Remapping My Thumb
– By Colle Davis
Senior Level Master Coach and a Certified Hypnotist
30 years of experience in corporate work with executives.
This article is not a nerd thing related to a thumb drive for computers. Instead, it is about my thumb, the one on my left hand. This poor thumb sustained an injury after a sudden bloody impact from a table saw blade a few weeks ago.
My life is a pleasure because I have a full two-car-heated garage to use as a workshop. I mostly create woodworking with the occasional tractor repair or metal working project. Hence the use of power saws.
The first few minutes after the incident were both traumatic and memorable. Time stopped and my workshop seemed airless as I fought with myself for making the error in judgement regarding the actual distance from my thumb to the blade.
Instantly, I realized ‘now is NOT the time’ to determine how this happened. I made the instantaneous decision to review it later since the sight of my red blood mixed with my shredded thumbnail had my full attention.
After my wife insisted I get help, she rushed me to a local hospital for medical care. The cleanup and healing went better than my doctor and physical therapist had anticipated. After the initial, “OH SH*T,” I experienced very little pain (much to everyone’s surprise, especially mine). A large bandage covered my thumb along with a customized plastic form-fitted splint to keep me from hitting the injured thumb or using it much. After three weeks of daily care, physical therapy and frequent re-bandaging, my thumb finally saw the light of day again.
Gloves were out of the question for a few weeks, and washing dishes took much longer than usual. Typing was irritating because the splint kept hitting the space bar, and I had to keep backing up my cursor to remove the extra spaces. When the splint came off, my typing returned to near normal.
I tell you that to tell you this. My thumb is healing, and the bandage is off. I have returned to my routines with variations and I am adjusting to new modifications. My doctor says I was lucky, and a year from now, the injury will be hard to see.
The table saw (the ‘inflictor’ of the damage), the miter saw, and the two chainsaws are back in use. Yes, my caution is higher, my attention to the job has increased, and keeping the work area cleaned has escalated on my importance list. Funny side note: the small things making tools more efficient get noticed and addressed. Little things such as filling the tires with air to the proper level on the small trailer and the big wagon made them more efficient. Putting the leaf chipper away for the winter was a rewarding task instead of a chore.
There is, however, one small weirdness in this process.
The feelings in the last 20mm (3/4”) of my left thumb are confusing and a bit dangerous. Here is why. The area remains numb and tender. The strangeness is in the ‘where is the end of my thumb and what is it doing?’ I cannot tell. I can feel the touch and the pressure, but I am not sure where my thumb is in relationship to the object. If I press too hard on the end, pain arrives with no notice. Not killer pain, but ‘whoa, do that different’ type of pain. The cold makes all the feelings worse.
The numbness is slowly receding, and the healing is progressing. I finally was able to trim my impacted thumbnail a little and file it smooth. The hardened area that took the place of the scab is getting smaller, and I buffe it with a file and put on some lotion to keep the area soft.
The regular, familiar thumb feelings are returning, BUT I have to check to see where the sensation arrives. Hence, remapping the thumb.
Using my right thumb as a template, and gentle probing, I am letting my brain know the exact area involved, and how much pressure is being applied. By using my left index fingernail to locate the correct position and check what the response is has become a game. I practice while watching TV or surfing. More productive than playing w/my phone. Oh, speaking of the phone, I had to relearn how to use some of the buttons. The TV remote is like a new toy for the left hand, and I am getting better at not having to look.
All of this gives my brain a new playground and my thumb great hope. Each day requires less attention, and writing this article was important to complete before the incentive from my thumb goes away.