For months, at least since March and maybe longer, I’ve had a charcoal-gray pit of calcium sticking in my left thumb. I have not been able to budge it or tease it out with tweezers. It has been lodged there, staring at me as I change my bandages morning and night. Sometimes it hurts, other times not. Sometimes it gets infected. Mostly it just serves as a reminder to handle things with care so I don’t bang it.
That is, until this weekend. I was doing my evening routine of cleaning my ulcers and re-bandaging them when I suddenly realized that the calcium pit was gone. No bigger than a poppy seed, it lay there on a piece of tissue. Really? I wondered, rolling it between thumb and forefinger, you were that small all this time?
More calcium hides beneath the surface in both of my thumbs. In x-rays, they look like long white chains from thumb tip to below the joint connecting thumb to palm. Slowly but inevitably, the pits work their way out of the skin. There’s nothing I can do to get rid of them but wait until they are ready to emerge, then wait until each one dislodges.
There is an obvious lesson about patience, here. I’ve learned to play along, not to aggravate the skin and nerves by jiggling the pit in a vain attempt at extraction. As long as I’m careful with how I cushion it with dressings and use Aquafor ointment to keep it moist (but not too moist) eventually, the calcium will exit on its own.
But there’s something else that fascinates. And that is how my body continually surprises me with its ability to heal, scleroderma or no scleroderma. It doesn’t always happen the way I want it to, or on a convenient timeline, but it does happen. That a calcium pit the size and color of a poppy seed can cause so much discomfort and then, one random evening, bid adieu, is one of the mysteries of this disease and the miracles of the healing process.
And so, until the next one appears, I will tend the hole in my thumb as it fills and be grateful for the reprieve.
Image: Victoria Tronina