True Tales: Snot-Rocket Snafu

Injured by a tenacious booger. 

I can't make this stuff up.

I’ve been injured riding bikes for the better part of 50 years. While there have been a few spectacular crashes, I’ve gotten away with mostly minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises. But for my most recent injury, the most life-interrupting, I’ve given myself my own personal Darwin award.

Returning home from a long road trip, my body was seized into the form of the driver’s seat and I desperately needed to give my legs a quick spin and cycle some oxygen through the lungs, so I grabbed my mountain bike and Muzbee, our family dog, and departed on a neighborhood pavement hot lap.

About two miles into the mundane cruise, I started to sweat and my sinuses loosened up. The first snot rocket to the left was textbook perfect—a clean shot that cleared body, clothing, and bike. The blast to the right was nearly flawless, but an inspection of my right hand revealed a multi-colored, sinuous booger attached to my middle finger. Ew.

I quickly went through my booger-removal options:
1. Wipe it on my clothes.
2. Wipe it on my bike.
3. Wipe it on the dog.
4 Use spinning front tire knobbies to grind it off.
5. Flick it off.
6. Eat it.

I chose the dependable flick to remove the unwanted guest—so I gave my hand a couple vigorous shakes only to find the malevolent mucus still clinging tight. Upon seeing this I sat up in the saddle, now riding no-handed, wiggled my fingers to loosen up the knuckle joints and gave my hand a violent crack of the whip. I even heard myself make the WHOOOPSSSHP! sound as my fingers reached the centrifugal end of this advanced snot-slinging technique.

When I brought my hand back up I was initially satisfied that it was bye-bye booger—until I noticed that my middle finger was now dislocated. Still coasting no-handed and without really thinking, I grabbed the finger and popped it back into place. Weird! I then went to make a fist and was horrified to watch the tendon cross the knuckle and pull my finger to the side. WTF! I coasted back home as if in a bad dream.

I spent the next couple days indulging in ibuprofen, PBR and denial—wanting to believe, like in Monte Python, that it was only a flesh wound. When I couldn’t stand watching the deflecting tendon any longer, I made the trek to the orthopedic clinic where the attending PA tried to keep a straight face as I was told “This is the first time I’ve seen a non-impact (phlegm-flinging) sagittal band rupture.” Ha ha. I was fitted with a splint and told that if I don’t move the first joint on my middle finger of my dominant right hand for six weeks I’ll have a 80 percent chance of it healing without surgery. WHAT?!

So here I sit, finger-pecking at the keys, trying not to look out the window that will remind me that the trails are drying out and perfectly tacky, the valley is turning verdant, and the skies are clear and smoke free—and that I can’t ride my mountain bike for six weeks. Trying not to dwell in this dark place, I’m forced to take the long view. Maybe it’s a sign—what am I being told? While never being prone to quiet introspection, I sure have been pondering the meaning of the most annoying booger ever. Is this a forced time-out, whereby I am to contemplate the meaning of life, my own mortality, and karma?

After much deep meditation, the conclusion I’ve come to is that the next time a tenacious booger attaches itself to my finger—I’m gonna eat it.