A case of ‘trigger thumbs’

I’m worried. I mean I’m REALLY worried because I’m approaching that age when your body starts to fall apart — the knees, the eyesight, the hearing, the joints and other things too sensitive to mention. After years of losing my hair and turning gray, you’d think I’d be used to this by now.

For the most part, everything has gone pretty well with no major disruptions, and to tell the truth, I brought this current ailment on myself because of too much text-messaging.

Yes, I confess that I’m suffering from the bad habit that I constantly complain about. I got what I deserved, or as my mother would have said, “God’s punishing you,” which I don’t believe. But it is a direct result of wasting too much time sending text messages and emails.

To describe my condition in simple medical terms, my thumbs don’t work. It’s a horrible fate to go through life with thumbs that aren’t functioning properly because, as you know, properly functioning thumbs are one of the few things that separate us from the lower life forms such as cats which only have paws, turtles which have claws, and fish which have … what do they have?

Not that you need your thumbs for essential human activities like picking your nose or scratching your back or even dialing the phone. But you sure as heck need them for opening pickle jars along with bottles of mouthwash (which we should use on a daily basis) and for buttoning shirts and, of course, for text-messaging.

I had been sending out hundreds of emails from my Blackberry, and some of the emails were as long as the Declaration of Independence or Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”

In my defense, I engaged in this destructive activity to feed my family and keep the boss happy. Anyway, as a result of all this typing with my thumbs, I developed a condition known colloquially “trigger thumb.” It’s sort of like tendinitis.

I’ve been told this is a common malady among highly obsessive professionals and teenagers, neither of which I am. The solution, I’ve been told by my brother-in-law who is a physical therapist, is to put my thumbs in splints for about six years and take my wife with me wherever I go so she can open the door, push elevator buttons and steer the car. Life as I know it will end.

One doctor told me to start taking one of those anti-inflammatory pills, but I don’t want to do that because then my stomach will probably go on the fritz along with my thumbs.

At night, the pain can become intense, and in the morning, it’s requires an effort to get them working properly. First, it was just my left thumb, but now my right thumb is joining the party. If this is what aging is going to be like, I’m scared. But as Bette Davis once said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”

I recently went to the dermatologist for my annual full body exam for precancerous growths — gosh that sounds creepy — because when you’re bald, a lot of unusual things start appearing on your head, and the doctor has to shoot them with his special ray gun that was manufactured on Uranus. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a dermatologist when I was growing up in Pine Rock Park, but now I’m more enlightened.

When he asked me about my health, I told him my thumbs were malfunctioning, and he said his colleague did special thumb surgery. Now, I’ve heard of neurosurgeons and oral surgeons and heart surgeons but never thumb surgeons. No problem at all, he assured me. I would be in and out, and my thumbs would be good for another 50 years or so.

Despite his assurances, I started to suffer high anxiety because the only time I had surgery was when I had my tonsils out at age 2, and then last year, when I finally had my wisdom teeth extracted after stalling for 40 years. So I calculate if I stall on my thumbs, I’ll be over 100 when I have my next surgery.

Where can I get those splints?

Contact Joe Pisani at [email protected]

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