This X-Ray is of my right hand showing the four remaining fingers; I began the trip with all five and was lucky to keep any. I’ve typed this, just as I have ever since, with just my left hand.
If you don’t take well to graphic imagery (of physical trauma) then be leery of proceeding. I’ll save them until the end though if you’d like to hear a wild story of me in Mexico.
I was sixteen and my family was holding a reunion in Puerto Penasco Mexico. Once the US economy took a large fall in 2008, so too did this up-and-coming tourist destination.
Almost every one of these resorts is seemingly abandoned, with the exception of maybe a guard or two. It was 2010 and renting massive beach-front properties is extremely cheap; perfect for a large reunion.
The day before our departure home, we decided to go off-roading as we had done just days prior. I grew up riding dirt bikes and was a skilled rider. This time however, my cousin and I, both 16 years old, opted for a Rhino (below).
He jumps into the driver’s seat first and we cut down the dirt road towards the hills shown earlier. Pulling off the dirt road, he begins to turn the wheel left attempting to spin a doughnut. Traveling far too fast, the vehicle immediately launches off the ground and rolls to the right, (my) passenger side. Instinctively I grab the top bar with my right hand to brace myself.
I wake up dazed, suspended 90 degrees sideways and a foot off the ground, still strapped into the seat. Lifting my right hand, palm towards me, I see nothing but my thumb. Everything above mid-palm just wasn’t there. I turn my hand around to find my four fingers hanging down, pointing towards my elbow down the back of my arm. Nothing keeps them there but thin flaps of skin and stark white tendons. They’re certain to fall off at any moment. I feel nothing.
I am positive that I will bleed out here in this desert. I run in no particular direction screaming, with my fingers flapping around against the back of my wrist. Pulled to a stop, my cousin wraps my hand in his shirt. My two brothers fly into the scene on their vehicle. While the youngest jumps out and begins yelling for help, my elder brother jumps into response mode, puts me in his vehicle and speeds towards the “resorts”.
Each resort passes by empty as he SCREAMS, “ambulencia!” Alas, a guard waves us in and I wait. Desperately and unsuccessfully trying to pass out for 45 minutes I squeeze my hand between my knees feeling the bones and knuckles in a chaotic scatter.
A family friend owns medical evacuation jets and graciously left us one on stand-by all week, incase my grandfather got sick. I would have lost everything if it weren’t for this.
I am grateful. I am grateful I awoke with three fingers back in place with slight mobility. I am grateful for my thumb. I am grateful that I am alive and that I have my family. I am grateful it happened to me and not my cousin who now has an admirable football career. I am grateful for the perspective it gives me and the empathy for others that it provides.
Work done to preserve my hand:
- Index finger removed after it had done a full rotation and was partially de-gloved (skin rolled half way off).
- Muscle graft from my thigh to my hand.
- Skin graft from my right forearm to my hand.
- Vein graft from right forearm to hand.
- Bone graft from left hip to hand.
- General surgical wizardry.
GRAPHIC IMAGERY BELOW
Check it out:
Couple weeks past (above). You can see where they took the skin and vein here.
Raaawwwrrr. I hope it’s not against Quora policy, but it’s my hand! Couple weeks past again. The skin from my forearm is covering the muscle from my leg there in that brain-looking blob.
About a year out and very similar to today. I hope I didn’t gross you out too much. Please, if you or someone you know has recently experienced something similar and wants to chat don’t hesitate to reach out. Stay safe everybody.
-by Lucas Howard