The struggle to stay injury free

My right pinky finger injury.

Having a type of blood cancer, grade 2 follicular lymphoma in my case, means I have to try avoiding injuries. This is especially true now that I am undergoing chemotherapy. Between the lymphoma and chemotherapy simple injuries can turn into major infections or other complications. In this post I will share a few instances of having to deal with injuries.

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I am overweight. One of the ways I have been losing weight over the last year is to do more activities around the yard and in the garage. I love to tinker with things and do yard-work. Even though this had become very difficult this previous summer due to breathing problems, I still would find ways to do something physical. Now however I find it hard to balance finding things to do in the yard and staying injury free.

When I talk about injuries I am not just talking about breaking bones or straining joints. I am also talking about bruises and cuts. Just last week I was cutting some branches from a tree using a backsaw and ended up with a very large bruise on my leg from bumping into a tree stump. In the past I would not have had such a large bruise.

In the last two weeks I have had two scratches that turned into bleeding cuts. One was on the bridge of my nose. I had been taking off my blue mask after getting out of a public location and I lightly scratched my nose with my fingernail. Later that day I noticed this light scratch was bleeding. A couple of days later I was helping my family put the cover on our boat and I got a scratch on the palm of my hand. Shortly thereafter I had blood flowing out of my palm. In each case I washed the area down with anti-bacterial soap and used neosporin and band-aids. Luckily both cuts are almost completely healed and showed no sign of infection. In the past such little scrapes would have been no big deal for me. But now I have to basically baby any small scrape or cut to prevent an infection.

The worse injury I have suffered so far is on my right pinky finger. One morning taking my youngest sons to school I crushed the pinky finger in my right hand. My youngest son sometimes has to be in a wheelchair (he is still in the diagnosis phase for some type of hyper-mobility disorder). While leaning down to unfold the wheelchair at his school I had my pinky finger in the wrong place and it was crushed between two bars. It definitely hurt, but I didn’t think too much of it at the time since I could still move my pinky finger. That weekend I watched as a deep bruise formed under my finger nail. I believed it would probably lose the finger nail soon. This happened the weekend of my youngest sons being in the homecoming parade and my middle son being in the NSU Gypsy Day parade (about two weeks ago).

On Monday and Tuesday of the next week I meant to call the oncology nursing staff to let them know about my pinky finger, but I kept forgetting. On Wednesday I once again had to take my boys to school since the youngest had to be in a wheelchair again. It was then I noticed my fingernail was bleeding. So I finally decided to call the oncology nursing staff. I already had a follow-up appointment set with the surgeon that day to check on the status of my port.  The nursing staff agreed with me I should have the surgeon look at it and get his opinion of what to do.

By the time I was at my appointment with the surgeon I had cleaned up the blood and it looked OK again, just very bruised. The surgeon noted there was no sign of infection and also believed I would lose the finger nail. After conferring with the orthopedic staff he said if it showed signs of infection or oozing I should come back in to either get the fingernail removed or they would cut a hole in the fingernail to let it drain. Sometime during the weekend it became painful to use my pinky finger. He noted it might be fractured. Even if it was fractured there was little that could be done about it. So he gave me a brace and wrapped it up for me. Having it wrapped up would prevent me from using the pinky and allow it to heal.

Every day since then I unwrap the pinky and check to make sure there is no infection and see if the fingernail is still attached. So far it seems to be healing quite well. The bruising has definitely gotten worse, and there is pain if I try to move the joint. But as long as I keep the pinky finger immobilized in the brace and wrapped up it seems to be both protected and healing fine. My braced finger can actually be seen in the picture accompanying this post.

If nothing else my pinky being wrapped up is a constant reminder I have to be careful of injury. It is also a constant reminder of how many times I have to use my right pinky finger typing (especially the p in a post about a pinky finger). All I’m really hoping for at this point is I can keep the pinky nail long enough for the new one to come in and it doesn’t have to be removed. I’ve had that done on a toenail before and don’t really want to do it on a fingernail.

It should be noted however that I do NOT plan to stop doing things around the garage or the yard. I will still try to be active. Going forward I just have to learn to be a little more careful and take any injury serious, no matter how small it may seem.

I’ll end this post here. Hopefully this gives some insight into the types of injuries those dealing with blood disorders have to worry about. Simple injuries run the risk of becoming major infections and should be dealt with right away. Technically I should have contacted my oncology nursing staff right away after injuring my pinky finger. I’ll have to get better about that in the future.