The paper clip as a medical tool

So Lloyd and I were sitting up at the emergency department of the hospital on Saturday, (he had a traumatised finger), and it was funny how we were surrounded by all this modern technology, yet when it came time to treat the finger they did it with a paper clip and a cigarette lighter.

Ok, that was a lie. I live in a country town so we weren’t surrounded by much modern technology at all.

But still, I thought there would have been some other little tool involved. Of course now I know the trick I’ll be able to do it at home next time the procedure is required. The nurse even said I could. Mothers of three grown children are considered experienced enough to carry out all sorts of minor surgery.

Lloyd came home for a visit on Saturday and told me he’d slammed his finger in the car door the night before.

I’d just like to say that I don’t even know how people slam fingers in car doors. Why is the hand not closing the door even on the car. By the time I’m shutting my door I’m already turned and walking away. I can understand someone else slamming your finger in the car door because I’ve seen it happen. It was pretty funny.

So anyway I had a look at the finger and said – I bet that hurts. It was like a sore cartoon finger. You could just about see the throbs of pain coming out of it. It was all black and red and swollen. Add it looked hot. And he said he could feel his pulse beating in it. So I said – we should go to the hospital and get them to have a look at it. But he didn’t want to go because he always feels like he’s wasting peoples time with things like that. And I said well it was better to waste their time now than to wake me up at 3am and waste mine.

So off we went. The good thing about our hospital is that unless there’s been a car accident or a heart attack you don’t have to wait long. Not like the city hospitals. You can walk in there and see a sign saying you can expect to wait five hours if it’s not an emergency.

The doctor had a look at the finger and said they’d put a hole through the nail and release the pressure. And off the nurse went and got the paper clip. She burnt the end it with her cigarette lighter then pushed it onto the nail and the heat makes a hole and blood all came spurting out. And I said to Lloyd – ouch, did that hurt as much as the door slamming on it? And he said – it’s a whole new kind of pain I’m in right now. And I said to the nurse – will we have to do this again tonight or tomorrow? And she said – maybe and showed me how and Lloyd yelled – Nooooo, don’t tell her how to do it.

But we didn’t have to anyway as it sort of leaked all afternoon. And of course it felt a lot better once the pressure was gone and the next day he was off wake boarding and playing basketball. Don’t know if he’ll manage to keep that nail though.


30 thoughts on “The paper clip as a medical tool

    • I know! And when he did it he said he didn’t even say anything because he was first night at a new job and didn’t want to cause a scene or something. I would have been swearing and kicking things.

  1. Here, they take this little dremel tool and drill a hole. Never had it done, but had several friends who did. Also had a co-worker who was using a machine in the metal shop take a guard off while explaining to another new employee about why the guard was there. He pointed at the rollers inside and said something about the guard being there to keep your finger from getting rolled through and as he pointed a second time, a little closer than the first, it grabbed his finger and pinched the pad right off it. Panic ensued, as did a trip to the ER. Ugh…

    • Lol – well I’m not even going to start about the 3am phone call I had last Sunday from a hospital about 150kms away. It would push mine over the winning line for sure.

  2. Looks lovely! I’ll bet it matches his eyes. Or his socks. Or something.

    And good to know the procedure but I doubt I’ll have anyone to practice it on. The closest to an emergency (not counting Mr. sKz’s possible kidney stone a week or so ago) was when mid-kid took off a bunch of his fingertip skin with an ill-placed hammer blow. I was going to feel really guilty since he did it working on one of my little projects. But then I remembered he was 20 and he ought to know how to operate a hammer by then.

    • He lost his big toenail last year after a football injury. We used to call it The Manky Toe. It looked really gross and probably should have received medical attention but I didn’t see it until it was too late. It was much pinker and mushier under there than I was expecting.

  3. Paper clip? Cigarette lighter? Are we talking about a first-aid station at a refugee camp, or a hospital in the 21st century?

    I have to confess that if a nurse started heating up a paper clip with a lighter after the doctor said they had to put a hole in MY nail, I’d be out of there in two shakes of a bunny’s tail. I mean, don’t they have stainless steel lances or even a hypodermic needle tip in your town?

    • Guess not.

      It was all good. I trust my doctor. If he said that was the way to do it then that’s the way we do it. It hurts less than a needle because it just melts through the nail rather than grinds through it. And it worked and he felt better and now I know a new trick.

  4. I did that once. I slammed and locked my hand in the car door, so I couldn’t pull it out. My friend had to go around to the other side, unlock, then climb over and unlock. It felt like forever.

    Hope he doesn’t lose the nail….

    • Lol. Not funny. I bet it did. My daughter had her finger slammed in a car door once by one of her friends and she was standing there squealing about it and we didn’t know what she was going on about so it took a while to release her as well.

      • I got my hands caught between double-hung window pains. I was screaming for help but my mother was in the house and I was facing out the window. When she finally showed up, she had a complete attitude – till she saw that my fingers were trapped in about 1/4″ of space.

        Surprisingly, no damage done… no bruises or lost nails.

        • Yeah, they’re pretty tough really, they can take a bit of a bruising. I’m not a very sympathetic mother. I tend to make tsk tsk nosies and say things like – well why did you go and do that.

  5. Never heard of that – had always heard of using a needle … or drilling a hole through it with a pocket knife … and always wondered, “But what if they stick it in too far?” Supposedly once all the pressure is off it feel better.

    I’ll be walking around with my hands balled up into a fist for the rest of the day now – just to keep something unseemly from happening to my fingers.

    • Definitely felt much better once the pressure was off. He said it wasn’t sore at all the next day. I guess everyone has their own method of doing things.

  6. One would think they would use an instrument just so they look more professional! A paperclip. Maybe that is why they do not have a long waiting time, lol.

    • I didn’t have a problem with it. It did the job. And they are very professional. Just because we’re a small town doesn’t mean we’re small town hicks.

  7. That sounds and looks very painful but I had to laugh when he said he was in a whole new kind of pain and then didn’t want the nurse to show you how to do it! I hope it heals quickly and doesn’t get infected. and yeah, that nail will definitely fall off.

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