By Christopher Cudworth
So, for three or four weeks now I’ve been messing around trying to get rid of an infection in my left hand middle finger that came from a sliver picked up while doing yard work. The finger has ballooned up and down over the past few weeks, at times so painful it was difficult even to tie my shoes.
Believe it or not, that level of pain and inconvenience is sufficient to cut down your will to work out. Yoga was out of the question as the pain seeped into the first joint of the palm and Down Dog would have resulted in Oh Crap That Hurts.
Riding through the pain
Cycling has been possible. Yet shifting was kind of tough because I rely on my left hand middle finger to shift into the big ring. Never really knew that before. Reminds me that during the Pumpkin Pie Ride I slipped a chain going downhill because I could not hold the shifter far enough to do a clean jump from little ring to big ring.
Just what the doctor ordered
I’ve done everything possible to fix the finger. Yet Just What the Doctor Ordered has not worked out so well. The swelling has been constant now for two weeks solid. Antibiotics did not work. Now they’ve given me stronger types and doses. The finger got feeling so much better last Sunday that I did all kinds of yard work. By Monday morning it looked like a sausage again. The doctors had warned me to rest it. I didn’t follow their orders to the letter.
What’s bugging me?
I went to see an Infectious Disease doctor expecting to get a blood test to find out if my infection is a bacteria or a fungus but he shook his head and told me that would probably not show up at a level that small. So he called the Hand Surgery doctor and told him that surgery was the best route to figure out what the heck was going on.
Have I told you that the finger really hurts?
It’s not in my nature to complain if at all possible. But when you go to pee and it hurts so bad to touch the top of your finger with your pants that you want to skip the whole ordeal, it is time to do something.
Surgery is never a lot of fun. There’s all the prep and waiting. Tomorrow morning I can’t eat or drink a thing, which isn’t too bad. Used to that. But I also have to bathe with a special soap from head to toe, then brush my teeth with a new toothbrush and use a germ-killing mouthwash. All that prep keeps the infection rates down, the nurse told me.
50 Questions and Hot Nurses
She also asked my entire health history. It’s always weird playing that game, almost like something you’d do at a 7th grade party before getting to lock yourself in a dark closet to make out with a girl you really like, since you won the Truth or Dare prize.
No such luck. You don’t get to make out with nurses except in the Animaniacs cartoons or in porn movies. But I don’t think those ladies in the movies are actual nurses, do you? They wear white skirts, not scrubs. You get the picture.
I have hugged a nurse once. Sort of by accident. During retina surgery way back in 1980 I hyperventilated at the sight of the big machine to which they were connecting me and woke up hugging the nurse around the waist telling her, “I love you!” I was hallucinating that she was my girlfriend at the time. She sat me back down in the chair with a stern face and said, “Now breathe!”
No chance, Buster
Tomorrow they’re knocking me out with anesthesia so none of it register in my memory. The surgeon will cut open my finger on top and bottom and clean out any gunk. He’s actually hoping to find a bit of “culprit” wood that slipped into my joint. That would make it clear why the finger is so damned irritated.
If not, they clean out any fluid and sew the thing back up.
Again, this is all four weeks into the process. Surgery is not the first option for the doctors or for me. But I made it through a complete reconstruction of a collarbone a little over a year ago. A finger may be smaller, but it’s pretty tender. I’m just praying for quick healing and no time off from work.
Back to work. And running. And riding. Swimming may have to wait.
See, I love my job and the people I work with. You want to hold up your end of the bargain. Of course we all go through weird crap now and then. It’s part of living. But I guess with 2 weeks of stitches and recovery I won’t be starting a new swim program in November.
Whether I race as planned in the Pumpkinfest 10K in Sycamore this weekend remains to be seen. Will the hand hurt too much? Probably. But no worries. I finished as high as 2nd in that race years ago, so there’s nothing to prove.
I guess you could say that I’m giving a finger to the present. Life goes on, one bird at a time.