Crooked fingers

‘What’s your verdict now?’ I’ll ask the pharmacist when I present my arm with its long line of stitches. ‘Is it ready to be uncovered yet, or should I go on with the protective bandages?’

‘Surgeons tend to uncover wounds too early,’ the pharmacist had said to me earlier in the week after the doctor had cut off the cast that held my wrist steady. ‘It might look okay after two or three weeks but underneath the unprotected wound can split open without any warning signs,’

Who wants a wound that splits open when it’s only half way to scar tissue?

As I grow older, it takes longer for skin to heal but I’m not so old that it refuses.

My mother had an ulcer on her leg once that would not stitch together of its own accord. It needed constant care in the form of fresh bandages almost daily before the skin decided it was safe enough to close over.

An ulcer is different from an open wound.

A wrenching open of the skin is not the same as a slow eating away at its surface, which is the way ulcers operate.


I’m not sure about Christmas this year. It’s going to be hot.

The newspapers report the police foiled a terrorist plot near St Paul’s Cathedral in the city, I haven’t read the reports. I can’t bear it, but I suspect it would have been planned for Christmas midnight Mass or later on New Years Eve.

What better way to assault and terrorise people than to attack them in numbers during their festivities, when their eyes and minds are turned elsewhere?

But the police had been on the look out for these seven or so self radicalised young men, hell bent on death and destruction, or so the papers report.

But these days I find myself doubting everything I read in the newspapers.

The fake news or the slant so sloped it’s hard to know where the truth lies.


I have a photo of my mother on my desktop, the one my husband took on her ninetieth birthday. In it she’s dressed in her new birthday dress, the one in fawn colouring with swirls of white brocade etched on top.

She’s wearing her double layer of pearls round her neck and tear drop pearls in her ears and she holds her left arm across her chest and up to her ear as if she’s checking that her earrings are in place.

I can just make out the shape of her distorted thumb, the one the surgeons botched up or left to heal prematurely after her fall in a supermarket car park, or was it from the time a dog rushed in front of the Chemist shop on Centre Dandenong Road in Cheltenham and tripped her up?

Maybe the bones in my mother’s arm fused badly because there was more than one fall that broke her wrist, or maybe it happened through inadequate treatment.

In any case, the doctors could never give her back the elegant shape of her wrist and the bone jutted out from her hand for her entire later life like some warped thing that would not lie straight.

It reminds me of the shape of the bone in my hand shortly after my fall before the doctors in emergency had  a go at straightening it. It too seemed to be pointing sideways across my hand and up into my thumb rather than in the direction of my fingers.

Our hands are so fragile and precious. We take them for granted.

In future, I must take better care and unlike my mother, not fall twice.

10 thoughts on “Crooked fingers”

  1. Apparently we’re living in a post-truth world, ‘post’ as in ‘irrelevant’. Word of the year 2016. When did this madness happen? There’s another relatively new word that didn’t get as much attention: truthiness, defined by Oxford Dictionaries as ‘the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true’. When I was a kid it was taken as read that if something appeared in the press it had to be true. Now the very opposite state exists. I never read a newspaper. I remember once at work in the late seventies having to defend television journalism when my boss’s boss’s boss found out I didn’t read a paper. He’d been trying to ascertain my politics for some reason and I wasn’t giving him the satisfaction of a straight answer. Nowadays you can’t even truth the BBC it seems, that last bastion of truth.

    Philosophically I don’t have much time for truth; it’s malleable. Facts, on the other hand, I can use up to a point with the exception of statistics which can be made to say anything. I love it when a food manufacturer adds an ‘only’ before an ingredient. ONLY 35g of sugar per 100ml; that’s something like nine teaspoonfuls per can; that’s 140 calories. Donald Trump’s ONLY been bankrupt four times. My first wife, like me, was in her school’s debating team. Thankfully I never came up against her because, she admitted to me years later, she used to simply concoct statistics on the spot to support her arguments. As long as you say whatever it is with a straight face people’ll believe you, she told me. And she’s right.

    Can you trust what your chemist told you? Where’s his evidence? Does he have an honest face? Is he kind to dogs? How can one make an informed decision? Perhaps A. Surgeon made a bad call and the chemist got to hear about it but maybe it wasn’t all the surgeon’s fault. Maybe the patient didn’t obey his doctor’s orders. Or may he did and was just unlucky. Luck still has far more control over our lives than we’d care to admit.

    1. I don’t know where to go with my response here, Jim. You’re right about the untruthfulness of much of what passes for ‘truth’, but facts have their limitations, too. Facts can look different depending on your perspective. I trust my chemist because he seems trustworthy, because he’s young and went to pains to tell me he’d been at a talk about wound management and because in my experience surgeons tend to have tunnel vision when it comes to anything beyond their surgery. And yes, luck but have a huge part in all of this bit luck alone seems insufficient as a way if getting around life. Luck has a part to play, but to me, it’s not the only deciding factor. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Thanks, Jim.

    1. Of course, there’s some truth in the world and in our hearts and lives, Kirk. And we need to know for ourselves what’s truthful and what not. Otherwise I reckon we’d go mad. Still it’s the folks who claim to hold the truth for all that worry me. Thanks, Kirk.

  2. Difficult to believe your mother was ninety when that photo was taken Elisabeth – such an attractive woman. Aren’t you fortunate to have the genetic heritage of longevity and great bone structure? It will serve you well in the healing of a wrist, which won’t be distorted like your mother’s.

    I’m following your recovery from the fracture with great interest and look forward to more insights as that huge shock dissipates. So impressed that you can still churn out a good 800 words with a fat, frozen hand and remain disciplined enough to do it!

    1. It’s the left hand that’s still a tad fat, Sally. And I’m ashamed to say, I’m essentially a one handed typist. My right hand does almost all the work. Hence my ability to churn out all those words. As for my mother, she always was a beauty. She prided herself on it. But I took after my father in appearance. Not sure about bone structure, though. I think I’d like to have my father’s bones, too, despite the fact he died young. My mother copped the osteoporosis and arthritis from when she was my age. And she suffered a great deal from them. Her hips reached the point of bone on bone in the end even though they were three times replaced. Thanks, Sally.

  3. I also believe a good deal of skepticism helps when reading the news these days. I haven’t forgotten the Tampa and the children being thrown overboard lie. I have no idea how much of what we’re told is a beat up designed to keep us frightened and suspicious of others. Who knows where the truth lies in this story?
    Your mother looks amazing for 90, especially considering she’d lived through such hard times. x

    1. I think we’re most of us becoming weary of the falsehoods in political storytelling, Louise, and the degree to which it seeps into other areas of life. Skepticism is therefore the order of the day. And the horrors of the Tampa crisis go on today as well. So much deception and self seeking reportage on the part of the powers that be. It makes me furious. Unlike my mother, who’d most likely want to turn a blind eye. Though one of my daughters told me just now, that I too am into denial, about certain problematic issues closer to home. And she may well be right. Thanks, Louise.

  4. Sorry Elisabeth, but I’m with Jim on the ‘pharmacist v surgeon’ debate. Surgeons are NOT infallible but they have clinical experience that a pharmacist doesn’t, and in the body’s ability to heal itself.
    I’m sorry your Mum’s treatment was unsatisfactory and disfiguring. I can’t comment further.

    I am with you about ‘truth’ in reporting, though. Everyone telling the story has a new angle and, usually, a self-serving agenda, so much so, like you, I cannot decipher fact from fiction anymore.

    1. I saw my pharmacist again today, Karen and he seems very helpful, but I agree the surgeon is the first port of call if things go seriously awry. So far not through. So far we’re getting there, though it’s hard to tidy up the books in my study with only one hand. Thanks, Karen and Happy New Year to you.

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