Tag Archives: stanley knife

This knife of Sheffield steel (3)

According to an article I read last week,  instead of puns and quotes I should be using a set of simple formulae for titles. If I’d read that before starting this three-parter it would be entitled 5 uses for a Stanley Knife and people would be beating down the doors of the internet to read it.

However, as it only features two uses for a Stanley Knife (cutting paper and amateur surgery) I’m going to stick with the original title.

So, back to the hospital.

I could tell that it was getting late from the rising howls of injured drunks sounding down the corridors, but there wasn’t a lot of action in our corridor.

Eventually I was allowed into the next room and told to lie on a couch. Lie on a couch? For a finger injury? What would they have done if I’d been, for instance, pregnant or knocked down by a car? I was soon to find out as they helped a little old lady into the room and told me to get off the couch.

“We need it because she’s been hit by a car.” They said. “It’s an emergency.”

Well, she didn’t seem to be too bad; she was built like a prop forward and sheathed in one of those old lady checked coats. I’m fairly sure that somewhere a car driver was having to explain that though it looked like he’d hit a buffalo the truth was far less interesting.

FInally, about seven hours after arrival, I was called through and a doctor yawned his way into the room, muttering in the manner of a man that has just been wakened and isn’t very happy about it.

I received more evidence of this when, after injecting the local anaesthetic, he grabbed my finger in one hand and a pair of tweezers in the other.

“Just checking there are no foreign bodies in the wound.”

I could have told him there weren’t as the only possible foreign bodies were Stanley knives and sheets of A4 paper – both of which would have been obvious to the trained eye. However, he needed to run his tweezers over the surface of the wound to be sure, which made me jump a bit. The good news is that it only took three stitches and the anaesthetic was almost working by the time he tied off the third stitch.

I couldn’t help but think that the nurse at reception could have put three stitches in without anaesthetic, which would have saved me something like 7 hours waiting and a massive parking bill. It would probably have been less painful too.

After that, the ignominy just kept coming.

Next day I had to go to a conference. Competitors, customer, workmates, ex-college friends, strangers – all united in pointing and laughing at The Man with the Comedy Finger. I, of course, retained my normal cheery attitude but couldn’t resist using the comedy finger to make my feelings known amongst the general outbreak of mirth.

Then, at the end of the week, I went to see a customer.in Leicestershire. Imagine my surprise, when he opened his door, to find that he had two comedy fingers raised in a massive V-sign.

Seems one of his poultry feeders had jammed and as he cleared the obstruction he suddenly remembered that he hadn’t switched off. The chain took the ends off two fingers. One, when washed, was stitched back on. The second was last seen clutched in the beak of a chicken heading into a dark corner.and was never seen again.

So, bad as my week had been, someone had been having a worse one.

Over the years I recovered the feeling in the finger tip and it gradually turned pink again, then one night I slipped with a kitchen knife and sliced myself so close to the original scar that it actually formed one boundary of the new cut…


(Don’t worry, there is no Part 4.)

(In fairness I ought to point out that my recent experiences in Casualty have been a lot better than the one described here, which is now 25 years ago.).

This knife of Sheffield steel

I’ve been writing about my arthritic finger recently, including a good helping of melodrama and a shameless bid for sympathy. However, this isn’t the silliest finger injury I’ve ever had.

I was once trimming some leaflets for Julia using a steel rule and a Stanley knife. In order to do them more quickly I started making the piles of leaflets higher, pressing the blade down more firmly and cutting more quickly. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

After spending a few minutes on The Stupidity of Husbands who Bleed on Leaflets (which would make a good title for a book on marriage) she decided I needed to go to hospital.

“Don’t be silly.” I said. “All it needs is running under the tap and I’ll stick a plaster on it. Oh!”

The “Oh!” represents the noise I made when the force of the water peeled the top of my finger back and left it hanging by a thread of skin. It wasn’t a very big bit, no more than a quarter inch at most, and it didn’t hurt.

First stop was the doctor. It wasn’t an emergency so hospital wasn’t an option. Wrong. Doctors don’t do stitches anymore and it apparently was an emergency. (As you can see from the fact I was later to go to hospital with a swollen finger I was to adopt this approach).

There was a woman in the emergency department with skinned knuckles. That definitely wasn’t an emergency. How I scoffed. In fact I scoffed for ages because there was a long wait and I had not yet perfected my A&E skills. I now take a book, maybe two. And I don’t take a drink – you won’t enjoy it because you’ll worry about needing the toilet and missing your name being called. After two kids who did aikido and rugby I’ve become something of an expert at waiting. I was also, briefly, a bit of a legend in the dojo. They were all worried that I’d be freaked out by Number One son’s cut brow and bloody appearance, but calmed down when I said I intended going home to select a good book and have a nice cup of tea before going for a three or four hour wait.

Eventually they took me through to a curtained cubicle where a man came in and asked when I’d last had a tetanus inoculation. I couldn’t remember so I had to take my trousers down.

Yes, I thought it was a bit strange too, more like a game of Forfeits than a medical , though in the days before they all had ID badges you tended to believe that all people who gave you orders in hospital were staff. Fortunately he put my mind at rest by stabbing me in the leg with a needle. It was larger than the normal syringe they use so 25 years later I’m still left with a slight doubt in my mind as to whether he was a nurse or a keen amateur injector.

(To be continued…)