During our road trip 2 weekends ago, I got a splinter on the tip of my left pointer finger. Not from a piece of wood, but from the strange cardboard part that covers up the trunk so nobody can see inside. Something from there.
Not to go into too much detail, but let’s just say I couldn’t get the splinter out and then the skin healed back up and got infected. Lovely. And kind of painful.
Since last week, I’ve soaked it in warm salt water a few times (though probably not enough) and kept it wrapped up in a bandaid with neosporin. The wound is painful when I bump it, but the surface also feels numb. If you’re squeamish, don’t read the next bit!
Apparently, if a splinter or an ingrown hair gets an infection, it turns into a boil. A staph infection. How gross is that? Boils are also known as furuncles. (Um, let’s call it that – furuncle – it sounds so much cooler than a boil!)
It’s okay to start reading again! Nothing gross after this point.
So anyway, it hasn’t gotten better and I promised my mom I’d get something for it if it didn’t get better over the weekend. So today, after class, I stopped by the pharmacy.
Forgetting the German words for “infection” and “inflammation”, and absolutely not knowing the words for the name of my condition, I realized I was in for a bumpy ride when I stepped up to the counter and began speaking with the pharmacist. “Okay,” I told her. “I probably won’t know all the words…but okay.”
I figured some background information would be great, so I started with that. “I have a splinter.” No reaction. I thought the German word for splinter was closer to that. “Splinter…?” I asked, pronounced in a slightly different way? No go. “I have wood under the skin.”
“Oh yes,” she replied. “Ein Splitter.” (I knew it was close!)
So then I said, “But it hurts. And it’s…”. Here is where the words “infected” or “inflamed” would have come in handy. But she luckily guessed where I was going and provided the word for me, which of course I recognized, as I can understand far more German words than I can actually produce out of my own mouth. (Inflamed = entzündet. Infection = Infektion, but when you’re talking about a wound, you also say entzündet.)
So then I asked her if it was bad. She asked how big it was. Not too big, just on my finger, I pointed out. But I didn’t want to take off my bandaid and show it to her, because I didn’t have another one to put on. So I went on to describe to her what it looked like. And I spoke as a child would have. “It is red and yellow. The yellow was big but now smaller and now there is more blood. More red. But still yellow.”
I felt like a robot trying to express ideas that are not in his programming.
At least the pharmacist understood what I meant and then gave me some cream to put on it. I got what I had come for, and was sure to be extra friendly to her on the way out. “Thank you for your help,” I said with a smile. (And thank you for not making me feel like an idiot.) “Schönen Tag noch.”
Above image from modomatic on flickr. (Click picture for source!)