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A Lucky Break

August 11, 2015

I remember just two things from Miss P’s ultrasound.  I remember the technician commenting, “Ooo the baby has long hair….oh….but only in the back.”  and “It’s sucking its thumb!” He was right about the hair. For a good two years she had long golden hair….but only in the back.  This unfortunate hair growth pattern happened to one of my nephews, and Dan’s sister, Sara, referred to it as his proceeding hairline.

The thumb, however, turned out not to be a thumb but three fingers on the left hand, that Miss P not only enjoyed sucking in utero, but has enjoyed sucking every day and night of her young life.

She refers to the three special fingers as her sucking fingers, or more accurately as her “thucking fingerths”.  She is very protective of her sucking fingers, and will not let anyone hold her left hand, not even her own mother, because she says, doesn’t want to pick up anybody else’s flavor.  She is careful never to get the sucking fingers involved in messy activities such as rolling out pie dough, or painting with finger paints.  When we decided to start violin lessons her first question was, “Will the teacher touch my thucking fingerths?”

To be honest, for the first few years I was more concerned about Miss P’s proceeding hairline than I was about her sucking habit.  In fact, I considered it a real gift when she popped them in her own mouth on day one, being right in the middle of pacifier issues with Elisabeth at the time.

But as the years have crawled slowly by, Miss P’s two front teeth remain suspiciously shorter than the others and she has required quite a bit of speech therapy for her perthithtent lithp, the finger sucking has developed in my mind into a little black cloud over her otherwise healthy childhood (barring that little incident with the intestinal polyp of course). And while her proceeding hairline has taken care of itself, the finger sucking has not.

The worrying has been mostly mine.  Dan is not generally a worried person.  I have tried to impress upon him the seriousness of the finger sucking situation, telling him it comes up every time she sees the pediatrician. To that he calmly asked, “Who brings it up?”  And while I am, in fact, the one who brings it up, it is still very worrying.

Which is why when I answered my cell phone from atop a double decker bus crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on a tenth anniversary weekend away, and I heard Mary Olson tell me that Miss P had fallen from the monkey bars and Phil believed her left arm to be broken, with my mouth I said, “Oh no!” but in my heart I said, “Yessssss!” What a lucky break!

I can say it was lucky because Miss P was really in very little pain and had not the eagle eye of Doctor Phil perceived the broken bone (actually two broken bones), we would not have suspected a serious injury at all.

Although she is reported to have cried when she first fell, she didn’t make a peep in the emergency room and insisted her arm did not hurt at all. She didn’t even make a sound as her arm was being splinted and wrapped, but big tears rolled down her cheeks and she whispered, “I am just thinking about my thucking fingerths.” Sure enough, her arm was immobilized to the shoulder and she couldn’t bend her elbow to reach those special special fingers.  Just as I had hoped!

To my horror, when we went back to the orthopedic surgeon on day 5, he explained that it was such a simple break that it could be managed with a short splint below the elbow that left the sucking fingers wiggling in the breeze.

I caught him in the hall and explained that this might well be the only chance Miss P would ever have to break the sucking fingers habit, and if she returned to the sucking now she would probably never break the habit….or graduate from high school….or drive a car….and her life would be so very limited!

Unlike Dan, he understood the gravity of the situation immediately, and in the blink of an eye the nurse was right back in wrapping the arm, the splint, the hand, and the fingers in a very generous hot pink adhesive bandage. She gave us more rolls of hot pink and bright purple bandage to continue mittening the fingers for the next six weeks. Miss P’s assumption of course was that this was all part of the “cast” and having a real eye for fashion she was quite relieved that the black splint was now shrouded in pink and purple.

photo (16)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 11, 2015 10:14 am

    Back in top form after a break (Sorry, Miss P, for my insensitive commet). I sympathize with mom but vote with Dan…though Lucy’s take is more hilarious. Loved the patient’s photo (there I go again). More stories, please!

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