Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Thumb

   I've been meaning to see a doctor about my left hand for years. With all my kids in school, I finally made an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon. After sitting in the patient room, waiting in the room for the doctors to value my time, the PA came in to ask me a couple of questions, "What's the problem today?"

  "Well, I've never had full use of my left hand."
  "And how long has this been going on?"
  "Um, my whole life."

  The PA looked up from his papers to make sure he had heard correctly. I tried to think about how to explain that I knew it wasn't normal for someone to not see a doctor for something major like this until they were an adult, but instead I just started giggling. And the more the PA acted like it was totally normal, the harder I laughed. When he examined my two hands compared to each other and remarked that I was missing at least two major muscles in my palm, I totally fell apart. I know it isn't that funny. Really, I do, but I've said it before I'm a delicate flower of emotions. Finally, he asked why I was deciding to come in now after all this time. I stopped laughing and gave a very serious answer. "Well, I've been lifting weights pretty seriously for a couple of years now," (this is true, but I said it in a meat head voice so it would be funny and not weird) "And my right arm is starting to get seriously ripped,  but I can only do like 3 pull ups, I should be able to do 9 or 10." (this was a joke so I continued the meat head voice.) The PA didn't even crack a smile,  so I started giggling again. 
  
 After about 15 minutes of the PA taking x-rays, bringing in an actual doctor, and then finally a hand specialist, I received a diagnosis. "This is a minor case of what we call hypoplastic thumb, it is a birth defect that can be repaired with surgery. I don't actually do that surgery. You will have to go to a pediatric hand surgeon for that, because people usually have this problem taken care of when they are children." You would be proud to hear that I didn't laugh when she was talking, even when she emphasized the words 'when they are child-a-ren,' the way David Spade does when he is speaking to a mor-on.  Don't worry though, things got funny again, when the PA came back in. He gave me a piece of paper, one it was a list of people that could build me some kind of contraption that I could wear on my left hand, so that I could "go on to have a full and happy life," his words not mine. He even gave me the address of a special cross-fit gym that helped veterans who had lost limbs in the war and could definitely help a special case like mine. 

  Despite all the laughing, I left the doctor feeling crestfallen. I was hoping that they would give me some sort of solution to my problem, like some exercises I could do to strengthen my muscles, muscles that don't even exist. Stupid hypo-plastic thumb.

  Now here is the part where I give advice. When you receive a new and unfamiliar diagnosis from the doctor, don't run home and google it. It won't cheer you up at all. I know that seems like witch science, but you're gonna have to roll with me on this one. 







 Well, here is what a quick google of the words 'hypoplastic thumb' yielded. These are the least disturbing pics I could find. 
A moderate case, mine is mild. 

And the most famous case. A baby hand is a close relative of the hypoplastic thumb. 

  As I type this lengthy post, I realize that no one really cares about my thumb. I learned that lesson shortly after my doctor visit, I tried to tell a few people about my new diagnosis, but I bored everyone I told. Even my parents, I emailed them in Australia. My dad responded with, "I googled it, you got off easy. " And mom replied, "Treasure your individuality, miss bologna thumb!" Those are real responses. So if you see me, it would make me feel really special if you asked to see my deformed left hand and oooohed and ahhhed over it for a few seconds. Don't be grossed out, just amused, and ask a few questions, not too many, just a few, and then don't stare at it after. Ah, never mind, just ignore it. 

1 comment:

Sarah d' said...

As your former piano teacher, I feel really, really guilty. Did my comments at your lessons make you feel as special as you needed to feel? Or did I just mock your inadequacies and make you practice harder?