In my last blog post, I wrote about harnessing the power of Yes/And to heal and move forward. I mentioned being put up for adoption at five years old. This created long-term issues, which I’m still working on. Like a long, trapped splinter, it took a while to recognize my trauma, which brings me to today’s blog post.

A funny thing happened this summer.

On Father’s Day, I picked up a sliver in my thumb. While installing a power lift onto our seawall to help my husband, Blake, get on and off the pontoon boat. I felt the sliver and thought I had pulled it out. However, there were still tiny, poisonous wood fragments buried deeper under my skin.

I didn’t even notice them at first. I was distracted with getting the house ready for our bathroom remodel. It was due to start in the middle of July. We also had a visit from my sister and her husband for a week over the Fourth of July. It was easy to ignore the pain because my hands were busy. My attention was full of everything that needed to be taken care of before the project could start. I was too busy making room for the contractors to get started.

Better late than never

The sliver fragments were deeply embedded when I realized there was a real problem. The pain increased as the infection grew. I asked my sister, an R.N., and my trained EMT son to look at it. Neither of them could get it out.

Eventually, I went to my general practitioner, who looked at it and recommended I go to a hand surgeon. The surgeon suggested soaking my hand in warm water with Epsom salt to bring the sliver to the surface. She scheduled me for surgery two weeks later.

Soaking it did the trick. Within a few days, I could see the sliver coming to the surface. The pain flared up when I tried holding a pencil, pushing buttons, or putting a key into a lock. I kept bumping it, causing me to lose patience with myself and others. I hate it when that happens.

Upon receiving the bill for the office visit with the surgeon, I decided to take things into my own hands. Shocked at the charge of $58 to apply a thumb splint, I realized the surgery cost would be astronomical. I decided to do the extraction myself.

Time, tools, and good light

I used alcohol and a lighter to sanitize my tools, which included tweezers, a sewing needle, and nail trimmers. I borrowed my husband’s reading glasses and wore them with my regular progressive lenses. With my back to the late afternoon sun, the light over my shoulder gave me the best possible view. It took about half an hour for me to open up the area and clean out the infection. The wood fragments were about the size of grains of sand. It was hard to believe something so tiny could cause so much pain.

My son came home just as I was finishing up. He looked at my work and declared my thumb was ready to be wrapped up. Although it took a couple of weeks to heal, my thumb is finally as good as new.

Why am I telling you this?

I’ve noticed that I have a terrible habit of ignoring pain, at least mine until it becomes unbearable. That sliver was in my thumb for over a month before I began to address it. It took me another six weeks to finally resolve it.

Many think pushing past pain is a sign of strength and resilience. Our American culture idolizes guts, determination, and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. Taking the time to stop and address our wounds seems like a weakness or vulnerability.

We are living, breathing humans, so we must address the realities we face. Whether we’re dealing with a physical ailment, trauma, or abuse, healing requires self-awareness and fully accepting our truth. Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done.

Be kind.

I’m writing to share my struggles and let you know you’re not alone. If you’ve been ignoring something painful, please don’t wait any longer. Dismissing pain is NOT a sign of strength.

Life is challenging enough without us carrying the extra burdens of pain and distress. By taking the time and effort to address our wounds, we honor ourselves and the people we love by getting healthy. When we take good care of ourselves, we can inspire others to honor themselves, too.

How are you feeling? Are you healing something?

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