Monday, December 15, 2008

The Story of a Hand

So here it is, the complete story of my broken finger and all of the trouble it has caused. It began on June 28, 2008 when a good friend of mine, Stef, came to visit me during my field season in Truckee.

Stef convinced me to take a day off from my field work -- so that we could hang out and catch up. We decided to go o a hike in Squaw Valley, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The last time I had been to Squaw was back during my first season in 2005, when Angie sat on a scorpion (photo right). That's always a favorite story of mine. Maybe not for Angie.

Anyway, it was my first day OFF--no field, no paperwork, no nothing! Stef and I decided to hike the Shirley Canyon trail that goes up the side of the mountain to Shirley Lake. I heard about the trail a few days prior from a very interesting character in Wild Cherries--the local coffee shop where everyone knows everyone but me. It was a nice hike--the weather was warm but breezy, with sunny blue skies as usual. There were not a ton of people on the trail, and we got sort of a late start so most people were headed down. We passed by some beautiful waterfalls on the way. My only complaint about the trail was that it was poorly marked. So you'd get to spots of just solid rock in all directions and really didn't know the best way. But, overall it wasn't too strenuous, good for two people who's real objective was to chit chat and catch up as we hiked.

We finally made it to Shirley Lake (photo right) after being rather confused about staying on the trail several times and chasing a few little birds that we had trouble identifying without binoculars. I'm not sure I should tell the next part of the story in detail, as it may not be something I should splash across the Internet. But lets just say there was a rather funny incident with a naked woman skinny dipping and a pair of lost glasses. After this, we realized that it was getting late, the sun was going down behind the mountains, and that we should get going.

So as we hurried down the mountain side, where it was difficult to find the trail, I slipped and fell, but caught myself--apparently with one finger. It hurt, but we had to get down the mountain before the sun was gone. After we finished the trail we decided Mexican food and margaritas would make a splendid ending for the day--but of course my hand hurt so much Stef asked someone for some ice for my hand (photo left). It was the largest bag of ice I had ever seen.

Stef, the wonderful motherly type she is, decided to create a splint for me that night. We were both a tad tipsy from the margs, but that didn't seem to stop the pain. She buddy splinted my ring and middle finger together using cardboard (actually I think the first round was plastic straws and tape??). After all, one day off from the field was enough, and we had DUFL to catch!

Since then, it has been a daily battle--me verses finger. I went to the emergency room finally. DON'T DO THIS IT IS EXPENSIVE. I got a new splint. I went to a doctor in Truckee who tried to stretch my finger. It hurt so bad I almost fainted. I got a new splint.

Splint after splint, and my finger still not functioning, I decided just to return to Texas and see a hand specialist. More splints, more stretching, more pain. Finger bent, stuck.
Surgery. Digit widget applied. Therapy. More splints.
My first physical therapist gave me thera-putty. The second, a hand therapist, likes to give me little toys to play with. It feels like I'm back in kindergarden every time I'm in there.

Today, the digit widget was removed -- the screws unscrewed -- after almost 5 months since the original injury. But the battle never ends. It's still not straight, I still can't bend it much, and I foresee many more splints in my future.


anw said...

I'm glad you didn't tell everyone the part of the story where that girl Amber basically told you to suck it up. Because that wasn't very nice of her.

Lisa said...

I don't really think I could have done much differently--I think I was just screwed from the start. Ha, screwed. No pun intended.