Our Own Backyard...There's always a sliver of hope

The little girl gingerly held out her index finger, the tip of which raged rosy red. "Grandma Wendy, I've had a splinter in my finger for FIVE DAYS!" she announced (somehow 7-year-olds always seem to speak in capital letters). I uttered sympathet...


The little girl gingerly held out her index finger, the tip of which raged rosy red.

"Grandma Wendy, I've had a splinter in my finger for FIVE DAYS!" she announced (somehow 7-year-olds always seem to speak in capital letters).

I uttered sympathetically and held the finger closer, squinted my eyes and perused it for the offending splinter. Other than the redness at the tip of the finger, I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. When I asked her how she got the splinter in the first place, she replied proudly, "From the FENCE!"

Our daughter later explained that they had gone around the side of the house to unlock the front door, and little Evie had run her hand along the wooden fence, where she picked up the splinter.

It seems that for the better part of the next five days, they had been fussing over it, trying to get the splinter out of her finger without causing her too much grief. And of course, when you're dealing with a 7-year-old, that sounds a lot easier than it is.


We decided we'd make it our collective goal to get that splinter out of her finger before the weekend was out. Our first line of attack was a set of tweezers. It was something her mom had tried earlier in the week, so Evie knew what to expect, but she wasn't about to let anyone else go "tweezing" at her sore finger.

"Grandma Wendy, you just HOLD my finger and I'LL work on it," Evie instructed.

And that's just what I did, but try as she might, she was unable to get ahold of the end of the splinter in order to pull it out. I offered to take over.

"NO!" she cried. "It HURTS!"

And that was that. Her mother and I knew that particular first aid session was at an end as Evie streaked out of the room.

I recalled how my mom, under the same circumstance, sometimes had to resort to using a sterilized needle to virtually dig out the remaining portion of the splinter from my hand, finger or foot. That also brought to mind how she used either mercurochrome -- which colored my skin a particularly fierce shade of bright orange -- or iodine -- which stung like blazes -- to disinfect it. I shuddered at the memory of it.

Every few hours all weekend, Evie would bring up the subject of her sliver, so we knew it was really bothering her. But every time one of us tried to get near it, she fussed louder and louder, not wanting us to touch it.

I decided to do a search on the Internet to see if I could discover some new, and hopefully painless, means of extracting a sliver. Both the tweezer and needle methods were there, along with a method of mixing up a paste out of baking soda, dabbing it over the finger and waiting until it sets up, virtually squeezing it out of the finger as it contracts. It sounded painless enough, but I couldn't fathom Evie sitting still long enough for the baking soda paste to set up.


I perked up at the next suggestion -- duct tape! The write-up said to tear off a hunk of duct tape and put it over the finger with the sliver in it, wait a half hour or so, and then rip off the tape, hopefully wrenching the sliver out with it. I hunted down the roll of duct tape and gave it to Evie's dad, who talked her into letting him put it on her finger. We checked the clock to figure out what time it would be in half an hour from then, and waited.

In a little while, Evie came up to me and announced she wanted to go outside to play. She held up her finger and declared, "Please take it OFF!" It was then I discovered her dad had wrapped the duct tape around her finger, Band-Aid-style, and it was impossible to peel the ends of the duct tape apart from one another. I ended up working it off the tip of her finger, which yielded little hope of actually pulling the sliver out with it.

Evie played outside in the deep snow for the next hour or so, and when she came in she was soaking wet from head to toe. As she peeled off her damp snow pants and jacket, her mom declared it was time for a bath. So Evie sat in the tub and played for the next 20 minutes, with bubbles practically up to her chin. When she climbed out at last, her fingers were shriveled up like prunes but her smile lit up the room.

"Grandma Wendy!" she cried. "My sliver is GONE!"

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