Word made flesh

Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.

Henry Rollins

Today marks the second anniversary of the unforeseen removal of the top of my left index finger.

Long story short – I was cutting wood on it, glove got caught and dragged finger in, essentially grinding off the top. The next day I had surgery removing what was left above the knuckle to leave enough skin to fold over the stump.

There are some pics (first one is gruesome, so don’t click if you don’t like gore) here here and here.

I can’t decide if it feels a long time ago or not. I don’t find myself missing it, but then I don’t really remember how it was before – why would I store those kinds of memories?

I do drop stuff a lot more so I guess I’m still not used to it, but typing this now – without using what’s left of the finger – doesn’t feel unnatural at all.

I guess I’ve always been crap at typing.

Two weeks after this incident, I was out on the bike and took a minor tumble. Not wanting to risk my still bandaged hand I didn’t try to stop the fall and smashed a tooth out, ripped open my lip, and broke three ribs for good measure.

Getting home afterwards in quite some pain, I wasn’t in the best mood for my surprise 30th party, but the beer helped ease things a bit.

As today approached, I found myself looking at my finger (or, should that be “fing” as a third of it is gone?) more than usual. It still has a clear scar where the skin was folder over to try to give me something resembling a normal fingertip – though without most of the sensation still.

It got me thinking about all my other scars and injuries I’ve had as I approach 32, and every few days another one would pop into my head.

So I decided to list them all, or at least as many as I could.

Recent scars, ancient ones, clear ones, faded ones, broken things, sprained thing – everything I could remember.

Here’s the list so far, working down from the top:

  1. forehead scar – trapped head in patio door, c. 1985 (aged 5/6)
  2. scar on head, under hair – smashed head on a brick having jumped and rolled from the top of some garden steps c. 1988/9
  3. numerous miscellaneous bumps on head – cause unknown
  4. scar on lip – from splitting it open coming off bike
  5. shoulder – intermittent pain for 6 months. Suspected “frozen shoulder” being left to “see how it goes” – my GP
  6. scar on back of right arm – ripped on wire fence c. 1994
  7. right arm broken, jumping over garden bed  on way to friends, misjudged landing on a slope c. 1993
  8. scar on left forearm – unknown, possibly cut on a branch
  9. left hand, index and middle finger, bitten by dog 2001 (scar only on middle finger, as index no longer there)
  10. left hand, index finger – top sawn off 2009
  11. middle three fingers of left hand, tops of fingers crushed in car door c. 1996/7 – swelling relieved by hot metal pin through fingernails
  12. middle finger, right hand, nail surgically cut open to remove chunk of wood/varnish c. 1995
  13. back of left hand, scar from slipped saw c. 1995
  14. back of right hand, scar from cutting hand on glass in pub toilet in Dover, c. 2001/2
  15. right palm, scar from electrocution burn from strimmer lead. 2010
  16. back of right hand, between little and next finger, scar – unknown cause
  17. ribs on left hand side of body – 3 broken coming off bike, 2009
  18. appendix scar – burst on operating table c. 1993/4
  19. right hip/groin area – possible hernia (currently under investigation)
  20. inside left thigh, scars from football boot  studs raked down leg c. 1994
  21. left knee – ITBS 2008
  22. right knee – ITBS 2009
  23. left calf, scar from burn when parent hid hot water bottle in bed and I rolled onto it in my sleep and ended up with a burn that got infected
  24. right ankle, sprained jumping over something (I can’t remember) c 1996/7
  25. right shin, scar, football boot studs scraped down leg, ripping off shin guards
  26. left foot, impact fracture from running 2010
  27. right foot, broken toe from stubbing it underwater whilst frolicking in the Mediterranean, 2010

I don’t know if that seems a lot or not – less than one a year on average – though I’m sure I’m missing a few.

In case you’re wondering, the most painful was probably being electrocuted. It didn’t last more than a few seconds, but by ‘eck it hurt!

Each one is a story in itself, albeit usually a painful one, so I guess it’s as good a way as any to chronicle my life so far. Yeah, I could have got a diary and written things down, but then I’d probably have ended up being studious, have gotten a decent job and be in a lot less pain.

Where’s the fun in that?

It also opens up the possibility for potential Eurycleia-like recognition in future – which may or may not be useful in the event of me mangling myself up again.

I suppose merely by provoking this reflection on the injuries I’ve suffered, cutting my finger off two years ago was a good thing. I am now more  firmly of the belief that we’ve only got one shot at this game called life, and I don’t intend to finish it without seeing what I can do.

I don’t want to be lying on my death bed, moments away from drawing my last breath and thinking “I wish I’d had a bit more fun”.

I’m sure you can have fun without hurting yourself too but from my point of view, I wouldn’t feel like I was trying hard enough if there wasn’t a bit a risk kicking about.

I also think I’ve got an important role to play as the cautionary tale for others to be aware of – if anyone is going to find how something can hurt, it’s probably going to be me. If I made it alright, then you should be fine!

So, as I approach the 14th anniversary of turning 18,  with a few more aches, a son, and hopefully a bit more wisdom,  I can look back and think I’ve been having fun so far, and it’s hopefully made me stronger for the years ahead.

Or at the very least, given me a few good memories.

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