One week. That’s exactly how long I have, pretty much to the hour, before I learn (or not) to go without using my right hand for very much. I am scheduled for surgery on October 11, for the other-side version of the left hand procedure done April 1, 2011. (The problem is basal joint arthritis, and the surgery is an LRTI–ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition. The trapezium (hand bone at the base of the thumb) is removed since it no longer has its cartilage surface. The tendon o the flexor carpi radials forearm muscle is “harvested” and used to 1) form a spacer where the trapezium used to be to keep bone away from bone, and 2) to stabilize the thumb in a way similar to the ligaments of the removed bone.)
I’m counting on a similar outcome in the end, but a harder bit of coping in the interim, being severely right handed. I had no pain after the left hand surgery, and have regained pain free function at some significant percentage of a healthy 64 year old thumb and hand.
The decision for this surgery is made more difficult by the fact that I don’t have the pain (frequency, intensity or duration) that compelled me to suffer the unknowns and go willingly ahead on the left. OTOH (literally) the x-rays are equally motivating: no join space, mal-alignment of the hand and finger bones on the thumb side–not a good prognosis, without surgery, of retaining an acceptable level of use and freedom from pain during the years remaining. Keystroke ability is also sort of important, and the thumb figures in there for sure, as I can feel every time I hit the space bar with my right thumb this morning.
So I’ve tried to think ahead–taking down the garden, winterizing the mowers, tiller, and such; and even pre-wadding the newspaper pages I will use to start the morning fire in the wood stove. I have a pretty good stack of kindling split to get me, hopefully, to the point in January maybe when I can use a splitting maul and chain saw again.
But now the date is so close, I feel like the deer in the headlights, frozen in terror and indecision. I’ve stopped writing feverishly, because it’s all coming to a sudden halt in one week no matter how many words I generate now. So why bother? So I’m frittering away my morning wandering down pointless trails online. Any serious writing will just have to wait until I’m bilaterally symmetrical again. Soon. And very soon.
CAPTION: I’ve decided NOT to dump the unhusked walnuts in our driveway after all, remembering how the empty husks stain shoes. Instead, I’ll gather them under the tree where they fall over the road anyway, and try to beat the squirrels to the kernels.