When I became pregnant with my first baby in 1977, my husband Bill and I were over the moon! We were thrilled and dove headfirst into the whole pregnancy phenomenon – buying furniture and clothes and setting up a nursery. At the time I was 26 years old, weighed 105 pounds and stood 5’4” tall.
Throughout my pregnancy I craved barbecued hamburgers, fresh tomatoes and hot fudge ice cream sundaes every day. After nine months, I gained a whopping 72 pounds and at some point had to remove my rings because my fingers were getting swollen.
Who cared if pregnancy gave me cankles and made my fingers swell? It also made my boobs huge and turned me into a nymphomaniac – a little perk my husband didn’t mind one bit! Besides, as soon as the baby was born I’d lose the weight. I thought I’d immediately jump back into my tiny Jordache jeans and halter tops. How naive I was! It came as quite a shock to discover I could only fit into maternity clothes. I suddenly didn’t feel quite so sexy anymore!
A couple of weeks after the baby was born, we were invited to a Christmas Eve party. It had been a while since we’d been out so I was looking forward to slipping into my fanciest maternity outfit and sliding my rings back on. I wanted to look pretty and festive and it seemed like a good idea at the time but no sooner was my sizeable wedding ring back on when my finger began to swell. Before my eyes it tripled in size and went from various shades of pink to red to finally a pulsating, throbbing blueish purple. And it started to hurt like a son of a bitch, too.
I immediately ran cold water over my hand but the ring wouldn’t budge. Bill filled a bowl with water and ice and I soaked my hand until I lost all feeling. No luck. We tried scrubbing with lots of soap and water – nothing. We dragged out every sort of lubricant we could think of from WD-40 to KY Jelly to olive oil. We even tried the “string thing” (don’t ask; that’s another story). Bill lovingly suggested I try to relax and take deep breaths while he pulled on the ring. I screamed at him to “fuck off” because “This wasn’t Lamaze Class and I felt like I was giving birth again.” Nothing worked. I was now in agony and convinced my finger would eventually shrivel up, die and fall off.
There was only one thing left to do. I told Bill to take the baby to the party while I went to the hospital. Hopefully they’d give me a shot to reduce the swelling. When the nurse noticed my maternity clothes, she told me I was in the wrong department and directed me to Labor and Delivery. I indignantly informed her that I wasn’t pregnant and showed her my ever-expanding finger; she immediately dragged me into one of the rooms in EMEREGENCY.
Doogie Howser, M.D. and his assistants took one look at my digit, gasped and scratched their heads. When you’re on the receiving end of that horrified reaction coming from professionals trained to remove knives lodged in skulls, it’s not a good feeling. Excusing themselves, the doctors stepped out of the room, consulted for ten seconds and returned with the verdict: “We have no choice but to cut it off”.
“MY FINGER??” I gasped.
“No, silly. The ring” they laughed. “We’re going to get Jerry and Ares. If they can’t cut it off, no one can” replied one doctor who immediately regretted his choice of words.
“And who, may I ask, are Jerry and Ares?”
“Jerry is our top custodian and Ares is the strongest 8” mini bolt cutter in his toolbox.”
Within minutes Jerry appeared; a sparkling red tool which I was pretty sure was Ares dangled prominently from his belt. I was also pretty sure Jerry had just smoked a joint but, hey, he was the best and given my predicament, beggars can’t be choosers. Jerry examined my finger, made all sorts of grumbling noises and proceeded to sterilize Ares before he scrubbed up.
At last the moment of truth arrived. Jerry told me to turn my hand palm facing up and “spread ‘em”. I assumed he meant my fingers and did as instructed. Jerry made the Sign of the Cross, kissed Ares and with the precision of a neurosurgeon gently slid Ares between my skin and my ring.
One loud “snip” was all it took for the back of my ring to be cut in half. Jerry broke out his mini pliers and separated the ring enough to remove it from my finger. We all let out a collective sigh of relief. Tragedy averted.
In case you’re wondering, I never got the ring repaired. It sits in my jewelry box as a reminder that even though it may seem like a good idea at the time, that isn’t always the case.
NAR © 2021