… the nurse hoped to save my throbbing, empurpled thumbnail. But it might still be a goner. Have to wait and see.
Rewind. Up to the point when I held on to the car door a nanosecond longer than I should have, it had been a perfect Easter weekend.
Daughter was down from uni. The sun had shone. On Saturday, we in Crystal Palace Community Choir had done ourselves proud at a beautiful vigil at the local church. On Easter Sunday, OH and I went for a long walk in deserted bluebell woods in a fine misty rain. Even my pub-lunch dream of a sausage sandwich and half of bitter came true.
But an impromptu trip later that evening resulted in me shutting the car door entirely on my left thumbnail. I yelped politely, and for an instant saw the three wrong elements very clearly: door, thumb, doorframe. As soon my brain made sense of this, I released the door handle and watched my nail turn a dusky purple. Then nearly fainted.
If you’re going to do something as daft as this, the least you can do is make sure you’re visiting a walk-in surgery at the time. So I got that bit right.
On the downside, it turned out we were in the illness walk-in surgery in Croydon, and the injury walk-in surgery is in Purley. At Purley we were brightly informed there’s no medical reason for this separation, it’s just the way the NHS contracts were dished out. But at least we, and you dear reader, now know.
Anyway, Purley was deserted so I was seen by a nurse – I’ll call her A – straightaway. She gave me codeine and explained that the doctor would [those of a squeamish disposition look away now] puncture the nail to release the pressure of blood building up underneath it. With luck this would save the nail, but there is a risk of infection.
I’d heard of this procedure – trephining – and was none too keen, as it’s supposed to be very painful. I was assured by a growing team of nurses that it wasn’t, especially with this new battery-operated gizmo they had, if only they could get it to work. I volunteered the services of OH, who can fix anything. He fetched his toolbox from the car, to coos of admiration, and the gizmo was duly fixed.
Meanwhile, a breakaway nurse – B – had decided not to hang around and was treating my nail the old-fashioned way, with a piece of hot wire. My bloodcurdling shriek having assured her that she’d finally hit the nail bed, she was nevertheless unimpressed. “You must only have bled a bit,” she said, with a hint of reproach. “Usually a great plume of blood shoots out.”
All that remained was for the doctor to tell me to bathe the thumb in salt water, Nurse B to tell me not to bother, a quick dressing, and out the door. That’s two emergencies – one illness and one injury – dealt with by the NHS on Easter Sunday evening in less than two hours. And it would have been quicker if it weren’t for that pesky gizmo.
So far so heartwarming. But I hope I don’t get an infection. And that next Easter isn’t quite so memorable.