2017.11.29 I dig slivers


Such a little sliver can present such a big, painful problem.

The real problem is the maple tree in our back yard. Is it pride? Is it just laziness? Could it be a reluctance to let go and move on?

That tree is the last one around to lose its leaves. We wait and we wait and we wait. Meanwhile, leaves keep blowing into the neighbors’ yards.

It’s mostly empty now; Friday we got the yard cleaned up with the help of daughter Maddie and her boyfriend Travis. A raking party. Fun for all. It was a lot of fun for their Husky pup who ran, rolled, jumped and chewed on rakes.

I gave our newer rakes to the guest laborers and took the old one for myself. It wasn’t long before I had a sliver, which I removed, and before the work ended, I had a second one. That one hung around, lodged under the skin.

Later on as we visited, I dug at the thing for 20 minutes using my wife’s LED-lighted tweezers. I classify that tool within the sucker-born-every-minute category, but Colleen says that light has come in handy in the past, when it worked.

I knew what I had to do: Tear the skin a bit back from the entry hole so I could grab onto the splinter, but I couldn’t get the job done.

Maddie asked if I needed help, but I didn’t want skin-tearing to be part of her visit, so I gave up and forgot about it until the evening.

When I touched it with my thumb, the wound felt a little swollen and I figured it was infected. I fetched tweezers and sat down to dig. Still no success.

Colleen offered to help and ordered a sterile needle. I heated it quickly via a stove burner which was a mistake because Colleen prefers to use a match. Soon the needle was accidentally dropped on the floor so this time I went for a match and came back with the carbon-blackened needle.

She started to dig a little, then went for an ice cube. I was ordered to soap up my finger. The finger was already getting sore and the ice cube was a whole new flavor of torture. She was not only freezing the area, but she also had the idea that she could possibly roll the sliver out from the bottom with the ice cube. This wasn’t going well.

She had me stand up so my finger could be placed in front of a magnifying mirror to help her see better. She stood with needle poised, asking for clarification about the direction of travel when the sliver went in.

I set her straight on where to dig, but then I started pulling back. Could she properly handle the operation while looking into a mirror? Wouldn’t she get confused and start digging my finger in the wrong direction?

She lowered her hand and accidentally knocked a small roll of toilet paper into the sink. She reached quickly as residual water in the sink soaked through and the toilet paper unrolled further and then a little more.

We talked about the need for a scalpel to slice the skin a little over the wood. An X-acto knife was as close as we could come, but instead she left the room to consult with Mr. Google for help. I went to work with even more determination to avoid more of her torture.

There was a suggestion to use some sticky tape, but that was of no use when the wood couldn’t be reached. Never squeeze a splinter out. I think that addresses the ice cube rolling technique. I’m looking at a website now for ideas. I don’t think it’s the one she visited because she never mentioned anything about soaking bread in a cup of milk, nor did she talk about taping a piece of banana peel to the wound overnight.

Soak in vinegar for 30 minutes. Apply the inner side of an egg shell for a few minutes. Apply a thin slice of potato over the splinter for a few minutes or overnight. I’m almost hoping I get another sliver to put these methods to the test.

In the end, I’m not sure what happened, but I think it was my original plan: Dig with a needle to tear back the skin a little and grab that thing with the tweezers. She soon held her trophy in front of my face to celebrate success.

We still have raking to do in the side yard and there will probably be clean-up work in the back when the maple finally lets go of everything. 

The sliver finger is healing and it’s nothing compared to the one that was sliced with a bow saw the next day while trimming branches. I know, it’s time to buy a good pair of work gloves.