Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Thumb arthroplasty

Well, the cast did come off yesterday and the pin came out. Both were big wins -- cast means I can use the hand more effectively, no pin means less pain. It sure looks ugly -- wrinkled skin, surgical scar, atrophied forearm. But, I'm typing with both hands so that increases my productivity big time. It used to be, when people asked me what I do for a living, I'd say I'm a medical anthropologist. But I realize now a more accurate job description is typist.

However, it ain't over. The hand is weak and stiff. I have to do rehab exercises every day, and it will be a month before I'm allowed to put any real stress on the hand and maybe three months or  more before I'm allowed to do heavy lifting. That cramps my style big time -- can't dig up the garden or use the chainsaw. I do plan to try guitar in a couple of days however.

So this is a big investment, a big ordeal. I'm not sure whether I'd do it again -- I was in pain and becoming more and more disabled as it was, so I guess it was necessary. But I don't know that it's for everybody. And I don't think the surgeon really gave me adequate warning of how difficult this would be. On the other hand, if he did, would anybody do it? Maybe a little soft pedaling will turn out to be good for me in the long run. This is a difficult question for me as moral philosophy. I'll have to ponder it.


robin andrea said...

I like the term "medical anthropologist." It really conveys a deeper sense of what you do. I think the computer has turned us all into typists. At least I'm not pressing one key at a time on a smart phone to make this comment.

I'm glad the cast is off and the pin is out. Now let the rehab begin!

kathy a. said...

Also glad that bad part's over!

We aren't culturally, or maybe as a species, willing to personally do a lot of things that will be short-term awful but then pay long-term benefits. Childbearing might be a counter-example, and let's just not get into that right now.

You have the prospect of good functioning in a while, with work. And that is better than the alternative, probably.

The moral philosophy question is intellectually engaging, but as a practical matter, well meaning and informed people do the peddling (and even cajoling) all the time, for the general good. Sure, that can be taken too far. And yes, sometimes the data behind the peddling is off-kilter. (Although I imagine you have controlled for that.)

No kid would ever voluntarily get a shot without peddling, cajoling, and even bribery. Adults would not volunteer for many normal medical procedures, if they didn't have a dose of "eyes on the prize," avoiding something bad. Ditto dental. A smart patient will be opposed to surgery and a great many other things, except for when the eventual outcome will be much better than the alternative. Maybe these thoughts are related to your other post on malaria.

Wishing you a swift rehab!