My dislocated and formerly lacerated right pinky. (Picture taken three weeks after my accident on 4/7/23.)

(Beware! Gory pictures ahead)

I was originally going to title this post PINKY PROMISE. Pinky promise – Judy will never ride an electric scooter again!

My succinct story is this:

I took a nasty fall on April 7th.

I dislocated my right pinky. I am right-handed.

In the last three weeks, I have had 18 doctor visits, (which includes 2 urgent care, and 2 ER visits.)

Working very slowly with a splint on, I drew another maze on my computer to add to my maze book in progress.

I had two online live performances.

I wrote a new song. I named it: “Take My Hand.”

My maze book project is time-consuming. I plan to have at least 30 mazes. I usually draw 2 mazes a week. The frog maze took 3 weeks because of my injury, but I did it!

The spring weather was lovely and my oldest son was visiting from out-of-state. In the evening, we planned to go to my brother and sister-in-law’s home for a beautiful Passover meal.

After breakfast, he told me he wanted to walk around the college campus where we both had graduated. It seemed like a lovely idea.

For over an hour we walked, and he enjoyed pointing out all the new buildings. It was amazing how much had changed in the 42 years since I’d graduated. We stopped for a light lunch at a café he remembered well.

It was time for us to head back. My son pointed out a pair of electric scooters nearby for rent. He absolutely loved them and told me how he felt deprived because I wouldn’t allow him to have one growing up.

I can’t remember exactly how this all played out, but I was open to his suggestion that we rent one to go back to the car. With the wide-open campus, the path back seemed smooth and easy.

Last summer, I rode a bicycle near the beach for 8 miles – so it didn’t seem like this would be difficult for me. But in retrospect, I threw all caution to the wind. The strict helmet rules I imposed upon my children growing up suddenly didn’t seem to apply to us in this situation.

One of the only pictures from my son’s visit. Five minutes before disaster.

After a few moments downloading an app, we were off!

Immediately, I didn’t feel that certain about what I was doing; I wasn’t in control. It was easy to go too fast and I kept letting off the gas. But if I went too slowly, I couldn’t stand and balance. The key was to go slow and steady and not turn much.

But after a few minutes, I felt more confident. I buzzed along with my son nearby and he was grinning to see his mother joining him. This was my joy – seeing my child happy and enjoying our time together.

We came to a slight incline and the breeze lifted my visor. I had forgotten that this wasn’t a bicycle with handlebars. I thought I could hold on with one arm, while fixing my hat with the other. I wish I had listened to the voice in my head that told me to let it blow off and stop,

I raised my arm to grab my visor. In a flash, the scooter tipped sideways and went out from under me.

The next moment is forever embedded in my mind. I was thrown with no control over where I was going. I flew through the air and hit the ground with a thud and felt my teeth clack loudly together. My first thought was that I hoped I hadn’t knocked my teeth out.

Although I was stunned, I was determined to prove I was fine. I knew I was alert and my brain was intact. I pushed myself into sitting position. The only problem was that sticky blood was running down my face and my hair was also wet.

And then there was the problem with my right pinky. It was so grotesque that my son begged me not to look at it. That poor pinky had taken all the impact.

People came running and surrounded me. My son was frozen with fear. He looked like he was about to cry and tried to avert worry with humor. “Oh, my God! I almost killed my mother!” he wailed. “My siblings will never forgive me!”

I was calm and certain I was okay. My legs didn’t hurt, although I had a stabbing pain in my ribs. Waiting for the campus police and then an ambulance seemed interminable. A few wonderful people hung around to help. A nice man helped me move to a shadier area and I moaned as he pulled me up. I walked shakily, and was elated I could do that. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the safest idea.

This was all a replay of my broken ankle in 2019. It was the same time of day. Waiting for the transport took hours. I would spend the rest of the day and evening in an emergency room. I’m certain I’ll continue to write more insights about this ordeal.

Time for a picture. I’m with my mother after graduation from CSUN in 1981. I fell not far from where that picture was taken.

The emergency room was noisy and packed with patients. My bed was in a tiny space with a curtain on either side. Time stood still as the hours ticked by.

Over and over my son kept apologizing, saying it was his fault and he’d never forgive himself. I reassured him that I would be fine and it wasn’t his fault. I had made the decision and he hadn’t exactly twisted my arm.

But having to explain this accident was increasingly embarrassing. Here I was – a 63-year-old woman riding an electric scooter. What was a thinking? The answer was – I wasn’t thinking!

There was a lesson here I couldn’t ignore. It was time for me to put a greater value on taking care of myself. I had risked it all and that fact alone overwhelmed me with emotion.

As the hours marched on, my twisted pinky was my worry. I was surprised that it was so numb, almost as if it wasn’t part of my body. I wasn’t looking forward to it being pulled back into place and wanted to get it over with. The nurse came and put morphine in the IV; I felt my veins burn, and then I was very cold and tired.

I was taken for a CAT scan of my brain and x-rays for my other body parts. I had a cut above my eyebrow, and a bump and scrape on the back of my head. I had badly bruised my ribs, both palms and one cheek. Unbelievably, nothing was broken and my head was okay. I learned later that a dislocation was more serious than a broken bone.

Eventually, an ER doctor came to yank my pinky back into place. She was surprised that it also required suturing. My wound was open for five hours. How was that missed? Obviously they were busy. I prayed my finger would be okay and everything would work out. After a few shots of anesthetic, she sewed up my pinky.

My son talked about how sad he was our day turned out this way. We both wouldn’t be attending the dinner we had looked forward to. I told him that even with difficult times, there were beautiful parts to remember.

I had never felt closer to him. When I was cold, he walked a long distance to the car to bring me a jacket from my trunk. He also went to get us snacks from a vending machine and we enjoyed them together.

We were finally discharged at 9 p.m. and went out to dinner at one of his favorite places. We were so hungry and grateful for the calmness of a quiet restaurant after being in the noisy hospital for seven hours.

“Mom, just so you know – I’m planning to sell my two mopeds. This whole situation has changed my thinking,” my son announced. He wanted to please me and I thought that perhaps this was a very good outcome from what had happened to me on this day.

Later on, I had an urgent care visit because a suture came out.

I awoke the next morning and began processing my injury. The shock was wearing off and reality was setting in. Now it became clear to me how much I had risked. My art, my music, my writing – all of this was affected without the use of my pinky.

My first cancellation was my upcoming tennis game. I loved playing women’s doubles, but most of all it was about being with my friends. Tennis was my exercise, my therapy, and truly helped me through the pandemic. I wondered when I would be able to play again. I made a mental note to start looking for replacements for the games that were already scheduled.

My discharge instructions said that I should be checked within 3 days by a hand surgeon. I had no idea that getting an appointment through my insurance that soon would be impossible. This was my new challenge – to advocate for myself. I had been a great advocate for my children, but now it was time to focus on me. I had value. My life mattered.

When I was offered only appointments that were weeks away, I made an urgent request to have someone call me back that could help me. No one called. I tried again the next day without any luck. My finger was throbbing and nothing helped.

I cried for an hour, and then I marched myself to urgent care. I waited for three hours and eventually a compassionate doctor checked my sutures and helped connect me to an orthopedic doctor.

That doctor sent me a message that we would only have a phone appointment. He had never examined me, but stated in his message that I would be forever limited by my finger.

I was not prepared for that same doctor to tell me later on that I would never play tennis again. When I asked why, he said I wouldn’t be able to grip a racquet and the pinky was an important stabilizer.

The first week, my ribs were so painful it was hard to breathe. As a struggled through the other aches and pains, I kept imagining myself with my teeth knocked out and brains scrambled on the ground. I thought of how horrible this would have been for my son to witness.

On Sunday, I pictured my friends playing tennis without me and I cried in bed. I wondered if I would be able to do my painstaking artwork again. I wasn’t sure what I would do with my time as I recovered.

But slowly the revelations of my injuries and what could have been worse were replaced with what I could still do. I was able to type and use the computer with the other 4 fingers. I could hold a stylus and draw a maze.

And amazingly I could play guitar. There was only one finger that I didn’t need for that – it was the right pinky.

That is why my pinky is my hero. It took the fall. It suffered, but it left me with the ability to do music and so many other things that brought joy to my life.

I won’t take my ability to create art for granted anymore.

“It could have been worse” is a true statement.

It allows for gratefulness at how things turned out. But for me it wasn’t comforting, because it reminded me of the foolish risk I took. I searched for a more comforting replacement thought.

My mantra became: I would definitely make it through.

Writing a new song was a perfect way to uplift my soul. The last time I wrote a song with lyrics was 2016, seven years ago.

I was amazed that I had penned most of the lyrics two years earlier during the pandemic. I wasn’t satisfied with them and the song remained unfinished. I overcame my perfectionism and made a few changes. I heard a new melody for a bridge and it was a spiritual experience to finish my song.

Only a week after my accident, I performed my new song live for my wonderful Insight Timer audience. I was able to be vulnerable and weepy. Connecting with my “tribe” uplifted me and I was incredibly grateful to my friends from around the world.

I named my new song “Take My Hand.” It turned out that I was reaching for music to give me hope and healing.

And it certainly did.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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17 Responses to MY PINKY, MY HERO

  1. Belinda O says:

    Oh wow Judy!! That looks painful! I’m grateful it wasn’t worse, and I will pray for a full recovery!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thanks, Belinda. My post was only the beginning. I have learned a lot these past few weeks. It’s been rough, but I know it will get better. I plan to write more, but in the meantime I am thankful for your prayers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Janet O says:

    G’morning, Judy, and happy Monday! How’re you and your poor, poor, pinky feeling today? What an unbelievable story, Jude! What’s that saying, the Universe doensn’t give us more than we can handle? While that may be true, I’m putting it to the Universe to give you a break on testing that theory – a really, really, really long break! I can’t even imagine the frustration and fear and concern and pain you’ve been through. A pinky’s a tiny body part but as you discovered, a vital one, especially considering what you do for a living and to feed your soul with music. Oy, oy, oy! Feel better!


    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much, dear Janet! It has been a tough month – a lot has happened since the injury, which is a whole other story. But I am healing and making it through. Thank you so much for writing to me. I sure appreciate your caring and support. Much love!


  3. Judy says:

    Reblogged this on Judy Unger Music and commented:

    Coming soon – more about my newest song “Take My Hand!”


  4. Ann Coleman says:

    I’m so sorry for your ordeal! I can’t imagine how hard it must be to realize that your finger might never be the same again, especially with your artistic abilities and love for tennis. I can only hope that you will heal better than they predict. It does sound as if you have come to terms with it, and are focusing on all the things you still can do, and that’s great! I’m also glad your accident brought you even closer to your son…hard times have a way of showing us just how much we can rely on the people who love us, and that’s a good thing. And please don’t be too hard on yourself for making a “bad decision.” We all do that…sometimes we just get caught up in the moment don’t think things through. Usually there are no consequences, and it’s just bad luck this wasn’t one of those times. Hang in there!!!


    • Judy says:

      Thanks, Ann! I’m definitely hanging in there. I had a fever all last week due to one of the antibiotics I was on. Ugh. But this week is going better.
      In fact, It has been 3 1/2 weeks since I dislocated my pinky and today I went out to hit tennis balls against a wall. It went very well and I kept thinking about the doctor who told me a week after my accident that I’d never play again. I am just not going to accept a negative mindset!
      And I will try not to be too hard on myself about making such a foolish decision. Thank you for your comment and reminding me of that. Plus, things can happen randomly, too. It’s all about how we deal with it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ann Coleman says:

        Good for you for not accepting the “never play tennis again” prediction. I find doctors almost always err on the side of caution, and often we can heal far more completely than they think!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Judy says:

        Thank you so much, Ann. I actually can’t believe that this doctor had it so wrong. I hit some tennis balls yesterday without pain and it’s only been 3 1/2 weeks! I’m glad I have a different doctor now.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. kegarland says:

    Good grief, Judy! I first want you to know how much I like you as a blogger, because my stomach was churning throughout this entire read lol but I committed to reading, because you’re you ❤

    Okay. So now, this is a lot more than I thought! I know you said your son felt bad, and I can see why. I hope he's doing well and knows this is not his fault. It's kinda like survivor's guilt and can be a lot to bear.

    Your story really highlights the awful healthcare system we have to endure in this country. From the missed suture requirement all the way to the doc saying you wouldn't be able to do something, even though he didn't even see you—what you've described is insane.

    Thank you for sharing this, though. It really does show how we have to deal with the present reality, while also knowing how lucky we are that other things didn't occur, which would've have been much worse, while also knowing it's okay to grieve in the moment.

    I do hope you’re doing better, now. Your 18-day photo looks like your pinky is healing, and the cape on your pinky is hilarious!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much for writing, Katherin! I plan to write a follow-up soon. I actually went out yesterday and was able to hit tennis balls against a backboard without any pain. It’s still unbelievable to me how that first doctor said I’d never play again and I could do this only 3 1/2 weeks later!
      Thank you for every word you wrote. Your engagement to my blog means more to me than you can imagine. I know you went through a lot recently with your rotator cuff surgery, so you really get it. Why does health care have to be so difficult to navigate?
      Glad you liked my cute pinky. My pinky deserves every accolade. It really saved me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kegarland says:

        Our healthcare system is amazingly bad, considering how much we all pay for insurance or into things like Medicaid/Medicare.

        I have a friend (who is a professor at a university) who cracked his tooth, but cannot be seen by the dentist to fix it, until mid-May. He’s been eating soup and smoothies for three weeks!

        Anywho. I didn’t mean to get started all over again lol

        You’re welcome! I’m looking forward to the follow-up details.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, Judy, you’ve been through so much (AGAIN!)! You are a true trouper! Your song is also deep and inspiring as much as you are!!! 🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thanks, Stacy! I plan to record it soon and write a post with it. Something good came out of this ordeal, for sure. I’m healing, but a stiff finger is still an annoyance. So thankful the rest of me is okay!


  7. lorriebowden says:

    And look how far you have come and how well you are doing!! I am proud of you, Judy! You didn’t take a negative person’s view into account, and you worked hard to recover. And here you are!! It was a really scary injury…I HATE FALLING!! And you had that little warning…why do we ignore that ever smart voice from inside???
    Here’s to healing more and more every single day. And to being back on the court as good as new 🙂
    On another note, I did get IT on my phone…and signed in with my account…hopefully that will mean that I will be able to hear you from my phone for the times when I can’t be on my laptop!!
    Hope you have the best weekend!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      I love your comment, Lorrie – thank you! I appreciate your encouragement and celebrating my positivity. I was devastated when the doctor told me I couldn’t play tennis again. What a crock! I was given clearance to play after an appointment with an outside specialist yesterday. I will certainly let you know how it goes when I play again.
      That’s great about IT. You are such a wonderful friend and I appreciate you so much. Feel my love, Lorrie!!


      • lorriebowden says:

        I feel it, Judy!! 😊 And sending it back! So happy you got cleared…and so happy you worked so hard to get there! We can do anything we believe we can. Sending lots of love and light!!

        Liked by 1 person

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