Phyllis Britt

Phyllis Britt

This week some of the minor inconveniences of being quarantined reared their ugly heads in my life.

(Please realize that I am well-aware that what follows is frivolous, when compared to the real problems of so many people around us who are living and dying with COVID-19. I’m one of the lucky ones – my salary hasn’t been impacted; no one in my family has contracted this scary virus; I can stay home virtually all the time and not really notice, except for the occasional boredom; I mostly haven’t had to become parent, employee and teacher all at the same time; I can bury most of my concerns in a good movie on TV; I can go for a walk when things really begin to get to me.)

But here we go:

First, before all this began, I had been ready to have surgery on each of my wrists to correct the damage being done by carpal tunnel syndrome. Then in March all that was put on hold.

But as time has progressed, my orthopedic surgeon has slowly moved back into doing some surgeries that weren’t considered critical, but that need to be done. Yes, they have been very careful to minimize everyone’s risk. First, this group has its own surgery center and so is able to keep a tight rein on who’s coming in and out. Second, they’re limiting who can come in – patient and driver only in the surgery area. And third, they’re checking temperatures before they let you in the door.

But my real problems arose with the surgery prep. I had to take my nail polish off. If you are a person in South Carolina who is in the habit of getting a manicure at a nail salon, you are painfully aware that it’s been at least a month since you were last able to do this. And while Georgia has relaxed the rules for such establishments, South Carolina continues to require nail and hair salons to stay closed. (Yes, I’ve also missed a hair appointment and despite what I read on Facebook, I have given in to the urge to trim my bangs – I simply couldn’t stand hair constantly in my eyes any longer. So when I finally found a pair of scissors – mine seem to disappear when granddaughter Payton is around – I snipped away. I’m just hoping I can last without succumbing to that urge with the rest of my hair.)

Anyway, back to my nails – I decided I needed to file them down. After a month and counting, I had talons that were becoming lethal. I found that I had forgotten just what a chore this is. Tori has equipment designed specifically for trimming nails; I do not. A file takes forever, but I wasn’t about to take clippers to my nails.

I had actually tried to talk the doctor’s office out of my having to do this. After all, they just need one clear nail to get an accurate oxygen reading from that little thing they clip on your finger. But the nurse insisted that if for some reason they had to move the device to another finger, it was better to have no nail polish.

So I spent a good hour filing, and my nails are still too long. Then, fortunately I still own a bottle of polish remover, so I set about removing the polish. All the while, all I could think about was who is going to paint them again in the foreseeable future.

Then came the real trauma. The doctor was to operate on my left wrist, so when I came in still wearing my wedding band, I quickly pointed out it simply would not come off. My doctor first said, “Oh, I can get it off.” And he proceeded to attempt the trick with dental floss – you slip the end of the floss through the ring, wrap the floss as tightly as possible around the knuckle and pull the end of the floss, in theory, moving the ring slowly up the finger until it comes off.

Nope, it didn’t budge. Then they tried the same trick using the tape they use to wrap your arm when they take blood. After the doctor, his nurse practitioner and a resident worked at this for a while, they finally admitted defeat. You see, when the problem is not fat, fleshy fingers, rather arthritic deposits, there’s nothing to squish.

So, much to my horror, the next step was to cut the ring off. Realize I’ve been wearing this wedding band for 48-1/2 years, rarely ever taking it off. In addition, it has a pattern of flowers etched into it that, I’m sure, can’t be duplicated. As a result, repairing the ring will be difficult. My doctor said, “Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.” What he didn’t seem to understand is that I don’t want an “upgrade.” I was very happy with my wedding band as it was.

I will say that when I can step back from the emotional factor, the device they used is pretty precise – it makes a clean, slim cut. The resident, who did the deed, still couldn’t get my ring off without stretching the ends apart.

The surgery went fine. They didn’t have to move the oxygen sensor to another finger. My hand did not swell significantly. So I’m left with unpolished nails and a damaged ring for naught, in my eyes.

As soon as we got home, I insisted that we take my ring to a friend who is a jeweler to see what can be done. (Apparently jewelry stores are “essential businesses.”) Unfortunately, because of the state of my hands, the ring really needs to go up almost two sizes – too much to just stretch it out. The jeweler said he could splice it with gold, but he couldn’t duplicate the pattern on the ring.

I guess that for the rest of my life, my ring will be a constant reminder of what time has done to my body.

So here I sit, with improved feeling in my hand, but with hair too long, naked nails and no wedding band.

I guess I should count my blessings anyway.