On April 13, 2020, I missed a pass thrown by one of my grandchildren when it bounced off of the top of the middle finger on my left hand. I suppose the good news is that at 67 I can still play football. The bad news is, it hurt like crazy, and being a former athlete, I was sure I had jammed it.
We were still sheltering in place due to COVID19, so there was no way I was going to an emergency room for a jammed finger. I iced it, and did all of the other things one does for a jammed finger.
Several weeks passed, and while the pain had subsided, the redness and slight swelling in the first joint of that finger remained. In addition, the joint was in a perpetually bent position. I could straighten it using my other hand to push it up, but it wouldn’t stay up, and I had no control over it.
I finally put on my mask, and May 29th headed to my orthopedist hand specialist. Good news – not broken; bad news – torn tendons. I have to keep it in a splint 24/7 for EIGHT weeks, and then splinted at night for another four weeks. The splint is water-resistant, but NOT water proof.
It wasn’t until my finger was in a splint that I realized it was the rudder of my left hand! I’m serious, everything I do, including keying this blog is done with the aid of my middle finger!
The first week was a nightmare as I couldn’t wash my own hair, I couldn’t use my computer to write/blog/etc, and I couldn’t do dishes (well, actually that was a plus). I even had to learn how to apply makeup differently because I hadn’t realized how much I used that middle finger doing so!
One night shortly after I got the splint, I watched the movie, Soul Surfer. It’s based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton the young surfer who was attacked by a shark that bit off her left arm right below the shoulder. Watching her not only learn to live without her left arm, but also to go on to be a professional surfer made me realize I could do more than I was doing.
I’ve since learned to wash my own hair, and I can bathe myself thoroughly enough to be adequately clean.
The rudder on a boat, keeps it balanced and moving in the right direction. Sometimes in-spite of a damaged rudder, a boat can still operate howbeit not at 100%.
That’s how I feel about my rudder finger. Even as I key these words into this blog, my left hand has had to learn to hit certain keys with a finger other than my middle finger. It isn’t easy, but it’s surely not impossible to function with a damaged rudder.
The broader message is that this goes beyond fingers and rudders on boats. Life sometimes throws us a curve we weren’t expecting, and we feel like a rudder-less boat. That is the very moment we need to realize we have the capability to compensate for the loss, whatever it is, and utilize resources we may not even have realized we had.
If I can learn to wash the underarm of my right arm with my right hand instead of my left hand as usual, then by golly I think I can figure out most things. And if I can, so can y’all.
See you next time…