Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Lancing the Whitlow.

April 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Prose

Strange how the cold weather always affected the first finger on my right hand, circulation seems to be the problem, the old man mused as he rubbed the finger to get rid of the numbness. Stranger still that it was only now after more than 70 years,that it was causing problems.

Gazing down on the scar on the tip of his finger and the curved part of the nail that partly covered it, brought the memories flooding back.

Once again a twelve year old schoolboy with the long hot summer stretching ahead. The river as always was his playground,interupted by excursions up into the hills, or visits to nearby farms for additional pleasure. It was during one of the river expeditions that the first twinges of discomfort in the first finger were felt, close inspection confirmed that nothing had penetrated the skin, just a reddening – possibly an insect bite.

Over the next forty eight hours the discomfort increased, it became impossible to pick up a stick throw a stone or climb a tree, and now the redness was turning to a green yellowy colour. The pain was getting unbearable and help had to be sought. Bread poultices were thought to be the answer, and did give some relief, however the finger was now so swollen a visit to the Doctor was necessary.

The old Doctor looking at the finger, twisting it round, at the same time keeping his chair between him and his patient (he remembered the incident of the broken arm and did not want a repeat performance). “Whitlow” he wheezed, “Not quite ripe, come back tomorrow, and I will lance it”

That night the pain increased, and the swelling and discolouration now extended the length of the finger, sleep became impossible, no pain killers were available and the throbbing finger pulsed waves of more pain. Taking the bandage off, looking down, almost delerous with pain, images of the old Doctor floating through his mind, muttering “Not ripe, not ripe, come back, and I will lance it”. What did the old fool think it was a blasted plum?! Then delerious with the pain, his mind took over, reverting to some primitive instinct the putrid finger was raised and a neat hole bitten into the putrid flesh. The relief was immediate, the pain simply seeped away, with the finger now dripping the poison onto the linoleum floor. Then completely free of pain for the first time in days, sleep took over to start the healing. In less than a week the finger was back to normal, the swelling gone and the scar forming.

Strange how human beings revert to primitive thoughts and deeds, were the thoughts as once more sleep came in an afternoon nap.

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