Most people

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Regular readers will recall that I had my right hand operated on for Dupuytren’s contracture in March. It’s a genetic problem that causes my pinkie fingers to slowly curl in. While it hasn’t been painful for a few months, it’s still the longest recovery I’ve ever experienced from any medical issue—even when I fell off a shopping cart and split my kneecap. (Yeah, I was sober.) The constant nagging pain released a bunch of emotional blockages. I don’t have the education to describe the phenomena—I just didn’t much like it. I was crabby, distracted and neurotic for months following the surgery. The hand is still not 100 percent, but I can live with it.

I’m past the crises, but the memory adds to my trepidation at the thought of a new and different procedure, this one on my left hand, which will happen on the day this newspaper comes out.

Instead of cutting my hand open and slicing out the collagen deposits collected on the tendons, which is what thickens the cords and pulls my fingers in toward the palm, there will be injections of a chemical named Xiaflex along the tendon. The Xiaflex is supposed to soften the collagen deposits, allowing the doctor to release them. I get the shots Thursday. Friday, the doctor will sharply bend my fingers backward, hopefully to break the deposits without rupturing the tendons.

This is supposed to be much less painful, with a quicker recovery. I’ll let you know. I’m doing it for one reason only: To prevent ever having my left hand reach the point where it must be cut on.

Henry David Thoreau: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I think about people who must undergo medical procedures, like cancer treatments or –ectomies or quadruple bypasses. We are born imperfect, human, on a slow march to death. I think that it’s the bravery with which some individuals face medical procedures—not me, obviously—designed to prolong and improve life, by which they define their entire time on Earth—never having done anything courageous that wasn’t designed to lengthen their desperation.