Lessons on Pride from a Pinky
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Lessons on Pride from a Pinky

How my pride broke my pinky and the tough lesson it's still teaching me.

Lessons on Pride from a Pinky

Two months ago, I was playing a pickup game of football (well, a pickup game of catch with a football) with three men. One of the guys (we'll call him Dave) was questioning my ability to catch and throw accurately since I am a girl. I've played sports my entire life and even landed a partial lacrosse scholarship from the college I attended - and he knew this. I was training for a half marathon at the time and was actively looking for coaching jobs at local high schools. There was no doubt that I was an athletic woman. So, when he began to make inaccurate assumptions about my football-throwing ability on the sole basis that I was a female, I was overcome with anger and a deep drive to prove him wrong.

I started off slow, making sure my spirals were as perfect as could be. I dug deep in my shallow knowledge pool of football lingo and was using words like "fumble" whenever appropriate. I was overcompensating more and more, but here's the thing: you can't change someone's mind who already has it made up. I was too enraged to be thinking logically, so I decided to pull out one more stunt. The other guy that was throwing the football moved back 30 yards to throw Dave a hail mary. I decided that I was going to intercept the pass to show Dave that women can be just as athletically competent as men. As the pass went up, I was watching the ball like Pavlov's dogs watched steak, thinking about how amazing it would feel to look Dave in the eyes after I intercepted his pass.

I ran over at the prime interception time, extended my left arm, and tipped the pass with my pinky. And it hurt. Bad. I looked down at my finger, bent at the second knuckle 45 degrees out of alignment. Overcome with adrenaline, I grabbed the tip of my pinky and popped it back into place like the tough girl I was trying so hard to convince Dave that I was.

It swelled up and turned purple within a matter of 30 minutes, but I was convinced it was only badly jammed. A few days later, I went home to visit my parents and the second my nurse mother looked at my balloon of a finger, she told me to go to urgent care immediately for an x-ray. I complied, fully expecting to get doctor affirmation that it was only jammed. As soon as I got out of the x-ray, the visibly shaken Physician Assistant informed me that my finger was spirally fractured as well as comminuted, meaning the bone broke in pieces. She said that I needed to see a hand specialist immediately, and surgery was a probable next step. I was put in a make-shift cast and sent on my way to urgently call my primary care doctor for a referral.

Luckily, my doctor thought I could get by without surgery. I would be in a cast for a month and then everything would be back to normal. I was sad that life would be a little more difficult, but I was especially upset that I wouldn't be able to do what I love most for a whole month: play guitar. Playing guitar is how I cope with stress and hardship, so not being able to do that while going through a challenging time was very difficult.

When the four-week appointment came up, I was so excited to have my doctor remove the cast and send me on my way so I could go home and play guitar to compensate from the emotional toll the past month had taken on me. After he removed the cast, I tried wiggling my naked pinky. It wouldn't bend. We sat in the office for several long minutes trying to get the stupid thing to bend the way it's supposed to and it refused.

I was told to go to physical therapy twice a week for a month and hope that it helped. It didn't. It had now been two months since the incident and my doctor referred to my case as "a bit of a head scratcher." The entire hour-drive back from that doctor's appointment was spent crying while listening to old recordings of songs I had written and covers I had recorded prior to the accident. I was a mess.

At this point I decided to get a second opinion. My new doctor sent me to a new physical therapy center for another month of twice-weekly therapy to try more advanced methods before we needed to consider surgery. I still can't bend it and I'm still in therapy to try and fix it. And I still can't play guitar.

Both doctors and all the physical therapists I've seen so far aren't confident that I won't end up with a permanent deformity. It is possible that I'll never get to play guitar again, although I hope and pray that isn't the case. Playing guitar and writing songs is such a core part of my identity and now I can't do that because my pride put it all at risk.

Throughout this process, I've learned a lot about taking things for granted. I didn't realize that playing guitar was THAT important to me. I've spent the last six years teaching myself to play and now all that time, energy, and devotion might be rendered useless.

I'm writing this as a cathartic exercise but also to challenge everyone out there to think about what's truly important in your life. If I could go back, I would tell myself that proving Dave wrong was not only a ridiculous task, but a pointless one. The feeling of tipping the ball away from him didn't feel nearly as good as I told myself it would. Like I said before, you can't change someone's mind who's already made it up. I know that I'm athletic and my friends and family know that I am; that's what matters. My pride put my true love of playing guitar on the line and that's something I may never get back. Play that instrument a little longer and a little louder today and don't let your pride drive your actions.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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