Thursday, March 10, 2011

Not for the Squeamish

Just a heads-up - there is a graphic picture further down. You have been forewarned.

I am a good woman & mother. I believe that a large part of my being successful at these two significant states of being is due to excellent intuition & instinct. I can honestly say that I have never been led astray by my instincts.

I may have been perceived as weak, indecisive or hesitant at times and it wasn't because I didn't have a feeling about a given situation but because it takes me awhile to prove my instinct right. I don't know why I'm driven to do this - maybe because I'm a Libra (people who are more astrologically savvy may have some input on this), maybe it was the way I was raised (no, I'm not blaming my mother) but mostly I think that I am still working up to being able to completely trust my instincts without having to validate them (to myself & to others).

I have learned through my journey through cancer treatment that I don't need to be in pain. It really doesn't prove anything, serves no one (and least of all me!!) and is the long route to the same destination. But I'm still a bit of a slow learner.

I knew intellectually that having my thumb nail cut off & the nail bed cut into would hurt. A lot. The reality is beyond accurate description with words. Seriously, even though there was anesthetic involved and it was done in a surgical environment in an accredited medical facility the result was the same as any underground torture chamber - I would have said anything to anyone with conviction to have it stop!! Even with prescription painkillers (and supplemental/medicinal alcohol) I would have promised anything (anyone?) to make the pain end. I knew with every fibre of my being that this kind of pain that was not abating and perhaps even getting worse could not be normal. The nice Dr. had given me Percocet for 2.5 days and since he didn't seem incompetent or sadistic I had to believe that he did not anticipate the pain going much bey
ond that amount of time. The Dr. at the clinic (who did not make quite as good an impression) also did not strike me as being a quake and when she gave me another 3 days worth of meds it seems to me that the end should have been in sight. So I followed my instincts & made an appt with the original Dr. for today - 7 days post-op.

I should say that I have been through surgeries of varying degrees, birthed 2 large-headed, healthy-weighted children, gone through chemotherapy (and though it went relatively well still was no walk-over) and am toughing out the end of 6.5 weeks of radiation therapy. I am no stranger to pain & while I'm a baby with needles I can take pain as well as some & better than most. Even on T3's and Percocet I was still just will-power away from crying at the pain, not just in my thumb, but radiating into my hand and fingers.

When Dr. Dickie unwrapped my thumb, the following was revealed.
I thought that it looked fairly gruesome so I asked him if it was what he expected. He allowed as how it was fairly typical though it was redder and a bit more swollen than he would like. It's visibly swollen - I can barely bend it. And it is definitely "feverish". I thought that it might have felt warm when it was bandaged but it was hard to tell. He asked if removing the bandages had relieved some of the pain. Through gritted teeth I told him that it was exponentially worse and he made me lay down - I think that I had paled.
He cleaned it off and said that the increase in pain was definitely not typical but was likely indicative of a strep or staph skin infection - apparently common. He prescribed an antibiotic, put on a light bandage and said that I should change it daily or more often if there was "drainage". Yea!!! Drainage!!! I asked when the antibiotics would kick in and he said I should notice an improvement in about 36 hours. I had no problem asking for more Percs to get me through the next 36 hours!! As he was writing the Rx he said that if 1 tablet wasn't enough I could take 2. I told him that I rolled through the initial Rx and the 2nd one from the clinic Dr. 2 at a time with alcohol to kick it up a notch so I'd be hitting this one 2 at a time right out of the gate. I'm not sure how to interpret the look that he gave me - shock at the unashamed honesty, amusement, skepticism; I didn't care what he was thinking. I took my Rx and left. I made it home and Kyle was a good son and drove me down to The Mighty Mart of Wal to get them filled... I was feeling kind of unsteady from the pain.

I think that I am going to soak it in some saline solution (what's good for my breast can't be bad for my thumb), clean it up and re-dress it. Then some nice relaxing medication & mindless TV/DVD. A friend has lent me seasons 1-4 of Sex in the City & I have another friend that I'll borrow the rest from! I have managed to knit a few rows on a scarf - kind of holding the knitting between my index & middle fingers, throwing the yarn with my middle finger instead of my index finger and concentrating very (very!!!) hard on not using my thumb. It's almost more effort expended than the pleasure produced but I'm happy to have yarn & needles in hand. I know, but I just had to!!!

Do you trust your feelings/intuition/instincts?


  1. Janet Szabo8:27 AM

    I always trust my instincts--and I never trusted them more than when I was being treated for cancer. So you just keep listening to your gut.

  2. Oh honey, I'm feeling a litle faint just reading this! You have my utmost respect for doing what you do.
    And yes, I find when I trust my instincts, I'm better off. It's not always easy, but it's usually the right thing to do.

  3. Trust your gut. Usually, the worst that could happen is that you might look like a wusss. You can live with that. Staph is a nasty batard. You shouldn't have to live with that! Hooray for saline soaks!

    Really impressive photo! What an education.