For about a year, now, I’ve had a pit of calcium sticking out of the pad of my right thumb. It looks like a very small, gray pebble, but it will not budge. If I press on it or accidentally bang it, it smarts. It’s also an open wound that I have to tend very carefully to avoid infection.
Usually, when a bit of calcinosis finds its way to the surface of one of my fingers, I can either pull it out or it will pop out on its own. Not this one. Recently, when I tried twisting it with a pair of tweezers, the top broke off, but there remained a needle-like protrusion that is just as stubborn.
So, I finally gave up and saw my hand surgeon last Friday. One look under the fluoroscope, and we had the answer. That pit is the tip of a chain of calcinosis that stretches all the way down my thumb. I’ve known for years that I have a veritable Milky Way of calcium pits floating in both thumbs and other fingers, but never seen anything quite like this.
We discussed options and agreed that he would debride it in an outpatient surgical center. It would be foolhardy to try to clean out all the calcinosis, because (a) it will probably grow back and (b) the risks to my thumb’s ability to function are far too high, especially in my dominant hand. So he’ll just remove a bit at the top of the chain, so I can use my thumb with less pain. We also agreed he’d put me out rather than use local anaesthesia. Too much digging around in my thumb would make me too anxious.
He ribbed me that I always bring him difficult challenges, and I teased him back that I didn’t want him to get bored. This is the same surgeon who saved my hands two-and-a-half years ago from horrific ulcers that lifted up to reveal bone and two broken knuckles, so I trust him completely. Back then we built a great rapport and mutual respect. He told me I should teach a course on wound care.
Now I await word about a date for the procedure, as well as confirmation that the surgical center he recommended is in-network for my Medex BC/BS plan. There’s a back-up, if that doesn’t work out. Always essential to check, first.
So, once again, my hands are in good hands. I wish I didn’t need to see my surgeon, but I’m very grateful that he’s there.
Image: Sonny Ravesteijn