Jonathan Field - Maker of Random Stuff

Playing Doctor

So… the posts about my arm will hopefully come to an end soon. There are other things in life too, one would hope. I had several visitors last week, and maybe I’ll mention more about that soon. But for the moment, the arm:

Tonight I took out my stitches all by myself. Yes, that’s what the doctor told me to do.

He used a completely different technique this time to close the wound, the goal being a smaller scar. The first time they just stapled my arm shut. No really, it looked like someone went at it with an office stapler. I think it was a good job actually, and it would have healed up quite neat, but we didn’t leave the staples in long enough and the scar just stretched out over the course of a month becoming nearly an inch wide at points, as you can see from the lovely photos in an earlier post. Despite it’s odd appearance, I never minded the scar much.

But this time, he used something called a “subcuticular suture” where the stitching is done under the skin. Basically the thread goes serpentine underneath the skin. You can see a nifty and non-gross animation of it. Then he put steri-strips (the medical equivalent of duct tape) across the top for a little extra protection.

What was interesting about this technique was that it left a couple inches of thread sticking out of my arm near my shoulder, and another couple inches sticking out near the inside of my elbow. This just looked kinda creepy to me. He said that when the time came, I could just pull and the thread would slide right out… from inside my arm! There were also a couple of loops where the thread came out about 1/3 and 2/3 of the way down the length of the wound. I was instructed to snip those, and pull it out in three sections… it would have been too long in one piece, i guess.

This all came up at work today, and Esther asked if she could watch. Then Mike asked if he could film it. Then Esther asked if she could actually pull the thread out herself. They seemed fairly serious, the freaks. I asked how much they’d pay, and the initial offer was $20. I didn’t try to talk them up, and though $20 would cover a midrange Las Vegas buffet, I opted out. That was all just a little too reality TV for me. So I decided to do it all by myself tonight.

Could I describe the experience in a word? Unsettling.

If you’re an X-Files fan you may remember several episodes where some character would end up with a worm or something under their skin, and you’d see this stuff moving under their skin and it would give you the heebie-jeebies. Well, that was pretty much how the stitch removal went. Except it was my arm, and I could feel the sucker coming out. It wasn’t painful per se, but uncomfortable yes, and quite unsettling.

Anyways, I put fresh steri-strips on and the whole thing looks pretty okay. If you’re curious, here’s a picture of the finished product (yes, I always have to flex). I’ll keep steri-strips on it for a couple months. The red spots at roughly the 1/3 and 2/3 points are where the little loops were. I think those will heal up pretty well, and the whole thing will just be a thin pink line.

Then, of course, I’ll have another surgery :)

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5 Responses to Playing Doctor

  1. Question: if you felxed your arm as intensely as you can, would your whole upper arm explode?

    • that’s an interesting question.

      Could he break his own arm a second time?

      • You know, I’ve often though of the phyics of my arm break. My understanding is that I could have just as easily broke my arm pushing against a brick wall in the same manner. I don’t think the fact that Andy was pushing back changes the amount of pressure on the bone at all. If there was some physics man *cough* pan2 *cough* in the house I might get a more studied opinion. Or at least a more studly opinion.

        And all of this is not just to champion my own strength in breaking my arm, but I’d also like to be able to call my undefeatable oponent Andy “Brick Wall” Kurlander. Wouldn’t that be sorta cool?

        • I don’t think it’d be just as easy to break it by pushing against a brick wall – I don’t think you’d have gotten the same torque motion against a wall and its the torque that caused the spiral fracture. In fact, if you tried to break your own arm by pushing against a brick wall I bet your ligaments might tear or the bone might dislocate before the bone broke.

          At any rate, I think you can still call him Bricky Kurlander since obviously he is just as unmovable, even if the vectors would different. But of course I defer to pan2…

    • I believe so. But that has always been the case.

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