By Norris Chambers

Charles was with us on that hunting trip. He was a little smaller and usually trailed a few paces behind us. He started singing a song, slowly increasing the volume until it was loud enough to create a nuisance.

            “Oh Gee, oh Gosh, oh Golly! I’m in Love”. This might be an appropriate song for an older kid in the old days but this youngster was walking along singing it and waving his hands like a wind-starved windmill wheel. Suddenly he slowed down and stared at Clifton. “What’s wrong with my finger? My finger hurts! The third finger from the right just started hurting – just above the joint!” He raised his hand and pointed the finger at Clifton and me, obviously expecting an answer.

            “It might have been caused by that song you were singing.” Clifton told him. “Be quiet a few minutes and see if it’s not better!”  I don’t think Clifton was serious but Charles sat down on a log and remained quiet. After two or three minutes he held the finger up again and asserted that it was still hurting.

            Clifton and I examined the finger carefully, not expecting to find any serious ailment. About half of the finger was red, beginning at the tip and gradually fading into the skin color as it approached the palm of the hand. “Looks like some irritation,” Clifton explained after completing his careful examination. “Maybe grand dad ought to look at it. He was a doctor, you know; and l saw him go in the work shop a few minutes ago.” That sounded like a good idea. My dad had worked many yeas as a country doctor and generally had an answer for any unusual bodily malfunction. He was called “Doc” and many of his friends never knew his legal name, Solomon Roe. His middle name, Roe, probably explains why my middle name is Roe!

            The exam was pretty simple. He placed the arm on the work bench and gently felt of the finger tip, examining it carefully on both sides. He pressed a few points on the arm, asking him if he felt anything each time. After Charles answered a few questions he told him, “I think you have the beginning of a finger felon. Sometimes it will cure itself without any treatment but usually it is necessary to lance the finger joint and remove all infection in the area. If it doesn’t get better you may have to see Dr. Howard! After a few days of suffering from a badly infected finger joint he had Dr. Howard perform minor surgery. The finger tip, and joint had to be removed and he had a short finger for the rest of his life. My dad could have saved the joint if he had operated when he looked at it, but he said that since he was retired he would leave the practice of medicine to the doctors.

            Clifton apparently was available for the next country boy trauma! He suddenly began to limp and complain every time he applied pressure to the bottom of his heel. This meant that every time he took a step it hurt his heel. I told him that it looked like one of those country boy health issues that came around just looking for a place to cause trouble. Apparently he had been selected. He decided to ask Grandpa Chambers what was wrong. He didn’t want to lose half of his heel like Charles had lost half of his finger. Maybe early attention would lead to a quicker and better cure. I told him that my dad (I always called him “Papa”} would know what to do.

            When we got home Papa was not there. Mama said that he had saddled Old Alec about an hour ago and ridden off to the bottom pasture to check on the cattle down there. I told her about Clifton’s sore heel and she said she had seen a lot of sore heels and that most of them soon got well.

            “How about the others?” Clifton asked anxiously. “What happened to them?” Before she could answer Papa came in. He reported no problems from the bottom and greeted Clifton pleasantly.

            Clifton soon had Papa looking at the heel. After feeling around and asking a few questions he announced,

            “You have an infection in and around the bone. You probably stepped on a sharp rock. These conditions are common and heal nicely with the proper treatment. Without treatment an infection like this can be very serious. Leg amputations, or even death, have resulted from untreated stone bruises. If it doesn’t get better in a day or two it will have to be lanced!”

            We didn’t see Clifton for a couple of days. On the third morning when he appeared it was obvious that his limp was greatly improved. When I asked if he had gone to Dr. Howard he explained that his dad had lanced it using his pocket knife and alcohol. The operation occurred after he had gone to bed and was sound asleep! He said he didn’t feel anything until he was almost awake. The heel hurt with every movement of the knife blade and the smell of alcohol was very strong.                                                                                                                                           Clifton and I learned about bone felons and heel bruises but we failed to find any fun relating to these ordeals. I thought it was funny when Charles came to sing for CliftonClifton didn’t agree!