Monday, April 26, 2010

Surgery @ Sea

Hao Atoll, Tuamotu Archipeligo, French Polynesia, South Pacific

A bit too much excitement last night when I cut myself pretty badly while scaling a fish. Not having a fish scaler I was using the back of a knife which when it slipped, cut across my index finger knuckle, down into the joint, nicking the tendon and cutting into the cartilage a bit. Luckily we have our handy Orthopedic Surgeon onboard. The mini surgery went well. Bill cleaned out the wound and joint very well, then washed some more, then put a stitch ("couture" in french) in the tendon and then sewed the flap of skin down. I got a bit woozy in the middle (mostly from the sight of it and partially from some pain before Bill gave me a second shot of Novocaine to numb the area more. Scrub Nurse Jo had to lay down a few times as she was holding the flashlight and got a bit woozy from the sight as well. it took about 45 mins total, but all went well. The worry here is infection as the joint was opened up so we will be very careful and I will take lots of Antibiotics. The most painful part of the whole ordeal by far was the 20ml shot of antibiotic in my triceps that hurt like hell for an hour or so (got a bit woozy after that as well due to the pain) and still was quite sore this morning. If you have ever had a tetanus shot, multiply by about 10 and that is what the shot felt like. This morning we went in to the medical clinic on the old navy base here and were helped by a very nice nurse practitioner (or french equivalent) named Pierre. They changed my dressing and put an IV catheter in my arm so that I can get my daily antibiotic shots that way (much less painful on shot number two) and he restocked our supply of syringes, needles, dressing material and antibiotics. He is also re-sterilizing the surgical instruments we used last night which is a real bonus. We will go back in two days to change the dressing and it is nice knowing that if it starts to show any signs of infection we can go into the clinic where they have good supplies and a clean environment to reopen the wound and clean it.

We also got some interesting info on ciguaterra (fish toxin). Pierre said that most of the toxins are stored in the head (brain in particular) and guts, then the belly meat, then the lower loin, with the least toxin in the upper loin, so when in doubt you should just eat the meat from the midline (pin bones) up towards the back. This will reduce the amount of toxin you might ingest and limit your chance of getting sick. A good bit of advice we think.

All is well, nothing to worry about (fingers crossed though). Bill was excellent and I am being well cared for. The worst part is that I can't go in the water and it is quite warm here (91 degrees right now at 3pm). With this in mind we are going to stay here in Hao a bit longer than we had previously planned and will probably skip Amanu (next island 10 miles north) to save the lost time.

1 comment:

Sierra said...

Just because you have a surgeon on board doesn't mean you have to make use of his services!