Helping a Hand

(Note: This is part 1 of a longer story.  Parts 2 through 4 are here, here, and here.)

Back in November, as part of my ongoing regimen of Immortality Aversion Therapy, I started having a problem with my hand.  The ring finger of my right hand started getting stuck.  Whenever I would close my fist and try to open it, that one finger would stay in place, and then suddenly snap up like a rubber band breaking.  All my other fingers were fine.  Since it didn’t hurt much as long as I didn’t clench my fist for any length of time, I didn’t get around to seeing a doctor about it until this morning.

I expect certain things when I go to the doctor, and I’m not often disappointed.

1) I had to fill out five forms (though I’ve been to this practice before).  Three of the forms asked almost identical questions.  (Apparently, these forms don’t get along well enough to share information.)  The others were some sort of permission slips (in case the doctor has to take my hand on a field trip, I suppose).

2) On the other hand (no pun intended), the receptionist that handed me the bale of forms was very cute, and the doctor’s assistant was downright gorgeous.  I have come to expect this, even though it defies the laws of probability.  (Note to self: find a reason to hire a receptionist and doctor’s assistant.)

3) The medical part was weird.  The doctor came in, looked at my hand, and diagnosed that I had “trigger finger”.  I found his initial diagnosis suspicious for the following reasons:

a)  Every reference I’ve ever read or heard of regarding trigger finger indicates that the main symptom is itchiness.  My finger felt normal.

b) He indicated that the problem was induced by repetitive motion.  This makes no sense.  The ring finger of my right hand is the single most useless finger I have.  All my other fingers have specific assignments.  Thumbs keep us one step ahead of the monkeys.  Index fingers indicate where stuff is and where it should be.  Middle fingers convey our unhappiness about where stuff is and where it should be.  Pinkies indicate the quality of our tea drinking skills, which they make up for by swearing a lot (or so I’ve heard).  The left ring finger only works for weddings and engagements.  Unless you’re a Green Lantern, the right ring finger is basically useless.

But I digress.  My right ring finger (despite never being more than a couple millimeters from any other finger, except when greeting Vulcans) had apparently decided to get triggery.  The treatment (once I ruled out some kind of surgery I never let the doctor finish describing) was a shot of Lidocaine (anesthetic) and a steroid (to reduce inflammation in the tendon).

The operative words in the sentence above are “a shot”.  As in Lidocaine + steroid.  Together.  in one needle.  You would think anesthetic would come first.  You would be wrong.  The procedure went like this:

1) Spray the palm of my hand with what I think was liquid helium, while saying, “This will make your hand cold, to help with the pain.”  It turns out that “help with the pain” is doctorese for “create pain where none currently exists”.  As he sprayed, my hand went from cold, to freezing cold, to frostbite cold, to shatter-a-rose-with-liquid-nitrogen-in-science-class cold.

2) When I turn away (I hate looking at needles), impale the palm of my hand with some sort of knitting needle or railroad spike.  I don’t know.  I didn’t look.

3) Leave the sharp object imbedded in my hand, while casually mentioning that “your finger might begin to feel full”.  It might have.  I don’t know.  The stigmata-like pain in my hand was inhibiting all other senses.  Now, I’m not a wimp when it comes to needles.  I’ve been giving blood and getting flu shots for 30 years, and I’m fine as long as I don’t look.  This nearly had me in tears.

4) Remove the needle and cover the wound with the smallest Band-Aid I have ever seen.  It was about 1/2″ in diameter.  Either that, or my hand was really far away.

5) Put another Band-Aid around my knuckle so I can’t bend my finger.  Understand, this is the only part of my finger that has never hurt.  The tendon problem is where the finger meets the palm.  The stigmata is about an inch lower, where the bone crosses what palm readers call the searing agony line.  The doctor says I have to wear the knuckle Band-Aid every night for a week.  I’m thinking of going out and buying a box of the Band-Aids with bunnies and kitties that moms buy to stick on their uninjured children.

6) Send me to see a different really cute receptionist to schedule a follow-up appointment, with the threat that I may need “one more shot”.

I hope this works.  I don’t want this guy operating on my hand.  I just have this picture of scalpels being dipped in ether (to help with the pain) just before my hand is cut open.

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