Monday, May 18, 2009

I Sliced My Finger Open

I sliced open the tip of my left index finger last night while cutting into a small wedge of Havarti cheese (you may insert your own "cutting the cheese" joke here). Maybe it was the pain clouding my mind, but I thought that perhaps the cheese had bitten me as an act of improbable culinary revenge. I spilled a significant amount of blood from the wound, yet, as I bled through several dressings in an attempt to stop the gushing, I began to ask myself if this was an injury that truly required a visit to the ER. It's a sad commentary on the cost of health care in this country when I have to debate whether an injury is serious enough to justify $100+ in co-payments.

I did the best I could to treat the wound myself (using gauze and duct tape). Wanting a second opinion, I called Jason over several hours later to have him look at it. Jason is an expert in the field of self-triage, having been both accident prone and uninsured for the past several years. First, he poured alcohol on the wound, which felt as if he had taken a blowtorch to my finger. Then, he filled my bathroom sink with water and iodine, and had me soak the wound for five minutes. He patched it up the best he could with Neosporin, gauze, stretchy bandages and duct tape. Not a bad job.

The next morning, I found myself wondering when my last Tetanus shot was, so, before work, I stopped into my doctor's office to explain the situation. The nurse was a soft-spoken older lady whom I had not met before. Upon being asked how I had injured myself, I decided to try to lighten the mood by saying "It was a petting zoo accident. Apparently goats will indeed eat anything".

She could tell, upon examining my wound, that it was a knife wound, not a bite wound. Still, she remarked on how unusual the cut itself looked, stating that it was the strangest kitchen wound she had ever seen. I had apparently sliced into my finger at such an odd angle; nearly any other angle would have required stitches to repair. She then informed me that she would have to remove a flap of sliced skin that was clinging to the wound.

"Just so you know, this is not going to be pleasant," she said.

"Oh, I realize that.", I replied, "It's not like this is the first time I've had to have a hand wound looked at."

I then gave her the grand tour of my hands, pointing out a half dozen scars that littered the landscape. The nurse reacted with a mixture of genuine shock and dumbfounded awe. She asked if I worked in a kitchen for a living, obviously thinking that it would explain the unusually large number of scars on my hands.

"No, I'm just a klutz", I replied.

The visit took only about 45 minutes and cost me just $15, which was infinitely preferable to spending several hours in the ER and having to shell out upwards of $100. I'm lucky that I am insured. I can only imagine the debate that the uninsured must go through when this sort of thing happens to them. It shouldn't be this way. One shouldn't have to worry about risking one's financial health whenever one's medical health is in question.

It's a politically precarious situation. Having the government involved in health care would potentially water down the quality of care, would possibly overwhelm the system from the ERs to the accounting office and would stir up fears of Socialism (from the sort of people who have no clue what Socialism really is). Really, though, something needs to be done. I just have no idea what.


  1. The fact you could shock a nurse cracks me up :) Blogger listened to your request, I am here via Twitter.

  2. Hi Jade.

    Hope you come back and visit from time to time.

    If you think that poor nurse had a shock, you should have seen my poor mom. She raised 5 kids and was a regular in the ER with all of my brothers.

  3. How odd, I did the same thing yesterday while I was slicing onions.

  4. Oh, I often wonder what happens to those without health care. It's a scary situation that really needs to be resolved. I live in Canada where we can thankfully, rush over the the emergency department, wait for hours but not worry about the cost incurred. Hope you've mended well.

  5. Lol I know how it is not to have insurance. I appaerently had appendias...or how ever its spelt. And I spent three days on the couch in great pain. I had woke up from the pain the first day, made it upstairs and curled into a ball next to the couch in the only way that releaved any pain. And simply passed out from the pain, not sleep but pass out. THe pain lessened the days after, but it seems that by the time I went to the er it was gang green and could have burst. And to think I was an inch from not seeing a doctor xD. You know whats funny too, a guy had did the same type of thing but had went and played golf instead of seeing a doctor and had it burst the same day. He was in surgery before me...I was drugged all weekend, such fun. well sorry for the wall of text.

  6. Ha nice wall of text. In England, with National Health Service, it is nice. You backward Americans! Admittedly this is like the only area you guys are backward in though, so good luck with fixing it. Obama oughtta stop his clean coal BS too and stop tipping us over into environmental chaos, put the tax up on petrol etc. He didn't say it was going to be easy now did he. And maybe restrictions are unamerican, but in the long term the environmental problems would cause a lot more problems than restrictions now. So for god's sake take some responsibility on that front... Rant out. Invasion imminent

  7. I don't see any real significant movement on nationalized health care in there U.S. within the next 4 years. Funding is always going to be an issue and, in this economy, the massive tax that would have to be imposed just wouldn't be swallowed easily by the public.

  8. Its so interesting to read about health care concerns, I'm Canadian so I don't even link a doctor with any sort of fees. But I sympathize on the lack of insurance when I think of the HUGE dental bill I'm going to incur in the next couple weeks. I'm floating around without any insurance on that.

  9. I work in health care and I know a lot of seems so "Catch 22." You have to have it and it costs the arm and leg you went in to have checked out. There is work going on...for those that are uninsured right now, have faith there are people on your side.

  10. The very description of the injury made me cringe in pain! LOL. Incidentally, our own health service here in Ireland is a running joke!

  11. Hey Mad Mac,

    What's wrong with the Irish health care system?

    Just curious.