It was as big as a grapefruit, that ball of bandaging on the end of my left arm. It frightened me, that ball. I knew what was inside of it, or rather, what wasn’t. I was afraid, scared shitless, of how much was not there.
See, what had been there was black. Hard, leathery, like five pieces of plastic, all pitch black and a mockery of digits. All of them my fingers. Cold, on the outside, and the inside. When I awoke from the delusions of coma inducing concoctions, I expected, like a fool, to be whole. Well, I was all there, but not in proper working order.
The fingers of my left hand looked like the blackened remains of a crab, mostly the legs of said crab. I could move them in a rudimentary sort of way, but they would not bend. I found the tips great for the occasional scratching of an itch, as they were so hard and pointy, but not mich use for anything else.
Maybe, just maybe, under that pitch black platic there was something still alive. We hoped, anyway. Some of that blackness peeled away, reavealing tortured, but pink, flesh. Living flesh. But not enough. Thus the frightening ball of bandages.
What was under there? What was not? I felt like I still had fingers, but knew the deranged nervous system and it’s tortured nerve endings would lie, giving me false hope. Telling tales that were pure flights of fancy.
I held off having the bandages removed until the nurse practically forced me. When they unwrapped that ball, I held my eyes tightly shut. I didn’t want to see. Morbid curiosity finally pried my eyes open, and then those eyes flooded. I don’t remember for certain, but I think a wail accompanied that flood of tears.
The mangled remains of my hand, my good hand, my dominate hand, was more than I could handle.
Gone was my thumb. Gone was my index finger. The rest, well, they were ugly, to say the least. Swollen and bulbous stumps, black stitching everywhere, my hand was a ruin of flesh. The one and only consolation given was that there was no pain. Of course, my hand never hurt to begin with.
The tips of my middle and ring finger on my right hand were black as well. Those were to go as well. I begged and pleaded with the hand surgeon’s subordinate fellows not to take those tips. I knew there was good flesh under there. I could feel it. They listened, and at least my right hand is whole.
Learning to live, eat, type, even use the bathroom with my right hand has been a challenge. But that is what life is about, isn’t it? Learning… I very well could have fallen into that pitch black pit with the remains of my fingers. But learning to live again seemed the better option. Only time will tell.