I mentioned a couple months ago that I had broken my finger, badly enough that I had to have surgery to repair it. I haven’t had surgery– real surgery– since I was very young. Wisdom teeth don’t count. And I was absolutely terrified. My hands mean so much to me, as both a writer and a gardener.
And yeah, I’m a little careless about them some days, most days, if we’re being honest here. I don’t wear gloves when I probably should. But I like the feel of the soil between my fingers, and I am surer when I can actually feel what I have my hand on than when all I can feel is pressure. Sometimes, I move quicker than I should. I didn’t think about it.
Now I do. Because I am still afraid. Even though my hand is mostly healed now, I am still afraid. I remember the terror of sitting in the orthopedist’s office when he told me with only a glance at the x-ray and my finger that I was going to have surgery in two days.
And thanks to him, and an excellent physical therapist, I have a finger that still bends. It’s not perfect, but it bends. It will probably always be a little crooked, and I’ll likely never get my full range of motion back, but it’s much better than it was.
But I am afraid now. I hesitate, where I never used to. My hands are valuable, and I have been sharply reminded of that. Typing was a chore with one hand imprisoned in a cast, and gardening was completely out of the picture. Knitting was impossible, and even after I was released from the cast, painful. It’s better now.
I have my hand back now, but I am more cautious. I wear my gloves a little more often. They wouldn’t have helped with this summer’s injury, but they could protect me from other things. I think more about what I’m doing, about how I’m going to move, how I’m going to grip.
This injury taught me fear of hurting myself, and maybe it’s a healthy fear, but I resent it. I resent the ways it slows me down, and makes me overthink every movement when I garden. But my crooked, healing finger also reminded me of the value of my hands, and that is important. I use them for all the things I love, and it is not bad to be reminded to be careful with the tools we use for making.