What a Pesky Splinter Taught Me About Healing

What a Pesky Splinter Taught Me About Healing

March 5, 2024 0 By Laura

A few weeks ago, I got a splinter in the bottom of my foot. It came from my hardwood floors, and it was massive. I pride myself on having a pretty high pain tolerance, but this splinter was a doozy. It was big enough for me to grab with my fingers, but when I started to pull it out, I realized it was going to be more of an ordeal than I realized.

I asked my two oldest kids to grab me a paper towel for the inevitable blood and an ice cube to numb the discomfort. I stood in the hallway, right next to where the splinter came from, and leaned against the wall to stabilize myself. I held the ice cube on the spot for a minute, then yanked the splinter out and pushed the paper towel against it. 

It did not feel good. Honestly, I was shocked at how painful it was. 

As with most things, the pain subsided relatively quickly, and I moved on with my life. But the next day, it was still sore. I didn’t think much of it, especially considering how big the splinter was. I assumed it would be tender for a few days. 

But those few days turned into about a week, and I decided I probably didn’t get all of the splinter out.

So, after I got out of the shower one day, I took some nail clippers and tweezers and essentially cut around the whole area to make sure there was nothing left. It didn’t feel great, but when I felt confident there were no splinter remains, I stuck a bandaid on it and moved on. 

Except it still didn’t feel better. It still kept hurting. It wasn’t a constant pain, and most of the time, I wasn’t even aware of it. It was only when I stepped a certain way or had certain shoes on that I was aware that something was still off.

This probably went on for another two weeks. Random pings of discomfort and curiosities about why it still hurt surprised me throughout my days, but it wasn’t so excruciating that I felt like I needed to do anything about it. 

Finally, I started wondering if it had gotten infected. So off to Dr. Google I went. 

“Can you get an infection from a splinter?”

“Can removing a splinter lead to an infection?” 

“Why is my foot still hurting weeks after I had a splinter?”

Then I started reading about how infections can absolutely come from splinters and that if you don’t get the entire splinter out, it increases the likelihood of pain, infection, and other potential issues. 

Except I was positive I had gotten the splinter out. I had seen how the whole area was my normal skin color, and there was nothing left of the splinter. It looked healed. 

But why was it still hurting? 

So back I went again, with the sanitized nail clippers and tweezers. And wouldn’t you know… there was still a piece of splinter in there. It was big too! Not quite as wide as the first one, but way longer than I anticipated. 

I sat on the side of the tub in my bathroom, my mouth hanging open in shock as I looked at the size of the splinter I had just pulled out of my foot. It wasn’t the size alone that was surprising (though that was surprising), but the fact that it had been in my foot for weeks and I hadn’t realized it.

As I sat upright, staring at the size of this piece of wood that I had carried with me for weeks, it dawned on me that the only way to get it out once and for all was to cut open the original wound that had seemingly started to heal. Even though the area had still been tender, it appeared to be healed. It hurt like the dickens to cut it back open again, but I knew it was necessary if I was going to get to the root of the pain and remove the source once and for all. 

Isn’t that how healing is in our own lives?

Whether we’re recovering from trauma, loss, grief, or just general difficulty in life, we often have to dig back into what hurts in order to truly process it and heal from it. It’s uncomfortable and it hurts and we really don’t want to do it. But if we’re honest with ourselves and embrace self-awareness and personal discipline, we know that we need to face the struggle and the hurt and the pain in order to eventually move past it. 

Have you ever met someone that just seems so caught up in the past that they’re just negative all the time? Or maybe someone who is bitter because of past circumstances that they didn’t have control over. Or perhaps you know someone who refuses to face hard things and just puts their problems in a little box and shovels them off to the side, refusing to feel the hard things and process their hurts? 

I think a lot of us are like that because it feels easier. But I don’t want to just do the easy things, especially because that isn’t what leads to growth and freedom.

I would rather feel the pain over and over again if it meant I was healing from it. I would rather open the wound again if it meant I was getting to the source of the problem and understanding what caused it and how to heal from it. I would rather face the hard stuff day after day than stuff it down, pretend it doesn’t exist, and numb my feelings. 

I remember the first counselor I saw after my ex-husband left. The goal for me was restoring the marriage, but that counselor asked me what my goal was if the marriage couldn’t be restored. He asked me what my personal goal was, knowing that I couldn’t control the other person in the relationship and that I would need an end goal in mind regardless of where the marriage ended up. I honestly hadn’t thought about that before, and it was difficult to process.

But what I told that counselor still rings true today: I don’t want to be bitter and unhealed. 

Even today, five years after that season, I don’t want to be bitter and unhealed, and I’m constantly working toward that in all areas of my life, even if that means dealing with hard feelings and walking through discomfort again and again in order to find true healing. 

Just like the splinter that kept causing pain until I reopened the wound and dug out the bad stuff–I want to do whatever it takes to heal properly and fully from my own wounds so that I can experience true and complete healing.