The middle finger on my left hand was turning an abnormally red color.
Pinched by my engagement ring and lodged into my skin about a quarter inch below the knuckle, it was becoming more swollen by the minute.
I had been sitting on the couch, playing with my engagement ring absent-mindedly as I often did, slipping the ring off my ring finger and on my middle finger, off my finger and on my pointer finger, and so on. The only difference was this time, I hadn’t pulled the ring off my middle finger quickly enough.
The ring was stuck. And the longer that it stayed there, the more swollen my finger became, making the prospect of sliding the ring over my knuckle and off my finger even more difficult.
I didn’t want to lose my engagement ring, a precious symbol that my fiancé, Dylan had gifted to me only four months prior. Nor did I want to lose my finger.
I tried running cold water over my finger, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. The ring was still stuck.
How did this happen?
I started to panic.
I had absentmindedly pulled the ring over the knuckle of my middle finger numerous times before. It had never gotten stuck. I swore under my breath.
Dylan, who had been asleep in the bedroom, was roused by my distress. He woke up and walked into the kitchen to see what was going on. I explained the preposterous situation that I had found myself in. Immediately, he understood my panic.
He grabbed his phone and turned to Google for answers. An article suggested placing your finger in cold water in a cup for ten minutes and holding it above your head. In theory, that made a lot of sense. But holding your hand in a cup of freezing water above your head for ten minutes?
If the alternative was losing either my finger or my engagement ring, I was willing to give it a try. I filled a cup with ice-cold water and submerged my finger in it, resting the cup on a cabinet above me.
I know I can’t hold my arms above my head for a full ten minutes, but this might work if I rest the cup on something above me, I thought.
Not even a minute had passed before my fingers started going numb.
I can’t do this for ten minutes. Isn’t it dangerous to have your fingers in freezing cold water for that long?
The pain from the freezing cold water had overpowered the pain of the ring squeezing my swollen finger. I pulled my fingers out of the water and tried tugging on the ring again, but it was stuck behind a bright red roll of skin just under my knuckle.
The harder I tried to pull on the ring, the more that my finger would continue to swell.
“We should go to the ER,” suggested Dylan.
Since my attempts at removing the ring seemed futile, the thought that a professional might be able to help me seemed comforting. I put on my jacket and grabbed my purse. But I stopped short of the garage, pausing in the laundry room, wearing my jacket.
“Let me give it another try,” I said.
I had been keeping my finger in the cold cup of water as long as I could stand it, shaking out my finger out and then pulling on the ring. But it still wouldn’t budge.
So at 9:00 p.m., we climbed into the car and Dylan started driving to the emergency room.
I still hadn’t given up trying to pull the ring off myself. The prospect of not having to actually go inside the ER provided additional motivation, despite the pain of trying to tug the ring over my now enlarged finger.
Dylan pulled into the parking lot of a hospital that I had gone to for an appointment previously, which we both believed to be an ER. As we pulled in, we saw that clearly, it wasn’t. The parking lot was empty and the open sign was dark.
I kept trying the ring. I had finally pushed it past the lump of red skin below my knuckle and it was now stuck in the middle of the knuckle. Progress!
I continued to prod at it with my right hand, the pressure bending my nails so much that it made a clicking noise.
“What was that?” asked Dylan, as he drove in the direction of another hospital, our second attempt at finding an ER.
“Just my nail,” I replied with frustration.
“What if you tried twisting the ring like a screw?” Dylan offered.
I tried twisting the ring.
Immediately, I felt it loosen its hold. It moved upwards slightly. I kept twisting. It moved up my finger a little more.
Why hadn’t I thought of this before?
One final twist allowed me to pull the ring all the way off my middle finger.
“I finally got it off!” I exclaimed, triumphant.
Dylan breathed a sigh of relief.
You may be interested in this story from Janay Wright: