Medicine Is Magical…

Newsletter 62 – May 10, 2024


Modern medicine can do a great many things it couldn’t do when I was born in 1946. Let’s start with an image.

X-rays of my right hand and wrist

These are two x-ray views of my right hand and wrist. The image on the left is a dorsal (top) flattened view. In the image on the right, the hand is rotated to show a side view. No, I’m not giving an “OK” sign. They just had me spread my fingers that way so they could see several of them in the same image. The truth is that my hands and my wrists are crap (to use the technical term).

The top two  bones in the thumb are called the distal and proximal phalanx bones. The next bone in line is the metacarpal. Fingers also have metacarpals, but they each have three phalanx bones instead of two (a middle phalanx is sandwiched between the distal and proximal phalanxes). Below my right thumb and forefinger (before you reach the thicker of the two lower arm bones, the radius) there are three bones, arranged in a sort of triangle (the trapezoid, the trapsium, and the scaphoid). The scaphoid is the one that (in the image on the left) looks a little like a downward pointing arrowhead, but when you look for the trapezoid and trapezium bones above it, there’s just a sort of a muddle there. That’s because arthritis has been chewing away at the cartilage in all my joints and creating bone spurs in their place. I’ve been experiencing a dull pain from the arthritis for years, but it’s gotten really severe lately. I find it very difficult to hold anything weighing more than a few ounces in the upright palm of my right hand, or twist off jar tops with that hand, or use a can opener. I love exercising, but I can’t lift weights any more, and using stretch bands is nearly impossible. I also have bone loss in my hips, so I can’t run anymore, even walking more than short distances hurts. I have also discovered how many things I used to do easily with my right hand, wrist, and thumb that feel awkward and impossible when I try to do them with my left hand. Almost everything is designed for right-handers.

It’s highly likely that I will have to have surgery on the right hand eventually. The left wrist hurts too, but not as badly, and I still have a reasonable amount of strength in it (for the time being at least). It is remarkable that we’re living in an age when problems like this actually have medical cures or fixes. I’ve been told that what they will do is remove one of those two affected bones (probably the trapezoid, the one on the right side of the muddle) and clean up (scrape away?) some of the most severely affected areas around it. I keep putting it off because the recovery will require me to wear a cast for six to eight weeks, and then I’ll have at least a few months of physical therapy to loosen the scar tissue and recover strength in the hand again.

I’ve experienced replacements of both of my knees (the left one in 2008, the right one in 2018), so I’m not worried about being able to handle the recovery, but I have been concerned about it being yet another interruption of my normal routine. We actually added one more recently. After my Prius dying, replacing it with an EV and relearning my driving technique, replacing our storm-ravaged back fence, replacing all of the toilets and faucets in our house, then healing from my fall, our air conditioning unit died about three weeks ago (4-25-2024). We had to have it replaced. If you’ve had that done recently, I don’t need to tell you what it costs (a bundle). In the Houston heat and humidity it’s a necessity, but it will set us back financially for a while.

Minay will continue to design quilting patterns and I will continue to write. Add my wrist problems to my heart issues (A-Fib), and to the lack of padding throughout my spine and most of my other joints, and it’s getting much harder to do what I was easily capable of only ten years ago. I know, I know. It happens to all of us as we age, but I don’t have to like it. 😊

At least my mind is still clear and functional. I have lots of ideas that I would like to convert into stories. It will just be harder to do now. In the next newsletter I’ll lay out my future plans for novels and for this newsletter.

See you then.


[“Medicine is magical and magical is art.
Think of the boy in the bubble
And the baby with the baboon heart”
Paul Simon, “The Boy in the Bubble”
from the album Graceland.]

[If you’re reading this newsletter for the first time, I archive back issues of it on my website a week after they are emailed to subscribers. If you’re interested in reading any earlier ones, you can find them here:


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