A Mere Flesh Wound

I sliced my finger the other day. It was one of those rare Wellington weekends when the sun shines and the wind doesn’t blow. When we first moved to this city, days like this were truly rare and two together non-existent. Each year we would be granted a handful of days that ruined the plans of aspiring kite flyers. You can’t beat Wellington on a good day is a mantra in these parts and, recently, it’s been heard a lot, the good days arriving more often, sometimes ganging up and coming in pairs, as they did this weekend. The bad days aren’t as bad as they are often painted to be, but when the sun shines from a blue bowl balanced over the harbour and only a tiny breeze ruffles the water it’s hard not to think this is paradise.

On Saturday we sauntered along the waterfront, admiring the artwork currently adding colour to the city. Sunday we walked over the hill behind our house, climbing through streets and along paths beside dog exercise areas, puffing up to where trees stand. At the top we caught our breath without fighting the wind for it, then scrambled down a rough path back to streets and through parks until we came to the south coast. We turned right and walked beside a sea that last saw land in the frozen south. On windier days a fine salty mist will shower you as you walk here but not this day.

Island Bay beach sported an array of sunshades, and small figures – some with fur – ran in and out of the sea whilst larger figures watched from blankets and low chairs. Kayaks paddled alongside anchored fishing boats bobbing on a small swell. It was a perfect day to sit with fish and chips but there was a problem – we hadn’t brought masks and no mask means no entry to anywhere at the moment. My inner girl guide chastised me as Neil’s inner scout suggested a solution – walk the km or so home, then cycle back. We did, and were soon picking our way across the sand to a handy log against which we could lean bikes and upon which we could sit to munch our gourmet lunch.

Opening a can of ginger beer led to my downfall, the tiny ring pull resisting my efforts to release it. When I finally managed to do so the can bit back, the underside of the ring slicing cleanly through the flesh of my index finger to the vein below, a vein that proceeded to vent its contents all over the beach and, as I tried to pull a tissue from a pocket, my cycling jacket. I wasn’t impressed, muttering curses as I stuck my finger in the air and pressed against the leaking part, looking like someone asking to be excused.

The ride home from the beach is flat until the last few hundred metres up to our house, when it rises abruptly enough to make the Mur de Miro (https://purplehippo.blog/2020/08/18/mur-de-miro/) jealous. I can hardly walk up it let alone cycle. But an attempt to curl my finger around either handlebar or brake resulted in a fresh spurt of red. Muttering more curses I pulled the ponytail-holding band from my hair and twisted it around the red-blotched tissue on my finger, then rode with the finger stuck out and pointing the way home.

I’m not claiming to be permanently disabled in any way – those that are or have serious injuries have my respect – and I’m not looking for sympathy, but I’m amazed at how many of my normal, not-even-noticed-on-a-day-to-day-basis actions are impacted by a mere flesh wound on the index finger of my right hand. It’s impossible to wield a knife without the fingers on the other hand being in danger, and difficult to control things such as a hairbrush or hairdryer (cue bump on head from smacking myself with it). My electric toothbrush developed a mind of its own, careening into tongue-cleaning territory and making a dash for my left nostril at one worrying point. Holding a pen or pulling up a zip caused winces of pain, and navigating a keyboard gained the accompaniment of sound, an ow each time I hit jhnbuy (that’s six extra ows. I suffer for my art).

A few days on and the dressing removed, the wound is a clear V, its edges fraying and catching clothing and hair, even a crisp as I reached into a bag of them. I’ve learned a couple of lessons: the first – maybe my diet isn’t as healthy as I think it is; the second – I’m in real trouble if I ever have a serious injury.

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