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Robert Barron column: Writing shouldn’t be taken for granted

My three middle fingers were bent and sticking in different directions

It’s hard to write with three broken fingers.

I discovered that the hard way when I was 14 and foolishly ran through a neighbour’s backyard, without permission of course, which was a short cut to the bus stop I was heading to.

I had cut through that yard many times before, but the homeowner had recently placed a camper trailer in it and I tripped over one of its support legs.

It was nighttime so I didn’t see the leg before my foot caught on it and I didn’t have the chance to fully open my right hand in an attempt to protect my face from hitting the ground.

So my right hand hit the dirt with all my fingers pointing straight down, and I heard snapping sounds.

When I got up in a fair amount of pain, my three middle fingers were bent and sticking in different directions.

Thinking (stupidly) that I could fix the situation myself, I went to the nearest telephone pole and began gently (?) knocking my hand against it in an effort to straighten out the fingers, which obviously didn’t work.

I then went home and showed my hand to one of my older siblings and they rushed me to the hospital while lecturing me about doing brainless things.

I remember sitting in a waiting room at the hospital for some time (sound familiar?) before a doctor finally came in and carefully examined my fingers.

I thought the next step was to be sent for x-rays before a course of action was to be determined.

But I guess it was pretty obvious that the fingers were broken so the doctor decided to deal with the situation quickly and firmly.

Without telling me what he intended to do or get me to count to three or anything, he held all three fingers by their tips and pulled straight up.

I recall that the pain was so intense that my legs almost gave way from underneath me, but a nurse grabbed me from behind before I hit the floor and damaged myself further.

My first thought when the waves of pain subsided was that I was unlucky enough to be treated by a sadistic healer but, in retrospect, I figure the doctor thought it best just to do it swiftly and not tell me what he was going to do.

If he had said that he was about to inflict great pain on me, I likely wouldn’t have given him my hand so easily.

So with the fingers straightened on their bones, the doctor wrapped them in a cast that I was to wear for several weeks.

Unfortunately, my right hand is my writing hand and that led to difficulties when I went to school.

I thought my inability to write would lessen my workload for the time I was wearing the cast, but the teachers insisted that I try writing with my left hand.

There are some people that are, to some degree, ambidextrous but I’m certainly not one of them.

In my case, the left hand is merely a claw that exists only to help my right hand with tasks, so I realized that I was going to be a disappointment to the teachers.

I tried anyway (as if I had a choice) but could only come up with scrawls across the page which were probably just as good, or much worse, than a chimp could do.

After a few days of this, the teachers relented and I was told just to sit through the classes and they would test me orally until the cast was off.

It was a gruelling few weeks and I’m feeling arthritis in those three fingers these days as I age, but it was a lesson learned.

And that lesson is to stay away from camper trailers at all costs.

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