“Under my thumb is a broken bone and a stretched tendon”. Hmm. Somehow I can’t see Mick strutting around the stage to that lyric, and probably nor can you. This summer I took a tumble whilst walking round on the boat, jamming my thumb into the steel plate deck. Just to quash any rumours, no, I wasn’t drunk. It was 6:45 am, although that is never proof of sobriety in itself, but this time it was. After some initial swearing and dusting off I picked myself up and headed to work. By the time I reached my desk, the pain had not subsided and the right half of my left hand had swollen considerably, but was not bruised.
This lead to an experience that happens daily in the part of town where I work; namely, being ripped off in a drug deal. This occurred not in some evil smelling back alley by a character of dubious intent, but in a clean and brightly lit store by an ageing, balding, well presented store clerk who had the decency to wish me a speedy recovery. There is a convenience store across the street whose business model is based on the concept of a captive audience, hence my being forced to pay $1 a pop for Aleve. Humph!
Eventually the swelling went away, but the pain never did, which is why in early December I made an appointment to see my doctor who told me that I had indeed broken a bone and stretched the tendon in my thumb and would need a cast. Again, humph! I’m right handed, so I didn’t think it would cause too much inconvenience, but I was wrong. One never thinks of how having one’s non-dominant hand hors de combat, but it turns out that it is almost as bad as breaking the dominant one. I was unable to hold a knife, and so for three weeks ate a diet based on using only a fork, which was a cakewalk compared to dressing. My first day at work after the cast was a nightmare as I was unable to button my trousers after taking a comfort stop due to my inability to grip, so I was forced to rely on zip and belt alone to prevent me from a citation for public indecency. In fact, a large portion of my wardrobe was off limits to me for this reason and I was forced to rely on my older, and somewhat looser fitting clothes for three weeks.
Work was no easier than home. Have you ever tried to hit Control Alt Delete with the fingers of one hand immobilised, or opened mail with no grip? What a pain. Of course, I had no support but I managed although it did slow me down considerably.
I realise I’m making something of a meal of this, as many millions of people deal with far worse permanent issues on a daily basis, but as someone who has passed his half century without ever having a cast, it came as something of a shock to be faced with the realisation that one handed life is harder than imagined. One thing I had anticipated, though was the fact that by the half way stage, my unwashed paw began to smell like a three day festival, but a search of the darkest recesses of my bathroom cabinet produced some old aftershave which at least hid the truth from all within noseshot.
You can imagine my relief when the cast was removed. Despite washing it twice immediately after release, it still stunk of the cast, and my thumb, immobile for three weeks ached like the devil and it wasn’t until three days later that I could move it without discomfort. Thankfully, the rest gave the tendon time to return to normal, precluding the need for surgery.
This may all seem to be much ado about nothing, but given that it could have been much worse, for instance a broken wrist or arm. it was yet another indication of my mortality and how easily one’s condition can change in an instant. I know of one person who hit a traffic cone whilst cycling, was thrown over the handlebars, landed on her head and was dead before her body came to a full stop. An extreme example for sure, but still, had I been walking down the stairs instead of up, things could have been much, much worse.