Thursday 7 July 2016

Hand on Heart

The story so far...

Six weeks ago, I was at a film festival, lost my footing and landed on a bonfire. I put my left hand out to cushion the fall and did something awful to it (graphic injury photo). It wasn't just my fingers, I took half my wrist with them too (second graphic injury photo). 

The first clinic I went to was a disaster. As you can see from that second photo, they didn't clean up so well and the wound became infected. They also bandaged up my hand without using any salve, so when I went to the second clinic it took almost three hours to soak the bandages off, then a further three hours stripping infected skin with tweezers whilst I sobbed against the stomach of the kind nurse who was holding me. 

As fun days out go, I wouldn't recommend it.

It's been an exhausting few weeks as I haven't been able to do any of the things I usually do to relax: writing novels, playing music or cooking. Simply dressing myself has been a challenge. 

I'm too impatient to be a good patient. In a bid to speed up recovery, I sought out the National Association of Physiotherapists. I hadn't realised that new skin would be tight, and that the tips of my fingers would be too sensitive to touch anything. Because of this, I was still typing everything one-handed (impossible for a novel) and my brief foray into speech-to-text software was disappointing.

I practically skipped out of the first physio session. I felt I'd made real progress on suppleness and sensitivity. The physio reckoned I'd be able to type again in five sessions, so I was truly excited to go back the next day for round two. 

It ended in disaster. I don't know whether he got distracted or what, but the same physio managed to pop the ends of three of my fingers (yet another graphic picture). He really fucked up. Huge red blood blisters. It cost five times the price of the physio session (and yes, they did charge me!) to get my fingers drained and bandaged back at the clinic. You can imagine the state I was in. I'd just had the bandages taken off, now I was back in them for two weeks, forbidden from approaching a keyboard - or a physiotherapist.

This was excruciating because I'd just had a fabulous idea for a novel. 

(state of hands two weeks ago)

Thankfully, I am in the care of Nurse Moses, a true miracle man. I will never forget this guy for the rest of my life. My Facebook tribute:

A massive 'You're utterly amazeballs' to all my nursing, medical and healing friends. Over the past five weeks I have been entirely indebted to an incredible man called Nurse Moses. He's seen me in extreme pain (three hours of skin-stripping surgery on an infected wound), we've laughed a lot despite sharing no common language (there's a splodge on the wall that looks like Che Guevara), and he's forgiven me for fucking up a month of his work by seeing a psycho physio on the side. He's managed to fix every mistake I've made and still manages a smile when he sees me. He is, quite simply, amazing. As are all of you who have the stomach, patience and dedication to enter such a profession. I don't think we ever realise just how wonderful you are until we need you.

At 7 p.m. this Saturday, I'm scheduled to have all of the remaining dressing removed. Moses assures me that with the help of the specialist team at the clinic, everything will return to normal soon enough. I trust him implicitly. He's done an incredible job. As far as I can tell, he's a natural born healer.

But today was extremely special for me. I've been so frustrated because of the restricted movement. All day I've been lying on the couch watching Wimbledon. Both Federer and Murray were playing in the quarters against Cilic and Tsonga, respectively. Monster matches, five sets each. Whilst watching, I was stretching and compressing my hand. Next thing I know, I've made a full-on fist pump. 

I stared at it for a moment, then made a video about it. 

It feels like a milestone. It'll be stiff again tomorrow, but now I know for certain that I'll get full movement back, and I did it myself. 

Hopefully back to typing again in a couple of weeks.

It's now a race against the clock to write as many novels as possible before doing the next stupid thing to myself.

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