As I stood on the deck holding my left hand, I could feel the void and knew what had happened. I also knew I couldn’t look at it. I just stood there trying to breathe through the burning pain I felt in my left thumb.
With my eyes squeezed shut, I kept saying out loud, “It burns! It burns”! Within seconds John was at my side talking to me and leading me into the house.
Grabbing a towel from the kitchen, he told me to turn away so he could see the extent of the injury. Talking in quiet, hushed tones, he assured me everything would be okay; but I had a hard time believing him
John wrapped my hand with the towel and put an ice pack on it and told me he’d be right back. What was probably just a few minutes felt like an eternity; so I called out to John asking where he was. He came back into the house and said, “Looking for your thumb, honey.”
He helped me to the car and quickly drove to the emergency room.
I finally got relief from the searing pain a few hours later but still hadn’t seen a doctor. Asking John what the hold up was, he told me the Fire Department went back to the house to look for my thumb.
Several hours later I was in the back of an ambulance crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. I had enough painkillers in me by then to appreciate the views, but I was destressed.
Since the firemen never found my severed thumb, I was taken to The Bunke Clinic in San Francisco to see a specialist.
Meanwhile, John drove to my house to get clean clothes for me with a promise to meet me there.
I was okay until I was on the gurney in a hallway at the clinic waiting for an open room. All of a sudden tears started flowing. It was the first I’d cried that day. I remember a big EMT guy standing over me, a look of concern on his face. He touched my right hand and told me, “Everything will be okay, Miss.”
I was so happy to see John’s face when he arrived just minutes later.
The next few hours could be compared to the type of negotiations that take place in a dimly-lit, used-car salesman’s office. As it turns out, The Buncke Clinic is known for microsurgery; and they wanted to practice on me, or my thumb to be more precise.
A very friendly doctor sat next to me and explained the plan. They would cut off one of my toes and attach it to the severed remains of my left thumb.
I immediately said, “No, thank you.”
But it didn’t matter how many times I told them I didn’t want to have anyone cut off one of my toes, the only response I got back was a rephrase of the same scenario.
They even offered to do the surgery for free.
After saying no yet another time, the good doctor left the room. A few minutes later, the white princess-style phone with a long twisted cord rang on the wall opposite of the bed.
An attendant answered and walked the receiver over to me and said, “It’s for you.”
On the other end of the line was “the closer.” I knew this type of sales pressure and just listened without saying a word, then handed the phone to John.
I love his no-nonsense style, and after he hung up I thought I was finally going to get stitched up so we could go home.
Instead, Mr. Good Doctor came back in the room and said they were going to admit me for the night to give me time to change my mind about the surgery. That’s when John quietly stood up and said, “No. She wants to go home.”
Finally, the doctor agreed and showed me the X-ray of my thumb. It was very short. He said he’d need to round the bone in order to stitch it up and explained the procedure.
After 30 minutes of him snipping away at my thumb bone, I finally asked what was taking so long. He said, “Well the good news is, you have the bones of a 20 year old.”
I’m pretty sure that was the first time I smiled that day; and 12 hours after the accident, I was finally home to rest and recover.