I thought giving birth was hard work. And it was. Don’t get me wrong.
Passing 7 and 8-pound babies through your, well, you know, without any pain meds is a big accomplishment. At least I think so. Heck, having babies period, no matter where they come out or if you felt anything or not, is hard work!
But the work of childbirth doesn’t even come close to the work it takes to actually raise kids to adulthood. Oh no. I’m learning this first hand.
You see, when I was a new mom, I had all the answers. I had this raising kids thing all planned out. I knew exactly what it would look like for our little family.
Then, Isaiah was born. He broke the mold… and all my well-laid plans.
My husband has always said that it would be Isaiah who brought us to the emergency room first, and unfortunately, he was right.
Two weeks ago, my sweet, reckless Isaiah decided to forget all the countless hours of instruction his father had given him about being careful around the farm equipment.
I’ve heard kids often have these bouts of amnesia and have been told to expect it occasionally.
He decided to help Dad start the tractor by pulling on one of the belts at the same time my husband turned the tractor key. There were no problems the first couple of attempts at starting the old tractor. The battery always seems to be dead. However, this day, the battery was simply sleeping, and it took a few cranks to turn the engine over. The third time my husband turned the key, the engine sparked, jumpstarting all the mechanical whatnots inside, including the belt that Isaiah was holding. It jerked his hand into the pulley that the belt was attached to, he screamed, yanked his hand away from whatever had just hurt him, curled it into a tight ball, and ran screaming and crying towards the house.
Dean had no clue what had happened. He took off after Isaiah, catching up to him halfway up the hill, and saw blood oozing out of his tightly clenched fist. Isaiah couldn’t tell him what happened as he was crying too hard so Dean picked him up and ran with him to the house.
When they made it up to the house, they were locked out. (I have to keep the front door locked now that Ezrah knows how to open it. That little stinker likes to sneak out and wander through these hills.)
Anyway, I could tell something was not good as soon as I heard Isaiah’s sobbing and Dean desperately banging on the front door. He didn’t know what had happened, only that he must have gotten hurt by the tractor and that he was bleeding, but I could tell he was worried. His shirt and arms were covered in blood.
Being the calm ER nurse that I am, ahem, I figured he’d got a little finger cut that was bleeding a lot (fingers do bleed a lot), and that my man was just overreacting seeing how he’s not a fan of gross things.
I quickly grabbed a clean cloth and wrapped Isaiah’s hand in it to slow the bleeding while Dean kept saying he was sorry and that he didn’t see that he was touching the tractor. I tried to calm him down and told him to go wash the blood off himself. Accidents happen, you know. During all of this, I just kept holding Isaiah’s hand tightly to slow the bleeding and did my best to soothe him. Then I looked at what had happened.
The tip of his right-hand index finger was gone. It had been cut off. The entire fingernail was not there.
My stomach sank. I knew we had to go to the emergency room right away. I yelled for the other boys to put their shoes on and get in the car, I sent Dean to go find the missing part of Isaiah’s finger with hopes that it could be reattached, and I grabbed my purse. Off we went, flying to the local ER with my wounded, whimpering 6-year-old.
Being an RN has its advantages in situations like these… especially being an ER nurse. Not only do I stay fairly calm in stressful situations, but I can handle my fair share of blood and guts.
However, this was the first time I’ve had to walk my kid into the ER, carrying his finger with me in a little bag, and I can tell you this. I was holding up well on the outside, but on the inside, I felt like a wreck.
My child had lost his finger, my husband felt completely responsible, we were in the ER about to get drugs up the whazzoo, I was trying to keep Isaiah calm without telling him how bad it was, and I could feel his pain. This mama was feeling a total loss of control.
Thankfully, friendly faces were there to make me feel a bit better.
You see, I worked in our local ER for a couple of years before leaving my nursing career behind to be a stay at home mom so imagine how happy I was to see the familiar faces of the ER staff when we walked through those doors… the first time since I’d left there 8 years ago! I’d worked with several of the nurses, and my favorite ER doctor was even there that day! Hallelujah!
I won’t give you all the details of the ER visit, but here are the highlights.
- We had a hand x-ray done to see if the bone had been cut.
- Isaiah had his first ever experience with a needle as he needed an IV.
- He had IV pain meds and antibiotics.
- His finger was cleaned and bandaged.
- We had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon scheduled for the following morning.
Now, let me just say that I am not a fan of going to the doctor for every little thing. I feel very confident and capable of handling most situations at home on my own, and I feel that I have enough common sense and training to know when I’m in over my head and need a doctors help. This was that situation. I mean, I’m not God. I can’t reattach fingers.
Getting the IV was really no big deal. The kid didn’t even know what to expect, poor thing, and he handled it like a trooper. My guess is that his finger was hurting too much for him to notice the bee sting pain of the needle prick, and the thought of getting pain medicine to take the edge off what he was feeling was a welcome relief.
Meds & More
Speaking of medicines. I have no problem with pain meds during situations like this one. In fact, I wanted Isaiah to have some relief.
No, I’m not a fan of unnecessary medicines. I mean, medication itself isn’t really ideal. In fact, sicknesses and accidents aren’t ideal either. Unfortunately, they happen, and I’m glad there are drugs that can dull pain when needed. It was the antibiotics that they suggested we give him that caused me the most concern, and I was torn.
They said he should have antibiotics because he was wounded on a dirty farm implement, but I know what antibiotics do to the gut and all that good, healthy bacteria located there. Bacteria that is necessary for good health. Bacteria that I want to remain there. They destroy it.
Sure they kill the bad bacteria too, but his cut had bled a ton, washing bacteria away from the wound and flooding it with oxygen. Not only that, but they had cleaned his finger with betadine solution to kill any bacteria too. Did he really need an antibiotic? Would this wound, with proper care, become infected? What about antibacterial herbs? Would they be enough to keep an infection from occurring in his finger?
I thought so, but was I about to say no to something that they saw as necessary? If so, what then? Would that have been considered neglectful? What would that have meant? That I was putting my child in danger?
Ugh! The questions that ran through my mind in that 6-second period of time.
Being a nurse, I know the protocol for this kind of thing. IV, pain meds, x-ray, antibiotics and a tetanus shot, intervention for the wound, bandaging, then follow up care.
I already knew I would be refusing the tetanus shot which would be viewed as crazy in their minds. I knew that I may have to defend my stance and explain that it wouldn’t do any good at this point anyway, but I was ready for that. However, I decided it was best to choose my battles and that, considering the risk versus benefit of antibiotics in this situation, the benefits may outweigh the risks.
So I said yes and we got one round of antibiotics. Do I regret that decision? Kind of, but it’s not the end of the world. He will recover from that one round of antibiotics. I mean, it’s the first antibiotic he’s ever had in his 6 years on this earth. I don’t think it will ruin him. And yes, we will be doing some serious gut repair in the meantime.
Once the x-rays came back and the ER doctor spoke with the orthopedic surgeon that was on call, we had some answers.
The bone was completely fine which was a HUGE blessing. Basically, his finger got pinched between the belt and the pulley which pinched the tip of his finger off.
Unfortunately, there was nothing to do with his finger that night, and we were referred to an orthopedic surgeon the following morning, bright and early. I wanted them to sew his fingertip back on, but the doctor said that wouldn’t do any good. She said it would just rot and fall off. Gross… I know!
So, they bandaged his finger and sent us home with instructions to change the bandage every 4 hours, keep it wet, and give him pain medicine around the clock.
I’m not going to even go into the ordeal of getting his prescription filled for the pain medicine, but let’s just say that the two open pharmacies in our small town didn’t have the prescribed dose of medicine in stock. Thankfully, my doctor friend rewrote the prescription for a different dose that they did have, saving us a trip out of town to the nearest WalMart pharmacy. Ugh!
And sleep. Please tell me about sleep because I didn’t get any that night. Isaiah wanted his bro, Judah, to sleep with him in our bed. They both slept just fine, but mom and dad didn’t. Now, I’m a big fan of co-sleeping, but not with your 6 and 8-year-old all in the same bed. Sure, one was injured, and this was the exception. Unfortunately, our king size bed was at its max with the four of us in it.
Herbal Wound Care
After our trip to the orthopedic surgeon the next morning, we found out that Isaiah wouldn’t need any sort of surgery.
I think part of me was relieved because I didn’t want him to go through any more traumatic experiences, but the other part of me was bummed because he was going to have a painful, open wound for a while.
You see, the doctor said that this sort of injury would do best if left to heal by itself. He said the tissue would regrow, and he’d get the tip of his finger back. He didn’t know if his fingernail would be the same as before, but that was the least of my worries.
I was to give him pain meds as needed, change the bandage once a day, and follow up with him a week later.
We talked briefly about the best way to manage Isaiah’s wound as bandaging goes, but honestly, he wasn’t interested in the best way nor did he care how I managed it. He said it didn’t matter if it was a wet or dry bandage, and when I asked him what he thought about putting honey and herbal salve on it, he said he didn’t know anything about “that natural stuff” and I could do what I wanted.
“Great! Sounds good to me, doc!”
So after doing a bit more research on the best way to heal a nasty wound without getting an infection or using junky antibiotic-laced petroleum products, here’s what we’ve been doing as far as herbal wound care goes.
- We’re keeping the finger wrapped in a moist dressing as studies show they promote better healing of wounds with less scarring than dry dressings do. (Source)
- We’re using antibacterial herbs in the form of herbal washes and salves to minimize risk of infection and promote tissue growth.
- We’re also using manuka honey occasionally to remove dead tissues, promote tissue growth, and minimize risk of infection as well.
I try to keep him distracted from it all with herbal popsicles and his tablet. And of course, if he has a treat, then this handsome man must have one too!
- I gently dry his finger then cover the wound with either manuka honey or herbal salve on a non-stick gauze. We use the salve more than the honey because he says the honey stings him, but we do use it occasionally. It’s good stuff, and he’s learning to stand a little bit of pain.
- Next, I cover the non-stick gauze with another piece of plain gauze.
- After that, I wrap it in a small bit of cotton gauze to hold everything together.
- Finally, I finish it up by wraping it in some Coban wrap to keep it all held in place on his hand.
It’s uncomfortable, but it works. In fact, it works well because after our one-week follow up visit with the orthopedic surgeon, he said Isaiah’s finger was healing up nicely and there were no signs of infection.
In the meantime, Isaiah is a wild man! He plays hard, hurts his finger occasionally, gets over it, and goes on playing. It’s not been the easiest two weeks, but each day is better than the last. And, my kids still has his finger, thank the good Lord above! And he’s had another lesson on not touching things his Daddy has taught him not to touch too. 😉