Siege Diaries 4/2/2020

Look, Ma, no Band-Aids.

Those who know me from meatspace may know that I am seldom without a Band-Aid on one of my fingers.  Some of you have asked me about this over the years, and I’ve always responded something like “I have really dry cuticles and I pick them.”

That’s always been a bit of a euphemism.  Yes, I do pick at my fingers–but it’s worse than that.  What follows is really TMI for a lot of people, but hang in with me.

<big breath>

I pick the skin off four of my fingers.  Or I chew it off.  I’ve never chewed my nails–that sounds almost civilized in comparison.  This has been a problem for pretty much my entire life.  It’s a nervous habit (my other one is bouncing my foot, which is a lot less of a problem), probably a kind of OCD, or perhaps pica.  The Band-Aids both cover the raw spots and prevent further damage.  I also often fidget with the Band-Aids.  Honestly, I’m rarely even conscious I’m doing it.  My husband will often catch me and say “stop it!”  and I’ll guiltily make motions like I wasn’t really picking my fingers…..

Here’s the deal, though:  With all of the emphasis on not touching my face, with all of the handwashing, with using hand cream because of dryness…

<big breath>

I have almost completely stopped.  I am now much more conscious of what I am doing with my fingers, and I stop myself every time they get anywhere near my mouth.  I also am trying to avoid Band-Aids, thinking they’re likely germ traps.  I don’t think I’ve had a Band-Aid on in close to a month.  I am still picking a bit at the skin, but as the rough bits heal up, that compulsion is disappearing.

I took a picture of my right hand today.  The fingers I regularly mangle are my thumb, index, and middle fingers.  Still a little red, still a couple of spots of peeling….but wow.

This is a Good Thing.  I have always been terribly ashamed at this habit, but could never seem to figure out how to stop.  And now it looks like I might be on my way.

Is this going to make me suddenly a devotee of nail polish and manicures?  Nah–can’t see that; just not my kind of pampering.  But the next time (if ever) I shake someone’s hand, maybe I’m not going to worry what they think about my mangled fingers.