Seven weeks ago, I went to a neurocritical care conference across the river from Washington D.C. DC was one of my favorite cities when I was in college/med school – my friend Sam went to law school there and I went out and visited her several times and just fell in love with the city. I hadn’t been back there since she graduated, so I was really excited to get to see the city. They changed the dates of the conference this ear, so I accidentally bought plane tickets for a couple of days before the conference started – which gave me a great excuse to do some touristing.
I took the bus into the city and explored the Capitol Building, which I had avoided my last visits there – I’ve had a pretty profound phobia of tall buildings since I was a kid, which has only improved this last year to my joy and astonishment. So I took a tour of the rotunda and the Old Senate chambers.
After the tour ended, I decided to walk around the grounds a little bit and then meander down towards the Washington Memorial. I walked up behind the Capitol, snapping pictures of what I thought was the Supreme Court Building (spoiler alert – it wasn’t. But the Library of Congress is a beautiful building). And as I was putting my camera away, I missed the curb and wasn’t able to catch myself and fell down hard.
I knew pretty much instantly that I had hurt myself badly. 2 tourists, 1 capitol police officer, 1 capitol doctor and a capitol nurse, another with another couple of capitol law enforcement, 3 firemen and finally 2 EMS personnel later and I found myself having an intimate tour of the George Washington emergency department.
I lacerated my eyebrow (I was wearing sunglasses that sliced right across), requiring 2 layers of stitches and developed a black eye – I walked around my conference for three days looking like a domestic violence victim. And I fell onto my hand and pretty much instantly wasn’t able to bend it. 2 hours later, it was severely swollen and bruised.
That was 7 weeks ago. And I’m still not able to bend my ring and pinky finger. I saw one of the orthopedic providers a week ago Monday – they think there may be a hairline fracture (radiology didn’t call one and I think it’s just a skin fold).
I finally got to see a hand therapist who hooked me up with a brace to stretch my fingers.
I’ve been pretty discouraged as I haven’t felt that I’ve gotten much movement, even using this several times a day, but I went back to the therapist today and I have 5-10 degrees more flexion in both my pinky and ring finger so there is hope.
Being injured has been awful. I haven’t been able to write, shaking hands is excruciating, and I’m not able to intubate (not that I did much before – airways are the one thing that still truly give me nightmares). I’m petrified that I’m still going to need surgery or that recovery is going to take me months (and both are still equally likely).
On the plus side, I now know why my ring finger is so short, thanks to the xrays (I’m sure I have had xrays before – I just wasn’t a doctor then and knew what I was looking at): my metacarpal or the bones in your palm is shorter than it’s supposed to be – I actually have a normal size finger, but the “knuckle” is deeper in the palm. My therapist is actually impressed that I was ever able to make a real fist.