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Avoiding the temptation to play doctor

Avoiding the temptation to play doctor Avoiding the temptation to play doctor

Paronychia is the medical term. To me, it was the big red bulge on the tip of my middle finger that kept growing. For anyone who got a good look at it, the bubblelike blister was a good reason to gasp.

This past week, my bad habit of biting my fingernails and yanking out hang nails caught up with me. Paronychia, a skin infection around a fingernail, was the unpleasant result.

It was one of those things that started out as a minor annoyance. Every time I bumped my finger against something, I felt a twinge of pain. I would shake my hand a little — as if that helps — and then go back to what I was doing. At some point, I noticed it was getting a little red, so I figured I should start soaking it in warm water. However, by then, it was beyond the point of some simple home remedy.

Still, that stubborn do-it-yourself attitude I often get caught up in was starting to give me ideas. I recalled an incident from my childhood when my mom, a registered nurse, lanced a blister on my finger, and it healed on its own at home. “I could do that,” I started to think to myself. Once I said those words out loud in front of my wife, though, it was clear she was not going to go along with that plan. I tried explaining to her that I could sterilize a needle with some rubbing alcohol, make a couple of targeted pokes, and relieve the pressure. Then, I would douse the wound in some antibiotic cream, strap on a band-aid, and a few days later, it would be healed.

Meanwhile, as we debated the best course of action, the infection itself continued to inflate, like a tiny balloon grafted onto the tip of finger. By the time Monday rolled around, it was throbbing almost constantly, and even typing was painful. During my lunch break, Linda took a photo of my crimson lump and sent it to our brother-in-law, a doctor. He immediately responded with a message that included the words “urgent care.”

Thankfully,Iwasabletogetintoseemy regular practitioner at the Colby clinic that afternoon. Even the medical professionals who looked at my finger seemed taken aback by the size of my swollen deformity. It didn’t take long until I was laying on an exam table, with my hand positioned under a bright light. I took note of the sanitization protocol they underwent — washing with surgical soap, wearing gloves, using iodine, etc. I doubt that any of those things would have occurred to me if I had tried doing the procedure at home.

Oh, and then there are the antibiotics I was prescribed. You know, the kind you can’t just get over-the-counter. Two days later, the wound seems to be healing fine, thanks to my wife, modern medicine and common sense.