The Middle Finger

So my last post was on my birthday, and I wrote about gifts and sharing good things and all sorts of warm, fuzzy stuff.

The girl at the Carl’s Jr. counter was also celebrating a birthday on July 8th. She gave me the number associated with my new age; she didn’t notice I was displaying alternative burger chain loyalty in my choice of hats…

Yeah – here’s what happened after I posted that:

We went to a swimming hole – my favorite thing to do in Oregon in the summertime. It was the Umpqua River. There was a rope swing. There were people swinging on it. There was my son, totally gung-ho to swing on it himself. And yet, he wouldn’t do it until I did it.

The rope swung out over deep water, but first, one had to swing over about 15 feet of rocky, hard riverbank to get there. It was a long way to hold on. There were people. Witnesses. I was afraid.

“C’mon, Dad, do it! You know you want to!” I was being peer-pressured by my own 12-year-old kid.

It wasn’t good enough to just swing from the bank; oh no. We had to climb up and swing from the tree, like the teenagers were doing.

 I briefly wondered what was the point of allowing my son a moment of empowerment by swinging off the rope if it meant he had to watch his father fall to his death first. But, aware that others were waiting their turn, I did it.

I stepped off, swung out over the water, and when I couldn’t hold on any longer, I dropped, hoping I was out far enough. When I surfaced, I wasn’t immediately aware of the pain in my hand. I was just grateful to have survived. Even when I saw the blood pouring from a gash in my left index finger, I didn’t really feel it, for a sense of disorientation came over me. I was bleeding, yet it wasn’t that finger that hurt. No — even though my index finger was gushing blood, it was my middle finger that was screaming at me. I looked at it and thought, “is the tip of that finger supposed to be pointing to the right at an angle like that?” My middle finger was swelling up rapidly and it hurt like hell. A sprain, I assumed.

Later on, when I was unable to bend the finger despite a couple hours in the ice pack, I wrapped it and assumed it would get better in time.

This was taken just a couple hours after The Incident. Can you see the bruising that was already occurring? Can you feel the suffering?

It’s one week later now, and while the bruising got worse and then faded, I still can’t bend the finger, and it still hurts whenever I bang it against something. I am thinking it’s more than a sprain, and thus worthy of a doctor visit. I’ll make an appointment today.

Still — if I were to find something good to share in this experience, it’s that my son got to carry out his wish and conquer the rope swing. Only he did it injury-free.

I would have applauded him for his triumph, but, you know, I was wounded.

It hurts like hell to type E’s, D’s, an C’s, so I’m signing off now.

6 thoughts on “The Middle Finger

  1. Oh Terry,
    I remember about 8 years ago my sister really hurting herself on the rope swing at Greyback campground outside of Cave Junction. I was forty then and a few pounds lighter…I’ve wanted to go back there & frankly not sure I’d do the rope swing again. Hate to say it but there are a few limitations that come with being middle aged I guess. Your dadhood rocks my friend!

  2. Hey remember that time you turned 44 and broke your finger on a swimming hole rope swing in Oregon….! Too soon huh? 😉

  3. This is so satisfyingly odd. I just did a rope swing in New Hampshire a week ago and both of my middle fingers were crying out in pain. They still hurt and are swollen mostly at the big knuckle. I did a Google search on “rope swing finger pain” wondering if this was a thing and turns out it is. I am guessing that it only happens if you don’t have the strength to hang on and the middle finger is the last to go thus takes all the force just before final release.

    • This is so funny!!! I hadn’t been on this blog in quite a while, and to see this comment is hilarious! Yes, Google can find just about anything. And yes, your middle fingers were likely crushed by the force from your other hand. I think this is the reason rope swings have multiple knots for you to hang on to – so the upper hand doesn’t slide down and crush the lower hand. At least, if I’d done that, my finger would have been spared. Note: to this day, over 5 years later, my finger still has a slight crooked bend at the end as a result of the fracture. Hope you faired a little better! And thanks for commenting!

    • Yes, I did! And strangely, I hadn’t thought about this blog post in years, and just the other day I was looking at the odd bend my finger now has and reflected on how it happened, and today I see your comment! I hope your finger heals better than mine did!

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