Toes for fingers!
A big hand to the clever d docs who saved my h hubby’s, er...hand!
By BS Sue Payton, 45, from Hartley, Kent
Joking was mine and Jeremy’s way of coping
As soon as my hubby Jeremy kissed me goodbye, our newborn twins started crying in unison. ‘They know Daddy’s off to work,’ he grinned.
Max and Charlotte were only 5 weeks old.
We also had another son, Oliver, who was coming up to 2.
It was as if they could sense when Jeremy was about to leave.
He worked in a factory as a production manager.
I’d worked there before having children, and my dad Jim was the sales director.
My mum Bett came round, and for the next few hours, we fed and changed the twins and played with Oliver. Then Dad rang. ‘Jeremy’s hurt his hand,’ he said. ‘He’s gone to Queen Victoria Hospital.’
That was a specialist hospital for life-changing reconstructive care and burns.
But surely he couldn’t be that bad.
‘Why hasn’t he gone to A&E?’ I sighed. ‘This is all I need!’
Mum stayed with the kids, and Jeremy’s mum came to help too, while I went to the hospital.
When I got there, I was taken to see Jeremy.
‘What have you done?’ I grumbled.
But then I took a moment to actually take in the scene.
Jeremy was lying on the bed in just his boxer shorts.
They were covered in blood. And he was as white as a ghost.
My eyes fell on his right hand.
It was wrapped in thick bandages, but blood was seeping through.
‘There was an accident with one of the machines at work,’ a nurse explained. ‘Jeremy’s fingers were sliced off.’
‘But you can reattach them, right?’ I stammered.
‘He’s going for surgery now,’ she explained.
Jeremy still hadn’t spoken, was obviously in shock.
‘He’ll be down a long time,’ the nurse said.
So I headed back to the kids, spent a sleepless night fretting.
Next day, Jeremy still looked awful.
‘I’m in so much pain,’ he croaked when I visited.
‘It’ll be Ok,’ I soothed.
I managed to get a doctor to tell me what he’d lost.
‘He sliced off all of his fingers and thumb down to the knuckle,’ he said. My stomach churned.
This was much more serious than I’d realised.
My poor hubby.
‘A colleague managed to get the fingers and wrap them in ice,’ the doctor continued. They’d reattached the middle two fingers to see if they would take.
Jeremy was drifting in and out of consciousness, dosed up on painkillers.
But when he was finally able to, he told me what he remembered of that day.
‘I was working on a mixing machine,’ he croaked. ‘As I went to close the lid, I must’ve slipped… my hand went inside.’ It had almost dragged him in, chopping the digits.
He was righthanded too. Sadly, days later, the fingers that had been reattached turned black and were hanging on by the tendons. So doctors had to remove them. They couldn’t do a skin graft on his knuckle yet – as it covered such a big area, they were worried it wouldn’t take. So they had to open up his groin and basically sew his hand into it for three weeks. Bizarre! But what was left of the hand needed a blood supply to survive. That happened on Oliver’s second birthday. ‘I hate missing it,’ Jeremy said sadly. ‘But there are lots more to come,’ I assured him. After three weeks, he was allowed to come home. All the kids were glad to have him back. At first, Jeremy struggled, he
missed his independence.
‘How am I ever going to drive the car, or play golf again?’ he said miserably. It wasn’t like Jeremy to mope. But, thankfully, he began to find ways to manage.
He was soon cuddling the babies and helping with nappy changes. And he even got the steering wheel of the car adapted so he could drive again. ‘Lend us a hand,’ I’d tease. Joking was mine and Jeremy’s way of coping. One day, coming back from a checkup, Jeremy’s smile was bigger than ever. ‘They want to graft my toes on to my hand, as replacement fingers,’ he said. Sounded weird but Jeremy was thrilled. ‘I’ll be normal again!’ he said. The doctors had to be careful what toes to take, so as not to affect his balance.
So, during the first eight-hour op, surgeons removed his big toe from his right foot, and put it where his thumb should be.
It was a success. So, next, they removed the middle toes from the other foot, and sewed them on to his hand as fingers.
Afterwards, Jeremy needed some physio, but soon he was able to write, play golf again, and even drive normally.
At first, it seemed odd seeing him with his toes as fingers, but we all got used to it.
‘Hands down, the best thing,’ Jeremy grinned. It did truly transform his life. He was soon back at work at the factory.
‘Just be careful,’ I warned. ‘You’re running out of fingers and toes!’
Recently, Jeremy read about somebody else that had their toe sewn on to their hand to replace missing fingers.
On the foot where the toe had once been, they’d had ‘this piggy went to market’ tattooed on there.
‘I quite fancy that,’ Jeremy grinned.
When I think about all he went through, it still makes me feel sick.
But it could’ve been so much worse.
What the doctors have done to help him – well, it gets a thumbs up from us!
A toe-tal success: look at him now!
Jeremy’s done so well