5 stitches and a tube of glue

quilt and photo by qurikyjazz aka Jill
quilt and photo by qurikyjazz aka Jill

This date is the one year anniversary of the day after the night I cut my finger badly with a rotary cutter.
Badly enough to warrant a late night trip over the river and through the woods to a not so nearby ER.
Badly enough to need 5 stitches (including one through the fingernail) and a tube of glue.

The tale has a happy ending, so don’t be afraid to read on.

Here is the summary of that eventful night that I wrote up as a Facebook note last year on the “morning after,”  November 9, 2012:

finger stitches2 finger stitcheshere begins the Facebook note

So here is the whole “finger” story for those who need to know gory details.

I am at a quilt retreat with 9 fabulous quilting friends in a lovely house in DeSoto, WI. We arrived last night and will stay here til Sunday morning.

After sewing a couple of bindings on nearly finished quilts, I decided it was time to begin a brand new project. It was only 10:30 pm so I was not yet breaking the quilter’s rule of “don’t cut after 11 pm”.

I cut five skinny strips with a strip cutter and then — the next cut
— OUCH —
I had my left index finger on top of the groove I was cutting in! I knew I had really sliced it hard, so put pressure on it instantly and went straight to the sink. I ran cold water over it and kept the pressure on it.

Several people there gave advice (–there is never any shortage of advice with a bunch of quilters in the room!–) and we decided I should keep the pressure on, hold it above my head and get ice on it. I had the pressure on it for about 45 minutes or so, but bleeding still wasn’t stopping.

One friend started looking on her phone for the closest hospitals. Finally, after an hour and a call to my husband and to my on-call Med Associates nurse and advice from a friend (You are a pianist, it is your livelihood, you should go if you think you need to) — I said let’s go. Jean and Christina were the designated ER crew. By this time it was nearly midnight and though I had a pretty good bandage on (thanks to Christina and several of my well prepared for emergencies friends). I was worried it was still bleeding under there and worried about infection and healing and about how deeply it might have cut.

We went to Waukon, Iowa which was about 20 min. away. The nurse took one look at it and called the on call Dr. to come. He arrived a good long while later. He gave me two shots to numb it and started stitching it up. He was quite the comedian. I asked him where he went to med school and cracked, “Oh, was I supposed to go to med school?” Hilarious. He had several more jokes as we went along.

The result was five stitches including one THROUGH my nail! He used a tube of dermabond to seal it up. He said the pain would be numbed mostly for five or six hours. He said Friday it would hurt but by Sat. it should be feeling better. He thinks I will be able to play Sunday night for the concert if it is bandaged up to give it some protection while I play.

We got back to the house at about 2:30 am. Christina and Jean even sang on the way home to keep me entertained.

We saw several varmints, a deer and a train but managed to complete the trip safely.  🙂

those eyebrows
those eyebrows (Photo credit: inajeep)

If you don’t know what a rotary cutter is, Google it. It is like a round razor blade that is VERY very sharp. It cuts multiple layers of fabric all at once.

photo via flickr mollygolightly
photo via flickr mollygolightly

Another highlight of late night ER trip was the very handsome orderly DAN. Jean can give more details, if anyone needs to know. 😉

Final season cast (2008–2009)
Final season cast (2008–2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

here ends the Facebook note

The cut happened late on Thursday night. Careful readers will notice that I had a CONCERT the following Sunday afternoon. One of my jobs at that time was piano accompanist for two university choirs. The concert usually involves about 1 hour or more of pre-concert warmups and run-throughs and then the concert itself which can last anywhere from an 1 to 1 1/2 hours usually. For this concert we had some special guests playing with us so the warmup time was extra important.

Steinway & Sons piano

I had bandaged the heck out of my finger to prepare to play. I wrapped it and covered it with a “finger cot” (which looks like a tiny condom for your finger in case you’ve never seen one of these things!).

An example of a finger cot
An example of a finger cot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, it was a little painful during the warmups but I could stand it. What I couldn’t stand was the feeling of all those bandages, though, so between songs I took the bandages and padding off and just put the little finger condom thing back on.

THEN….I accidentally hit my finger underneath the piano as I was adjusting my skirt or something. O.M.G. It hurt. It throbbed. I was surprised that blood wasn’t pouring out of it. I nearly burst into tears. The special guest (clarinet) asked if I was okay and I said (nearly in a sob) “No, I just bonked my finger and I have five stitches in that one!” He was horrified. He had no idea I was playing that way. By this time the director noticed I was in pain and was concerned immediately. When I explained what happened he gently said, “You’ve got to leave the bandages on.”

I said I needed a break to re-bandage, so they grabbed a replacement pianist from the choir. As they continued without me, I ran to the dressing room and let the tears go. I couldn’t see how I could possibly get through this concert. The music at this level is always challenging, always demanding — even on a regular night it is easy to make mental or technical errors if you aren’t on top of your game. But I was beginning to doubt whether I could physically do this or not in my current condition.
In my bathroom haven, I looked at my finger. The stitches were intact. There was no bleeding. Yes, it was painful. Painful didn’t begin to describe it. But it didn’t look like there was any new damage.

After the tears subsided, I took a deep breath. I decided I COULD and WOULD do this. It didn’t matter how much it hurt for the next hour or so — I would get through it. I decided there was no way I could hurt my finger badly enough to cause further damage by playing normally in the concert. I don’t know if what I told myself then was true or not, the important thing is that I believed it at that moment and believed it for the next hour or so.

I splashed cold water on my face. I tidied up my ever crazy looking hair. I gathered up my courage and went back out there.

We did it. I made it through. It is still very difficult for me to listen to the CD of that concert. I hear several places where I am hesitant or where there are a few blurby notes, but I think any casual listener would not be able to tell I had I a severely injured finger that night.

My finger? Thank God it is completey healed and nearly back to normal. There is the teeniest trace of a scar and a very very small loss of sensitivity, but it could have been much much worse. I’m grateful, thankful, and blessed.

The quilt? It is nearly finished. I still need to put the binding on.

I did manage to finish the quilt top and get most of the backing pieced that weekend before we left the retreat. Later that fall, I had it professionally quilted (QuilThyme). I chose to put fabulous orange minky on the back and picked out some cool quilting patterns to complement the modern look of the quilt.

Names I considered for this quilt
“Over the River and Through the Woods to Waukon ER We Go”
“I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”
“No Tears For Me and My Finger” (Argentina…)
“Waukon The Wild Side”

I’ve decided to call this quilt “Five Stitches and a Tube of Glue” unless someone out there comes up with a better name for it!

Here is a preview of the almost done quilt:

This post is the explanation I promised in an earlier post: Quality Time with Quilt Friends — These tables are protected by a special type of mat that is used with rotary cutters, wheel-shaped razor-sharp cutting tools that can slice fingers as easily as several layers of fabric. (I will explain how I know this in another post, another day!) https://haskerj.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/quality-time-with-quilt-friends/