as in this case, getting stitches ONLY LET HER HOLD TWO FINGERS! If you let her hold three or more fingers, she really can crush your hand. Two fingers give you a measure of safety in what otherwise could be a perilous situation.)

So instead of getting 2 or 3 lidocaine injections in her thumb, Dawn Ann & Karen conspired to put on a topical anesthetic cream called Emela which is normally used to deaden the skin just prior to having an IV being inserted.

The doc still didn't come for another 45 minutes or so, which gave the Emela enough time to take effect.

Finally Dr "G". appeared. He went for the idea to use the super glue, instead of doing stitches. -- Heh! Less time for him to be in contact with a potentially combative patient on the edge! The Dr. cleaned the wound, laid down 2 layers of super glue, and was safely gone in less than 5 minutes. -- His four-figure bill to come later, I'm sure! Combat pay, you know!

By this time, the kids had grown bored of the ER, and had made their way down to the Solarium. which was a room with a few windows and a sliding glass door overlooking a ditchbank. (Actually, I was picturing the solarium to be a large atrium with all kinds of indoor plants, and a water fountain, and maybe some pet birds -- which was not!). This room had a couple of vending machines, a couple of tables, and a checkerboard.

Bryan had found an elderly friend named Neil to play checkers with (who was a patient in the long-term care portion of the hospital). Amy had found a jigsaw puzzle to work on.

We gathered the kids up, and hopped back into the truck, and were on our way again -- after our little 2-hour tour of the Fillmore and its environs.


NOT mama's Thumb.
BUT IT COULDA BEEN!


So now the Ai Chihuahua Mama has an Ah Carrumba Thumba!

1 comment:

tracey said...

That's just dreadful! My sympathies to your wife and her thumb!