My broken thumb

This is an X-ray of my left thumb, taken last Friday, hours after I returned to the country and about 20 hours after I fell off a bike:

I have amazing MS Paint skills. Circle = avulsion fracture. Arrow = fracture.
I have amazing MS Paint skills. Circle = avulsion fracture. Arrow = fracture.

This is what the radiologist wrote upon reviewing my X-rays, and which prompted the general physician to send me straight to an orthopedic doctor:

REPORT/IMPRESSION: Transverse, minimally dorsally angulated fracture across the base of the distal phalanx

Minute ossicle adjacent to the base of the proximal phalanx in the region of the MCP joint, probably an avulsion fracture. The joint is not widened but no stress was applied

The orthopedic doctor happened to be available that same Friday afternoon, which was very good for this sleep-deprived impatient person who couldn’t move her purple thumb. Here is my thumb, after some of the swelling had gone down, but before the bruising in my palm had spread:

Two days later
Two days later

The orthopedic doctor took one look at my thumb, said the words “might need repair,” and sent me to his colleague, who specializes in hands (and sports medicine, and has a very good background, and is a runner, and has good reviews, and has had no medical board complaints, and yes I have stalked him on the Internet thank you very much). I left with a taped-on finger splint and an arm splint, to make showers even more enjoyable, as well as a long weekend wait to see the hand specialist.

Two splints = twice as fun
Two splints = twice as fun

After a long weekend of waiting and googling, and then a long Monday and most of Tuesday, I finally saw the hand specialist. He looked at the X-rays, read the other doctors’ notes, did a few things to my thumb that had me both crying and muffling shrieks of pain, and promptly said he didn’t even need an MRI to confirm that I needed surgery to repair a ligament. He offered the MRI, but I had already researched “avulsion fracture” and knew there was no way around surgery. Opposable thumbs are kind of a big deal.

This is a pretty good idea of what happened to my thumb, only with a mountain bike handlebar instead of a ski pole, from this doctor’s site (which also explains the whole thing pretty well, Mom and family):

Courtesy of (linked above and below)
Courtesy of (linked above)

Surgery doesn’t happen until next Wednesday, which will be two weeks after the bike crash. I’m very impatient, so when the hand doctor said I would need to see my regular physician for a pre-op physical and lab work, I got outside to my car, got on the phone and promptly set that up — for the very next morning. Surgery won’t be delayed through any fault of mine, that’s for sure!

Meanwhile, this is how things looked before all of this happened:

Victoria, British Columbia, is lovely and green even though the locals say it's brown from the drought.
Victoria, British Columbia, is lovely and green even though the locals say it’s brown from the drought.


This saga is what triggered my angst-filled blog post a few days ago, while I waited in limbo to see the hand specialist. I’m still very bummed, and I have canceled my fall marathon/vacation plans — it was the financially and physically smart thing to do, so that decision was not made in haste to be later regretted.

In the midst of my angst came a comment on that post from BT, who said, among other encouraging things: “You must be in some serious pain (both physical and emotional).” A lot of people were reaching out in a variety of amazing ways, and I’m grateful to every single one of them. But for some reason, that comment hit me the right way at the right time. I thought, “You know, I AM in pain. I’ve only taken one dose of Aspirin the night this happened, but it does hurt. More than that, it’s hurting my heart and soul. And that’s OK.”

I’m allowed to hurt. I’m allowed to worry about fully recovering, and about how my other hand still is not right. I’m allowed to be sad. But I am also allowed to hope. I’m not to the point of thinking I can break down all the doors, but I’m also no longer in the depths of despair. I have a medical plan, with a surgery date (September 2) and a post-op appointment (September 10), and a tentative plan to get the cast removed as soon as four weeks after surgery. For now, that is enough to keep me hanging on to a few threads of sanity.


One Response to My broken thumb

  1. Glad my comment came at the right time. Here’s to hoping your pain is decreasing daily. Glad to hear you’ve got a plan and you’re executing on it.