Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Opposable Thumbs

Do you ever take things for granted? Are there things you have that you just don't appreciate until it's gone? That is how I have felt about thumbs. You take your thumb for granted, but without it's full-function, there are a lot of things that can become a challenge. Some things you can adjust and find a way to accomplish without the full use of your thumb, but others are still a challenge.

Last week, I hosted a Weight Watchers Virtual Event In-Home party. It was a good time and the food was excellent, the only thing that was not good was when I sliced the tip of my right (and primary) thumb on my mandolin, trying to make Chipotle-Lime Veggie Chips. I quickly stopped, but really, who could go on when you realize you sliced your thumb?, and tried to administer first aid. The first bandaid was a fail, because of the position of the slice. Then, I dug into one of my free first aid kits I pick up in the travel section of CVS with the $1/1 coupons for Johnson & Johnson that periodically surface and found a fingertip/knuckle style bandaid. Bonus! I got myself all tended to and went back to work with food preparation, switching to the easier to use chef's knife.

Only, you know what, turns out you do use your opposable thumb to help you grip a knife. With the chef's knife, I was able to modify my grip and make it work.

Know what else you use your thumb for?

Typing - yes, it generally is just a space bar assist, but being right-handed, I learned that I rely on my right thumb to do all of my spacing when I type. Unfortunately, the slice on my thumb was on the tip, and on the outside, the exact surface that I use to tap that space bar. Ouch! It made for a couple days of awkward and inefficient typing, as I attempted to modify an art I learned back in high school when I took typing (yep, it was typing back then, no computers in my typing class. We had some electronic typewriters where you could type the full line of text and then hit return, affording you a brief opportunity to correct before it was printed, but most of our typewriters were standard issue electric where as you keyed, it typed it on your paper.). Needless to say, 20+ years of doing things the same way definitely makes it a hard habit to change.

Buttons - have you tried to button your pants or shirt without using your thumb? Not easy. Some might say impossible, I say anything can be done if you set your mind to it. The first few times I buttoned pants, it was a challenge but then I got it down. Then, I wore jeans - okay, so those buttons a little more difficult to do without a thumb and wow! does it hurt when you do use a thumb with a wound. I also learned that a thumb is a great help when it comes to other clothing and accessory wearing - trying to clasp a necklace or an undergarment say, typically is easier with the use of your thumb.

Texting - okay, no surprise here. Who hasn't seen a report on the potential thumb injuries caused and/or exacerbated by texting. Again, I've adapted. I was sending a text the other day and my husband looked at me funny - I was texting with my left thumb and my right index finger. He asked, why are you texting like that - then he recalled my injury and realized why.

Opening jars/tear packets/etc - I'm right-handed, that's the hand that I am going to use. It is a challenge to grip a lid on a jar to turn it to open without using your thumb. I guess if I had one of those fancy Pampered Chef jar openers, it might have made it easier. Tear packets like fruit snacks, ketchup, and small candy bars were all a bit of a challenge to open as well. Again, notice how you grip the packet between your thumb and index finger.

Using knives - I mentioned this one above, but when it comes to chopping potatoes to boil them for mashing, I never noticed how I use my thumb to push on the potato as I guide the knife through the potato that I am holding. Amazing how a little discomfort can make you aware of new things.

Some other thoughts - fingertip/knuckle style bandaids are a life-saver when you slice the end of your finger/thumb open, but it seems to me that I have to change the bandaid two or three times a day because they come loose. Even the one that I tried at work that claimed to be waterproof seemed to come loose too easily in the course of a normal day's hand washing and such. I had my husband give my daughter a bath one night to help me avoid an additional bandaid change and I learned to wash dishes with my thumb up to minimize the moisture it encountered (thank goodness most of my dishes go through the dishwasher!). Nice fitted gloves are not easy to wear over a bandaid either - on Thursday, when I was still in a bit of pain, I only pulled my glove on about half way. It was way too cold to consider not wearing it. By the next day, it was not so tender that it couldn't handle the pressure of the added bulk inside the fitted glove and I could wear it correctly. I also learned that I tend to start to remove a glove by pulling on the thumb - that can hurt when you have a cut on your thumb.

Thankfully, there is much less pain associated with my thumb nearly a week later. It is still a tad tender, but the bandaid cushions most of it and it no longer feels like it is going to pop open if I apply too much pressure. But, the experience definitely has made me appreciate my thumb and how much it assists me every day. Having an opposable thumb - works for me!

This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday.


Cheryl said...

I completely understand what you are saying, I had a fracture of my left thumb on one of my husband and my first dates, (was showing off my football skills) ha ha and even though I am a righty it made life very difficult!
Did show me how calm he is under emergency circumstances and how attentive he would be in the future!
Hope all goes well with your healing!