My left index finger has a finger.
Okay, not really. But it does have a pretty noticeable bump that I’m convinced is going to grow bigger, break off, and start to move on its own.
The bump is scar tissue according to my doctor. She suggests that I rub lotion with Vitamin E on it to reduce the size. I’ve done this for a couple weeks and haven’t seen a noticeable difference.
It’s just above my knuckle and not too noticeable if I keep my finger straight, but as soon as I bend it, the bump really stands out.
The bump is a new addition to my finger. Back in March, I broke a glass, picked up the pieces, and threw them in a box. My dog came sniffing around and I decided that I needed to cover the glass up so that he wouldn’t hurt himself. I put some pieces of plastic from a recent package that I’d received over the broken glass. The plastic kept puffing up, so I plunged my left fist down into the plastic to force it down and pushed all the way into broken shards of glass.
Having hurt myself many times before, I knew what to do. I ran my hand under warm water and wrapped a paper towel around it. After a few seconds, I dared to unwrap my hand and assess the damage. My middle finger was a bit scratched up, but otherwise looked fine. Then I looked at my index finger. There was something odd about it. It took my brain a few seconds to realize that a big chunk of skin was hanging off.
At that point, my brain broke. I wasn’t sure if I needed to go to urgent care or put a butterfly bandage on it and suck it up. So I went downstairs to my neighbor’s apartment for a second opinion. Since both hands were occupied, one bleeding and one holding a towel over the blood, I banged on her door with my right forearm.
My neighbor answered the door with her phone in hand.
“Hey! Could you take a look at my finger and let me know if you think I need stitches?”
She looked surprised. “What did you do?”
“I stabbed my finger, like an idiot.”
“She got stabbed?” This question came from her phone. She’d been on a call with her boyfriend and he was listening in.
“What? No. I’ll call you back,” she said into her phone.
After looking at my finger, she suggested that we go to the urgent care. Once there, I filled out paperwork while trying not to bleed on it. Can’t paperwork wait until you’re not bleeding?
The doctor suggested stitches, but followed up with “But if you’re deathly afraid of needles we can try a butterfly bandage.”
Why was he giving me options? If the best option is to sew me up, then sew me up. Fears should not trump health.
We chatted while he stitched away. It turns out that years ago he did his residency in Detroit at a hospital that I frequented. I frequented it because my mom worked there, but also because I hurt myself a lot. As we chatted, I realized that this was not the first time that I knowingly put my hand in broken glass.
The first time happened when I was around 9-years-old and rollerskating outside on a beautiful summer day, which is rare in Michigan. I was headed to Lake St. Clair (next to Lake Erie, but not cool enough to be a Great Lake) with my best friend, sisters, and mom. It was about 5 miles from our house, so halfway through, we sat down on the sidewalk to take a break.
When I sat down, I noticed some broken glass on the curb next to me to my right. My mother warned me about it as well. After chatting for a couple minutes in the sunshine, we decided to continue on. For some reason, I thought that the glass was on my left, so I used my right hand to push myself up and off the curb, plunging it right into the broken glass.
My mother was furious. Didn’t she just warn me?
The hospital where my mother worked, which also had a Rite Aid, was a couple blocks back. Deciding that my injury wasn’t that serious, my mother sent my sisters to Rite Aid for Neosporin and bandaids. We cleaned up my cuts and continued our journey to Lake St. Clair.
The next time I did this, I was 15 and drinking for the first time at my friend’s house. One of the girls we hung out with, who was two grades ahead of us, knew some guys in their twenties that would buy us liquor. My friend’s parents were gone for the weekend, so the guys stayed to drink with us.
As I was chatting up a 22-year-old who was father to a toddler, I noticed a broken shot glass on the table that I was standing next to. I took note and continued my drunken conversation. tongue red from Cherry Pucker. When I was finished talking, I put my hand down on the table, right into the broken shot glass.
The guy I was talking to cleaned up my hand. At the time, I thought that he was being sweet. A knight in shining armor type. Of course, I was just a hot mess and this guy didn’t want to take a 15-year-old to the hospital to explain that she put her hand through glass because he got her drunk.
But I didn’t need a hospital visit anyway. Just like the time when I was 9, it was just a few scratches and cuts.
My hope is that by writing about these experiences my brain will go on autopilot the next time I’m near broken glass.
If not, at least I’ll get another blog post out of it.