Yesterday I had a procedure on my finger. The type of ichthyosis I have means that my hair is fragile and breaks off. A piece of my hair got caught in my nail bed as I scratched my head. The hair in my nail bed is very painful but the procedure to remove it is one thousand times more painful. The doctor uses a fine tool to extract the hair from under the nail. In the past it has been done with a needle. Yesterday it was done with a pair of tiny forceps. I screamed. Several times. I could not stop apologising to the doctor for screaming, and the medical receptionists also asked if I was ok. The pain was intense. Someone told me that sticking something under the nail is a certified form of torture. While the doctor was so gentle, I don't think that procedure would ever be pain free. I couldn't have left that hair there much longer due to the risk of infection. And as it is now less than a week until I fly out, and I'd hate to need medical attention in my first few days overseas.
Pain on my hands seems to hurt the most. When my hands are in pain, the pain throbs up my whole arm. Often when other parts of my body is in pain, the pain is isolated to a certain area. A hair in the nail bed. That burn on my hand last August. The regular skin shed on my palms and my soles - making me feel heightened heat and contact. And the cut on my thumb last June - it took so long to heal and a year on, it still hurts (though I can't work out if it is due to overuse from texting!). I did not realise just how much I use my hands until the use of them was restricted.
Maybe pain in our hands is extreme because our hands are one of the ways we connect with the world. We hug others, greet people, teach, share, cook and feed, nurse and heal, sew, create art and music, play sport, show appreciation, speak to those who can't hear, build and repair, express what words can't, and reach out and comfort those in need. Like our hearts, we love with our hands.
My finger, it is still sore. It is throbbing and feels heavy. But I needed to go through that pain yesterday so that my hand would be healed in time for me to start shaping my future. The worst of the busyness is over for me now. Come Tuesday I will finish up at work for eight weeks (I know! I feel a bit jealous of myself too - when I read that line on BabyMac's blog I smiled, knowing the feeling), have dinner and drinks with friends, and then two days of packing and organising. On Friday I will fly out! I am looking to the plane trips - reading, watching movies and resting - in anticipation of embracing the UK and USA with both hands and my heart.