In June 2005 I travelled to the Cook Islands for a diving holiday with Kelly. We spent the week at Rarotonga and did 10 dives over five days. On one of the dives as I reached the bottom, I needed to adjust a bit of my gear so I placed my camera on the (bare and dead) coral. At the same time, I used my right index finger to balance myself. A problem! I had put my finger on a sea urchin. Some of the sea urchins at Rarotonga were unlike any I had ever seen before. While the sea urchins we get in Sydney and NSW have big thick spines, these were the finest spines you will ever see. I ended up with about seven sticking out about 75 mm from the tip of my right index finger. They were as thin as the finest needle. What to do? I tried to pull one out and it just broke off leaving about 30 mm. Well, that did not work very well. Try again! Broke again, now there is about 10 mm. Okay, I will break all of them off leaving about 10 mm and try to fix back up on the surface.
During the dive, no matter how hard I tried to avoid using my finger, I of course knocked it a number of times, breaking some so that there was barely 1 mm sticking out.
Back at the motel, Kelly tried to dig out the spines using my penknife, the only thing we had available (I had forgotten the small first aid kit we normally take overseas). Kelly managed to dig out three spines but four had already got in so deep that she could not extract them.
By that night my finger had started to throb and swell. The next day the finger hurt, but not so much to cause me problems, just an irritation. Half the finger was red hot and swollen as the body fought the invasion. By the time we flew home a few days later, the whole finger was red and swollen.
Over the next week the finger continued to swell and I could no longer bend the main joint more than 10 degrees. I could also not even push down with enough pressure to get the shaving cream out of the can. For the next three months it remained the same. In about October 2005 my first joint (the one closest to the tip) started hurting and for about a month it was red hot. Then the pain subsided. I assume that one or more of the spines had now passed the joint. Over the next two months the swelling reduced and I started to be able to bend my finger a bit more.
In about January 2006 I could now put enough pressure on the tip of my finger to use the shaving cream can (which I had not been able to do). The finger was still swollen and there was some pain, but it was nowhere as bad as before. I could now bend the main (second) joint to a right angle compared to the 180 degrees that the first and second joint on my left finger could reach.
In March 2006 my finger started hurting again, this time near the main (second) joint. For about three weeks I could not bend my finger more than 10 degrees at this joint. The finger was hot and swollen again. I assume that the spines were passing the main joint.
By June 2006 the swelling had gone down to the extent that it was almost the same size as my left index finger. However, I still could not bend it more than about 135 degrees.
In late July I again could not use my finger to operate the shaving cream but this cleared after a week. At the same time, my main knuckle hurt and my finger swelled up again. I presume that one or more of the spines was passing the knuckle.
In mid August 2006 (14 months after the spiking) the palm of my hand closest to the index finger started hurting. This is right at the end of the bone behind the finger. The finger again swelled up and was hot. I assume that the spine was now in this location. This lasted for about 4 days and then mostly disappeared. At the same time, I had some pain on the outside of the first joint if I pressed on it. I assume that a spine was stuck there. Also, under the main joint, just inside, there was pain if I press. I assume that a spine was stuck here. This lasted a few days.
About 24 August 2006 the pain returned as in the first sentence of the above paragraph. When I tested this area with my finger nail, there appeared to be something under the skin, a tiny object about 2 mm long and very thin. There was another closer to the finger. This lasted about three days. On 29 August 2006 there was again more pain. The first object mentioned in the above paragraph could not be felt but the second one appeared to have moved about 5 mm towards where the other was previously located.
From about early September the pain disappeared and most swelling went down. The finger could then almost move normally but is still a little swollen. As of July 2011, the finger was still slightly larger than the left hand one and I cannot close it more than about 95%.
On about 13 July 2011 the palm of my hand started hurting. This is located about 15 mm to the bottom-left of the centre of the palm as you look at it. This part of my hand is slightly swollen and a bit warmer than the rest of the hand. I had first thought I might have jarred the palm but as of 18 July 2011 it is still the same or worse. Looks like a spine has reached this area and is causing a problem.