Thoughts and illustrations on living on the autism spectrum.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thumb Prison

The hand therapist peered deep into my eyes as he pondered my question, and held the fast-hardening neoprene around my wrist.

“It’s removable, right?”

He answered, in his British accent, in the way a parent might admonish a small child, firmly, yet showing pity at my ignorance.


My heart sank. I scanned for evidence of a smart-ass response, which I fully expected. But it’s just a thumb splint for carpal tunnel… why wouldn’t it come on and off? No, he’s serious! They’ll have to slice this plastic mold off me! Wait! Stop!!!

“…Of course it comes off.”

Oh. So it was a smart-ass answer. Pwned. Well done, Andrew. Way to kick a reluctant patient when he’s down. You've just earned yourself a lifetime slot on my sh*t list.

So, good news, my splint is removable. But it’s still a problem. I don’t take well to prosthetics. Arm cast, braces, knee splint – I’ve experienced all these things, which are way worse than a stupid removable thumb splint. But it is a big deal.

First is the sensory issue. Restrict my motion even a little bit, you cause me distress. The feeling of plastic flush against my palm is hideous, like a permanent handshake with a melted wiffle ball. Have to be careful of the sharp edges, and this August heat will be none too comfortable. It’s a thumb prison, in a very real sense.

Then, the social issue. Wearing this thing in public draws attention to me. I feel a bit like a fourth-rate Michael Jackson with wiffle glove. It invites conversation I don’t necessarily want. “What happened to your hand?” Depending on who’s asking, maybe I want to tell, maybe it’s none of your business.

Such a burden. That said, I curse myself for being a crybaby when it could be so much worse. Why not carry myself with dignity, like disability advocate Dave Hingsburger? He’s in a wheelchair, for cryin’ out loud, and all I’ve got is a freakin’ removable thumb splint!

So it’s one day in. I’m wearing it at night, and as much as I can manage during the day. We’ll see if it helps. My doctor may scold me for noncompliance, but the choice between a lifetime of mild pain, and a short period of awkwardness and inconvenience, is not as clear as he might think.

1 comment:

  1. I know the feeling and I went for injection in my wrist insted. With of course my only friend getting is own hand squish by my good hand in the process.