...the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised."
Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Incident Of The Broken Finger

Once upon a time, when I was a young adult (!), I went to a gay bar (for women) with a friend and some of her friends, I think there was 5 of us altogether. It was in a relatively deserted area of town, with buildings having seen better days and none-to-very-few residential units. As we were leaving, some guys came out of nowhere, yelling and calling names and pushing some of us. One thing led to another and pretty soon the guys were throwing us around and punching us. The women who were belligerent right back at them didn't help matters but that was only 2 of us who did that. No matter, the (young) men fought and acted as if their lives were on the line. I am sure they were also drunk, which is why they were on the prowl for someone to start a fight with. Anyway, my friend was pushed to the ground so I went to help her up and as I stood up, I was punched in the face, spun around and landed with my hands out, to break the fall. Then is when I, as the doctor and nurses explained to me, stubbed my finger. Stubbing the finger caused a small fraction of the first joint to break off. This small potion was where the tendon attached, enabling the joint to bend. Which it now did not do. Also, it hurt. So next day found me at the emergency room, waiting for an x-ray. (Yes, even way back then, there were long waits at the ER.)

I do not recall how things resolved that night, I suppose the guys ran away when more patrons came or left the bar. The two women who were riled up enough to yell back at them in the first place insisted on calling the police and I can understand why. They felt those guys were looking for gays to beat up (or worse) and they chose us (mostly short) women probably because they were scared of men their own size? They could not have found their way to the bar by happenstance so must have been looking for a gay bar. I do not recall the reasons why, but the guys were identified by the police and a court appearance was scheduled.

X-ray did confirm the finger was broken and that the small corner part had broken off and an appointment was made for me to see a plastic surgeon (!) to repair it. Now, the first joint in a finger does not seem too terribly important but, first of all, the guys were being sued so they should have to pay for the damage they did, no? and secondly, I worked on an assembly line for incentive so I really needed that finger to work properly, and lastly, it was my ring finger on the left-hand. You know what that means.

The doctor was very affable with the best bedside manner I've encountered. He asked more than once shouldn't I call my mother, or shouldn't she be there. I was a bit insulted and huffed "NO". He even tried the "I know MY mother would want to know if I was having surgery" line. Well, she did know. But I didn't feel I needed her for a small outpatient procedure. I mention this because although I huffed about it, I thought it was nice of him to try to get me to call her.

All that the surgery entailed was reconnecting the fragment of bone the tendon was connected to and then inserting a pin to hold it there while it healed. I've just remembered that was the only time I have taken percocets. Looking back I feel sure the pain was not that terribly bad but I can tell you that finger tips have a remarkable amount of nerve endings and it did hurt considerably. Just probably not quite to the level of needing narcotics. I did feel very good for a few days. Remarkably good. I was off work for a couple weeks too which was nice.  

Unfortunately the surgery did not work. When the pin came out (a very unpleasant experience - they sort of un-spiral it and you can feel it moving up and out) the finger did not bend any more than it had before, not at all. Thirty years later it is still bent crookedly. Which, who cares, but it means  the next knuckle, the one closer to the hand is bigger and flatter than it should be, which means I need a very small ring (to fit my finger) that can fit over that rather large knuckle. Since I've been married I've joked that if I am ever mugged I will be killed because I wouldn't be able to get the ring off for the life of me. Yea, I'm not very funny.

So that was that. I went back to work, was able to work without that finger bending (thank Goodness) and pretty much forgot about it. Of course there was still the court case involving young men who have a predilection to beat up women who could be gay. That managed to wend it's way through the courts and one day there we all were, at the courthouse to testify against them. Naturally, okay not really, they came from the suburbs and had well-off, well-educated parents who were shocked, shocked that their sweeties could do such a thing. My girlfriend and I found ourselves on the elevator with one of the defendants. It was very uncomfortable but the officer also there gave him dirty looks the whole ride, I weighed 98lbs and my friend measured 5 ft tall. In the end we never testified because one of the guys admitted everything at the last minute and some plea deal was made. I never knew what that deal was but I knew they were now known for what is now known as hate crimes, so they would be suspects in future at least if they did such a thing again. So now that was the end of THAT.

I don't remember his name and cannot find a news article from the local paper there (Milwaukee) online but I remember the details of what happened next perfectly well. My doctor disappeared while fishing at Doctors Park! Some of his things were found, hat etc., but not he. I remember thinking "aw, he was so nice". The newspaper talked to co-workers, neighbors, wife and all gave testimonials to the paper as to his good reputation as a community minded family man and said what a tragedy it was and how they couldn't believe this had happened. You know, the usual.

A few weeks later his name was in the paper again, this time because the paper had done some investigating and found that he had an enormous number of malpractice suits against him! Suspicions were aroused and now everyone was investigating him and all kinds of stories came out. I remember thinking "how could this man have had a job at a hospital?" A few months later still, he was found, living the good life in Florida (maybe Miami?) in a newly purchased mansion in someone else's name. I should have sued him. Nah, it's only a finger joint. But clearly some people suffered very real damage thanks to that man. He is now in prison for fraud, or maybe dead as this was 30 years ago and he was good and middle-aged then. And so ends the incident of the broken finger.

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” - Plato

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