A friend of mine asked on facebook today, "What's the worst pain you've ever felt?" I knew my answer in half a second. It was the time I broke the bone tip of my index finger. I know you can't go on until you hear more, so here's a story sure to make you wear hot pads on both your hands for the rest of your days.
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I would rather have three babies without an epidural.
I would rather pass a kidney stone.
I would rather have four wisdom teeth extracted at the same time, and then go home to a house that has no ice in it for compresses.
Throw in taking too big of a palate-scorching slurp from a too-hot Starbucks vanilla latte, too.
I’d rather do all of these things than have an out of nowhere gust of wind slam a solid wood door on the tip of my left hand index finger as I leaned outside to give my kids Popsicles.
I can say this with absolute no doubt, because on the morning of July 4, 2008, as I left my hand behind me on our back door, hanging on to the frame, a fluke of a 50 mph blast of wind came around the corner and slammed the back door closed.
With my hand still in the frame.
Have you ever been brought to your knees in pain? Have you ever felt so much pain that you can’t cry out for help? Have you ever received such a blow to your physical being that you are stunned to silence, unable to breathe, talk, or move? …and then.
You just bend at the waist and fall to your knees, and vomit, while your children and husband continue on around you with the blue sky and summer sun twinkling overhead, giggling as they run through the sprinkler. Your husband even looks over and smiles as he sways in his hammock.
I’m 20 feet away from them, losing my mind. I desperately try to communicate telepathically with my husband, but I can't find words to describe something beyond description. My husband finally feels me and gets up to find out why I’m sitting in the back door way and not outside enjoying the day we have planned together with our family. He comes to the back door and sees me hunched over. I am breathing in, ragged, and pulling myself over to the sink to run cold water over my flattened white finger. I am doing this because my grandmother’s answer to every injury growing up was, “Run cold water over it!” I’m not even able to cry at this point, I’m staring at my fingertip that is white as this page BUT with a nail that is darker than any Goth nail polish that Walgreen’s offers.
“What’s up, honey? Why aren’t you outside?," my husband asks.
I stare at him. I feel like I'm vibrating. He stares at the vomit on my shirt.
“Are you all right?,” he asks, sounding scared.
“No. No." I'm talking like I'm in a trance. "Something really bad happened. And it hurts so bad I feel sick. The wind slammed the door on my finger and it hurts worse than having a baby and I feel sick.” I answer him with more vomit.
“What do you want me to do?? Let me call my mom. She’s a nurse,” he says, offering to call his mother ten states away.
My mind can't cope with this hell world of hot fiery pain, and I can only think in images. I see itty bitty broken fingertip pieces. "NO!,” I shout back to him. “NO! I need help now, not a phone call. I need to go in. You stay with the kids, I’ll drive.”
And because he’s as stunned at the surreal scene before him as I am, he agrees. So, crazy with pain and vomit encrusted, I drive myself to the walk-in clinic four blocks away. Human beings really are amazing creatures. As I’m driving, I’m thinking of how maybe that story I heard about a woman who lifts the car up off her baby is true.
I park in the emergency only zone of the walk-in clinic pushing through the doors and cradling my hand like it's a left over prop from a Twilight Zone episode. “My hand, my hand,” I spit out to the people in line in front of me. They look at my finger, gasp, and part for me as if I were Moses and they the Red Sea. When I get to the front of the line and offer up my finger to the check-in receptionist, she looks at my hand and says, “I’ll get you in right away.”
She does as she promises, and I’m whisked to X-ray. Before the films are read, the Doctor says, “I can tell you right now, just from the amount of blood that’s pooling at your fingertip, it’s broken.” I don't have to look down at my finger, I feel the throbbing of too much of something collecting where this isn't enough room for it. Things are moving fast, 20 minutes ago, my finger was pale and flat, and now, it's bulging and crimson.
I don't feel like throwing up on my shirt again, so I say, "I need a barf bag."
The X-rays are read, and yes, I have broken off the finger tip of my left index finger. The little bone is floating inside. There is nothing to do but take calcium supplements and keep a splint on it.
Oh, no, wait, there is something else that you can do; you can come back in five days so they can DRILL A HOLE IN YOUR NAIL BED and release the pooled blood to alleviate the throbbing congestion.
Can I tell you about that? About getting a pulsating blood congested fingertip nail bed drilled? I’d rather have three babies without epidurals, pass a kidney stone, have four wisdom teeth extracted at the same time...
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