5 lessons from a broken finger

Our director, Louise Tu’u, broke one of her fingers earlier this year and it really hurt.

Disclaimer: Louise is aware of her privileges as an able-bodied woman with all of her limbs intact and in use.

Like most things in life, it’s not of interest until it happens to you.

  1. Remember how useful I am, not just when I broke.

The initial pain hurt but what seemed to hurt more was the things Louise couldn’t do so easily. Holding a pen as a right-handed person became very awkward and made Louise’s already illegible writing even more hard to decipher. Lifting up objects with the same hand was harder, though not impossible. Playing any ball sports was not allowed. Essentially, what Louie took for granted with her hand and co-operative fingers was ease and convenience. As time went on and Louise used exercises from the hand therapist, using this finger again became easier.

2. Here’s your chance to look after me.

“No pain, no gain” became a mantra which Louise hated. Here in the healing of her finger, it became essential. Regular repetitions of certain exercises at regular intervals of the day for this finger reminded Louise that her finger needed to heal and love from her.

3. There are three stages of injury: inflammation, proliferation and healing.

Louise likened this to making art: I have an idea and am excited, I get excited and depressed and I try to make the idea. A very crude analogy but one which, like the stages of Louise’s broken finger, also a process. Start, tutū (Maori word for mucking around with something, tinkering when you probably shouldn’t, basically we’re encouraging you to start the enquiry, project, etc, see where it goes and see it through/finish.

4. Don’t compare me to the other fingers.

This is a big lesson. When one finger went and broke, all of a sudden Louise thought about this finger, you’re not as good/helpful/etc. as the other fingers are. This is a massive mistake. Louise is grateful for her able-bodied body but like everyone sometimes, was feeling down on what she couldn’t do with her broken finger. So here’s what she did and what you can too.

  • Write a list of at least 20 qualities that your metaphorical finger/unfinished project is useful and top of mind for you and why you should make the project.
  • Think of what might happen if you never exercise your metaphorical finger or make your unfinished project. What stopped you from starting or finishing? Who could your project have helped?
Louise’s finger splints, in a range of colours. The black knuckle duster on the left was the hardest to wear.

5. We all need help.

Louise used her splints, some during the day, some during the night. These protected her finger through driving, writing and everyday tasks in her life. The splints came off when Louise did her finger exercises.

With each repetition, Louise’s finger gets better. Stronger. Straighter. More functional and less painful to use. Remembering the finger’s role and purpose and exercising that everyday.

If you need a metaphorical splint like Louise to help you complete your unfinished project for an hour of your time, book a slot here: https://calendly.com/talofae/explorehour

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