Hot Dog Finger: A Story of Improvised Surgery

By: Jacob Lewis

Last month I developed a strange infection on my pointer finger, causing it to swell up like a deliciously plump ballpark beef frank. The cause of the infection? I have no idea. Generally speaking, my lack of mobility and exclusively indoor lifestyle prevents me from most physical harm (infections, broken bones, sprains etc.). I’d compare it to some form of invulnerability, like Supermn if he got his powers from overall laziness instead of our planet’s yellow son. Unfortunately, my slothishness didn’t save me from this affliction and my finger was throbbing in pain for days.

My medical condition was further exacerbated when I stepped outside to go to work, notice that it had immediately started raining and accidently slammed the door on my hotdog finger. The result…I screamed. Not just a normal scream. The scream was without sound, but instead resonated across every wavelength of human existence. Ten thousand years ago, on this planet, primitive beings suddenly looked to the stars and wondered at the source of a mysterious shrieking cry. Ten thousand years from now, beings with minds infinitely superior to our own ceased their eternal trudging through the fallen remnants of man’s society and wondered which one of them had accidently stepped on a cat. A squirrel standing 20 feet to my right exploded in a burst of light as my cry worked to unmake it from existence.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it really hurt.

My finger was killing me by the time I arrived at work. I tried to go about my daily routine, but after 15 minutes of attempting to type on a keyboard I had to stop.

I stared at the pile of work that I needed to get done that morning, I stared at the swollen Ron Jeremy member attached to my hand, and I learned something very interesting about myself. If I have a medical issue and a work deadline, I am more than willing to do what is necessary to fix the problem as quickly as possible, using only the tools immediately at my disposal. I was going to fix this problem.

I took inventory of the items in my desk and small kitchenette in our copy room:

1) Various office supplies with sharp pointy edges (Check),

2) Cup and microwave in which to boil water (Check),

3) Hydrogen peroxide and bactine from the office first aid kit with expiration dates that passed during Bush’s first term in office (Check and Check);

4) Hand sanitizer and soap (Does dish soap count?…whatever, if they didn’t want someone to perform surgery with it they wouldn’t have called it soap.); and

5) Medical knowledge and/or basic human common sense (……um).

I gathered everything I needed to perform surgery up to the standards of a 19th century civil war field hospital onto a sterile (or not) paper towel. I examined my surgical tools and went with the cleanest looking push pin I could find (it had a blue grip on the back, which I felt was important). I boiled water in the microwave and put the pin in it for about five minutes. I then removed the pin from the water and rubbed bactine over it. After rubbing hand sanitizer, soap and bactine on my finger I felt that I was ready to proceed. I thought about notifying my office assistant about what was going to happen about three feet from her work station, but decided against it. She doesn’t need to know everything, that’s why we have HIPAA in the first place.

I started with the Norman Bates technique and pulled my stabbing arm way back before jabbing it into the side of my finger with great force. I then went with the Eli Roth maneuver and jiggled the instrument around in the wound. I repeated this until I felt a sensation that the poet’s would describe as, “a pin hole leak in a gallon bag of Mayonnaise.” Almost immediately, my finger began to feel better. I found an ancient Band-Aid in the back of our first aid kit and strapped it on.

Prognosis, the patient was going to pull through.

In the end, I met my deadline and, with the no negative consequences on the horizon, learned absolutely nothing from this experience that would prevent me from doing it again in the future. It was a good day.


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