Tag Archives: 3rd degree friction burn

Day 704. T-119 days.

Well, the end is in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel is just a glimmer in the distance but it’s definitely there, shimmering away. My last hospital appointment had my occupational therapist, Liz, having a good poke and prod at my scar with accompanying ‘Hmmm…’s and ‘Lovely…’s  – similar noises to those I make at the sight of cake. Anyway, after a good look, Liz tells me that I’m nearly there. The colour is good – it’s no longer a sore-looking red – and the scarring seems settled but she thinks it needs just one more stint of glove wearing, with my next appointment booked for the 9th of May.

Jan Hand 01

One more stint?! Yipee!! This is the news I’ve been waiting for! The promise of an end! But despite my joy, I do think I’ll miss my little black gloves. They keep my hand warm on my cold, metal gearstick. They provide a good talking point when meeting new people and they allow me to receive an impressive number of Michael Jackson comments. However, I can’t deny my happiness in knowing that there is now an end. It shall be 2 years since my accident on the 6th of February and oh boy, what a 2 years it’s been.

Finally, a shameless plug for my photography business!

Jan Hand 03Jan Hand 02

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Day 176. Sharks and stitches.

So after having my appointment rescheduled for 5 days later, Monday finally rolled around. If waking up an hour and a half late and still catching the bus was an Olympic sport, I would have won gold. But as it’s not, I was just happy to get to my appointment on time. The bandages took a good 5 minutes to cut open before I was able to see what wonders cosmetic surgery can do. I’ll admit, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew that I was going to be zig-zaggy but that was about it. Well anyway, let’s cut to the chase:

Y’know, I think that after you get knocked out for surgery, they wheel you into theatre where a number of grannies are ready with their sewing machines and cross-stitch needles and after the surgeon does a a couple of zig-zag cuts, the grannies plonk your hand onto their machine and give it a couple of runs through whilst listening to Take That on their analogue radio. After 10 minutes of unpicking, tugging and general squirming from my part, all the 48 stitches were out and it looked something like the 2nd picture above. The first thing I noticed was how straight my fingers were now – I flattened my hand onto the table so much easier than before the operation. I also noticed that a thick lump of scar tissue that used to be on the webbing of my ring finger and my little finger was now gone. I then remembered about my note I had left on my hand to remind me to take the bins out for the bin collection. Whoops…

So now the physiotherapy and occupational therapy starts over again. Once the wounds have fully healed and the scarring fades, my hand should look a lot better than it did before the z-plasties. But for now, I shall continue to tell people that I had a fight with a shark and won..

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Day 162. X, Y, Z-Plasty

So today rolled around pretty slowly as I was desperate to know if I needed to have a 2nd operation called a Z-Plasty. My fingers are still pretty claw-like so I had an inkling that I might need the 2nd operation. So sitting opposite my surgeon as he had a good look and prod at my hand, I waited for his verdict. “Yep. That’s going to need some work doing to it…” he said. Okay, I was cool with that. “…so I’ve booked you in for this Thursday.” Sorry, this Thursday?? As in, 2 days time? I wasn’t so cool with that. I was planning on driving my lovely newly painted car around for the next couple of weeks and doing lots of productive Uni work. But now I’m going to be spending 36 hours in hospital and then a week bandaged up! At least it would be a chance to get stuck into my awesome book. Anyway, my surgeon continued to draw all over my hands in the places I would have my Z-plasties.

He will cut 6 Z-plasties which should take about 2 hours. 2 hours just to make a few cuts seemed a bit over the top to me, but hey ho. This type of surgery is under the ‘Cosmetic Surgery’ category. So am I meant to come out of theatre on Thursday with all my wrinkles gone and boobs 3 times bigger? No? Oh, okay.

 

EDIT: To see photos after the z-plasty procedure, click here.

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Day 55. Guess who’s back (back, back…)

Well it’s the beginning of a new month and much to my own surprise – I am back on the road!!! Driving never felt so good. Man, I missed my car so much.

Over the past couple of weeks, the physio has really been working. As painful as it is, it is worth it in the long run. It feels like your joints are being forced the completely wrong way – like when you’re brother decides for no apparent reason to twist your arm behind your back to make you give him the last of your chocolate, that kinda pain. I found that trying to hold different sized bottles helped a lot – starting off with a big bottle like a coke bottle, then going down to a bottle of wine, then a deodorant bottle etc. My physiotherapist has also given me these bandages that I have to wrap around my hand tightly to force my hand into a fist and keep it like that for 5min. It’s meant to help train the tendons in your hand to start working again. I just think it hurts a lot.

But then, the shocked came on Friday when I met with my Occupational Therapist.  She had a look at my hand and noted about my wrinkly skin. As the skin heals, the collagen fibres in your skin go all knotted and wrinkly, instead of lying flat. This causes the scar to look all lumpy.

The more you scar, the harder it is to regain full movement. So to help treat this, people wear pressure garments on the scarring area. The garment acts like another layer of skin to flatten out the scarring skin. But scars take about 2 years to mature. This means, the pressure garment has to stay on the scarring area for 23 hours a day, for 2 years. In short, I have to wear this for 2 years:

This actual one is only temporary whilst my actual one is being specially made. When I found out, I was pretty bummed. I will have to wear it whilst I sleep, when I go out, when I go to the beach, when I graduate and anything else that happens over the next 2 years. I can only take it off to shower and to rub in moisturiser, which I have to do 6 times a day for 5 minutes each time. The massaging when rubbing in the moisturiser also helps reduce the scarring. I’m probably completely overreacting and being a wimp about the whole thing – I feel very sorry for people who have facial burns or burns to their back. You can get these garments for any part of your body.

So yeah, that’s what’s happening now. Updates will be less frequent now as it takes much longer for something interesting enough for me to write about to happen. My surgeon advised to add this image below to show the process over time so far.

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Day 39. Wrinkles and cold feet.

On Monday, I went back to the hospital for another change of my hand dressing and then a first look at my foot. My hand looked a bit more wrinkly because the skin is starting to come off again – like the surgeon said it would – and I got to have my cast trimmed so I could start using my extremely stiff index finger again. Trying to make my finger and thumb touch was as difficult as trying to lift John Travolta when he went through that fat stage.

 
My foot was next. It’s not really that painful, just very sensitive. The skin is so thin that I can’t wear socks, otherwise it could damage the already delicate skin. So I have very cold feet all the time. They have advised me to try and keep it in the open as much as I can and moisturise it with E45 4 times a day so it does not get dry and crack. It’s a bit gross, but the surgeon had some kept over skin from my graft, so stuck it back on before it was bandaged up to help the recovery of it. That’s what the funny looking bits on it are.
Next week, I will have my hand completely taken out of it’s bandages and have the last of the skin taken off. Then the physiotherapy and healing begins. Oh boy…
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Day 11. Accept drugs from your friends.

Sitting in the tea room on Wednesday with the with a complete lack of motivation, I felt pretty damn awful. As I am complaining away to anyone who would listen, my buddy Daz mentions that he couldn’t stomach dihydrocodeine either and that the Doc gave him some other pills which had stamped on them “Amy! Eat me! I will make you feel better!”. Well, they maybe not those words exactly. More like “Co-Dydramol”. They were basically a milder version of the dihydrocodeine. I soon felt the distinctive stabbing pains ebbing away and replaced by a gentle throbbing instead. Went to A&E to ask for more drugs and the woman was mardy, awkward and no help at all. And she didn’t give me and drugs.

Once home, I knew the dreaded cleaning was going to occur. As Mum started cleaning my hand, the pain was what I would imagine getting a tattoo on the palm of your hand would feel like. However, that didn’t stop my hand from involuntary jerking away from my Mum whenever she hit a particularly painful part. Like if the tattooist sneezed violently whist continuing to tattoo you. As this happened more and more as the iodine started it’s work on the burn, I could see my Mum getting more and more upset. I guess it must be a very difficult thing knowing that you are purposely causing pain to your child but you know you have to. I pray I never have to feel that pain.

This is my “Ow! I’m trying to smile for the picture but this really hurts!” face. Attractive, I know.

The following morning I went to to Burns and Plastics unit at the hospital and asked them very nicely if they could take a look at my hand and give me some painkillers, despite not having an appointment. After a scowl and a “please take a seat,” it wasn’t long before I was talking to the nice man that sorted me out in A&E on the day I had my accident. He told me that everything was going well and that I am just about ready for a skin graft – if the consultant gives the go-ahead on Monday. He then prescribed me 2 types of pills – the first is Zoton, to stop me feeing sick from the second pill, Diclofenac. Once I was bagged up again by the nurse (which was nowhere near as good as when my Mum does it) I toddled off to university. I had barely walked over the threshold before I was eagerly swallowing my new pill. An hour later, the drug had kicked in. I felt AWESOME. Perhaps I felt extra awesome as I had felt so crapy just a couple of hours before – but I didn’t care. At that moment, I felt I could take on the world. Okay, maybe not the world, but definitely an impressive chunk of it.

So the suspense continues now until Monday morning, when all will be revealed. To be grafted or not to be grafted? That is the question.

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Day 9 – I think I would prefer child birth.

Man alive does it hurt. The ‘dead’ bits of skin seem to be coming back in full force zombie mode. As I am starting to get nerves and squishy bits back, it is bringing with it blood and a lot of pain. You can see in the picture how the bits that were white this time last week are now flaky and bloody. Don’t you just love this in depth of gore blog?

My body woke me up at 5 30am screaming for some pain killers. I’ve started to eye up the dihydrocodeine pills again, however, have not actually bought myself to take one yet. In saying that, I am going to the hospital in about 30min to beg for some other strong pain killers. I don’t think I could have my mum clean my hand tonight without something…dihydrocodeine…paracetamol…a large whiskey…who am I kidding, I don’t even drink.

It’s weird really – after your initial injury, you think that things are just going to get less painful from there. Well, that’s what I was thinking anyway. What a prat I was.

All I want to do is to go to sleep and wake up in 3 weeks time when a significant amount of healing has done and I’m not feeling crappy and sorry for myself. And I can drive again.

Look at your hands and be grateful for them for they are wonderful things. Trust me, I know.

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Days 4-7. Parents, pain and presents.

Days 4-7 had good bits and not so good bits. The good bits are that you get given lots of presents. I got made a beautiful glass bead from one friend (which is now safely secured to my sling) and a scrummy cookie-cake from a group of close friends.

    

Those guys are the greatest.

The bad bits however, were the continuing pain of the hand cleaning and my parents well-beings. My folks are, quite naturally, pretty bummed about my injury. However much I reassure them that I am totally fine and chilled out about the whole thing, I don’t think it will help. Both of them have offered their skin for my graft which I declined immediately – but just think, if I did accept, and the thin possibility of the graft taking actually worked, by the time I die, that skin would be, like, over 110 years old!! I know that skin regenerates itself and all that, but still. Weird.

My mother has turned into Nurse Shore and I think is quite enjoying the status – more so than the job. Once a day, she will remove my bag and repeat the nurse’s process. I try and occupy my thoughts by listening to music, playing a game on my phone, or generally talking about anything else apart from the stabbing pain in my hand. The progress across the days quickly becomes visible and by day 7, lots of small red dots start to appear over skin that we thought was dead. We found out today that this is a good sign as  it means I won’t have to have as big a graft as we first thought I would. Take a look:

    

If I had had my graft the day after receiving my injury, I would have had a lot of skin removed and replaced. However, after waiting a week, the potential graft area is now much smaller. This is good as the donor site for the skin is very often the butt and boy oh boy, I do NOT want to be having some surgeon putting ass on my hand.

 So now we wait for yet another week. Next Monday, I shall go back and confirm if I definitely have to have a skin graft or not. If I do, it shall be the following Wednesday. I have been given exercises to do which are simple, but not that easy. It’s an odd time when you excitedly bound across the kitchen to show your Mum that you can curl your fingers into a fist.

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Day 3. It starts to get meaty lookin’.

Okay, so by Wednesday morning, I had got into the swing of taking all my pills and the side effects that come along with them. However, after throwing up for the 5th time that morning, I decided I could no longer take the super-duper pain killer Dihydrocodeine. Man, I felt so bad. Breakfast was definitely a no-go.

At 12pm, I went back to the hospital. The doctor unwrapped my hand and started prodding around a bit. On certain parts that she prodded, it felt as though I had a hard, plastic sheet over that part of the hand. This was the dead skin. I hadn’t dared take a peek yet but by the look on my mother’s face, it was pretty funky looking. So I decided to steal a quick glance as I figured I would have be spending a lot of time with it from now on. This is what I saw:

The yellowy bits are bad bits – the dead skin. RIP.

The red bits are good bits – skin that is still living and getting blood and oxygen to it.

The white wrinkly bits are just from all the fluids from your skin – just like when you’ve sat in the bath for too long because you are reading a really good book and even though the water isn’t even hot any more, you still don’t want to get out. That kind of wrinkly.

After having a good look at my hand, the nurse said she was going to clean my hand. “Great! Relaxing hand massage and manicure!” I thought. Wrong. The nurse first washed my hand under tap water to start getting rid of the gooey, juicy bits. Then using a medical cloth swab things doused with iodine, she starts to gently rub over the injured area – just like a mother would run a baby cloth over for mucky fingers. But instead of a calming sensation, the iodine made me think “Ow!Ow!Ow!Ow!”. I’m not going to lie, it hurts. The stinging sensation is similar to that of thrusting your hand into nettles and rubbing it around a few times. But even at that point, I was still glad I wasn’t taking the Dihydrocodeine. After the iodine scrub, my hand was washed with salt water – which is not painful at all. The salt is so little, there is no pain what so ever. One more scrub with the iodine (“Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!”) and then my hand gets smothered by Flamazine cream which is lovely and cooling.

I wasn’t really prepared for the next thing the nurse whipped out…no! Nothing like that! She held in front of me a bag. Why did I need a funny looking bag? “Because having your hand in a bag will be much better for you than having it all bandaged up – you need to move it as much as you can before your graft,” was the answer I got after voicing my question.

Great. I’m now Bag Girl.

I was then advised to wear my sling to keep my hand elevated and to avoid swelling and told to come back on Monday.

Despite not being happy with my new look, I knew it was for the best. Stupid bag.

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