Work accident almost cost me my hand but Dr Iiams made sure it didn’t…

On June 12, 2015, I had an accident on the job for an overhead electrical company. We were removing a pole that had this steel wire on it, and when I was pulling on the steel cable, one of the strands was loose under the guard, and the piece of cable went through the guard, through my glove, and into my hand. It was a small puncture wound, but immediately, I had no movement in my right hand at all, I couldn’t move my fingers. My three middle fingers were in shock.

Self, Danny -101RET

We went to Patient First, and they gave me a tetanus shot and took X-rays, and they could see that the wire had actually gone up through my finger and into the bone. It went completely through it. I was told I needed to go see an orthopaedic surgeon, there was nothing that they could do. 

I immediately knew Dr. Gordon Iiams was the right man for the job.

I had already been to see Dr. Iiams for problems with my elbow—he diagnosed with tennis elbow and prescribed physical therapy for that.

From the time I met Dr. Iiams, he was such a people person. He was very professional but yet liked to laugh and joke. He seemed so knowledgeable. You can easily see that he doesn’t do this just because it’s his “career,” but because he really loves what he is doing.

Dr. Iiams squeezed me in, as an emergency patient, the day after I contacted him. Even after thirty-three years of practice, he was surprised and shocked by my injury. He said he had never seen an injury like this—and he was telling me how awesome I was for enduring it! He actually asked to see the cable, so one of my colleagues from work got us a sample of the exact type that had injured me. He told me he was going to hang it on his wall, with his “Famous Injury Collection.” He just made me laugh and made me comfortable through the whole procedure. 

As soon as Dr. Iiams looked at my X-ray, even before I had my MRI (which he scheduled me for immediately), he wanted me on an antibiotic. We went over what I was going to take, the exact dosage, and schedule, and so on. He was very concerned about infection. He set me up to go straight from that appointment to get an MRI, then get blood work done. In the meantime, they scheduled me to come in the next morning to review the results.

But as soon as Dr. Iiams reviewed the MRI, that very same day, he could see there was already a lot of infection. He told me to drop everything, and instead of waiting to discuss the MRI and treatment that next morning, he scheduled me for emergency surgery.

Dr. Iiams didn’t waste a minute—and I’m sure it saved my hand.

I went at 9AM the next morning, before they even had a place available for the surgery. Dr. Iiams had the staff calling every hospital on the area, to book me a surgical suite and anesthesia as soon as possible. They got me in at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, and I was in a bed, with an IV running antibiotics and prepping for surgery, by noon, less than 3 hours later. I was out of surgery and in recovery by 4PM.

And even while I was recovering, Dr. Iiams and the staff were very good about communicating with my wife, keeping her informed. We both felt so comfortable and reassured during the whole process. Even since then, when I go back, the SMOC staff knows exactly who I am, and they ask me how everything’s going.

As far as physical therapy—that was an important part of my recovery. And I pretty much started that immediately. I went in the next day after surgery to get checked out by Dr. Iiams, and then right after that I went to see the physical therapist, Jennifer Pelkowski, who is in the same building. She made a splint for me, and discussed what we would need to be doing.

When I first saw Jennifer, the first week after surgery, I had no movement at all. She showed me how I needed to bend my fingers, and work my hand, and explained how important it was to move and use the hand—otherwise, it would tighten up, and that’s how it would heal. I wouldn’t have the full mobility that I need to do my job. And more importantly to me, I wouldn’t have the mobility I wanted to stay active with my daughters.

Every day, I would go to therapy—my wife would drive me there—and Jennifer was so precise, measuring my strength, using different instruments to see my progress. She was very knowledgeable. And Dr. Iiams literally worked side-by-side with her, keeping track of my progress. He was definitely on the ball.

Just three months later, I was back on my regular full work schedule. I almost have full mobility back. What Dr. Iiams told me is that in a few more months, the scar tissue, which is making me a little stiff, will gradually ease up and I’ll get the rest of my mobility back. I shouldn’t need any additional surgery, which is great.

I’m really glad I went to Dr. Iiams. I don’t think my outcome would have been this good if I’d gone to anyone else. Dr. Iiams and SMOC have helped me not only “Say Yes” to  returning to my career, but more importantly returning to my role as an active, playful father.

As told by Danny Self

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