My Thumb: Not Opposable

The right hand thumb, straight and unbending.

The right hand thumb, straight and unbending.

One of the things that distinguishes us as humans is our thumb: its flexibility in movement and opposable to our other fingers allows us to do such incredible things. Two weeks ago my right thumb, seemingly without any memorable injury or action, stopped working. I could not bend it, or the individual knuckles, independently. I panicked: but after a visit to the orthopedic urgent care center, thinking it was only a remnant of the swelling of my carpal and wrist area almost a year and a half post arm break, I was relieved. The PA recommended icing and brace at night, certain it was a temporary condition; however, if I saw no or minimal improvement in ten days, to visit my orthopedic surgeon.

Yesterday I visited the surgeon. Not good news: it looks like I ruptured a tendon that runs from below the wrist through the thumb, the tendon that enables it to bend, to move, to grasp, to play the piano, to hold a pen or pencil, etc., etc. The "opposable" importance of this digit was gone.

The doctor will only be able to determine exactly where the rupture is, and the extent of damage, after an MRI, which is somewhat difficult because of the metal plate in my wrist (think aluminum in a microwave and sparks flying). After the MRI (and insurance approval first), we'll discuss the planned surgery. He is recommending removing the metal plate, repairing the rupture (hoping he doesn't have to graft the tendon using part of another tendon, but we won't know until MRI results and/or once he opens up my hand), then cast (six weeks?) and extensive physical therapy. Sounds so invasive.

I didn't cry but I am sad, deflated. The surgery (except undoing the plate) and rehabilitation are so reminiscent of the fall 2017: three months of intensive PT followed by almost a year until my arm felt strong and flexible enough to do most of what I'd done before the break. This time, with second surgery, more scar tissue, and tendon healing time, I am not as optimistic.

Remembering my ER visit after breaking arm in July 2017.

Remembering my ER visit after breaking arm in July 2017.

It could be worse, right? A blip in the road. An interruption of plans. Time, once again, to focus on other things. But still, but still...