Last fall, I accidentally slammed my left thumb in a window. I wasn’t paying attention (clearly), the window glided closed faster and with more force than I anticipated. There was a second of oh damn before the pain hit. And it hurt with a hot agony. In the next few hours, the entire bottom half of my thumbnail turned black. The pain was a constant throb.
I looked up remedies online (paging Dr. Google), but the most recommended (pierce the nail with a hot needle) was far too gruesome. So I let it be. Eventually, the pain subsided, but my thumb was obviously injured. A couple of months after the injury, the black part started chipping and falling off in patches, revealing very thin new nail growth. My thumb looked like the victim of a nuclear accident. I covered it up with gauze and tape when I went out because it looked so bad.
The blackened dead nail finally fell off completely, but the new nail was very thin and not terribly protective. I took great care not to bang it. I paid attention to my left hand to avoid re-injury. The new growth didn’t push the entire nail up so much as begin to thicken over the thin part. My thumb still looked wrong with its haphazard layers of thick and thin nail.
Now the nail is restored. The new growth has thickened across the entire surface, leaving just one dent only visible from the side. My thumb appears completely healed. I’m vigilant to avoid injury, but accidents happen.
This same story could be told of my heart: I was careless, my heart was injured, the pain was a hot agony, then a constant throb. The healing is proving to be long and ugly, in thin layers. Ultimately, my heart will heal. And I will be more careful.
Post Script: So I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for finding the metaphor of my thumb and my heart. Then last night, while chopping lettuce for tostadas for dinner (you know where this is going, right?), I sliced my left thumb open. It didn’t even hurt at first, but there was a copious amount of blood and gruesomeness. I mopped up, wrapped my thumb with several bandages, and went about making dinner.
This morning, the bandages came loose in the shower and my thumb was still bleeding. Plus, it looked swollen and misshapen. I’d promised to take kid #1 out on errands so he could practice driving, so he got to drive me to the Urgent Care. (Let me just say thank God for still having health insurance. I only had to make a $10 co-pay. I don’t want to even think about what this fiasco would cost without insurance.)
Here’s a tip: if you cut yourself badly, you’ve got 8-12 hours to get stitches. After that, stitches are a no-go. So it had been 16 hours and instead of stitches, I got a hydrogen peroxide soak, steri-strips and a big honkin’ gauze wrapper topped with a very tight red ace bandage thing, all tied down to my wrist. There’s no hiding my idiocy and inattention. Again.