Okay, you have heard Kara's version of the story, now time for mine.
On Monday morning Mark and I went into Fairbanks to drop off my drop bags (1455lbs - I'll do another blog on that soon). We were back home by noon. Now it was time to focus on running dogs!! I planned out a schedule for the week, wrote up a couple teams, and out the door we went.
I was in front leaving the dog yard and the dogs were traveling well. Not 1/4 mile or so down the trail I just wasn't paying good attention on one of the corners and tipped over. I run that trail almost everyday and have never had even the slightest issue on that curve. The tip was unspectacular and I just hung on waiting for everything to come to a stop so I could yard my sled back onto it's runners. But just before we came to a stop, something happened. I wasn't sure what, but I knew something was wrong. When Mark came up behind me and yelled out "Are you okay?", I replied "No", but honestly didn't know what exactly was wrong. About that time my left hand felt wet and I knew where the issue was.
"Let me see". Mark had put in his snowhooks and come up to help me. I held up my left hand. He pulled off my gloves and without emotion said "You have to go to the hospital. Put some pressure on it." Always calm, that man.
I didn't really look but caught of glimpse of wood as I stuffed my hand into a pile of snow. I choose not to process the information.
Mark wanted me to walk home and get Jan's Dad, Carl to drive me to the hospital, but I had no intention of leaving him with 2 fresh 10 dog teams. I carry my cell phone on training runs, so I called the house, let Carl know I was going to need a ride, and asked him to ask Simone to come out and give us a hand turning teams around.
Simone must have run the whole way out, as she was there in a flash. Mark already had tugs undone, so we turned everyone around and headed back to the house. Poor Simone had to run back, as I was pretty woozy and didn't feel able enough to drive a sled with a passenger back to the house.
We wrapped my hand in a towel and Carl and I headed to town. The last thing Mark said to me before I left was "It's not bad. Don't worry." Liar.
I figure he knew that it was going to involve A LOT of needles and figured running dogs was a much better idea then hanging out with me.
On the way to the hospital the shock began to wear off and the pain set in. I began to worry about nerves and tendons and was very relived to find out I could still move my fingers. I kept having waves of nausea, so didn't even think about looking at my hand, as I thought that would for sure knock me out.
Jan works at Fairbanks Urgent Care so that was where I asked to be taken to. They checked me in, looked at my hand, and took vitals while I waited to see Jan. I thought it might be worse then I imagined when they sent a nurse in to wait with me. Hmmm...
Jan came in and lifted the edge of the drape they had put over my hand. "Oh Karen" she said. "Have you looked?" I shook my head no. "You know you have a stick in your hand?" She put her hand on my wrist and said that that was were the end of the stick was. My stomach lurched and the room swayed.
Jan made it clear that this injury was beyond the scope of the facility. "You're going to the ER".
They wrapped me up and off Carl and I went but not before Jan snapped a photo. "After all is over you will want to see this".
I doubted her.
Thanks to some prodding of the staff from Carl I got into the ER in good time. The triage guy unwrapped my hand and said "Oh my". They hustled me into a room and the parade of spectators to look at the hand began. "Do you mind if I peek?" they all politely asked. I could have cared less, as long as I didn't have to.
"Never seen anything quite like this?" "How did you do this?" "That is very cool"
All the while my wonderful ER nurse Mike worked at finding a vein and getting an IV in me so they could do something about the pain. I was very grateful that I decided to ditch my phobia of needles earlier this year. It would have been a very long and stressful day if I hadn't.
I don't know what the painkiller was, but in minutes my toes were warm and fuzzy and my hand not an issue.
'Very nice to look at' Dr. Mark counted to three and out came the stick. We all agreed I needed to keep it as a souvenir.
Honestly, we laughed and joked our way through freezing and power washing.
It was really nice to be around doctors that might not have understood, but know what mushers are like. The 'Bone Doc' came in and they discussed whether to leave the wound open, close it with a drainage tube, or just close me up. The Bone Doc's thought was that I could get on the sled faster if they just closed me up. That, of course, was the decision I supported.
Nine stitches and a bunch of drugs later I was heading back to Two Rivers.
In looking at the wound now, it appears what happened is that while I was dragging to a stop my left hand that was gripping the driving bow of the sled hit a stick. The stick entered my hand at my knuckle by my middle fingers. It drove straight down to my wrist, thankfully missing major veins, nerves and tendons that are all through out the hand. I was remarkably lucky.
My thanks to the fabulous staff at the Fairbanks ER for taking such good care of me and being so nice - and of course, Carl for dropping everything and spending the day running me around!
Also thanks to Mark for running the team for me this week so I could let things heal well.And to Simone for all the help hooking up and unhooking!!!! While the pain hasn't been too bad, I have had trouble gripping things because of the swelling and fluid build up in my hand. Last night (Friday) the fluid began draining nicely and the swelling is down CONSIDERABLY this morning. The plan is for me to be back on a sled tomorrow and I CAN'T WAIT!!!!