My thumb is nearly 100% and I can’t get over how great it is. When I had trigger thumb, I rationalized that it wasn’t that bad. I rarely had to use my thumb so as long as I babied it, it was fine. Not great. It was always tender and I always had to be careful about bumping it, but it was fine. Or so I thought. Now that it’s back to normal, I can’t believe how much I had to accommodate it and how much it low-key bothered me. It’s only in retrospect that I realize how restrained I was by it.
In a metaphysical way, it’s the same with any flaw a person has. It’s hard to see how much it hampers you while you’re in a situation where using it doesn’t seem so bad. Or working around it. It doesn’t help that I have an insanely high tolerance for pain plus my mother’s mentality of stiff upper lip. When I got my steroid shot, the doctor warned me that it was going to hurt because it was in a very sensitive spot. I exhaled as she pushed the rather long needle into the base of my thumb and it was nothing more than a sting at the site of the needle. I didn’t react and we went on with the appointment. At the end of it, she asked how my thumb was feeling. I said fine and she gave me a strange look. She said I was very strong (or something similar) because that was a very sensitive spot for a shot.
She sounded almost admiring of it and I wanted to tell her it was not a good thing, but I just nodded. Someone accused me of humble-bragging when I tweeted about my reaction to the second shot or rather trying to garner sympathy. I wasn’t, but it made me think about how we’re supposed to react to medical things. In a letter to Ask A Manager today, someone who suffers debilitating migraines (of two different types) and was wondering if when they returned to the office, she could get away with crawling on the ground. She worked for a huge company and the vast majority of the commenters were appalled at the idea. The few who pointed out that it was akin to a disability ask were shouted down.
It’s official. My left thumb is trigger thumb. Met my new doc yesterday and she confirmed it. Gonna get a steroid shot next week. I asked what happened when it wore off. She looked at me blankly and said that there was the possibility it would take care of it for good. Yeah, right. My mother has had to get steroid shots more than once, but it could be because she’s not proactive about not reinjuring herself. She’s really good with rehab, but no so good at preventative. I’m the same, actually. Once I know the problem, I’ll tackle it single-mindedly. Figuring out that problem? Also on it! Preventing said problem from happening? Hahaha, no. My new doc said that I should try to figure out what’s triggering it, no pun intended, I’m sure. I have a hunch that a certain taiji spear drill started it. When I mentioned it to my doc, she looked confused but gamely said maybe I shouldn’t do that drill. I reassured her that I’d stopped doing that particular drill.
It’s funny how little I use my left thumb in my daily life especially now that I’ve retrained myself to smash the spacebar with my right thumb instead of my left. I do mouse with my left so maybe I should change that back. I rarely mouse, though, as I do most things with keyboard shortcuts. I don’t even use my thumb to mouse, really. So the tendons running up and down my thumb are swollen. The steroid shot will reduce the swelling and the main mission is to make sure it doesn’t swell again. I am not giving up taiji weapons for the left side, though. There really isn’t any pressure on the thumb itself so it shouldn’t be bad for my thumb. I dunno. I may give it a rest after I get the shot next week. We’ll see. I’ll ask the doc what they think (ortho specialist). It really doesn’t bother me on the regs and only hurts when I touch it. But, bending it would be nice. Also, not flinching in pain when I accidentally touch it.
Let’s talk taiji weapons because I can and because I love them. The Double Saber is my current jam and I love them so much. I have escrima sticks when I want to go as quickly as possible and not worry about smacking anything with the blades. I also have my showy flimsy blades that have colored scarves on the handles that look fantastic as I wave them in the air. It’s definitely more for show than for praticality and one day I will get a truly magnificent set that is both gorgeous and useful. My sword is both beautiful and useful–or rather, it would be if I sharpened the blade. I paid a pretty penny for it, but I rationalized that I would have it for the rest of my life. This was five or six years ago…maybe more? I still have it and still use it every day.
Of course, I will get a non-wooden saber at some point, too, but that’s less of interest to me at the moment. I’ve grown to appreciate the saber in a way I never thought possible when I first started it, but it’s never going to be my favorite. Well, I can’t say never, but it’s highly unlikely as long as the sword and the double sabers exist. Also, my teacher mentioned the Bagua Sword Form and my eyes lit up like it’s Christmas. I have too much to learn and yet the mere mention of another sword form jazzed me.
I’ve been thinking about my thumb a lot for obvious reasons. It’s funny how much you take things for granted until it hurts like fucking hell. well, to be more precise, it aches like hell. It doesn’t hurt, per se, except the time I slept without the splint because I foolishly decided I didn’t need to wear it at night any longer. That’s where my background comes in because my mom is the same way. The second something feels better, she decides she can go 100 again. She recently had surgery on her shoulder (which had issues that made me so angry at my father and the doctor, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it because she was in Taiwan) and she was upset when she wasn’t back to her normal self in a month. She complained, saying her doctor said that’s how long it would take.
I doubt he said that exactly because she has a habit of hearing what she wants to hear, but even if he had something similar to that, it doesn’t make any kind of sense to think that you’d completely heal from a major surgery in a month. That’s the thing about being a perfectionist, however, and I know this from experience. We don’t have much resource for dealing with ongoing frustration. In my brain, I should be able to think my way to a solution. Also, despite my contrarian nature, I am a rules follower for the most part. So, in my brain, if I am actively working on improving my thumb, then it should get better. And it is, but on such a slow schedule. First week, I just tried to massage the thumb and take it easy. While wearing a splint. I do stretches for my thumb every day and today, I received my heat/ice therapy assists (gel patches, gel finger splint, gel mittens. The gel packs can go either hot or cold). I’m going to do some heat/ice therapy and see if that helps as well.
On the taiji front (because you know I can’t go a post without talking about it.
Side note: When I first started studying taiji, I would notice how much my teacher talked about it and how she had made it central to her life. We are friends as well as teacher/student and in the Before Times, we used to hang out while not in class sometimes. It was clear to me that taiji was her life. Which, good for her, but I didn’t understand it. I was doing it begrudgingly and not really wanting to be there.
I never thought about my thumb before it started being a problem. It makes sense. Why would I think about my thumb? I have two of them and they do what they’re supposed to do. Period. That’s good enough for me. Until my left thumb started twinging in pain. Nothing big. Not often. Just once in a while, it would tweak. And the joint would pop and lock when I bent it. This was perhaps two or three times a week. The clicking didn’t hurt; it was just annoying. Then, about a week ago, things escalated dramatically. The base of my thumb started hurting more regularly. Again, not in and of itself, but if I touched it or moved it in an odd way. Not hurt, but more like ached. The clicking was deeper for a lack of a better word, but still did not hurt.
It was highly annoying, however, and I knew I did not want it to get worse. I Googled it because that’s what I do. It’s rheumatoid arthritis also known as trigger thumb in this particular case. There are stretches recommended for it, which I’ve been doing every day. In addition, I have picked up a splint for it that I am wearing most of the day and night. Is it helping? I think so? It’s hard to say.
I have to say, before I got the splint, the pain increased dramatically. the base is painful to the touch, though not inflamed-looking. The clicking is more often than not, ranging from a quick, barely-audible click to a deep, grinding click. Bending the thumb is painful at the base and the clicking itself hurts sometimes. Once in a while, the bending pain is excruciating, but it’s bearable most of the time.