Posts Tagged ‘accidents’

Buses to work have been mostly OK recently – I’ve either become accustomed to the noise and the jouncing or my luck in catching quieter, gentler buses has improved. However, one ride earlier in the week was particularly bouncy. When it neared the stop I wanted to get off at, the driver hesitated for a long moment at a zebra crossing, apparently asking me and another passenger if where we wanted to get off – as if the fact that we’d rung the bell and stood up wasn’t enough.

As soon as I got off the bus, I tripped on the uneven pavement, fell on my hands and rolled on to my back. In frustration, I kicked the bus shelter – pretty hard. Too hard, really, as my right big toe hurt pretty badly. I limped off, down the steps to the river, but I had to stop and rest a moment. I took of my shoe and sock and held some snow to my toe. It was already quite purple in the nail and the skin around it. When I eventually continued, I realised I didn’t have my travel mug and had to go back to the bus stop to where it was lying on the ground.

At the end of the day, much of my right foot was swollen. The toe itself, several days later, is still swollen and still hurts. The sensations reminds me of my wart treatment from a few years ago. I haven’t seen a doctor about it. There’s no structural damage – it flexes readily and painlessly. But the nail is pink and it’s surrounded by some bruising. I’m a little worried that the horror of my thumb might be repeated, but the bruising is not that intense – the nail is lilac with bruising, not black with pooled blood. I’ll be happy when the swelling goes down and it stops hurting.

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This post contains images of a graphic nature.

About a month ago, I slammed my thumb in the heavy metal door to our apartment. I was closing the door with my right hand, pulling it towards me, and I didn’t realise that, as I was leaning with my left hand on the door post, that my thumb was in the way. It made a bit of a liquid crunch.

Very quickly, I got a big black bruise under my nail, filling about half of it. Obviously, the initial injury hurt like the proverbial motherfucker (assuming that ‘hurt like a motherfucker’ is a proverb). This faded away and I was left with a half black thumbnail that didn’t seem to be causing me any problems, so I left it.

I read later that you should get the blood drained by a doctor if the bruise covers more than a quarter of the nail. The technique is to bore a small hole in the surface of the nail – a heated paper clip is apparently a good tool for this.

But I didn’t do any of that. Instead, I waited to see if it would grow out.

Well, it did, to a certain extent, but the problem I discovered on Wednesday was that the nail wasn’t being replaced with new nail – a gap was growing at the base of my nail between it and the skin. The nail itself was bulging a little from the blood underneath.

On Wednesday, then, I started picking at some flakes of what might have been skin in that gap and dislodged a few granules of dried blood. I resolved to try to scrape out what I could, so, armed with a pair of scissor that I gave a good clean and in the privacy of one of a bathroom on one of the upper floors at work, I started digging out the dried blood. One thing led to another and I ended up peeling away the thumbnail from the bottom, revealing a dense scab underneath.

I took away an oval of nail extending about halfway up the thumbnail. In addition to the compacted scab there was a fair amount of old liquid blood, which I squeezed out and washed away, which was followed by some fresh stuff. Under the scab there was a flat white surface, which I initially interpreted as nail that had grown under the scab, but which I’m now sure is bone. Apparently, the trauma to my thumb had killed the flesh underneath.

Now that I’ve cleaned all the blood away, there is a pulpy bit of flesh poking out from under half of the remaining nail; next to it is a flat pink bit of flesh. There are a couple of pockets leading away to the sides under the skin and under the nail. Most of the remaining nail is attached to the meat underneath, but the flat bit of flesh I mentioned has a shallow space over it, from where I’ve squeezed out a bit of pus – although that seems to have cleared up in the past twenty-four hours. And there’s the bone – which isn’t as hard as you might think and gives a dull, unpleasant feeling when you touch it that is just short of being pain.

I’m keeping the whole area as clean as I can, washing it regularly, avoiding using the thumb, putting antiseptic cream, a fresh plaster and some protective tape on it two or three times a day. Since I removed the nail and scab on Wednesday, some skin has already started growing over the bone from the left hand side. And, surprisingly, the whole thing hasn’t caused me any pain; it’s sensitive, running hot water over it isn’t nice, but cleaning it and poking at the dried blood hasn’t hurt at all.

Because of all this, I’m not planning on seeing a doctor about it in the immediate future. If it gets more infected or painful then that might change, but I think I’m doing as much as can be reasonably done. Also, I don’t have insurance, so it’d be expensive and the doctor would probably want an X-ray.

I don’t regret removing the nail, either, as I’m sure all that scab was preventing the skin healing and the nail regrowing. We’ll see how it develops over the next few weeks.

And now, some pictures.

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