For months, I deliberately ignored the swollen red spot on my thumb. I fully expected it to disappear in time.
It changed into a cyst right where my thumb hit the space bar at the end of every word.
After a couple “Ouch!” and “Ow!” moments I changed the way I struck the space bar so I would avoid the pain.
I tried to ignore the thing. It did go away, but it always came back. One time, it appeared to shrink into a shadow of itself and disappear. Two weeks later it began coming back.
After four months I gave up and made an appointment to talk about having it surgically removed.
The clinic wanted to draw blood to assess my health. I rolled my eyes. It’s my thumb, already. I knew I would hear the same blood reports I had heard for years. Healthy heart, healthy lungs, blood sugar, kidneys, liver … yeah, yeah, no problem, and this cholesterol reading balances that one. Everything is just fine.
Except this time it wasn’t. This time I received my own personal message about borderline cholesterol readings and the need to change my diet and get some daily exercise. When I mentioned it to my son the pharmacist, he underscored, “exercise is the best medicine.”
Worse, this time I received a prescription to pump up my thyroid. What? A prescription for me to take a daily pill like others in my family with thyroid issues? Ha-rumph! Surely, they made a mistake in the lab.
Instead of having my thumb fixed, I had my pride being shattered. I could no longer arrogantly declare, “I do NOT take any medications.”
I reluctantly dusted off the exercise equipment, filled up with salads and went to my appointment with the hand surgeon.
We sat in a cozy room chatting as he held my hand, probing it here and there. He looked deep in my eyes and said, “I can take it off – take it all off today.”
“All right! but before you start, I had a bit of a strange experience with a pain killer at the dentist’s office.”
He dropped my hand, “in that case you will have to have general anesthesia.” He walked out of the room to set a date.
I went home, exercised, ate more heart healthy meals and took a thyroid pill every morning.
The morning of the outpatient procedure, the nurse covered me with a disposable blanket connected to a warm blast of air. The blanket enveloped me in gentle cloud of warmth.
The tech took my vitals. Blood pressure – okay. Temperature – perfect. Lungs – fine. Then she began sticking electrodes on my skin. For outpatient surgery I had to have an EKG!
A couple of blips later, she handed the print-out to the nurse. The computer had analyzed and announced a slight abnormality. “Nothing to worry about,” the nurse declared. Active athletes have the same sort of abnormality.
The anesthesiologist came to talk with me about my experience with the pain killer.
He shrugged it off. “Oh, I hear this all the time. The patient had a shot in the back of the month at the dentist office. It got into the blood stream and went straight to the brain and caused dizziness. You probably are not allergic . . . but just in case you are, we will use this other medication.”
And with that they wheeled me away. Next thing I knew I awoke with a bandaged thumb that felt like a piece of wood.
I didn’t care. Toasty warm under my puffy blanket, I felt as rested as I had in months.
“Wow! Now I understand why Michael Jackson used anesthesia to deal with his insomnia,” I said.
The nurse looked at me a bit strangely.
It was just an observation. I enjoy using my hours of insomnia to read books, study and write. Sometimes, I even exercise.
I pulled on my clothes. The aide gave me the requisite wheelchair ride to the curb and we went home. I returned to work the next afternoon. A week after surgery and I am typing away using my space bar thumb without flinching.
Oh yes, and I referenced that EKG reading when I got home. A search for the fancy name for the blip lead to a statement that the blip can be related to hypothyroidism. I guess I do need those pills I take in the wee hours of the morning when insomnia wakes me.
Astounding, all that medical activity because I simply wanted to type without flinching. It is amazing how important a thumb can be.