Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stupid Finger/ Stupid Bryan

My broken finger is feeling better these days, but it hasn’t without drama.

When I originally broke my finger in the first week of April, the Dr. put my finger in a soft cast and told me to come back in 10 days for a checkup.  In my cynical, American capitalist mind, I figured the Doctor wanted me to come back in 10 days so she could take a 30 second look at my cast, tell me to come back in two more weeks, so she could bill me and my insurance company for my extra visit.  At least that’s how it works in America.

So, for the next month, I decided to play Doctor myself.  The pain in my finger wasn’t going away, so I decided to forego the 10-day checkup and ended up coming back a month later, on my own prescribed timetable, when the pain in my finger still wasn’t subsiding.   When I finally saw the Doctor, she took off the cast and inquired why I wasn’t in two weeks earlier.

As I tried to answer her, I tried to move my finger.  I couldn’t move it!  I couldn’t move it at all!  Was it still broken?  What was happening?   I started to panic.

It was at this moment that the Doctor started to yell at me in German.  “This is really bad!  This is totally bad.  Why didn’t you come in earlier?”  She stormed out of the room leaving me alone with an immobile finger.

I sat in the room alone trying to move my finger.  It hurt now worse than even breaking it in the first place.   Would I ever be able to move it again?  Was it still broken?  Did it heal wrong?  I remember breaking into a huge sweat from both the pain and stress of thinking I was done playing basketball and would only have to live with this pain for the next 50 to 60 years of my life. 

After a couple of minutes of sitting alone, the Doctor and her assistant stormed back into the room.  She said that if I ever wanted to move my finger again that I would wrench on it every day until I got movement in it.  There is nothing more scary than, 1. Someone yelling at you in German 2. A Doctor telling you that you may not be able to ever move an important body part for the rest of your life. 3. Not knowing 100% if you are understanding what you are hearing correctly.

Any thoughts of not understanding what I was hearing became clear a couple of seconds later when the doctor grabbed my finger and began to push and pull on it to a point where I thought for sure that she was trying re-break my finger so we could start the healing process over again.  As tears swelled up in my eyes (I am almost 100% I swore at her) she finally relented, gave me some final yelling instructions ('Immer Bewegen' or in English, 'Always Moving') and stormed back out of the room, leaving her assistant standing there shrugging her shoulders at me.  She told me to come back in two weeks and that she 'hoped' I would be able to move my finger by then.

Technically, my finger wasn’t broken anymore, but, because I left my finger immobile in a cast for too long, my capsule became inactive and it needed to get reactivated.  For the next two weeks, I would have to push and pull on my finger until either a.) I couldn’t take any more pain and/or, b.) my finger would swell up too much and become too tender to touch.  The next day, the swelling would go down and I would repeat the process.

Exactly two weeks later, I was back in the Dr. office to show her my progress (I wasn't going to test her on the timetable again.  I am terrfied of the Doctor now).  I had regained about 90% mobility in my finger since I had seen her last.  She was really cold to me at first, but was really happy to see my progress.  I even thought that she might actually even care about my well being (I also learned that you don’t even need to pay a copay to come back for a re-visit, so it wasn’t a revenue making scheme in the first place.)  She shook my hand as she was leaving and told me that I could start playing basketball again.

Since then, I have regained a total of 95% of my total finger mobility, which is not perfect but a far cry from my time a month ago in the Doctor's office.  I have started to practice basketball, and my finger hasn’t given me any problems.  In fact, the extra time off helped my ankle recover more fully.  It’s nice to be healthy again (knocking on wood right now) and I can't wait for the new basketball season.  

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