I am currently suffering from the horrible malady that is a finger that causes me slight discomfort.
Most people who are as young and nubile as myself don’t give much thought to, nor ever begin to suffer, skin infections like cellulitis. Yet here I am, my cheeks still peppered with youthful impish freckles, wielding a ring finger that has become decidedly ornery.
It began last week when my finger started to hurt. Stupid hangnail, I thought. Then it hurt more. Stupid hangnail, I thought. Then it hurt even more and began to increase gradually in size. Stupid infected hangnail, I thought; and began searching the internet for “infected hangnail remedy”. Salt soaks! Then covering it with antibiotic ointment and a band-aid!, the internet shouted in unison. Not one to question the collective wisdom of the internet, I followed this advice, and the finger shrank back to almost-normal size and stopped hurting.
That should have been the end of this incredibly tedious story, but alas, neither I nor my finger am not one to let you off so easily. Instead, the stubborn finger rested and regrouped for a few days, then commenced swelling up like a cartoon finger that had just been hit by a hammer. The aforementioned salt soaks and antibiotic ointment would improve things a bit, but not enough to return my finger to anything close to normal size.
“You need to get that looked at!”, remarked Sean, looking at my outstretched hand with thinly-veiled (actually, it was more not-really-one-bit-veiled) disgust. “Go to the ER!”
“I can’t go to the ER!” I protested. “Who the fuck goes to the ER because of a hangnail?!? What am I going to write on the intake sheet, ‘I have a hangnail’?! ‘I have a finger that is slightly uncomfortable if you press on it in this exact spot’?! ‘My finger is slightly larger than it normally is’?!”
“Well,” Sean smirked, “I don’t want to be anywhere near that thing when the centipedes hatch out.” (This is funny, you see, to make me envision INSECTS WRITHING AROUND inside my swollen finger.)
My mother, who happens to be in town, took a look at the offending appendage and declared that she was quite sure I’d survive the night, but added in a footnote that I’d want to be sure to be seen today.
I did, fortunately, survive the night. And a series of phone calls to my PCP’s office led to a referral to Urgent Care, where I sat reading literary short stories for two hours, around which time physicians and nurses alternately poked at and stabbed my finger. Eventually it was decided that I needed a prescription for oral antibiotics for what appeared to be cellulitis in my finger.
So here I sit, surrounded by bandages and prescription Keflex, nursing an almost-invisible malady that I’ve never heard of affecting any normal, youngish person. I am awesome.