Friday, March 27, 2015

updated - talk to the hand - Lessons Learned: The quality of a doctor matters more than that of a teacher - you can lose your hand to flesh-eating bacteria

Friday - March 27, 10:30 pm -

[update - this was one of my last blog posts -- originally posted Tues march 24, 2015 but reverted to draft as new info on my hand came in -- back from 3 nights in joint diseases hospital today [friday] after operation on hand - yes very scary stuff -- when i wrote this tues morn i was optimistic - by late afternoon i figured i was being attacked by flesheating bacteria - not true - i hope -- excuse one hand typing -- will give details in follow-up tomorrow with perspectives on health care and a surprise about what they found in my hand --- and you wont be seeing me at tomorrow's or any rallies or events for a while. thanks to those who sent best wishes.]
march 24, 12pm

The assault on teachers is so outlandish - and seemingly accepted by so much of our society and the press - that the lack of similar calls for other professions is stark.

Let's look at doctors -- I had a very personal experience with over the past few days that illustrates an important point -- there is a qualitative difference between physicians --- and it is not something that can be quantified.

This is a lesson to anyone who thinks they might have a minor, self-treating injury.

A tale of 2 treatments

Last Thursday, I was building a bench for a project and using a gas-powered framing nail gun, a tool I had not used before, I shot the first nail and it went in on an angle and the tip caught a bit of the fleshy part of my left palm -- it looked like maybe an eighth of an inch. There was no pain and little blood -- I wrapped it in a paper towel. One of the guys is an ex-physician and urged me to wash it out with water -- the best thing you can use he said. "It's nothing," I said but did use the first aid kit about a half hour later to dab it with some antiseptic and put some gauze on it. When I got home I put some iodine and a bandaid and went off to the city to see a movie and meet a friend for dinner.

It began to hurt like a bitch while I was on the subway -- my fingers were bothering me and there was some swelling. When I got home I took some advil and it felt better. The Advil seemed to control the swelling and inflammation and the pain.

Friday I worked at the theater building sets and it wasn't really bothering me but the area was inflamed. Friday afternoon I went off to the city - in the snowstorm - to check out the NYCORE rehearsal for the next day, then on to the downtown MORE meeting and finally off to the gala Rockaway Theatre Company party at El Caribe in Mill Basin - I didn't get home 'till midnight - took some Advil and again felt better.

Up early Saturday morning for the all-day NYCORE conference. By the afternoon my hand was looking real ugly -- I took the band-aid off to show Janice who was working with me at the MORE table and she winced. Gloria and Lisa thought I should head home and skip the after party  -- so I headed home at 6PM -- my wife took one look and said I should go to a local urgent care clinic Sunday morning -- which I did.

The doctor said it was infected, put me in antibiotics, gave me a topical salve and gave me a tetanus shot. He said give it 2 or 3 days and come back if it wasn't getting better. Then I was off to my acting class at the theater.

By Sunday night every part of my hand was inflamed. How could it be from such a little nick? We were going into the city on Monday so I called my doctor whose office is on 38th street and got an appointment at 3PM.

He took one look and shook his head at the remedies the urgent care doc had given me. The anti-biotic was not really a very good one and the salve was useless. I needed an anti-biotic IV, which he gave me for about a half hour and prescribed a new anti-biotic. The IV was essential, something the urgent care doctor didn't seem to recognize.

My doc told me I was in real danger if I had neglected this- necritis - hand injuries are very dangerous due to confined space. That this was a tiny entry wound that closed up and didn't bleed much in essence trapped the infection. It would have been better if the nail had gone straight through.

Then we were off to dinner and a show - a preview of Gigi.  He told me to come back Thursday for another IV if the swelling doesn't go down. I still feel like I'm in danger as there is still ugly discoloration -- I'd show you a pic but don't want you to lose your appetite.

So, coming back to the beginning issue: The urgent care doc was not as astute as my personal doc in understanding the situation - which is why you get 2nd opinions.

Clearly, the reason I shlep into the city to see my doctor is because he is so good.

I don't see Cuomo very worried about rating health care workers. I don't advocate doing that to them - or to teachers - or any profession.

There will always be degrees of competence in any profession and that will never be fixed.

It is only when it comes to teachers that the world has seemingly gone crazy.


  1. Norm, get well soon. We need you. You are a good man. Usually wrong on the issue, but your heart is in the right place. Be well, our Brother
    - A Unity Hack

  2. You struck a nerve. ( Pun intended.) My son cut his finger on the job about 10 days ago, bled profusely. We saw 1. the emergency room doc ( who stopped the bleeding); 2. Follow-up walk-in clinic doc who said it was not infected but sent us to to a hand surgeon for an eval... who said not to worry, just keep it covered. It'll heal by itself.
    It's been a few days since I looked at it but when he comes home tonite that bandage is coming off.

    Sorry for you're agony, Norm. Get better soon 'cause I have to pick your brain about something. ( That's not affected, yet? Your brain,I mean.)
    Just kidding. Sounds like you'll be fine...thanks to your reg. doc.

    Paul Hogan

  3. Thank God you're okay. We need you, your hands, your feet, the whole person. You're vital for all of us, especially the edu blog readers. Now stop building inanimate objects that will hurt you. We need you to continue the crusade of building a stronger, well-informed rank and file that will fight those reformers and their supporters.


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating).