Trip Start Aug 21, 2011
Trip End Aug 21, 2012

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Flag of China  , Liaoning,
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ok - it's been quite a while since I wrote - my apologies. Seasons Greetings to all! 

December 13th I crushed my fingertip in a metal desk (the monitor fell down on it), broke my bone (compound fracture) and required orthopedic surgery. Yup. The surgeon put a 2 inch pin inside the top of my finger to hold the bone in place and to keep the knuckle from moving. They surgically removed my fingernail - which was completely crushed. It was the singularly most painful event I have experienced. I read up on it and the open nail bed is full of nerve endings. Such a small injury but sooooooooo painful. The first time the doctor removed the bandage from it, I actually saw white - I think my eyes rolled up into the back on my head. That was after 1 week of healing.

When it occurred, it was awful. I was in the middle of class - it was "pop music" day. I slammed down the monitor mounted in the desk to make a flat surface for a speaker and my middle finger of my right hand got caught. I started jumping up and down saying "ow ow" and the class started laughing (naturally, I am full of antics in front of the classroom). When they realized it was an real emergency (I looked down at my fingertip after my initial grab-hold on it and saw that it was 1/2 way off at the nail with a tiny bone sticking out) four students walked me to the hospital on campus.

Here I swore horrendously at the doctor because he was in no hurry. Bawled from the pain then a few minutes later from the fear of being in China when this happened. Went into mild shock with the hyperventilation and cold sweats then the weakness, thirst, etc. They took me by hired car to the downtown facility where I had orthopedic surgery. I got my first pain killer 2 hours after it happened.  I completely freaked out in the OR - they were prepping the instruments, no one spoke English and I wanted my shot - I was SOOOO scared they'd begin without a local anesthesia. Once I got it, I relaxed - surgery took about 1-1/2 hours. I went home and began my 2 week codeine trip (very unpleasant), somehow managed to get the rest of my classes taught (god bless the McPhee work ethic that can keep me going through anything) and essentially slept. Merry freakin' christmas.

I had to go to the hospital every 3 days and have the thing rewrapped. They put me in this HUGE white bandage around my finger and I basically walked around China for 4 weeks giving everyone the bird. The pin was removed 3 days ago, I have no pain (though I know the fingertip is "there" if you get my meaning) and my travel plans are on for later this month. In all honesty, I do have so much to be grateful for:

1.) I didn't lose the finger tip.
2.) There's no nerve damage.
3.) I am pretty sure I haven't lost range of motion permanently. I need to do my own PT and just started last night - we'll see.
4.) No infection
5.) I work for the medical university the hospital was affiliated with - I have no doubt I received quicker treatment because of this.
6.) The injury was supposed to require 6 weeks of healing before the pin came out and weekly visits to the hospital downtown to meet with the surgeon. After my initial visit, it looked so good they told me not to come every week. And the 6 weeks was cut down to 4 weeks in no small part due to my good health and strong body. Initially I thought I wouldn't be able to travel and I'd be stuck here with the 3 other doofuses for 2 months with nothing to do. I got approval for all of my travel plans on Sunday and away I go!

Things that concern me:
1.) My fingernail might not grow back; if it does it might be a "talon" :( vain of me I know but I had pretty hands
2.) I lost a month at the gym and in my codeine-induced depression, ate too much junk food. I have to be in a bathing suit in 4 weeks. Now that the pin is out and I have no classes, I'm going to the gym everyday :)
3.) My finger, which is unbandaged, has an ENORMOUS scab on it which needs to stay right where it is for a while - I am scared to death I will forget about it and re-injure it!
4.) Traveling to Harbin - it's like -40 degrees up there - literally - what if my finger falls off?
5.) Traveling to Vietnam - I'm going to some remote places - what if I get a worm or parasite in it? Blach!

Christmas Eve was the turning point in my recovery. Despite my fraility, (you know, I HATE when I feel my age - I always feel young and vital. With this injury I had no right hand for a month and I was so worried about re-injuring myself I walked around like an 80 year old woman on the slippery ground, had it all wrapped up in a scarf - soooo wretched) I met Nicole and the gang for a Christmas celebration. Nicole arranged a party for us at her school complete with ping pong, other games and prizes. Then we went out for an AMAZING meal (I ate a silk worm - had to be done). And then, KTV. Seriously, it was like a shot of positivity through my veins. I sang like 15 songs and the set up there makes your voice echo so you sound awesome. I sang everything from Mandy to Paranoid. So happy.

New Years was a quiet night - went out with Curtis for an AMAZING western meal (real mashed potatoes) and listened to some live music. I was in bed before midnight but I didn't feel too badly about it since the real party happened the week before.

I failed 11 of my students in one class - awful.

I nearly flushed the Shitter alive because I just couldn't manage cleaning him (I was literally one handed for 2 weeks). I thought he had a good chance of making it in the sewers because he's already so toxic. I felt guilty about it so instead I just ignored him and fed him on occasion. The wretched thing lived through 2 weeks of the festering abyss that was his swimming pool. I have since cleaned him - the thing might be indestructible.

I have to tell you, I am happy to see the end of 2011 - it wasn't my best year. In Guilin, China last fall, an old gypsy lady gave me the pinky and undoubtedly cursed me (I'm convinced) because I wouldn't give her any money. I like to think I am immune to such things because I am generally an open-hearted person. My mother's ongoing illness, the difficult transition to China and then my pretty serious finger injury all added up to a hill (albeit a small one) of crappiness for 2011. Glad to see 2012 here. I hope the rest of you are too.

Nicole's classes wrap up this weekend. I leave for Harbin,China on the 22nd,
fly back the 25th (just over Chinese New Year for the Ice Festival) and then I head to
Vietnam the 26th until February 22nd. There will be lots of updates
during this time :)

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Marylou on

Gross, I saw white - no doubt. Sorry that had to happen :(
Hope you enjoy your upcoming travels - would love to catch up with you via Skype (or e-mail?) if we can before you are off - lots of updates. Miss you tons!

Jayne Hamilton on

Rachel!!!!!!!!!!! Happy New Year. I am with you! I hope this year brings new, uplifting adventures and prosperity for all!

Yikes. What an injury. I am sure it was very painful. Sorry you had to experience that. urgh. I wish you speedy healing. Take care of that digit so you don't get some funky infection.

I am sure you will have more exciting travels.. Enjoy. Hopefully some yum yum will make you feel better.. :)
We miss ya!

diane repucci on

Yikes Rachel! OUCH! It must have been so scarey having surgery so far away from home. Everything seems to be healing up nicely so please proceed with caution. Of particular notice is December 13 was Jimmy's 45th! birthday (a milestone so to speak) I'll let him know of your China "adventure" We all send you love ,hugs and kisses and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! The Reps

P.S. Love all the pictures

Jeannie on

OH MY! I am so behind on my emails that I am just seeing this! Holy Cow, my stomach did leaps just reading this! I am hoping that it is healing well now. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 2012 Will be a great year!
Love all your pictures!! :)

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