Saturday, January 19, 2013


Two days ago I was splitting wood when the axe handle I was using shattered in my hands. The only casualty was the index fnger of my right hand. It looked like I had stuck it though the bars of a have-a-heart trap to taunt a caged raccoon, and didn't get it out in time. I went inside and allowed Sarah to minister to my wounds. She produced tweezers and some hydrogen peroxide (Mom, why did we use iodine when I was little? I mean, honestly, that stuff smarts!), and once everything was cleaned up it was obvious that there was a sizable splinter buried near the knuckle. We both took turns trying to pry it out, but neither of us could get enough purchase on its tip to get the job done. All we did was succeed in removing the visible portions of the splinter which left what remained buried deep enough that any proper effort to find and remove it would have technically qualified as surgery. I decided to just ignore the splinter, reasoning that eventually the flesh would heal around it and my body would make its peace with the hickory it harbored.

The next day my finger was swollen and uncomfortable and I was experiencing difficulty bending it, but still I muddled through the day convinced that the throbbing pain in my finger was better than the pain that would certainly come from trying to get it out. However, after dinner the discomfort became bad enough that I decided to give it another go. Tweezers in hand I sat down, and remembering how Tom Hank's character had popped his bad tooth out in Castaway with the blade of an ice skate and a rock, I set to my task with grim resolve to see the thing through.

It hurt.

The greatest difficulty lay in simply finding the splinter which, as I already told you, was pretty well buried. Then, once it had been located, I had to widen the wound so I could get the tweezers around its blood-pinkened tip which was ensconced in my angry flesh. By the time that was accomplished, beads of sweat were standing out on my forehead. If I had been a character in a western I would have hastily poured out some whiskey into a clinkey little glass cup and downed it in one shakey, desperate gulp before proceeding with the extraction. I took a drink of diet pepsi and thus fortified I took up the tweezers and went back to work.

Several tugs failed to budge the splinter, which thus necessitated sliding the tweezer prongs down along its sides to get a better grip. It hurt. Then squeezing the tweezers tightly and gritting my teeth I pulled smoothly, and the jagged length of hickory, as long as a penny is wide and as thick as a match stick in places, slid out, and blood welled up in the hole it left behind.

I glanced over at Miles (3), who had been standing at my elbow the whole time. He was carefully examining his own knuckles with a look of grave concern on his face.

"Do you have a splinter, Miles?"

He ran into the next room, crying over his shoulder, "I don't have spinter!"

"Miles, let me check."

He started crying.

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