Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ride the Lightning! Yee haw!

I was teaching a CPR/First aid class at work on Monday and was getting ready to do the section on severe allergic reactions. We have a spent epipen in our supplies so people can check out how it feels to use one. I pulled out the pen and blam! The spring loaded needle shot right into the bone on my left thumb. The pen deployed and I instantly felt the reaction. My heart rate was about a thousand beats a second and I could feel my pulse in my eyeballs. I was trying to pull the needle out of my thumb, but it was lodged in the bone so hard it felt like trying to pull a nail out of wood with my fingers.

That's what the needle looked like after I finally got it out of my thumb. There was even a small chunk of bone stuck to it. Sticking your thumb with an epipen feels like jumping out of an airplane while getting electrocuted. (I've done both, not at the same time). I also felt kind of like this guy...

Luckily we have a nurse at work who looked online for how to deal with it. It made me feel slightly better to know that this happens so often that there is a name for it--Epipen-thumb syndrome. Apparently you have a 1 in 50,000 chance of doing this to yourself. The nurse checked my heart rate, which was actually somewhere between double and triple what it should be. He then told me to head to the car because we were going to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. I assured him I was fine, but he told me I was going to lose my thumb if we didn't hurry. You see, epinephrine is a powerful vasoconstrictor , it was closing off all the blood vessels in my thumb. Sure enough, as we got close to the hospital, my thumb turned the color of concrete and got really cold. I sat in the ER for about half an hour trying to massage blood back into my unhappy opposable when they took me back and smeared nitro-glycerin gel all over my thumb to open my capillaries back up. As an added precaution they decided to take an EKG reading and by golly I was in atrial fibrillation. The bottom half of my heart was working normally, the top half was trying to keep the beat to some odd Dave Mathews tune playing out in the hallway. The kept me there for about an hour to make sure I was coming back down to earth then released me. I made it back to work just in time to start teaching my one o'clock blood-borne pathogens class. One of the people in the class stopped me and said, "Dude, you're talking really fast". I guess I was. I taught a 2 hour class in about 24 minutes. Luckily everyone passed the test at the end so I guess I was at least speaking coherently.

I left work and headed to my doctors office. See, I took a little tumble off a ladder the previous Saturday and bruised my hand. The bruise was still sore and swollen on Monday. The Dr ordered an xray. The xray tech asked me a little jokingly if I really thought my hand was broken. Then she called me over to take a look. Does it look broken to you? Here's the actual xray. Look closely at the 5th metatarsal, just above the pinky knuckle.

I think I'll lock myself indoors for the next few days. Heather said something about things like this coming in groups of three...