Monday, January 16, 2012

Bringing out the inner child

So, I need to put my arm in a sling.  I need several padded bandages and some multi-antibiotic too.  I really should have soaked my hand in Epsom salts and generally doused it with hydrogen peroxide, too.  Why?  WHY YOU ASK?  Well hell, I had a splinter!  It doesn't matter that the wedge of wood in my thumb was only a millimeter long--it HURT! And my wife, Maryann, spent a good chunk of time digging it out with a needle.  OWWW!!!

There's nothing like a splinter to bring out the inner child.
I'm generally pretty tough--I rarely wear gloves when I do the myriad of chores that face me daily, I split wood and cut down trees bare-handed.  My hands are the calloused hands of a workman.  I rarely will wear gloves when I'm working with fiberglass insulation.  A splinter in one of my fingers and especially near the joint will bring me down rather quickly.

Splinters are just plain yucky.  In my case, most often, they are pieces of wood from fencing or firewood.  Other folks get slivers of glass, fiberglass, thorns, bone, even the needles of a cactus.  It doesn't matter, they are all painful and all need to be removed.  Of course the ones I get manage to dig themselves into my skin deeply enough that minor surgery is almost always called for.

The technical definition of a splinter is "a foreign body under the skin." Well "duh".  And some of the online remedies-"Squeeze a little Elmer's Glue, wait for it to dry and peel it off, taking the splinter with it." Pah!  That might work for a wimpy little splinter with its end sticking out.  Knowing me, since I can't find Elmer's Glue here in the house, I'd use Gorilla Glue and rip off all the skin down to the bone!

I remember getting some splinters--they were tiny (TINY) needles from a prickly pear plant that a friend in Arizona was giving me cuttings from.  She warned me about the little needles and I told her I'd be careful.  Well...I tried.  I had those invisible cacti needles in my fingers.  And on the palm of my hand.  And on my forearm.  They were hardly noticeable--at first. My daughter was with me.  We packed the cactus cuttings into the camper and headed for Texas.  I tried pulling those needles out of my hand because they were moderately annoying. By the time we got to the interstate I discovered I was fighting a losing battle. AND THEN I PUT MY HAND DOWN TO MY THIGH!  OWW!!!!!!  On both legs there was a patch of sticky things sticking out.  A few got into the fleshy part of my hand but the rest--well, it felt like I hammered them into my leg!!!  That's about when I discovered that the tweezers we bought at the truck stop were useless.  I changed out of those jeans pretty quickly, putting on shorts, and saw two good sized, err prickly pear cladodes (that's what the flat plant part of the prickly pear is called) impressions--one on each leg.  Found another use for duct tape--yep, it pulled a lot of those needles out but a week later, there were all sorts of puffy "pimples" on my thighs and arms where the needles had worked their way in.

Oh and worse, we forgot we put the cactus cuttings in the oven...they got cooked in the camper heat over the next month--my bad.  Maybe it's a good thing---can you imagine peeling THIS fruit?
That was probably the worse case of splinters I ever had (you mean splinters are a disease?).

I'm not really a weenie...and usually splinters don't bother me much.  I get them a lot.  As long as they are stuck in my right hand, I'm okay (left-hander here).  I take them out--or not.  But there are times.... The only thing worse for me is a toothache, but that's another blog.


  1. I have often said that we all have our Achilles Heel. No one is immune to everything and you apparently have splinters. Ouch!
    I have paper cuts. They will bring me to near tears. I'm pretty tough. I have a high pain threshold, but not when it comes to paper cuts.
    Just a big ole whiny baby and there is no cure, that I know about.

    Way to man up and confess your one and only weakness. I'm impressed!

  2. No high pain threshold here... nope, (thinks about that) well it depends. Splinters on the other hand (or either hand) are no fun, and if they are left in to fester, sometimes they don't come out! I go after them with zeal, because I hate having to deal with it after the fact. Besides there are all those nerves in the fingertips... no wonder they hurt!

  3. Jo, paper cuts--haven't had one in a while. I remember getting those, too. They are NOT fun! Trust me, Splinters aren't my only weakness but are certainly a main nemesis and I get them all the time.

    k, my pain threshold has always been high...and my resistance to many drugs. I remember waking up in the middle of an operation taking out pieces of a splintered tail bone-boy, was the surgeon surprised.

    I often don't notice splinters or cuts or scrapes until long after the fact--except when said splinters are near a joint in a finger. Our fingertips certainly are sensitive--even when calloused. Yes, they hurt and sometimes a lot!

  4. Well of course you're a manly man, but next time you get teensy weensy cactus needles in your skin, just run your hands through your hair. Quit crying, it works. I promise. :)

  5. Ouch! I made the mistake of buying that cactus fruit out of curiosity, and found out after the first one that it had no taste and left me with pricklies for days! Suffice it to say the other half a dozen or so I had purchased quickly found their way into the trashbin!

  6. I planted a cactus in my yard at my old house. I lived to regret that incredibly bad idea!

    I used to restore furniture as a hobby. Steel wool is essential. I learned quickly to NEVER handle it without gloves! When I got a piece of steel in a finger, it was almost impossible to get out without digging a hole in my skin!

    Wonderful story!


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