Words, Words, Words

August 31, 1999

The hand surgery Friday went very well. The surgeon said that he was able to restore nearly full extension to my fingers, although they were pretty stiff when the splint came off. This "splint", by the way, was as close as you can get to a cast without actually being one. The difference is it was made of padding, gauze, and stuff instead of being completely rigid. But it covered my entire hand, with just my thumb and two fingertips sticking out, so it was completely unusable until today.

There was a bit of excitement when the doctor's secretary didn't make the appointment she was supposed to with the occupational therapist. Dr. Haque wanted me to get a special splint made that would let me bend my fingers, but which had elastic to pull them straight again. When we talked to him today he said it was all right if I got the splint by tomorrow morning; otherwise, he'd put a temporary one on.

Well, of Georgetown's four occupational therapists, two quit, one was on maternity leave, and there was a snowball's chance in hell of the other one "squeezing me in". So we got a list of therapists from the doctor, started calling around ("Do you do occupational therapy for hands?" "No."), and eventually found a place that's a Blue Cross Preferred Provider, on the Metro, and had a 12:00 appointment tomorrow. Somehow I would've felt better if all this had been arranged before the doctor put these honking great incisions in my fingers.

Oh yeah, the incisions--looks like about half a dozen stitches on each side of my fingers, and they started oozing blood when he pulled the dressing off. The stitches should come off in two weeks. (And I made sure that none of this medical stuff will interfere with my week-long trip to the Shakespeare and Shaw festivals in Canada.)

Naturally, I did not go into work, and with my hand out of commission I spent more time watching movies than usual. I have to admit, this weekend was a good argument for cable--besides The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek on video, I watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Lawyer Man, The Public Enemy, Blonde Crazy, and my first episode of Blackadder on cable. None of the cable movies were all that great, but they were fun and I'm glad I got to see them without paying a bunch of money.

I also read a great book about macroevolution called Fish With Fingers, Whales With Legs, which tells how the first land animals evolved and how the ancestors of whales went back to the sea. There have been a lot of key fossil discoveries lately, which show that many adaptations evolved way before you'd expect--legs were originally used to walk on the sea floor, for instance. And embryology is beginning to learn how radically new structures can come into being. Way cool.

I also read "Ninety Percent of Everything", the story Jim Kelly read at Worldcon last year. I learned two lessons from that experience: I really need to get enough rest over the course of a long convention, and if I don't I need to sit more than three rows from the front. I did wake up before the end of the reading. Also recommended: John Varley's The Golden Globe, although I haven't finished it yet.

And I still haven't gotten to the really good news. The anesthetic had the surprising effect of relieving a bunch of my other symptoms. When I got up after the surgery I was able to walk and climb stairs more easily, and was nearly able to straighten my back. This is the best I've been able to move in years, and even four days later I'm still in great shape. I have an appointment with my neurologist Thursday, so I'll let him know about this stuff, and maybe it'll lead to an effective treatment (not a cure by any means, but a significant palliation). If I can get around much better by popping a pill once a week I'll be VERY happy.

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