Photos by MJ Klein
Be sure to read the sequel to this story!
Long-time readers of our blog will know that not too long ago, I attended a local university to study Chinese. It was during that time that my right thumb started to hurt from all the writing I was doing, practicing and memorizing the language. Now, what started out as a minor inconvenience has developed into a problem requiring surgery.
Back when it first began, I went to the hospital where x-rays were taken. The doctor advised me that I had cracked the bone and that immobilization for a month would solve the problem. At that point I couldn’t bend the first joint (closest to the end of the thumb). After a month, the splint was removed and I could bend the joint normally. The pain was gone. A subsequent x-ray revealed that the bone had healed. But, another doctor examined the previous x-ray and proclaimed that my bone had not been broken in the first place, and that what was diagnosed as a crack in the bone was an artifact on the x-ray.
Some time after, I had experienced a return of the pain and discomfort when bending the thumb and I went back for another look. This time, I was diagnosed with gout, but a uric acid test did not confirm that diagnosis. I was told that the gout would go away and so would the pain. But the pain never did go away. Until recently I’ve just lived with the pain and limitation of the joint. But in the last few months the pain has become unbearable.
This time, I went to a different hospital and showed them the visible lump on my thumb, clearly seen here. Another x-ray was taken and it was determined that some kind of tumor has been growing under the skin.
The solution is to cut the thumb open and remove it. The doctor said that he can accomplish this in 30 minutes under a local anesthetic, with no use of blood. The surgery will take place on March 14. I will of course, have updates after the procedure.
For reference, this is what my left thumb looks like. The good news is that the tumor has never interfered with my ability to play guitar. I only sought medical attention when the pain became so great that it interfered with my sleep and normal activities.
Thanks for reading and I’ll keep you posted.