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Oh, SHIT, That Hurts!

Or, treatment of a subungular hematoma.

Donít ask me why they call it that, but thatís what doctors call the pool of blood underneath a smashed fingernail.† Sounds pretty nasty, but it doesnít even come close to being as nasty as it feels about two hours after you do it, and for two more weeks.

Those of us who mess around with wrenches and hammers and motorcycles and cars will know how they look and how they feel.† And those of us who mess around with wenches and poor methods of birth control will know how they look, Ďcause thereíll be kids around, and kids can find innovative ways to smash fingers, too.

So, whaddya do about it?† The thing hurts sooo bad youíll do just about anything to make it quit.† You canít sleep Ė close your eyes and you see flashes of color and the digit is out there pulsating so huge you can almost hear it move.† That guy at the next urinal gave you a real funny look, and maybe a punch in the eye, when you tried to explain to him why he should unzip your pants for you, and letís not even talk about things going on in a stall.

So now, youíre desperate, really, really desperate.† Being willing to do anything to make it stop hurting has got you primed for this procedure.

Hereís what you do.

Get a pair of pliers, a paperclip, a blowtorch or alcohol lamp or stove burner or some other source of serious heat, some alcohol, a paper towel, and some antibiotic cream.

Open the paperclip one or two folds then bend a small tit on the open end with the pliers.

Wash your hands and pour some alcohol on the paperclip and on the injured fingernail.

Examine the nail to see where it looks like the pool of blood is the deepest.† Do this now.† And if you must, mark the spot with a Sharpie pen or something.

Now, holding the pc with the pliers, heat the end of it to red-hot.† (If you donít hold it with the pliers, youíll wind up treating a horseshoe-shaped second-degree burn on one of your other fingers before you get back to working on the fingernail).† You want the thing red hot Ė less than that and it wonít do this trick so easy.† Yeah . . . you just know where this is going, donít you?† Well, just bear up, bucko, Ďcause youíre gonna like the results.†

Place the injured finger down on a tabletop or your knee or someplace else that wonít let you flinch it away from the red-hot paperclip.† Do it Ė if you donít, you will flinch, even though (and I promise this) this isnít gonna hurt.

Check the end of the pc to make sure itís still red hot; itíll cool off fast while youíre trying to figure if you really gotta go through with this.† Heat it up again.

Now, once you know itís hot, donít look at it again Ė look at the worst spot on the nail, quickly bring the pc to it, and just touch the hot point to that spot.† If the pc is still hot enough it will melt through the nail like butter.† If itís not, youíll have to use pressure, and that wonít feel good at all Ė the pain is sort of a signal that the pc isnít hot enough. Youíll hardly have to use any pressure at all.† In fact, you bent that little tit on the end to keep it from going through too far too fast.†

When that happens the blood under the nail will quench the heat, and youíll get a squirt of blood out the hole you made, maybe even a big one if thereís a lot of blood with a lot of pressure. That's where the paper towel comes in.

And the pain will be Ė GONE!† In one of those gruesome exercises that are sorta fun, squeeze as much blood out as you can.

Now, this is important, so pay attention, dammit!† You have just created a path for infection to get into that really great culture medium under the nail.† Bacteria would just love to get in there and grow.† So squeeze the hole full of antiseptic and cover it with a band-aid, and keep it that way for a couple days.† Otherwise, you might lose the nail, the finger, or your life.


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