Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fingers, Beware!

What was the one thing my boss says before I go rafting? "Don't hurt your fingers!". Of course, she means make sure you can still play piano and organ when you return.
What were some of the trials I put my body through? Mostly skin deep: cuts, bruises, heel blisters, sunburn, rashes, and dryness (wash your hands multiple times a day in bleach treated water). I ingested my more than fair share of bleach treated water, too. My insides must be white!
And I wasn't sick. That was the good news.
Redwall Cavern GCNP

For 18 days, I was admonished to hold on and keep away from the oars, especially in the rapids. I did a great job of it, but early on (day 8) I got smacked by an oar--on my left little finger. Ouch! Hard to imagine that it happened so fast and with such force; I was holding onto a strap that was around the seat behind me which was covered with a Paco Pad, watching churning water in front of us, when the oar suddenly had no water resistance and threw the rower and oar forward and he and it landed right on the tip of my finger. As far as I know, that was the only injury of all 16 of us, besides the aforementioned skin abrasions.
This could be the last time I had ten functioning fingers.

It hurt, it swelled up, turned red, and ... It suddenly looked, in shape, like it matched my right pinky. My right pinky has, for years, been deteriorating from Heberden's Nodes.  Click here for some scary pictures. Scary especially for me because my hands don't look that bad yet, (do they?) but they look like my grandmother's hands.
My Grandmother's Hands

For days I looked at my left pinky injury, which didn't hurt much, but looked odd. It certainly wasn't an injury for which to be airlifted out of the canyon. A bad bruise, to be sure.
It wasn't until I had been home for five days, I played organ in church on Sunday, knitted my way across the state of Arizona, and otherwise returned to normal life, that I looked at it one evening and thought it really looked the same as it did three weeks prior. Shouldn't it have improved? Was it always going to be crooked, red and tender? (Tenderness most noticeable when playing music. Banging it on a keyboard.)
The next day I was in the doctor's office, he was moving it around, ordered x-rays, and there it was: a broken bone. To be specific, the tendon on the back of the finger was still attached to a tiny bone fragment that had come off of the distal phalanx. The bad news was that it would never get better on its own, and the really bad news was I have to keep my finger in a splint for 8 weeks. Being a three week old injury doesn't make it any better, so now I'm trying to soldier on with eight and a half fingers. My right pinky isn't 100% and my left pinky is 0%. I'm going to continue to play, cheating the notes in the bass (lucky that I can use pedals to bolster the lower notes), and it seems I should be able to knit.
The splint is clumsy, and gets in the way of needles and writing (I'm left-handed) and tonight it started aching so that I stopped knitting! On a ten point scale, it has to be an eight if I have to put down my knitting.
 And I have a whole pair of socks to knit in one week. Rut-roh!
PS:  I discovered last night I have to keep my hand above my heart or it throbs and it wakes me up.  Maybe I can knit lying down!?!  Worth a try!


  1. OUCH!!! We will come over tonight and cheer you up. Not knitting is not an option.

  2. I'm so sorry you came back with an injury. Isn't it that every time someone warns you to not to get hurt something bad happens? Is it one of Murphy's law? Or maybe it just appears to be that way.
    Once I was cutting some food in the kitchen when grandpa entered, he said:"watch out with that knife you will cut yourself". I replied:"why would I cut myself!". You can guess what happened the very next moment.
    I wish you a fast and painless recovery!


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