It was such a stupid thing to do, holding a stout stick of “fat lighter’d” with one hand and hatcheting it with my right. I was trying to split the yellow pine kindling into slivers so my fire-starting supply would last me through the winter. I’ve seen others split wood, and it looked so easy. But my arm wasn’t as sure as my aim. One chop, one searing shock of pain, and the tip end of my index finger lay severed on the ground!
That happened two weeks ago. Since then, three doctors have told me that the wound is too gaping to grow back on its own. They tell me the only remedy is to cut off the end of the bone to shorten my finger sufficiently to create a flap of skin that can cover the gaping end.
I keep telling the doctors “no.” I’m not ready to lose an even larger piece of me. On Thursday, the surgeon shrugged, said it was my call, and told me to come back in another week. Then it will be obvious whether my fingertip is growing back or dying off.
With this kind of incentive, I am really focusing on healing in a natural way. I’m drinking lots of water, taking natural anti-inflammatories; I glugged down a quart of the precious bone broth my sweet sister made me. I change the bandages religiously. In meditation, I imagine my hand whole again. I sleep like the dead all night long and wake knowing that my body has been taking care of business.
I can’t help but notice how this injury parallels what’s been happening in my personal life. My marriage ended almost as suddenly and painfully, and my heart has suffered some other blindsides since. “Experts” who look at my ability to financially rebound say my prognosis is poor. Loved ones worry that my road less traveled has detoured into a dead end. My emotional, physical, social and spiritual lives are sorely in need of a healing. I’m unsure how to “grow” a new life or a new fingertip without the necessity of even more drastic “cuts.”
Down deep inside, I know I’ll pull through. I’ll regenerate. But some days when I remove the bandages—both literal and figurative—and stare at the blackened, desiccated tissue, evidence looks to the contrary. Even in my own head, I often lose the argument with The Naysayer. “It’s my own fault,” I think as I don another layer of fleece to avoid turning up the thermostat another notch. “I’m a damn fool. Just look at the mess I’ve made of my life.”
Winter is coming. Time to prepare for the cold and the darkness. Instead of wallowing in self-recriminations, my ego says it’s time to be proactive about this and all the other seemingly impossible tasks I need to address at the same time. In my mental chores list, I want to see evidence of progress: Regrow fingertip. Check. Make a truckload of money. Check. Make some new friends. Check. Remember to smile while doing numbers 1, 2, & 3. Check.”
But my heart says that instead of trying to outrun the pain, I need to sit still and feel it. Regeneration is a slow and microscopic process. It’s holy work, and at the moment it’s my highest calling. As the Talmud says, “Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers “Grow, grow!”
So, I’ll just sit here quietly in the carnage. I’ll breathe into the pain. Surrender to “what is.” Listen to the whisper of my angels. And, ever so slowly heal from the inside out.