#THUMBSUP

February 18 is Thumb Appreciation Day. And I’m celebrating because now I know. There are many things in life we take for granted, that is until they’re gone…or the use of it anyway. And so it is with my thumb(s).

Today we celebrate—and show a little appreciation for—the thumb, which is considered to be one of the most important digits. Made up of two bones, thumbs are often known as opposable thumbs because they can be stretched opposite fingers in order to grip things. They can carry out a wide range of uses and motions, such as pinching, grasping, rotating, and flexing.

I suffer from arthritis. Doing even the most menial tasks became an issue. My arthritis, diagnosed as advanced osteoarthritis, is limited to my hands, and especially my thumbs. Something I took for granted until things would simply slip from my hands. Can’t tell you how many glasses and dishes I broke while rinsing or washing. It reached the point where I had broken so many stems off our wine glasses my wife bought stemless. Hey! I hear your snide comments; it was NOT from too much wine! Then there were the lids I couldn’t twist off the jars…kind of humbling. The list is like the Energizer bunny…it keeps on going and going.

Worst was the impact it had on my writing and golfing, so I’d just power through it. But a day sitting at my desk writing (typing) my next story would leave my hands cramped by late afternoon. To deal with the pain, golf days were Aleve days, writing days usually ibuprofen. I even went so far as to buy a hot wax machine like they have at spas to soak my hands to relieve the ache. So-so results at best.

After years of denial, I broke down and went to an orthopedic hand doctor. Turns out after x-rays and all, that both my thumb joints (basal joints) had deteriorated to the point I needed them replaced. Yeah, that’s a thing! Coincidentally, I was familiar with the surgery as my wife had one of her thumb joints replaced several years ago.

The doctor wanted to start the thumb replacement surgery with my right hand, since that joint was, by far, in worse shape. I refused, not going to let him start with my dominant hand!

On December 14 (2019), I had the surgery. I scheduled it so my recovery would be during the winter months as to minimize my downtime during golf season.  I mean, you DO have to keep your priorities straight. Turned out to be a good choice since there had basically been too much snow on the ground for golf since before Thanksgiving when we had 16.5 inches. I could tell you horror stories about the nerve block, but I’ll spare you for brevity’s sake.

As of this writing, it’s been 9 weeks since the surgery. I’ve gone from the initial bandage wrap and foam block, to a hard cast, to a removable plastic thumb splint (nice to finally take a shower without a bag taped over my hand), to a neoprene thumb brace to freedom!

After 4 weeks, I started physical therapy which was range of motion mostly. At 6 weeks the plastic splint came off and went into neoprene thumb guard. It’s amazing, and extremely depressing how much muscle mass and strength you lose in such a short period of debilitation. At 8 weeks, I started minor strengthening exercises which are gradually increasing. My range of motion is much better, and as you can see, I’m typing again. Still a long way from golf though. Doc says I can swing the golf club at 12 weeks. That’s still 3 weeks. But I’m diligently working to get there. I’ve been forewarned that even then I’ll have some serious soreness after playing. Just get me on the golf course!

Back in the fall, I had to put Gregg Kaplan Book 3 on hold. I thought I would be able to hack away with one hand and a partial second, but no cigar. I tried but the throbbing would start almost immediately, so I gave up.

For all you impatient readers out there (and I don’t blame you a bit), you’ll be happy to hear Kaplan is back in full action and is deep in his next adventure. His next adventure takes him to a foreign country, I won’t tell you which one, but its biggest city has a tower that’s certainly an eyeful. 🙂

Because of the delay, I’m pushing to fast track the publishing process after the editing is done. There’s already a cover in draft form. I’m optimistic for a 2020 release date—shooting for mid-December. Fingers crossed.

I want to thank you for your support. Readers mean everything to a writer. With every novel, I’m grateful that you take the leap of faith and step into the world of the story.

I’m sure you’ll love this entry of the Gregg Kaplan series as Kaplan and Moss (remember him) race to locate and protect a man who has so many trying to kill him. And that’s all I can say about that!

Thanks again for reading. Enjoy.

Chuck

#thu

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