All Thumb

Thanks to all you optimistic well-wishers who thought or pretended to think that the thumb would actually resolve on its own. But really? Alas, such was not the case.

Meanwhile we had plans to go to a beach party (in the 50-something degree drizzle) Saturday night in Beaulieu in the New Forest. I had some concerns about taking the thumb to the country. The first of which was whether, given its size, I might be required to purchase it a seat on the train to Brockenhurst.

I decided to risk it. Somewhat comforted by the fact that both my rads oncologist and my dermatologist (not the one at Hammersmith) had a look at it Friday and said I wasn’t in imminent danger of it exploding. When I spoke to my rads oncologist she said she really felt the nail should come off after all, so we could clean up the area and get a proper look at things. Her people made me an appointment to see a “Taxol nail” specialist on Tuesday (that would have been today) to determine whether the eleventh-hour diagnosis from the dermatologist at Hammersmith Hospital last Wednesday was correct, and presumably, to remove the nail. Delightful.

So off we went Saturday morning to Waterloo Station to catch our train.

It decided to rain all day so we ate lunch and then lazed about at a charming 350-year-old B&B (Pepperbox House) on the High Street in Beaulieu, napping (well not me cuz I don’t nap) and reading. I finished Solar. We dressed for the party, the theme of which was verdant green. I did wear a nice bright green cardy. But I had to whip out Candy Floss — surely you know her by now — for the finishing touch. Very pink and very green but not at all preppy. Not easy to do, that look, but I think it worked. And white jeans of course because they are so practical in the rain. And platform espadrilles — also a solid choice for soggy outings.

Sorry but I don’t have a photo.

There was a lot of green at the party, including Astroturf in lieu of carpet which I thought was a groovy concept. I might have to put some under my dining room table. Just think, it would be like having a picnic every meal! Neat! And no water required. Just add food and ants.

The party was quirky and fun. A hodge podge of people of varying ages and plenty of finger sandwiches, Pimms, wine, kiwi mojitos (I should have had one), cakes and later smoked pig and home-made pizza. There was a sassy magician with a dry sense of humour and a chihuahua, and a ukulele band from Bristol (?).

The girls dragged Bill outside and collected seashells from the beach in the whipping wind and watched the horses gallop around. In Beaulieu there is a law or something that animals can roam free and graze where they want to so there are horses and cows and other four-legged critters everywhere you look. Sometimes they all decide to cross the street together and stop traffic. I would like to have that kind of attitude. Just decide to wander into traffic and fully expect it to stop. Devil may care.

We decided to pull out at about 9:45 because it was getting late for the kiddies. They didn’t get to sleep until about 11. Oops. For a change we each took a child and a room so I slept with Isabel. That night my thumb started to hurt again and woke me up about four times. I was also awakened by Isabel who in the middle of the night started vigorously stroking my bald head. I wondered what the hell she was doing and rolled over to look at her. Her eyes were open but unfocused and she was clearly fast asleep. Must have been an interesting dream. Too bad we will never know whatthat was about.

Come Sunday morning the pain was bad and the thumb looked terrible. Even worse than the day before.  See Exhibit A below.

Now I ask you, if you were walking around with this thing for several weeks would you not have a hard time focusing on other things? Needless to say I was concerned about and distracted by my right thumb. I couldn’t ignore it because every time I tried to do anything there it was.

Saturday afternoon my dermatologist called and arranged for me to have an MRI Monday morning to check (again) if there was a collection under the nail or any evidence of bone infection. When I went to get it yesterday morning, after getting up early, taking a taxi there and changing into a gown, robe and slippers, and then waiting, they asked if I had any bits or pieces in my body and I told them about my boob expanders with magnetic ports. I had figured they would be all right because the MRI was just of my thumb. Not so. Apparently the whole thing acts as a magnet so once you walk through the door you are no longer in the safe zone. I had images of my expanders busting (pun intended) through my chest. “I’m not going anywhere near that thing,” I said.

So I decided to use modern technology to my advantage and texted my dermatologist. No can do MRI due to bionic tits, I said. Or something to that effect. Do u want me to get ultrasound while I’m here? He responded immediately. Yes he was down with that plan. Or something to that effect. So we did one and guess what? There was a big-ass collection of fluid behind the nail, 7mm deep. Gee, I wonder why it was deformed and uncomfortable. He said it would be sensible (I love the English) to see a hand surgeon and could I try to get an urgent appointment. By the way do you Americans and persons other than the English know why surgeons are referred to as “Mr” rather than “Dr?” I do but I’m not going to tell you right now. Maybe later. If you’re nice.

Anyhow I called and they squeezed me in for yesterday afternoon. Turned out the hand guy was at the same office as my boob guy. Good karma, I figured. I liked him and his confident but not at all cocky manner.

If you get queasy easily or are eating a big juicy burger right now, please read on.

Bill and I spoke with him for a while. Then he took me into the back while Bill was banished to the waiting room.

He shot the base of my thumb several times with local anaesthetic with an enormous needle and proceeded to drain that sucker. Out came about 10ml of bloody fluid, not counting the part that gushed out and wasn’t collected in a small vial. Then he sliced the nail away from the bed at each side and folded the nail back like a hatch. He made a tourniquet out of a rubber glove and clamp the base of my thumb to stop the bleeding and examined the nail bed. It looked good. Pink and healthy. No obvious sign of infection. He cleaned it thoroughly with saline. After this, he decided to leave the nail attached at the base because he saw the new nail growing underneath (which he showed me) and didn’t want to disturb it or further traumatise the area. The collection had been so impressive and the pressure so great that the nail bed was concave like the basin of a pond. After all of this, however, the thumb was much closer to its original size. It started resembling a thumb again rather than an unhealthy sausage.

Finally, he dressed it by inserting a piece of gauze between the nail and the nail bed and wrapping the thumb with gauze and more gauze. Until it looked like a small white potato.

So now I have this big white thumb for the next week. Should come in handy if I decided to hitch-hike to radiation.

Who knew killing it would be fraught with so many weird-ass side effects. I give this one a big thumbs down. But here’s to hoping that it is finally on its way to resolution, with a lot of help from Mr Hand Surgeon.

6 thoughts on “All Thumb

    • there wasn’t the first time we did ultrasound but then i suspected there was and by the time they drained it it was quite something. good lord.

  1. Glad the thumb issue has been resolved! But every time I read about it I can’t help but think of the Uma Thurman movie “Even cowgirls get the blues”. Her character has large thumbs and she hitchhikes with them! Haha! Maybe you could try that on the A4.

  2. F*** Emily this is not in the plan that is not fair sounds so painful. I hope your resting and not trying to cook for the kids.. That thumb needs total r & r. xxx

  3. Dude. You are killing ME! Though all this shit you are dealing with, your attitude is amazing and your humor is BRILLIANT. I am sitting at my desk, awaiting my 6-month-post-treatment appointment, and both feeling terrible for you and laughing my ass off at the same time.

    You ARE my hero.

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