How my fiancé lost his finger tips and our friends saved our wedding

December 9 | Guest post by cityauctor
Finger Tips
By: Ian.KobylanskiCC BY 2.0

Well, technically my fiance Daniel didn't "lose" anything — both severed finger tips are in the back of our refrigerator, swimming around in a plastic container marked DENTURES that one of the ER nurses was nice enough to scrounge up for us when Dan asked if he could take his mangled bits of flesh home. I could go into the whole story, but suffice to say that it was a boating accident and that you should never offer to help untie anything. Ever.

The index and middle finger of his right hand (of course he's right-handed) will be permanently shorter since there's a whopping 95% failure rate reattaching anything severed above the top knuckle, and Daniel tells the ER doctor, "At least I'll have two less fingernails to clip, right? Less maintenance."

On our way to the emergency room, Daniel yelled from the back of the ambulance up to me in the front seat, "Hey, aren't you glad we did the engagement pictures on Wednesday?"

The injury could have been so much worse. If Daniel hadn't acted as quickly as he did (thank you, Army medical training!), he could have lost a lot more than just the tips of his fingers. We have a lot to be grateful for, but his hand will look different for the rest of his life, and because Daniel started his new job only a few months ago, he hadn't yet enrolled for medical benefits.

We were splattered with blood, clinging to the seat of our friend's speedboat as we raced across the lake toward the sound of sirens and horns, and one of the first things Dan said to me was that his insurance coverage didn't start until Monday. Freak accidents have a way of rearranging your priorities, and I assured him that we would figure it out, we would find a way to cover the cost of everything, fuck money.

When we had to pay cash upfront for the surgery to close his wounds, I was suddenly thrilled we'd decided to take out a small loan to cover our upcoming wedding (very small for the wedding industry; it's an enormous amount of money for us). It saved us from having to pay with credit cards, and (because we're still early in the planning/paying for things stage of the wedding) there would be plenty left to cover additional appointments and anything else he needed. I immediately stopped thinking of that account as the Wedding Money and started thinking about how many weeks (months) it would be until Daniel could use his fingers again.

The wedding didn't cease to exist, but it became something I would have to worry about reconsidering later; and that was genuinely fine with me. Freak accidents. Priorities. Severed fingers. We had each other and we were both alive.

But then the people we love donated so much they repaid the cost of the surgery, and suddenly the funds were all back in place. I can't believe how many of our friends have contributed to the medical expenses — they've actually covered the cost of Dan's surgery, which we initially had to take out of our wedding fund. It took me a couple of days to realize they'd given us back our wedding.

I spent one sleepless night trying to decide how I felt about still having the wedding, knowing that those payments are going to be a part of our lives for a long time. It felt frivolous spending so much money on a party before all of this; wasn't it even more frivolous now? And the Uptight Judgey Voice of Doom in my head still says "yes."

But now it feels important, necessary even, in a way that it never really did. Now more than ever, I want to celebrate my relationship with our friends and family. Daniel is the most incredible person I have ever known, and I can't wait to call him my husband. In one big wave, I stopped thinking about our wedding as a party and started thinking of it as the beginning of our marriage.

There's a lot of re-learning and re-conditioning and re-adjusting in his future, but Daniel's level-headed, positive attitude and incredible sense of humor continue to shine. Dozens of friends and co-workers have gone out of their way to tell us what an incredible example Daniel is, how inspiring his outlook has been for them.

Soon Daniel and I are going to his post-op appointment to see the… nubs? stumps?… for the first time, and learn what kind of realistic timeline we should expect for his recovery. I'm sure he'll crack jokes with the doctor and smile the whole time, and I'll be smiling with him.

I've never been happier in my life, and I can't wait to share that happiness with our friends and family at our wedding.

  1. That is such a touching story! I can't imagine better people to have surrounding you on your wedding day.

    6 agree
  2. What a beautiful story of love and friendship. I hope Daniel's recovery goes smoothly. My father lost a few fingertips in a woodworking accident before I was born. If you have kids, this will make a great story to tell them!

    8 agree
  3. My Mom lost a little bit of the tip of her middle finger on her left hand in a lab accident (very sharp blade). We have this great picture of her with it all bandaged up giving the camera the bird…

    1 agrees
  4. Might sound bizarre, but he will struggle to hold round things (Cabbages, Basketballs etc) for a while after it heals, because his reach will have changed, but not enough for the brain to re-adjust for the missing pieces.
    And he'll miss when he goes to grab handles, because the tips of his fingers wont line up when they bend.
    (My mama took off the ends of her fingers in the door when I was a kid….saw them fly across the room, and straight into the path of our cat, who promptly ate them…Gross. Thankfully she had a good sense of humor about it, because it meant it was far less traumatic for everyone involved!)
    Good luck for the recovery, it'll be frustrating at first, but things will be back to right sooner than you'd think.
    Your wedding will be an amazing celebration of not only your love for each other, but the love your friends have you the two of you, so embrace it!

    11 agree
  5. Your fiance's outlook and sense of humor with this is amazing! I really love your perspective of it beig less about a party and more about the start of marriage. We're two weeks out and I'm dealing with a concussion and totaled car, so the wedding sounds less than appealing right now. Gonna keep your perspective on it! Thanks!

    2 agree
  6. I love this story! It's not even sentimental, it's real – life happens and when life happens that sucks a lot, it reveals your true colors. Sounds like Daniel has a strong heart and sense of humor that will carry y'all through a lot harder times. Also, great perspective on looking at marriage in the long run as opposed to focusing so much on one day (the wedding).

    4 agree
  7. Hi! I just wanted to say that I have been through this! My other half got in an accident at work and severed his index and middle finger, which could only be amputated right below the nail. His recovery took a few months– the surgeon we saw stitched up his index finger, then sewed his middle finger into his ring finger to create a skin flap & separated them later. He also took skin from his upper arm for grafts. It will take some getting used to (for my man it wasn't really grip trouble, just nerve damage & pain issues with typing/texting/gaming/etc) but in the end the results were amazing….the fingers are a little shorter, but really it just looks like he doesn't have a fingernail! No one ever even notices it unless it's pointed out to them.

    After this happened though, someone pointed out to me that when we get married, people will see his fingers & scars in the photos…..LIKE I CARE! I love your story because not only is it touching, but it's true–it's not just about the party or the photos or any of that. It is about you and your man starting your life of love & friendship.

    I have a feeling Daniel will recover pretty fast. He is so positive about it! It also sounds like you've got some really great people surrounding you guys. Good luck to you both!

    5 agree
    • Thats such a beautiful story! (made me very grateful for our public health system though)
      my Fiancé lost the top bit of his little finger and damaged his ring finger a few years a go (he rolled a car on them, silly boys and their toys). I was surprised how quickly it all healed up But he got a bit self conscious when it came to wedding ring shopping, I wasn't really expecting that because even when he first did it he was all like "yeh what an awesome story to tell"

      1 agrees
  8. My grandfather lost the tips of his fingers on one hand in World War II. He used to crack us up by sticking his finger up his nose saying he was "tickling his brain" since it looked like his finger was way up there. Just a little something to look forward to in 40 years when you guys are Nana and PopPop…. Best wishes on your wedding and the many years of happiness ahead of you!

    6 agree
  9. I spent so long puzzling over the title of this one. "How could losing finger tips affect whether someone has a wedding?"

    I sometimes forget how lucky I am to live in a country (Aus) with free healthcare. I'm very glad to see that friends & family chipped in to help you guys out in this rough time – but also sad that it even had to happen.

    6 agree
  10. It's amazing how a freak accident or other type of emergency will rearrange your priorities in the blink of an eye. It brings out the best and worst in people, and frankly it sounds like you're very lucky to have such a partner as your fiancé is and so many generous friends.

    I took two ER trips for/with my last guy, the first for a severely broken ankle and the second for a shower fall that resulted in a head wound. For us the ankle thing happened far too early in our relationship, and while it brought us closer together on the surface, it stunted our emotional growth as a couple because we were too busy just surviving day to day. Recovery does take time, but as much as it is realistic to do so try to keep as much of your normal routine as possible so that you don't get stuck in new bad habits that while helpful in recovery could be harmful down the line.

    2 agree
  11. I had my left index finger amputated a year ago and I'm a little self-conscious about it when it comes to ring photos.

    The adjustments happen pretty naturally though. I'll occasionally run into things that I can't do easily (like open pill packets. It's surprising how much strength you need to pinch those things) but you learn to adjust. A positive attitude goes a long way.

    They wouldn't give me my finger back (it had a tumor in it) so I made an effigy and we had a Viking funeral where we burned the effigy on a pyre of matchsticks. Then we had an Irish wake with finger foods, tiramisu (because it's made with lady fingers) and Scotch served a finger at a time. It was my way of celebrating once the bandages were off.

    You two are lucky to have each other. :)

    6 agree
    • Ha! That's brilliant. It's a lot like the shark attack party one of the editor's has. I love it! Don't be self-conscious about your hands. They, along with all of their history, are part of who you are, and that's really how you're celebrating. And honestly, yours will be some of the only photos where you can really tell who the hands belong to! Ours just kind of look generic. Anyway, thanks for sharing your awesome celebration ideas!

      2 agree
  12. "It felt frivolous spending so much money on a party before all of this; wasn't it even more frivolous now? And the Uptight Judgey Voice of Doom in my head still says 'yes.' But now it feels important, necessary even, in a way that it never really did. Now more than ever, I want to celebrate my relationship with our friends and family."

    This is TOTALLY what I've decided about my wedding! My fiancé has chronic health issues, and I've come to the same conclusion recently as he's had some flare-ups.

    Thank you for sharing your story :-)

    2 agree
  13. What a scary situation. Reading stories like this make me live the NHS so much more, I can't imagine having that extra terror to bring sick or injured than 'how the chuff am I going to pay for it' madness.

    1 agrees

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