It's 11 days to Christmas and I'm lost in the hospital.
It's a Saturday. So far, a day of arguments and tears. We must be getting into the Christmas spirit.
The arguments started when I got the call to go to the hospital. We were on our way to Stirling so daughter number one could go shopping. She's not best pleased when we turn around. The tears are mine. Well, not so much tears as a kind of constant whiny moaning. I've got a sore finger. There's a skelf in it (1), the result of a nasty laundry basket injury.
It isn't coming out. As a result, my finger has turned into a red, swollen, throbbing mess that keeps leaking blood and pus (2) every time I take the bandage off.
To make matters worse I've on occasion had to put a plaster on it, just to protect it from any passing breeze (I didn't think breezes could hurt. They can. Not as much as banging your sore finger on the chest of drawers, though). I am allergic to plasters. They've turned the rest of my finger into itchy rhino hide. Having already cut another finger on the Christmas tree I'm starting to think Santa has it in for me.
The problem is my pain threshold. I haven't got one. Pain doesn't need to cross the threshold, it just needs to loiter in my general vicinity to have me whimpering.
And so I'm at the hospital, trying to find the out-of-hours clinic. Except it seems to be a darkened, empty space.
"It moved two days ago," a nurse eventually tells me after I spend half an hour (OK, two minutes) wandering in circles. "Go to mental health." There, another nurse has a cursory look at my weeping finger and prescribes antibiotics. "Can you take the skelf out?" I ask hopefully. "It's infected," she points out. "It will come out eventually or your body will absorb it."
I don't want my body to absorb it. I don't want to spend my Christmas worrying that there's a sliver of wood travelling around my body.
Back home I get back into daughter number one's good books by ordering a takeaway pizza. She'd like that better for Christmas dinner than turkey (3). And I've got my legal drugs, so everybody's slightly happier.
On Monday morning I examine my poor finger again. It's a mess of peeling skin, raised allergy bumps, blood and poison. But it doesn't feel quite so bad. I push the swoollen skin and - as easy as toothpaste - the smallest piece of wood slides out. That's the best Christmas present I'll get this year.
 The second skelf to make an appearance in this column. I'm sensing an ominous pattern.
 A kind of vaguely festive mix or red and off-white, then.
 I think I'm getting a nut roast.
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