It was just a few days before my 9th birthday and instead of going with my mother for special time to get our nails done together, I opted to go with my father and brother and some family friends on the boat for day of swimming and boating.
I should have chosen door number 1 and then I would have ended the day with 10 pretty little fingernails, no doubt decorated in pink polish with glitter.
Instead, I ended the day with only nine and a half fingers.
Long story short, the tip of my left index finger was severed by the collapsible ladder that my finger was under while I was sitting on the edge of the boat. Because of the frigid temperature of the water and a good amount of shock, I didn't feel it happen but boy did I burst into tears when my brother screamed out to my father, "Dad!!! Sarah's bleeding and it's really bad!"
Trained as an EMT, my father was great and is the sole reason that my finger was able to be attached successfully. He wrapped my finger, put ice on it, held it above my head, and laughed gently when I sobbed and asked over and over, "Am I going to live?" He instructed the other adult on the boat to see if he could locate the tip of the finger and to put it on ice. My finger was found (score!) and put into a red solo cup filled with ice. To this day, I cannot help but think of my finger when I see one of these cups. I also wish I looked into the cup!
My father called ahead to the coast guard via radio and had an ambulance ready for as soon as we made it back to the dock. I remember the ride from the dock to the ambulance on the gurney and feeling so embarrassed as everyone was lining up to watch me. I remember being strapped into the ambulance on the right side so that I had to cross over my body with my right hand to hold onto my dad's hand. I remember my father telling the driver "over my dead body are you taking her to the [local] hospital" and nearly threatening him to take me to Mass General Hospital in Boston. I remember the nurses about to cut off my bathing suit and me lying and saying it was my favorite one, when in reality I was embarrassed about being naked in front of people. I remember eating chocolate chip cookies from the vending machine while the doctor was stitching my finger back on. I remember the look on my mothers face when she finally heard the news and made it to hospital as I proudly (and probably slightly drugged up) exclaimed to her, "Dad is letting me eat cookies for dinner tonight!"
Despite the doctors wanting to fully amputate the remainder of my finger down to the joint, my father convinced them to attempt to re-attach it despite the 5% chance of a successful re-attachment. I was released from the hospital after hours of stitches and sutures with doctors appointments lined up for every single Friday for the next several months.
And so it went that I spent my entire fourth grade being driven to school because I was not allowed to go on the bus and sitting with my left arm propped up with multiple pillows. I did get to tell a killer story to everyone at school though and had a great topic for the obligatory "What I did over summer vacation" essay. Every Friday, instead of going to school, we would drive into Boston for a doctors appointment and go out to eat, where I would always get the same thing: cup of clam chowder and chocolate mousse for dessert. At every appointment, they would unwrap the bandages, check the stitches, and wrap me back up while I looked to the top right corner of the room, stretching my neck so that I could look as far away as possible. I never once looked at my finger with all the stitches until after it was completely healed and the stitches were removed.
From a distance it's hard to even tell but upon a closer look, you can see how the tip of my finger is deformed and my nail grows in a curved-over manner. A chunk of the bone was crushed and/or severed and therefore, it is also slightly shorter than my other index finger. The feeling in my finger has mostly returned to normal. The funniest thing is that when it rains, half of my finger will turn white and when it snows, the entire finger turns white. The doctors did a wonderful job in re-attaching my finger and the main scar blends right into the first joint. I also have a "V" shaped scar from a re-construction surgery a few years later.
So, that is why my family refers to and celebrates this date as "nine and a half finger day"
And now, some pictures because after all this nine and a half finger talk, you probably want to see what it looks like!
Clearly I need to remove the chipped nail polish
Under side of my finger.
Do you see the "V" scar?
Question for you:
Do you have any scars from an injury or surgery?