Bad Charlotte or, When Do I Get My Superpowers?

Dearest Rachel –

I’m not entirely sure when it started; I’m thinking it was early this past week, either Monday or Tuesday. It might have been earlier, too – I just don’t remember. Whenever it was, I assumed it was just a mosquito bite on my thumb, right alongside of my knuckle. Nothing particularly unusual about it at the time, just that standard nagging itch that you’re always told to ignore, lest you spread the ‘juice’ the mosquito injects into your bloodstream (thinking it – quite incorrectly, but after all, it is only a tiny mosquito, with a brain to match – a fair exchange for the blood she’s taken out) and make it that much worse. It’s just one more reminder that I’m no great fan of the outdoors, particularly in the summer (although not quite to the same extent as Daniel, but you get the idea).

And it worked, sort of. The itch more or less went away during the middle of the week, and I didn’t give the matter much thought at that point. However, by Friday evening, I felt as if I was dealing with a case of carpal tunnel syndrome. It was like I’d been doing punishment lines, like Harry Potter or Bart Simpson. Which is weird, because, while I had been on the computer every evening in the A/V booth as my part of VBS, it wasn’t as if I had my hand curled around the mouse the whole time. Indeed, most of the songs were pre-programmed to advance automatically, which made my job that much easier than the usual weekend work.

Similarly, when I’m working at the ‘office,’ I work my mouse with my left hand just to avoid this kind of situation. I had originally intended to free up my right hand for drawing on the tablet, as well, but this is a side benefit. Still, all that deliberate setup, along with the fancy equipment, doesn’t automatically confer upon one any particular talent or skill. But I digress.

The point is, by the end of the week, my thumb was mysteriously sore, and I couldn’t figure out why. By yesterday morning, however, I was pretty sure that I had my answer. Whatever bit me on the thumb nearly a week ago was no ordinary mosquito. In fact, I’d be willing to venture a guess that it was one of your precious spiders, which you used to treasure for consuming those mosquitos. The problem is, sometimes the cure turns out to be worse than the disease.

It may not be all that obvious from this angle, but you can see there are no lines on the right thumb’s knuckle, and that it’s noticeably larger than the one on the left.

I can’t even take solace in the thought of acquiring superpowers from this incident. So far, the only result (apart from the nagging pain in my thumb and all the tendons running down from it) is that I’ve eliminated all the wrinkles from my thumb, because it’s swollen up to such an extent that the skin is stretched taut. At least when the rest of my body has suffered a similar fate, it’s from enjoying a delicious, hearty (if decidedly excessive) meal. There is no joy, no pleasure, in whatever is causing this.

Perhaps another silver lining might have to do with the fact that my thumb is now prominent enough to hitch a ride that much more easily. But the days when that used to be a thing are long gone; nobody picks up strangers along the road these days, and if I were walking along the road, I don’t know that I would trust anyone willing to stop and pick me up, either. Our society has become one of near-universal mutual distrust. It probably keeps us that much safer (as even back in those days, people would occasionally go missing due to misplaced trust), but the fact that we no longer have any faith in our fellow man is still somewhat sad.

Hitchhiking aside, an enlarged thumb isn’t really useful for much. With it rendered nearly immobile (or only mobile insofar as I’m willing to put up with the sensation of having it in a tourniquet), it takes most of the ‘opposable’ out of my thumb. Dressing is difficult, and retrieving my wallet – or anything else from my pockets – equally so. I have to improvise the effect with my index and middle finger, like using an organic pair of chopsticks. Some things, like opening doors, can be done with my left hand, but turning the key my car’s ignition is a real challenge, and taking sermon notes is a truly painful process.

I mentioned all this to Mom when I saw her and Dad at church, and she insisted that I take myself over to the local walk-in clinic – which I promised to do after lunch, since Daniel was looking at going somewhere between church and the clinic. I figured an hour’s delay wouldn’t make too much of a difference.

As it happened, the delay turned out to be more like three hours. Not that we took all that time at the restaurant (although they did get Daniel’s order wrong, and loaded his nachos with everything, rather than just the cheese he requested. To his credit, he ate everything on his plate; that’s probably the most protein he’s gotten in his system since the last time we were over at the folks’ place for our usual Thursday meal, which has been at least three and probably more like four, weeks ago. And they gave us each a cookie as an apology for the order mixup. A win-win-win in my book); once I gave them my name and information, I sat in the clinic’s waiting room for nearly two hours before I was brought in.

Interestingly, the nurses and doctor came to a different conclusion than I had. According to them, it’s not a bug bite at all (well, at least I knew it wasn’t a radioactive spider). It would seem that, since the pain didn’t extend down the heel of the palm (or even the thumb tip), it wasn’t characteristic of a bug bite infection of any sort. They took X-rays to prove there wasn’t any calcium buildup, but didn’t arrive at any what they referred to as ‘slam dunk’ diagnoses. It could be arthritis, they said, or even gout – apparently, that can show up fairly quickly, much to my surprise.

In the end, they prescribed a couple of different medications; an antibiotic to address the possibility of a skin infection, and a steroid to deal with the potential of arthritis. Not sure if either of them would be able to handle gout.

One curious thing is that they recommended not taking the steroid until morning, as it causes difficulty for some people with regard to falling asleep. After last night – where the most consecutive sleep I thought I was able to get was about 90 minutes, before ascending to consciousness and drifting back off again, so REM sleep was pretty much out of the question – I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for me. On the other hand, I don’t suppose there’s any particular reason to push my luck, either, so I’ll wait as they suggest. Besides, I have to get up to deal with the car tomorrow, anyway.

And with that in mind, honey, keep an eye out for me, and wish me luck. Clearly, I’m going to need it. Love you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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