Over the weekend, I pulled yet another calcium pit out of the inside joint of my right thumb. It is the third tiny shard that has emerged in the past month-plus. And although I’m not certain, it feels like another one is surfacing.
This makes grasping objects complicated. These tiny charcoal-gray bits of calcium are quite sharp. The slightest pressure, as they work their way out of my skin, is quite painful. And there is nothing to be done but wait until enough is showing that I can grasp it with a pair of tweezers. Not a fun procedure.
Several years ago, I discussed this with my hand surgeon. We looked at X-rays that revealed chains of calcium pits in each of my thumbs that run the length of both digits. He advised against trying to remove them, because of the collateral damage it would cause, but offered to extract one if it became too painful and difficult for my to deal with on my own. The one time I actually scheduled an appointment with him, the offender popped out on its own, which was a relief.
This whole issue is complicated by the fact that I can’t turn my hand around enough to see the opening in my thumb. Not enough rotation in my wrist. So I rely on a mirror, but that’s tricky, too.
No one knows know why these calcium deposits form in scleroderma. There is at present no treatment, only remedial steps to ease the discomfort. According to the Scleroderma Research Foundation, increased blood flow to extremities may help, and lesions may respond to antacids, bisphosphonates, or calcium channel-blockers. But there is no cure.
So, my main goal is to protect my thumb as best I can and keep it clean to avoid an infection. As I type, I am experimenting with wrapping my bandaged thumb in Coban, which is a self-adhering mesh tape that provides some extra padding. Not sure if it’s helping the hole in my thumb, but it feels a bit better when I strike the space bar on my computer—a good thing, because calcinosis often forms at pressure points, and I think another spot may be forming where my thumb hits the keyboard.
Basically, it’s a damn nuisance. Nothing to do but wait it out.