Trigger Finger

Given sufficient sodium pentothal and a pleasant enough recliner, I’d be happy to give you my own idiosyncratic list of the many pleasureful advantages of getting older. Absent those two requisites, let’s just start with “trigger finger.”

My first introduction came about a couple of years ago when I noticed that the middle finger on my right hand had developed an interesting trait. Whenever I made a first, or clenched my fingers into closed position, it would hold to the closed position while I straightened the other fingers. It was like it was giving them a head start. “You other four go ahead now; I’ll catch up in a bit.” Once the others reached about three-quarters straightened, that finger would suddenly snap into alignment with them. Kind of like it was connected to a spring or something.

It was a bit amusing, sort of my own little party trick. “Hey, kids, watch this!” It was certainly less catastrophic than the usual, “Watch this, bubba,” or “Hold my beer” sort of episodes. But it was also a bit aggravating. And, before too long, started moving from slightly inconvenient to decidedly uncomfortable.

My affable and proficient primary care physician in Troy referred me to a plastic surgeon in Saint Joseph. He confirmed Dr. Gaul’s diagnosis and had me hold a bag of ice for several minutes. “That’ll help numb the pain. Once I stick the needle in, you won’t think it’s helping but it actually is.” He furthered explained that our hands have lots of nerve endings, which I suppose helps us be able to handle small parts and detect slight differences in temperature, pressure, texture, etc. You could say it’s right handy… but then people would roll their eyes and groan.

When Dr. Amspacher came back in a few minutes later with the essential syringe and a short, tiny needle, he proceeded to demonstrate the nature of that nerve-rich environment in the palm of my hand. With a single jab, he located thousands of the little sentries and everyone of them immediately announced their alerts, “INTRUSION! INTRUSION!”

Not being ready to surrender my man card at the tender age of sixty-seven, I gritted my teeth, fought off a sudden burst of nausea, and clenched my neck muscles to retain blood in my brain and remain conscious. Soon thereafter, I was excused from the premises and headed home. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, my middle finger started tingling. Not long after that, my forefinger and ring finger joined in. An hour or two later, the tingling had disappeared, replaced by a highly localized sore spot mostly centered around the injection point. A week or two later, the trigger show ended. My finger returned to its smooth, happy, group participation.

A year later, my left hand provided an encore mirror performance. Back to Doctor A and replay the Ice Bag Soap Opera. Same script, opposite side of the stage. Although the performance has continued its happy benefits on my right hand for close to two years now, the treatment lasted only a few months on the left hand. So yesterday, we visited the matinee for a sequel performance. The ice does help…

I’m grateful that my current list of ailments is much shorter and noticeably less severe than that of a multitude of other pilgrims on this planet. I find that each year—if not each day—makes the nature of my own mortality a bit clearer. I can gripe and grumble, toss and tumble, and, in fact, have to admit that I do a bit of that.

But I find that focusing on the things that I can still do in an attitude of gratitude seems to provide a more pleasurable experience and a better outcome. And focusing on the benefit helps make the pain pass more quickly.

H. Arnett


About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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