Friday, 19 February 2016

Laura and me and a ganglion called Gloria

No wonder Ed Holdaway still loves her.
As Laura Branigan and I glided into the MRI chamber, her almost tuneful “Gloria” screeching through my headphones, I’d have to say I felt abnormally calm. Two days earlier, after pushing a trailer up a grassed hill, my right little finger had gone completely numb. Distal branch of the ulnar nerve I thought. No muscle weakness, motor branch ok, definitely a transient compression. Five hours later, once beer, pizza and the cold waters off the Portsea pier hadn’t worked any magic I was aware that I was going to need help. 

Artery and nerve, motor branch at bottom of "V"
Greg Hoy organised an ultrasound and a cortisone injection. The radiologist took a look at the screen, then said he wouldn’t inject. That evening, contrary to doctors’ orders, I played footy and kicked two goals. The next morning, considering my fate with Laura’s unavoidable counsel running through me, I resigned myself to the knife. It was certainly a case of both what and who you know, and I was booked for surgery the next morning. 

Greg greeted me into the operating theatre with his iPhone and a request to “Smile”. I think I called him a bastard in response, which is probably not the best decision I’ve ever made! I woke about two hours later, hand numb, but fingers all moving. Greg had removed a sizeable ganglion that had swum distally from my piso-triquetral joint and pronounced all was well. Mary, the best receptionist a physio practice could ever ask for, came across the road to collect me a little earlier than Elizabeth my nurse would have liked. Mary had coffee and a lamington with her, Elizabeths’ argument didn’t stand a chance. 

One patient to see, I drove home afterwards. Don’t remember much of that. I was worried, because I was talking at an upper limb sports symposium that had been organised by Ben Cunningham. My preparation had been affected significantly by the preceding events, and my concerns were met by Ben with the ever helpful, yet predictable, “Harden up Hamma”! 

I think the talks went well. Again, I really don’t know. Codeine has a fabulous way of making the world seem so much better than it actually is. I do know I had a great steak and a couple of beers with Vanessa from Sydney, Damien from Brisbane, and Stewart from Perth at the days’ end.

It’s Saturday now, and to be truthful, I finally feel like crap. The scar is minimal, the sensation slowly returning, but there’s a nagging ache, and pain if I lift or stretch too far. I know that this will pass, and that I shouldn’t play footy this week. I do wish it hadn’t been necessary because now I’m asking myself questions.

Something else to smile about
Is this what is referred to as empathy? Do I need to be more empathetic? Is it someones’ way of ensuring that I truly understand and can sympathise with my patients? Did I need to go through this relatively smooth process in order to comprehend what they feel? I think the short answer is no. The slightly longer answer is of course not you self-indulgent wind bag. Suck it up, harden up, and call “Gloriaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. That always makes you smile. 

Look after those fingers,


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