When I was born in the middle of the 1950s, my mother was told that her milk wasn’t good enough to nourish me. Well, no wonder, we stayed in the hospital for 12 days after delivery, with mom on bedrest, and the nurses holding me hostage in the nursery except for feeding every 4 hours.
By the time we went home, neither one of us knew what we were doing about bonding.
Dad said I always wanted to suck…my fingers, his finger, a nearby blanket….so I was given a pacifier. They didn’t get it away from me until after I passed my 3rd birthday.
Then I started biting my fingernails.
I can remember my grandma smacking my thumb away from my mouth and telling me it was a terrible thing to bite my nails.
My Second Grade teacher made me sit with my hands under my legs unless I was actually doing work. It’s hard to hold a book open when hands are on the chair. Yet reading is prime nail-biting time.
My next door neighbor lady taught me how to do the chain and single crochet stitches because she said it would keep my hands busy and I wouldn’t be tempted to bite my nails.
When Grandma saw I was so interested in crochet, she taught me how to read a pattern.
They were right, when I crochet, my nails are safe.
Mom put nasty tasting ointment on my fingers.
My Aunt Lola, the beautician, polished my little bits and said the colors would taste awful. All that did was give me something to scrape off rather than bite the ends.
Nothing worked until I was a Senior in high school. A really cute boy who was in the choir noticed me gnawing on a fingernail. He came over, took my hand in his and said my fingers would look so much better if I could let my nails grow and put some polish on them. He said blood didn’t count as a good color. He said he would give me $5 if I would quit biting my nails by Christmas.
Dang, those next 3 months were so difficult. But I quit biting my nails. They didn’t grow very fast. I think that was because I was busy folding newspapers on my route. The day before Christmas vacation, I held out my hands to show him my nails—all filed smoothe and polished. He didn’t remember his offer at all. He was the type who would flirt and say any line he could think of just to talk to a girl.
He did get this self-conscious teenager to quit biting my nails when all else failed.
At high school graduation, I wore a royal blue nail polish. The guy who sat next to me during all the practices and ceremony had known me since Third Grade, had heard the teacher admonishments over the years. He reached over and took my hand into his, rubbing his thumb over my pristine nails. It was one of the sweetest gestures I can ever remember. He placed my hand back into my own lap, where the blue polish looked wonderful against my white gown. I was so pleased to have my hands looking so nice that a friend wanted to hold one for awhile.
The next year I was in LPN school. When it was time to go out doing clinical work, the Instructor lined us up in the practice lab and had us hold up our hands like we were in the middle of a bank robbery. Already we knew that nail polish was not allowed. Now we learned all fingernails had to be clipped so short they could not be seen over the tips of our fingers. There was a lecture for the reasons of this rule, mostly so that inadvertent scratches on patients would not happen.
When I was working as an LPN, one night I had an assignment to clean respiratory equipment. I couldn’t find a new box of rubber gloves, and was a bit lazy in not going to the supply room to get some. I used some very strong disinfectant solution without gloves, thinking just this one time would be all right.
Famous last words of a girl who knows it all at age 21.
The cuticles on three fingers got opened and sore and infected. I missed a couple days work until the antibiotics, both by mouth and ointment, took hold.
The doctor who gave me the okay to return to work told me to be careful when trimming and to not wear nail polish for at least 6 months so the nail bed could breathe and recover.
That was long enough to get me out of the habit, so I haven’t worn nail polish since.
I’ve been on thyroid hormone pills since August. My strong fingernails are about the best side effect to come from this. Other than having shiny and bouncy hair while I was pregnant, I never gave a thought to hormones doing so many extra jobs within the body.
I also have been using a nice hand lotion by AVEENO.
My fingernails have grown so long I consider them bothersome.
The longest I have ever let them grow, really. So I asked my in-house photographer to take a picture. He positioned my hands just right for the sun to highlight the tips of my fingers.
Fifteen minutes later, I cut and filed my nails.
Sunday morning, I’ll have no worries about breaking a nail when I’m getting coffee and snacks ready for Fellowship Hour.
Besides, everybody will be asking about my eye.
~~love and Huggs, Diane
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