For well over a year, I’ve had a piece of grey calcium protruding from the pad of my right thumb. As I wrote back in February, I finally saw my hand surgeon and worked out a plan for him to remove it—the challenge being that it’s only the tip of a long chain of calcium that runs down the entire thumb. It gets in the way, hurts when I bump it, and generally makes me drop things.
Surgery was originally scheduled for this spring, but, of course, the pandemic put that plan on hold. I got a call at the end of May, as the hand surgeon’s office began to reopen, to see if I wanted to reschedule for June, but I declined. It just felt too soon—a good thing, as it turned out, because I got an infection in the left thumb that has taken weeks to clear, and I know he wouldn’t have operated under that circumstance, even if the opposite thumb was the problem.
The situation in the past few weeks has gotten really uncomfortable. With the clearing infection on the left and protruding calcium on the right, I was having greater and greater difficulty doing basic tasks. I had a note in my calendar to call the hand surgeon’s office this week and was now ready to get on his schedule as soon as possible.
Then, Sunday night, as I was changing clothes to get ready for bed, I felt a sharp twinge in my right thumb. Then I noticed some blood on my nightclothes. Sure enough, that nasty chunk of calcium had finally, finally, broken off of its own accord. It left a hole in my thumb, about an eighth of an inch deep. The tip of the rest of the calcium chain was barely visible and far enough beneath the surface to remain inoffensive, for now.
I was thrilled. No more need for surgery, no more risk of exposure in a medical setting to infections or Corona, regardless of precautions. From long experience, I knew the hole would quickly close up on its own. So I rinsed it with peroxide, bandaged it with antibacterial ointment, and went to bed.
By Monday morning, it was already half healed. Warm weather certainly helps. Best of all, I can finally use my right thumb again.
This is not to say that, if I’d had no relief, I wouldn’t have gone ahead with the procedure. But our bodies do have a way of healing themselves. I kept hoping this would happen on its own, which is why I took so long to see my hand surgeon in the first place. As if to drive the point home, in Monday morning’s New York Times was this article about how people who have had elective procedures postponed during the pandemic are actually staying healthier than expected.
Complex trade-offs. Grateful that the scale of options swung in favor of non-invasive, this time.
Image: Roman Kraft