The Bionic Hand

I have a real penchant for doing things while in treatment that are likely going to get me kicked out or transferred to a state psychiatric facility.  In fact, as I was relaying this story to my therapist in yesterday’s catch up session, when I got to the whole “they said if I even scratched myself I’m kicked out” part, she said, “Yeah.  I knew you’d go there.”

So I have something of a track record.  It was almost inevitable that I would do something supremely stupid to nearly get myself kicked out.  This one was a little interesting though, as my therapist sat me down and said (pretty much verbatim), “The staff are really scared of you.”  Later, girls who were on inpatient when I was on Caution Status told me that that they thought I was really scary upon first impression.  (So nobody saw it coming that I’d be a leader on the unit and phase four going on solo passes. I like to keep people on their toes.)

But I digress.  Last time I was at CFC, my last stay on Caution was because I went outside unaccompanied and punched the cement wall (that I usually used for throwing ice) about 30 or so times with both hands.  They were nice and swollen and ripped up, but no worse for the wear.  So when I found myself in the basement staring at a support beam and super pissed at the on-call therapist, I didn’t think that one or two punches would do all that much.  I figured my hands would be bruised a bit, but it would be worth the extra time on Caution just to get those emotions out.

My favourite part of this story is that I am wearing gloves.  The staff were consistently telling me to WEAR MY GLOVES!!! so that I couldn’t self-harm.  At any rate, the on-call therapist this weekend refused to let me call my family to let them know I was on Caution and wouldn’t give me orders to play my flute, which is basically one of my biggest coping skills.  And the woman on Caution with me had orders (from the same therapist!) to play piano, so I thought it’d be a no-brainer.  It wasn’t, apparently.

I was SEETHING.  The care tech who was watching us tried to de-escalate me and get me to play games, etc. and I was having none of it.  She finally left my side and went back to the table and I continued to be really, really pissed off.  So I thought about it:  I’ll use my left hand so it doesn’t affect my writing and I’ll just do one or two good punches, just to let off some steam.


Anorexia can seriously screw up your bone density


So I punch the beam once and hear a crunch.  I figure it’s the drywall giving a bit.  I’m still pretty heated, so I punch it again.  At this point, the care tech is yelling at me and coming to restrain me (I stopped punching before I had to be restrained) and my friend (the other woman on Caution) has a sort of deer-in-headlights look.  The care tech tells me to take off my gloves (they were so effective in preventing self-harm, yeah?) so she can see my hand.  And my left hand was, uh, not right.  There was something (which was bone) sticking up, though not penetrating the flesh, and my left pinky finger was at least a centimeter lower than the rest of my fingers at rest.

Even as my hand continued to swell and turn lovely colours, I maintained that it was just dislocated and could we please just hurry this up?  I went to the ER, where they finally got me to an x-ray room to find out that my hand was broken.  Like – really, really broken.  It’s called a boxer’s break, because it’s most commonly seen in men (who get it boxing or, like me, punching a wall).  My 5th metacarpal (the hand bone below my pinky) was broken — along the long part of the bone (so it was a long break, not a clean snap).  The ER doctor shot me with some lovely local anesthetic and then proceeded to try and get the bone pieces back where they should be, more or less.

To make a long story short, I had a follow-up with a hand surgeon.  Then I had surgery — which I opted for because he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to set it without surgery and it would have a faster recovery time.  So now, my hand looks like this:


That’s a metal plate about as long as my entire bone.  And eight screws.  Seven screwed down into the plate and one screwed across (floating) to keep the pieces of bone from drifting apart.  There’s also a really lovely inch and a half scar on my left hand and I’ve been doing physical therapy for a month — and still don’t have full range of motion in my hand.

So, just in case you think your eating disorder and/or self-harm don’t hurt you, let me assure you:  they do.  Those two decided to gang up this time and man, it had some pretty impressive results.

The best part is that I might have to have another surgery to remove the plate after the bone has healed because, as the surgeon said, “it’s a big plate in a little hand” and is probably the cause of some of the mobility issues.

So now there’s a scar on my left hand to remind me of the costs of my eating disorder.

And reminding me why I never want to go down that road again.


2 thoughts on “The Bionic Hand

  1. Hmm…yup – I was that girl on caution and the girl who staff was scared of. Sadly though I never got to the phase 4 part (not going back to try again though :D)….Glad you are back even with your bionic hand and you showed everyone that you can make a very big change. Oh and by the way how did the airport go with the all that in your hand?

    • Ah, I forgot to mention the airport! I had no problems getting through security. SLC has those standing 360* scanning things, but I have no idea if the folks looking at the scan could see my hardware. :)

      Also, definitely don’t go back just for phase four. Real life is pretty much phase ten, so if you’re making it out here, you’re good.

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