At this point I’ve gotten pretty good at life on one leg. So last week, for some added interest, I figured I’d take one hand out of commission, too.
I accomplished this through a combination of crutch use, residual effects of a five-year-old shoulder injury, and the sheer gall of presuming to go swimming. Whatever the precise distribution of blame amongst those three factors, the end result was that I crawled out of the slow lane with two fingers not working. The medical term for this is “ulnar nerve entrapment”—but it also has a few nicknames, all of them super mean:
- Handlebar palsy: Cyclists commonly get this from bad bike fit or high mileage. Cyclists less commonly get it from falling down the stairs, breaking a foot, and not riding bikes, at all, for months.
- Pope’s benediction: As blessings go I would say this is not his best work.
- Spinster’s claw: By this they clearly mean a strong, independent woman’s … otherwise powerful fist?
Whatever you want to call it, things were already getting grim when the orthopedist informed me that a new X-ray of my busted foot suggested I’d blown my lisfranc joint—a multiple-surgery repair job that, apart from sucking in general, would require months more on the crutches I needed to quit in order to revive my left hand. Dilemma!
Needless to say, it was an anxious week of waiting before the MRI verdict came back in favor of forgoing the hardware. I am too cautious to celebrate (or even fully believe) this, but for now at least I can take the whole thing as a timely reminder to control my impatience, no matter how badly I want to ride/climb/hike/generally resume life in time for summer.
So remember, kids: the injuries you don’t rehab completely will come back to haunt you—not only when you least expect it, but also when you’re least able to deal. Repeat after me! I will do all my PT, I will do all my PT, I will do all my PT …