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Fishhook in Finger

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by tursiops, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    I encountered a piece of fishing line on the bottom while diving in Ambon Bay, Indonesia, on Dec 8, 2018. The water was a bit murky, and I could not see where the line went....which was to the surface. I tried to move it to take a picture of something, and the fisherman connected to the other end thought he had a big one, set the hook, and tried to reel me in via the hook in my little finger, left hand.

    I'd just been at 104 ft, was at 50 ft at the time, and did not want to surface that quickly! I dropped my camera to hang from its tether, got my Trilobite off my chest strap, and cut the line, but the damage was done.

    My buddy swam over and took my camera, and she and I and the DM went back to where our dive boat was located, and surfaced.

    A local clinic removed the hook and stitched me up.
    Dec 8
    Not knowing where the barb was within the finger, they elected not to try and push it through, but rather just to slice open the finger and cut the hook out.

    Three meds (antibiotic, pain killer (an NSAID not available in the US), cortisone "to help the healing" they said) were provided, plus a tetanus shot. I took only the antibiotic, and used ibuprofen as a pain killer. On Dec 11 I tried a dive with a nitrile exam glove over my hand, taped at the wrist, and a dive glove (little finger cut out) to protect the glove. Next was using the thump of the exam glove taped on, and just the thumb of the dive glove over it.

    When I got home on Dec 20 my doctor removed the stitches with some choice comments while he was doing it.
    Pre-removal appearance: Dec 20, just before stitches are removed.
    I'm now at Jan 4, just about 4 weeks after the incident, and it feels and looks pretty good, but does not look pretty.

    I was lucky. I lost maybe 20 dives on the trip from Ambon to Raja Ampat, but still got some good diving in and some fun pictures. https://flic.kr/s/aHsmyoYuVQ. I did not lose my finger. I did not get an infection. I've got a great 'dueling scar" I need to think up a good story for. Maybe the truth is good enough...

    Lessons learned:
    1. If you don't know where the fishing line goes, cut it first, then move it.
    2. Keep my cutting tool available with either hand, one-handed.
    3. Learn some basic Indonesian.

    1. Having a cutting tool in a zipper pocket may be totally useless. My wife has already relocated her Trilobite from her pocket. If you can't get at it quickly with either hand, it does not exist.
    2. The cutting tool needs to be operable with just one hand. A folding knife that needs two hands to open may end up staying closed.
    3. A dull knife is not a cutting tool; it is just a dull knife.
    Dark Wolf, FezUSA, RVA_Diver and 20 others like this.
  2. northernone

    northernone Great White Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Currently: Cozumel, from Canada

    Thank you for the reminder about stowed cutting tools.

    shoredivr likes this.
  3. JimBlay

    JimBlay Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Boca Raton FL
    Ouch!! Thanks for sharing the lessons learned! I'm glad I have a trilobite and cutting device with a line cutter built in on my backplate waste band easily accessible from either hand. This is a great reminder as to why that is important.
  4. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!

    The string yank technique works so well, even the Boy Scouts teach it. I had it done on my neck when an errant cast by a Weblos caught me in my neck. The trick is pushing the hook down and snatching it out quickly, before you feel the pain.
  5. uncfnp

    uncfnp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    Lesson 4 Avoid procedures in Indonesia!

    Best way to remove a fish hook is to slide an 18 g needle along the shaft to cover the barbs and pull back through the entry. I have been 100 percent successful with this though it might take some time and multiple attempts. Just leaves a small puncture wound.

    Second option is to loop a string and push the barb down while pulling back. Never tried.

    Last is to cut the shaft and push through.

    I have never had to cut out a fish hook.
  6. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    As an aside, we were diving at 18 palms in Bonaire by this floating dock put out for divers and other water sports. There were a dozen divers in the water when this guy walks out with a fishing pole intending to fish with a treble hook. All the divers on the surface were screaming at him and he just kept dismissing them. His second cast found the hook in his ear and many of us giggling at the instant karma he had received. I would've helped but I wasn't going to abandon my students to do so.
    RVA_Diver, cruiser, darook and 3 others like this.
  7. Rollin Bonz

    Rollin Bonz Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Georgia, the state, not the country ;-)
    Glad you have healed well with little long term issues. Was the doctor knitting a sweater when you showed up at the medical facility? Looks like yarn instead of sutures!
    Great lessons on having a cutting tool (or tools) readily accessible.
  8. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    Notice the critical difference between the hook position in your Fig 1 and in my picture. They did not knwo where the barb was nor even the curvature of the hook. Pushing through might have pushed it into the bone, and there was no moment arm to use the string-yank method. I knew all about those two methods.....but we discussed all the options at the clinic and I agreed that the risk of really nasty internal damage by the completely embedded hook was too great to use either method.
    shoredivr likes this.
  9. Kimela

    Kimela Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: St Louis
    Yikes - glad you eventually go the medical attention you really needed - and more than one good lesson here.

    So ... when we first started diving I got a nifty, spiffy, very expensive titanium dive knife and felt like Lara Croft for my first few dives ... and then stopped carrying it because it felt conspicuous and I worried it would go missing out of my checked bag. So that means that I'm diving without a cutting tool. I went to divegearexpress to see about the trilobite and am wondering what everyone likes the best. There are a few cutting tools to choose from. And how do you carry them? Do you hang it from your webbing on your BC? Obviously, not in a pocket. I have the Zeagle Zena and am wondering if a cutting tool would work well hanging on a D-ring? Love to hear opinions.
  10. divad

    divad Solo Diver

    you're gonna need a bp and wing for that......
    scubafied and Geobound like this.

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