Friday, July 6, 2007

Oh how I appreciate my fingers!

For a couple of months it looked like my body was attempting to grow an extra finger out of the side of my middle finger on my left hand. My 'e' finger. If you're a typist you'll know what I mean. Health care providers call it my 'long' finger. Those of us who know sign language call it the bird finger.

Finally after several doctors looking at it, giving it a name -- pyogenic granuloma -- a fancy name for an infected benign growth of unknown origin -- they scheduled surgery.


It is a little growth, not much bigger than a wart. Just freeze it or give me a cream to make it vanish. Shave it off.

Noooo. My general practitioner named it and then named a surgeon for me to go see. She wouldn't touch it.


With all of the bells and whistles, I was told. They even wanted me to have an EKG and blood tests in preparation for this minor or all minor surgeries. They took a complete history right down to my foot surgery back in the 1990s -- "and which foot was it?"

Who cares? I'm having surgery on my FINGER!

I'm not one for unnecessary expense or procedures, so I searched for a way to simplify this removal procedure of a tiny little growth that had transformed into a major life-event.

The key, I discovered, was to omit the need for an anesthesiologist. The way to do that was to just have the procedure performed with a local anesthetic that the surgeon could administer himself. Just numb the finger and whack off the growth.

Well there is more to it than just whacking, I was informed. The complication comes for this kind of growth in the connection to a blood source. A tiny little vessel feeds it blood like it was sipping on a straw. Cauterizing the bleeder is key to success as well as getting all of the granuloma so it doesn't just grow back again.

No one knows what causes them. I read on the Internet that pregnant women and children tend to get them. Sometimes they just disappear. Mine didn't disappear, it grew an ear.

My surgeon, up to the last minute was still concerned that I might feel some discomfort. I've given birth to two large babies. LARGE babies. I can handle a little pin prick in my finger. My oldest son must test his blood three and four times a day -- ask him about discomfort.

So on Thursday, I went under the knife. The surgeon demanded that I have an IV and fed me antibiotics and Ringers Lactate -- whatever that is -- and I had to undress so that he could fix my finger -- sterile field, he kept reminding.

Seems that all of my clothes except my Fruit of the Looms are contaminated. Of course the nurse who has been dealing with all manner of patients for the past eight hours didn't seem to have any contaminates on her clothing as she accompanied me into the operating room, touched everything with her unwashed hands that she thrust at the last minute into a pair of gloves.

I just couldn't get past the ironies of this 'sterile' terminology. They do operations every 15-20 minutes. There was maybe 10 minutes between the previous surgery and mine. Do they really think that germs can be killed that quickly? They can't even get the room wiped down in that amount of time. Of course they do use enough of that awful-yellow colored soap benzo-something. With the amount they foamed up on my hand, I could have washed my car.

In less than 30 minutes in the operating room, at least half of that time making sure I didn't feel any discomfort, the surgeon -- a young lad with delicate hands -- removed the granuloma. Done!

Then he bandaged my finger. I have had catchers mitts smaller than this bandage. He tied my middle fingers together and so I am typing this as if my fingers were in a potato sack race.

I haven't seen his handiwork, but I would like to tell him that the type two narcotics he prescribed for the pain were also a bit overkill. I took a couple of Tylenol the first night and that's it.

I'm fortunate, I know.

And if I have something major happen, I'll know the surgeon to go to. But it seems that everything is done the same, no gradations, no common sense, no different levels of need -- all surgeries, all the time, all the same. I suppose it saves the staff from making decisions about how to prepare for the next surgery.

I'm so thankful that all went well, that this young man was gifted in the art of granuloma removal and that they cared enough to over protect me. I'll be ever so grateful until I get the bill. Then I will be thankful for insurance coverage -- something that is becoming more and more precious and even more difficult to get than a simple procedure.

And that is why my blog has not been updated until today. Thanks for your patience.

1 comment:

Marijke Durning said...

Glad you got that done without too much discomfort. I had an infection in several fingers and typing was agony.

I see that you had something published in a quilting magazine. I'm writing an article for one right now. I'm an avid quilter - something else that's difficult to do when your fingers are infected!