Just Visiting an Injury

VisitingOn December 17, 2015 I went in for third operation on my hand. For seven years I had a stitch poking into my skin from inside my thumb knuckle. Every time I bumped or brushed my thumb it was like getting poked with a toothpick, or maybe more like a fork. The stitches required at the knuckle were not dissolve-able because they needed to be a stronger material in order to hold the joint in place.

I reached a point of frustration a couple years back and started digging for that stitch on my own. I felt a like a crazy man with both my hand bloodied up as I dug into my thumb with a needle and tweezers, in full dissection mode seeking the lost treasure. After a few weeks passed and my newly created wound mended the problem was still the same. I waited more than a year before I went to see my Doctor. As it turned out my Doctor left his practice and referred me to a colleague who insisted this was simply a wart on my hand. What? A wart, are you kidding me? This was directly related to my initial injury and I knew it. That was the last time I saw that Doctor, but at my persistence he referred me to my plastic surgeon.

My surgeon only needed to glance at my thumb to confirm it was a stitch, “No problem, we’ll take that out”. He was more concerned about the 20 degree tilt to my middle finger and the pain that I was experiencing in the middle knuckle. I told him that the knuckle only hurt when I used that hand, without realizing that kind of reasoning wouldn’t put me as captain of the debate team. My surgeon explained that he was sure we could get more strength and less pain in the hand if I had another surgery. The plan was to grind the end of the two bones at the middle knuckle and then fuse them together. This would leave me with a permanent bend at the knuckle, but pain-free or less pain sounded pretty attractive. He figured this was only an hour long surgery. As I found out later a much longer recovery.

What I didn’t expect was the opportunity to visit my initial injury. A chance to re-live distant memories. A chance to see the reaction of co-workers, friends, and strangers who thought I injured myself … again. I jokingly said to a co-worker “Table saw for sale!” Awkwardly he asked me if I was serious. I also recall the anxiety of not knowing for sure if things were going to end up better or worse. Since I am still healing I can’t confirm “better” has yet been achieved. It was different this time, thinking things will likely be better than before whereas the initial injury I knew I’d taken a part of God’s design and made some drastic negative alterations.

Two days after the surgery I was in the mall briefly, with my hand wrapped up doing some Christmas shopping (also a familiar scenario). You have to understand I needed to keep my hand elevated and my middle finger was pinned up. I mean everyone had to look at me just to make sure I wasn’t giving them the finger with intent. I know it wasn’t just in my head since my son said he noticed everyone looking at me. The most impacting reaction was at HMV when I walked around one of the floor racks and a lady just started laughing. “Oh, I’m sorry, but that’s so funny”, she laughed again and said “I’m so sorry”, as she walked away with her hand over her mouth still laughing. My response was “That’s alright, actually, that’s one of the fingers we were able to save.” I had a smile on my face, but I felt the impact of the laughter. It reactivated my original fear of how impossible it would be to look at me without noticing my hand. I didn’t blame her for laughing, I know what it looked like, but it still made me emotional.

One of the different views with ‘the visit’ is you know that this will pass soon. You already know what the other side of the injury looks like, or at least have a fair idea. The doubts, frustration, pain and second guessing still exist, but on a more subdued level. It starts with not being able to drive, tie your shoes, write, or many other things you’re accustomed to doing.

Things are already getting back to normal. I got the pins out 6 weeks after the surgery and my rehab has begun. This is a familiar path as well, but I’ll save you from the details for now. I’ve already noticed the pain in the thumb knuckle is gone, its so cool to push on the back of my thumb and have no pain … no more a reminder of a distant surgery, the memories and scars will have to suffice. 😉

I wanted to take this chance to let you know the healing continues and to offer another reminder how even a second of inattentiveness or one bad decision can have consequences that lead to a lifetime of adjustments and changes. Thanks for tuning in, Stay safe out there!

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