I went back to work this past week. I’m only there for two days a week at the moment but I’ll probably pick up a bit of relief teaching along the way.
Thursdays finds me working in a couple of different roles and Friday I get to be on a lovely Prep class.
My first Friday rolled up and I was all set and ready to get some good things underway and we had a good start – until recess that is.
The class were lining up at the main door to go to library after recess (about 11:25) and some students were still coming into the classroom from playing outside.
When I got to the front of the line, one little girl (let’s call her MissM), standing as the leader, tapped me and told me her finger was stuck. I had a look and her finger was jammed in the gap in the doorway where it is hinged to the door jamb (not in the hinges though). I had to move the door to un-jam her fingers and she pulled her hand away. I noticed a lot of blood and had a look to see that her fingernail had come off her finger in one piece. It was up a few mms and to an angle and it looked pretty gross. I was holding her hand palm towards the ground and she was dripping quite a bit of blood. I called for my neighbour teacher to call the office for immediate first aid support.
I walked quickly with MissM to a nearby room that had a sink and I grabbed some paper towel. I covered MissM’s hand in 2-3 pieces of paper towel which bled right through, so I grabbed a few more and placed firm pressure around her hand. We went to sit down on the seat outside the classroom and waited for First Aid. MissM looked very pale and kept asking for a bandaid. MissM just slumped against me. I told the rest of the class who were still lined up to go and find a story and sit down so we could help MissM. Our class teacher aide for the day then came along and thought MissM looked a bit too pale so she went to get some wet paper towels to pat on MissM’s face as she appeared to be losing consciousness.
The First Aid officer arrived after about 5 minutes. He removed the paper towel gently to have a look. He held her hand palm to the roof and as he moved the paper towel the top of MissM’s finger fell backwards (about half way between the tip and the first knuckle) to reveal it had been partially severed. It look as they it had been degloved, not a clean cut. I’d guess someone pulled the door back trapping her finger and she’s tried to pull it out. The top of the finger was blue and squashed. I looked at it stunned and said ‘That’s not just a loose fingernail’. I’d had no idea whatsoever that her finger had been partially severed – there’d been too much blood and I was just trying to keep that under control. MissM still hadn’t cried and kept asking for a bandaid. We just told her we’d get her a bandaid and tried to distract her attention and get her to look elsewhere while we tended to her finger. The First Aid Officer bandaged it and I went to look for a blanket as MissM had gone into shock. He picked up MissM and carried her to the office to be taken to the local hospital. The Principal drove her to the hospital and someone else went to pick up her Mum to take her there.
I had one teacher come and watch my class and another teacher went to find the cleaners to clean up the blood through the corridor. Once MissM had gone and I stopped ‘rescue mode’ I realised just how sick I felt. One of the senior teachers heard about what was happening and came to help and said I didn’t look very well so sent me off to have a drink and a rest while she took the class for me. I was sure I was ok but was a bit pumped on adrenaline I think and as I started to come down I realised I was definitely very light headed and a bit nauseous. It was an absolutely horrible thing to see. I’m so glad MissM was in such a state of shock because she really had no idea how bad it was.
We heard soon after that they’d called an ambulance to take her to the hospital (as if I thought they needed more work to do without Alyssa being there anymore) for surgery. I had to go over the story so many times and each time I had to tell someone else I felt more and more sick.
After lunch we attempted to take the class to library again. We lined up at the door and I reminded the kids not to put their hands near the door frame and in the space of about 5 minutes I had to remind 6 students to take their hands away – every time I saw a hand there I felt sick inside. I couldn’t believe how often people put their hands in doorways – MissM had been unlucky to be doing that at the wrong time.
When I got home I called my colleague teacher to tell her about our exciting day and then I called the hospital – children’s ward 4K – to see how the surgery had gone and see if I could come and visit and take the card her classmates had made for her. The first time I called they had no idea she was in the hospital. I called back at about 6 and they said she hadn’t gone in to surgery yet so I was convinced they’d decided they couldn’t save the end of her finger and there was no need to rush.
The following morning I called back to see what had happened and caught the family just as they were about to leave the hospital to go home. The nurse put MissM on the phone to talk to me and she was in quite high spirits, telling me she had a sore finger and some bandages. I told her she was so very brave and I had been very worried about her all night. She put Mum on the phone who told me she finally went in for surgery at about 7pm.
The surgeon told her it would be about an hour and she was in surgery for over two hours so Mum had been really worried.
They were able to reattach her finger including the nail but she had her hand all wrapped up and her arm in a sling. She will need to keep her whole arm very still for at least a week to ensure it heals properly and the finger doesn’t collapse.
What a brave, brave girl. I was surprised they’d been able to save it and then were able to send her home the next day – but with the work they did with Alyssa I shouldn’t really be surprised.
I just hope she has no memories of what really happened. I know the sight of that partially severed finger will stay with me for a very very long time. It was such a horrible thing to see – all the worse because she is so little and it was such a simple, simple accident that could happen so much more often than it does. I know I didn’t sleep very well that night … my mind plagued with dreams of horrible things happening to my own children. Not good!
Shall we just say my first day back on class was a omplete write-off. I think I’ve had enough of drama and hospitals for a while.