I put a cracking long segment of text at the top of this post so you wouldn’t be grossed out by what is now off-screen waiting for you to scroll down. I cut my finger a while back and said I’d take pictures of it for you. This is the pictures post, and they are gross. You have been warned.
You thought I had forgotten, didn’t you? Well, to celebrate Mardi Gras in style, I’m partying in Adobe Imageready making an animated cut-to-healed .gif file wheeee!
The first frame shows the extent of the cut on the surface, post-treatment. The cut went almost all the way from the web between index and middle fingers, across (up) to the PIP (middle knuckle), and turned back down slightly out of frame. The crazy reds are from making this into a .gif file. Even with the color turned stupid to save on file size, it’s still a five megabyte file so try to be patient while it loads.
The second frame is one of the two longest in the series, so you can “EWWW GROSS!” for a moment. The blood is all seepage from the wound, and that’s just what didn’t soak into the gauze wrapped all around the finger. It leaked for a few days all along the length of the cut. No, I did not DIY these stitches. Yes, those are professionally-placed sutures. It was a clean cut but some of the skin was pretty thin due to the angle of incision, so it could only have been sewn up neatly by a plastic surgeon and maybe not even by one of them. This was done at the local emergency room. They cost my insurance company over $3000 because ‘murika. I paid something like $250 which I thought was an excellent price for the half-hour I spent in the ER. The extra decimal they paid I find totally outrageous and if the bill had come to me I wouldn’t have paid that amount – or at least, I wouldn’t have paid it in under a decade. At the counter, they said it would be $250 to me. I asked how much it would be without insurance and they said it would be $400 or maybe a bit more. I thought that sounded fair, so I left without demanding an itemized list of charges and disputing it right then and there.
Apparently, you should *never* leave without disputing the ridiculous charges they will try to send your insurance agency, especially from the emergency room (because you’ll pay extra in an emergency).
Aaaaanyway. The next few frames it looks like the color of the picture goes wacky and dark, but my hand was bruised and it really was these colors. The doctor had SCRUBBED my open finger once the anesthetic kicked in and evidently scrubbing the inside of a finger leads to extensive bruising. Who knew? So for a week I looked like my hand was dying, which did not make me feel better about the potential for keeping my finger.
By day 12 the edges of the cut sin were starting to die off. As it was constantly moist from antibiotic ointment, the dead skin was puffy and white-ish. Gross. Over the next few days I started to get some scabs under the white dead skin, which I took as a sign of progress. The skin started to grow over the stitches, so I dug them out with a pointy thingy. By day 16 I was being irritated by the loose ends where the sutures were tied, so I cut them off short.
By day 18 it was looking pretty well closed up and the stitches were getting loose by the PIP end of the cut, so I cut them loose. This was an odd sensation, and it probably stung more than it had to because I soaked each section of thread in a drop of alcohol before pulling a loop through. Once again (don’t ask) I realized pulling thread through your skin is a bizarre sensation. As I was removing the sutures I realized the cut wasn’t as closed as it had seemed, so I left the last four in place.
Day 22 I cut the next couple of stitches out and realized it was STILL not closed down by the MCP. You can kind-of tell that the cut opened up again a little, near the web by the middle finger. I started wearing knuckle bandages to hold just the one part closed while letting the rest of the skin breathe under a regular band-aid, which is why the next few days the finger looks compressed around the “middle/bottom” of the cut.
On day 27 I pulled out the last stitch and the skin was still not totally closed. It didn’t bleed, but there was some sock-puppet-mouth action when there was no bandage on the bottom of the finger.
About this time, the skin on the whole finger was getting pretty dry from being constantly under a bandage and not allowed to exfoliate, especially near the fingertip. Over the next few days it started shedding like a molting snake. On day 37 all the skin on the full length of the cut shed and fell off after a shower. I was surprised how thick the scab was. This was when I was able to tell the approximate size of the scar I would end up with.
By day 41 it was pretty well healed, so the last couple of frames show the extent of the cut again, and then the scar I was left with. This will slowly fade over time. At this point if I rubbed the finger, it felt like there was a little rope inside my skin. This has thinned out to what now feels like just a thick piece of skin just where the scar is.
After over a month being wrapped up on a firm foam pad to keep the finger still, the finger was very, very stiff. I counted it a minor victory when I was able to eventually
- touch the index finger tip to the tip of the thumb
- touch to the middle of the thumb
- touch to the base of the thumb
- touch to the pad over the MCP on the palm side of the joint
And now, four months later, I can almost touch the tip of the finger to the pad on the MCP on the finger side of the joint (the first segment of the finger itself), and I can reliably touch to the palm side of the MCP with only a bit of soreness in the PIP (middle knuckle). I have very nearly full range of motion and I am continuing to see slow improvement as well as continuing to do some very uncomfortable stretching exercises.