My Date With Local Firefighters – Kveller
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My Date With Local Firefighters

They were so...young?


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Dear readers, allow me to open this email with a PSA:

If you are reading this while pregnant, this is your sign to take all your rings off right now.

If you are reading this after having just given birth, this is your sign that it is not time to put your rings back on yet.

If you are reading this a year after giving birth, this is your sign that it is still not time to put your rings back on.

And if you insist on not following the above advice, at least look up the phone number for your local fire department to have on hand.

Why? Funny you should ask.

One recent evening, I realized that I hadn’t taken my wedding band off for quite some time. I had taken it off while I was pregnant because I knew it was common for your fingers, among other body parts, to swell up. I waited a few months for the swelling to go down before I returned it to my finger. But it turns out that, like those other body parts, some of the changes that happen during pregnancy never quite go away.

As I twisted and twisted the ring around my finger in vain, panic set in. Over the course of the next 24 hours, I furiously googled and I tried it all: Lotion. Vaseline. Coconut oil. A complicated dental floss maneuver. Raising my arm up. Icing my hand. Crying to my husband. Crying to my coworker’s husband who is a doctor. Repeat repeat repeat.

Nothing worked. And now, even though I had been living with this ring around my finger for weeks without a care or concern, once I realized I couldn’t get it off, I needed to get it off. Now.

Some further googling revealed that there are two places where you can typically get a stuck ring removed: the hospital emergency room and the fire department. My choice was clear.

After calling to confirm, I pulled up to the firehouse the next day where two very kind (and young! When did I get so old that firemen look so young?!) firemen walked me to a table in between two trucks where their “Ring Rescue” kit awaited me.

They first assured me that this happens a lot more often than you might think. They usually get a couple of people in per month, and usually more in the summer. It is often women with big engagement rings; they were visibly relieved to see mine was a simple gold band with no rock to work around.

The compression device used at the fire station to shrink my finger (it did not work).

Then they assured me that they probably wouldn’t need to actually cut the ring to get it off. Instead, they’d use a compression device that works sort of like a blood pressure cuff, cutting off the circulation of your finger just enough so that it will shrink down but not cause any harm. Once the finger is shrunk, they lube it up and twist the ring off. It works nine times out of ten, they told me.

Turns out I’m a one in ten kinda gal.

After three attempts with the compression device, my ring finger seemed to just get more and more swollen, so out came the last resort: the ring cutter. As they cranked the device and the metal blade made its way safely through the band, they told me that I was one of the calmest people they’d ever sawed a ring off of, which is a compliment I will be taking to the grave. For their part, they were extremely kind and patient, and I felt secure in their (young!) hands.

What is the moral of this story?

Maybe it’s that pregnancy and childbirth can change your body in many ways, and it doesn’t serve you to be in denial over that. Maybe it’s that jewelry, even items meant to symbolize your eternal bond, is not more important than your safety.

Or maybe it’s that firefighters are the freaking best.

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