As a matter of habit, it is wise not to slam your finger in the car door.

Should such an unfortunate incident occur, certainly, do not be surprised if you scream and curse, blame your mother, husband, son, teetering dishwasher, unpredictable furnace, and gentle neighbor whose cats have nearly twice sauntered into your home (by now he knows of your cat phobia). Closing your fingers in the door of a car, any car, will render you an angry, whimpering ninny.

I feel qualified to offer these insights because I slammed my finger in the car door two weeks ago.

Scene #1: Montessori School of Denver parking lot
Time: 3: 00 p.m. School pick-up.
Child to be fetched: Your daughter.
Special Circumstances: You parents are visiting from Connecticut. Dad (aka Grandpa) putters in your garage while Mom (aka Gammy) joins you.

“Mom, you didn’t close the door all the way,” you admonish as she flies out of the car to see her granddaughter.  “Wait, let me close it for you.”  She steps aside and you wedge yourself into the tight space between your car and the car next to yours. There isn’t enough room to open the door all the way without denting the other vehicle so you cautiously try and close it from a peculiar angle, jamming your left, fourth finger in the process. Crap. Ouch. Ouch, Ouch, Ouch. Immediately, your finger throbs. A ten on the pain scale.

“Honey, are you okay?” your mother asks.

Writhing against the side of the door from which you have now wrested your finger, you belt, “I DON’T KNOW.”

Pick-up time is calling and since your mother has no idea where she’s going,  you accompany her, squeezing your aching hand into your jacket pocket. You put on a happy face for your daughter because she is so excited to see her Gammy and you are so glad to have visiting family, especially over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Days one, two and three…you ice and tape and stare like crazy at the nail bed, hoping that it doesn’t blacken and wither since then you would definitely need a manicure, and as of late, you don’t do much with your hands. You have family to entertain and so you cook and wash and clean, moving beyond the constant pain you feel because you understand that this injury will take days to heal. You hear your grandmother’s voice in your head: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Which is code for…eh, give it some time. You figure that resting isn’t likely to make the finger heal quicker so you might as well enjoy your family.

December arrives and with it, a flurry of business, school and social activities. You will your finger to get better because it’s only the tip that remains swollen and even your husband tells you to not to think twice about it. “It’s just a finger,” he says, somewhat annoyed when your complaints persist.  Even your mother, already back in Connecticut, assures you it will heal. “I’ve done the same thing before,” she reminds you for the fifteenth time.

And so you disregard such a trifling nuisance. For days. Until you realize that in spite of your best efforts you cannot straighten your fingertip. It curves downward like a hook and appears freshly swollen. Still, your dear husband chides you to “give it time.” He loves you but does not want to discuss your aching finger A-N-O-T-H-E-R second. You decide to make an appointment anyway; the soonest available being day thirteen after the injury.

Mallet finger,” the trauma physician declares before even reviewing the x-rays. Typically happens to athletes (Hmmmm). “Why didn’t you come see us sooner?” He explains that the tendon is torn from the muscle and has now fixed itself into this dropped hook position. I have to be honest with you, ”it might not straighten now.” The finger, it turns out, is broken. And perhaps that is my saving grace. Because it’s broken badly enough to justify a visit to a hand surgeon who just might be able to straighten it. But only if the surgeon concurs the break is severe enough.

Scene #2 : Husband and mother feel horribly guilty.
Time: All day.
What Happens: Mother calls three times. Husband texts. Husband does dishes, including nasty pots.
Sidebar: “Milk it for all it’s worth,” says sister-in–law from Connecticut.


Lessons learned:

Never ignore plebian body parts.

Love your mother, love your husband, but trust your own voice, your own body.

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