Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Dr. Gupta becomes the patient
In my entire life, I have never taken a sick day. Now, I know that is not necessarily anything to be proud about - but I really just never get sick. Through hundred hour-plus work weeks as a neurosurgical resident and even two small children, I have been remarkably immune. So, as I lay around the last several days nursing a broken hand, I started to go a little stir crazy. I don't like simply sitting around or being pushed into some sort of forced relaxation. Still, there I was. Feeling sorry for myself and driving my wife crazy.
For me, it started while covering the wildfires in San Diego. Getting by on just a couple of hours of sleep several days in a row finally caught up with me. I was walking toward my live shot location, when I suddenly found myself at the bottom of a flight of stairs. I was so tired that I never even saw them, until I was lying flat on my back at the bottom of them. Of course, as I heard people scurrying toward me to see if I was OK, I immediately sprang to my feet - mainly out of embarrassment. "I'm alright," I shouted for all to hear. At the same time, I took my wildly distorted left ring finger and twisted it back into place. That hurt. Badly. It was the sort of core pain that nearly drops you to your knees. Even then, I thought it was just a bad sprain.
So, I continued on to my colleague Kiran Chetry. She took one look at me and asked, "What's wrong?" "What?" I replied. "Nothing." She's one of those women who just knows when something is off --- or maybe I was grimacing like a crazy man. Who knows? I still did a couple of segments about my investigations the day before, all the time watching my hand balloon up to the size of a boxing glove. Chris Gajilan, my producer, had enough and off to the ER we went.
At Scripps hospital in San Diego, they could not have been nicer. While telling me how badly messed up my hand was, they still smiled. The ER doctor walked in, chuckled in an amused way and said the hand surgeon was already on his way in. It was 4 a.m. Turns out, I had a spiral fracture of my fourth metacarpal on my left hand. That's a pretty nasty fracture where the bone not only breaks, but also rotates. "Could I wait to go home for the operation?" I asked. After all, I wanted to follow up with my own doctors in Atlanta. Reluctantly, they agreed.
Two days later I lay in the holding room at Emory Clinic, while Dr. Gary McGillivary sharpened his knives in the next room. He quickly placed two pins in my hand to hold me in place, and then a cast to hold the pins in place. Honestly, I barely remember anything. They gave me 2 mg of Versed, which is an antegrade amnesiac, and I slept through the whole thing. Lightweight.
Well, I wanted to blog today (it took me two hours to do this as I am typing with one finger) to simply say thank you to all the nice people who have e-mailed and sent their well wishes. By all reports, I will be fine. Within another few weeks, I hope to be back to operating myself. My hand surgeon is confident that won't be a problem. In fact, just yesterday, my physical therapist told me I was the best patient she had ever worked with. My wife wasn't buying it.
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.