Tuesday, September 29, 2009


It has been four weeks now since my little chain ring incident. I am feeling much better this week. I've even managed to drop the pain meds. I continue to be amazed at how a thumb wound has devastated my whole life.

I went to an occupational therapist yesterday. He could see how uptight I was about letting him touch my hand, so all he did was give me some new splints, tell me to relax, and told me to start using my thumb to touch things.

How strange it is to touch things with my thumb again! Wow! It only took me a month to totally retrain myself to live without using a thumb. It seriously takes me great amounts of effort and concentration to get myself to pick up a sock or a piece of paper with a pinching action. My assignment for this week is to touch various surfaces and textures. It's bizarre because everything feels exactly the same: like needles stabbing the end of my thumb. Smooth, rough, soft, hard, it's all the same. But I can't feel really gentle action, like blowing on it, at all. This is all very strange to me.

It's amazing what you take for granted and don't even realize. I was so proud of myself yesterday when I used a spoon, wrote with a pencil, grabbed a water bottle, and maneuvered the computer mouse like a regular person. I was laughing like an idiot because I kept saying things like, "Oh, good girl!" to myself over the smallest accomplishments. I've come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.

In other news, I just read on the UVU Cycling blog that they are going to hold a 'cross clinic this Thursday, Oct 1, at 6 p.m. in the J lot on the east side of campus. You can check their blog for yourself at http://uvucyclingteam.blogspot.com.

I really miss riding my bike. September has really flown by with me hiding out indoors because it hurt too much, and took too much effort, to go anywhere. I likely won't be riding again until I have learned to used my hand again. So, even though I'm not ready to ride outside yet, I still like to keep updated on any rides happening in the area. The following ride is for a good cause. If you're not racing 'cross, you may want to check this out:

Hopefully, I will have a ride report of my own to blog about soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blood & Gore

It's been over a week since it happened. I am now at a point where I can discuss it. I am warning you, however...I am posting pictures & you might find them disturbing. Do NOT scroll down if you have a sensitive stomach.

Here's the story:

I was at the fitness center working on the Spinning bikes. The center where I work does an annual two-week shut down for maintenance. The parking lot gets painted, the wood floors are sanded down and refinished, the pool is drained and refilled, the racquetball courts are painted, and we take apart and deep clean the workout equipment.

As part of the Spinning bike maintenance, I take the chain guard cover off the Spinning bikes and clean and lube the chains. The way I was taught to do this was to use a rag to wipe the old grease off the chain while I pedal the bike. This is what I was doing when the accident happened. (This is not however the way I will be cleaning chains at work in the future - I plan to get a chain cleaning tool like I use on my bike at home.)

As I was turning the pedals, the rag I was using got caught in the chain ring, and before I knew what was happening, it had pulled my right thumb (the one holding the rag) into the chainring. My thumb was pinched in between the chain (which was on the bottom of my thumb) and the chainring (on my thumbnail side). On a normal bike this might not have been a big deal. But a Spinner's chain is weighted with a 45-pound flywheel. The pressure was enough that the chainring pierced through my thumbnail and broke my bone. As soon as I knew what was happening, I struggled to reverse the flywheel. My thumb managed to only go into the chainring a couple of inches before I got it out...which was lucky because had it gone much further, I might have lost the end of my thumb! As soon as it started going in, I started yelling, "Ow! Ow! Ow!" And my good co-worker, Dan came running. At the time I thought how overdramatic I was being...then I looked at my mangled thumb. I begged Dan to take me to the ER, holding my hand above my head with blood running down my arm. My boss's boss ended up taking me.

Anyway, here I was in the ER...again (third time in three months). This little thumb wound took ten stitches to fix. Five stitches under my nail (yes, they had to remove the nail), two stitches outside the nailbed, and three stitches to put the nail back in place. Yes, they put the nail back, not for beauty reasons, but because if they didn't then the skin would grow in where the nail should be and the new nail wouldn't come back in right.

Now, eight days later, I'm finally starting to be able to function again without reeling in terror everytime someone gets too close. I've stopped wearing the splint, because it bugs me and causes more trouble than it's worth. And, I'm back at work. Yes, I missed a whole week of work at two jobs because of a thumb injury. You don't realize how much you use your thumb or how much thumb/finger injuries hurt until you've had one. This hurts way worse than any of the bike wrecks I've had!

Okay, if you're ready for some blurry camera-phone pictures, go ahead and scroll down.

This is it after soaking in some solution at the ER.

I begged my boss to take a picture during stitch-up, but she refused because it was too gory. This is it after being stitched up. That's my nail in the tweezers, ready to go back on.

I thought it looked really good after they put the nail back on. Little did I know that they weren't done creating Frankenthumb yet.

This is what it looked like after I removed the bandages two days later.

And this is it after 6 days.

I have to go get the stitches taken out on Thursday morning. If you hear screaming sometime around 9 a.m., you'll know it's me.