Two Thumbs Up

May 8, 2014

Funny how life can change directions in a split second. Things can happen so quickly that you never saw them coming and then BAM your whole world is turned upside down.. or at least it seems that way in the beginning. When the 30-45 pound brace came swinging down smashing my thumb against the other brace I had no clue what happened. I heard the snap, looked down and my fingernail was lifted and in its place was my bone sticking out leaving my thumb dangling and barely hanging onto the skin underneath. I wish I could say I kept my cool but I freaked and after finding my supervisor and walking down the three flights of stairs he thankfully yelled at me to get my shit together and that I needed to breathe bc I was turning white and nearly passing out from hyperventilating. Luckily, I was able to do so. I just breathed like pregnant women do in labor in the movies and did some heavy breathing and finally got my head clear nearly 10-15 minutes after the accident. Then they wrapped my hand and my supervisor took me to the hospital where I walked in stating “I think I chopped my thumb off” lol where they quickly arranged me to head on back to the ER. Four people asked me the same questions over and over but I was somehow able to stay calm through the interrogation process and I just kept asking over and over, “am I going to loose my thumb?” and over and over they kept responding, “we don’t know until we take a look.” The uncertainty was the worst part. To be honest, it didn’t hurt too much the first 30 minutes, then the pain kicked in. They gave me 3-5 rounds of morphine but all it did was make me not care about the pain. Anyways, they took some x-rays, confirmed it was a compound fracture and then asked if I was covered by workman’s comp. I thought I was but wasn’t sure. Luckily, I was covered so they were able to take me to a different “private” hospital where they have “better” plastic surgeons waiting to work on my thumb than at the “public” hospital. They took me to the other hospital by ambulance and when I got there the pain really kicked in. Worst off, I never felt so alone. Sounds emo, but it’s how it went. Here I was, across the world, sitting alone, not knowing if I lost my thumb and dealing with the most immense pain to date. The doctor goes, “do you have any friends or family here” and I look at him and go.. “No”. What a helpless moment that was. Then I started to think more clearly, I wasn’t alone, I had a couple of friends I could call up. I called up my friend Leo who dropped everything and took a cab down to where I was to be with me. I can’t explain how grateful I am to have him as my friend in my life at this moment. We joked about “thumbs up” and yea he helped get my mind off the upcoming surgery. Then I made that post on Facebook.. I am sure some people are like “why the hell is he posting on FB when his finger is barely holding on”.. well when you feel so isolated its amazing how close at home you can feel with the digital world. Within 10 minutes I had over 20 people commenting, messaging me and telling me to be strong, that they loved me and that they were here for me. I suddenly didn’t feel alone anymore. Those 20 comments amounted to over 120 people throughout the evening with people leaving me such nice messages. I just wanted to thank you all because it helped me get through it. It was my main force. I felt the love and it was coming in strong. Times like these remind me how lucky and fortunate I am to have such a close group of friends and family. Even though I have been so far away for so long I still can feel at home. After the surgery, I slept in the hospital and the next day my manager and his wife opened their doors to me and I spend the first night at their house. They watched over me, fed me and laughed with me as the pain killers were making me act a little loopy. I have been given full pay off work while I heal and think this is a sign that it’s time to move on after my healing process is completed. Perth has been a good learning experience for me. It hasn’t been the easiest but it definitely hasn’t been the hardest. I have made some great memories here and learned a lot about myself. I mainly have had adequate time to sit and reflect on my time in Asia. I saw and experienced so much on a personal and interpersonal level that I really needed to take a breather and analyze what had happened. I’ve been able to compare and contrast the often rough living situations I saw in Asia to the easy lifestyle I have and often take for granted having been born in an overall fortunate situation known as America. This is a repeating thought that has been haunting my mind on constant basis ever since I left last May. The thought, often guilt on questioning what did I do to deserve to be born into such a fortunate life where shelter, clothes, food and money have never been a severe threat. What did I do to deserve to be born in the United States opposed to, for example, Myanmar or Laos where they have virtually zero medical care. If I was born in Myanmar/Laos and this happened to my thumb, I literally would not have access to healthcare. I wouldn’t have access to plastic surgeons, I wouldn’t have access to pain medications, I wouldn’t have access to stitches, I wouldn’t have access to X-Rays, I wouldn’t have access to many things.. If by chance I was born in one of these countries, I probably wouldn’t have my thumb. Now what did I do to deserve being born in the States where I automatically have an upper hand in life? I wish I had the answer. It really messes with me. I tell you this, I am so grateful for all of the doctors and nurses. I am grateful for the readily available pain medicine. I am thankful for the iPhone I was able to make that post on before surgery. I am thankful for the sanitary hospital. I am thankful for my friends and my family.. and most of all, I am thankful for my thumb. So as I slowly type this mainly with one hand, I realize that yea, things hurt and suck right now, but things could be a whole lot worse. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.


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