I woke up about a month ago and my finger was numb. Specifically, my left pinky finger felt like it was asleep. I thought nothing of it until I got to the gym that day. On certain exercises, the weight in my left hand kept slipping. It felt like I was gripping it hard enough but no matter how hard I grabbed it I couldn’t seem to keep it in hand. When I looked at how I was gripping the weight, I felt that numbness again. I also noticed that it was my pinky finger that kept slipping and the ring finger next to it wasn’t doing so well either. Once again, it felt like these fingers were asleep, like I had cut off blood flow for a while. Only this time I hadn’t just woken up, this was in the afternoon and there was no reason for any part of my hand to be asleep.
I wrote it off. Maybe it was a pinched nerve, or maybe it was some injury that I hadn’t noticed. Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t serious and it would go away if I just worked through it. Only it didn’t go away. Day after day I wake up and my left pinky finger is numb. Sometimes it’s better and sometimes it’s worse but it never quite goes away. It’s been a month now and I still occasionally wake up with a numb finger. In fact, it’s a bit numb now as I type this post.
I’ve been putting off going to the doctor because I don’t want to hear what she has to say. Either they’ll tell me it’s nothing serious and I’ll feel like I’m wasting money and time or they’ll tell me it’s something serious and then I’ll have to face the fact that there’s something wrong with me. Except how could there be anything wrong with me? I’m 37 and in great shape. I’m losing weight, training for a marathon, running every day and eating great. How could this possibly happen to me now of all times? How can there be something wrong with me when my junk food eating, no exercise friends are doing just fine?
So I wait and I wait and the numbness doesn’t go away. Except this is stupid. The stress is now doing more harm than any injury possibly could. My mind has invented more horrible alternatives than modern science can imagine. I’ve thought of brain tumors and diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s when the most likely answer is actually carpal tunnel brought on by too much typing.
My grandfather hauled ice for a living before I was born. This was in Israel, in the time before refrigerators. The factory would make ice and he would deliver ice to people who needed to keep food cold. This is where the term ice box comes from by the way. One day he dropped a chunk of ice on his leg and injured himself rather badly. Being the doctor hating man that he was, he bandaged his leg and went on with his life. Except his wound never healed. It simply sat there under the bandage, manageable but always painful. 30 years later, when the injury finally took a turn to the worst, he went to the doctor. The doctors suggested immediate amputation below the knee. My grandfather resisted but they told him he would die if they didn’t do this. So he went through with it and, as he was recovering from the surgery, a clot came up from his leg and caused a massive heart attack which killed him.
He would have died had he not gone to the doctor. The surgery was the best chance he had and it was in fact successful. It was random chance that caused the clot and random chance that killed him. Still, there’s a part of me that always thinks, “well, if only he hadn’t gone to the doctor…”
Modern Medicine Is My Friend
Except this is stupid. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. This hasn’t gone away on its own and I doubt it will. I may dislike some aspects of modern medicine but I also admit some other parts of it are highly effective. So this week I am going to see my doctor and I am going to tell her that my finger has been numb for about a month now. Whatever she says, I will face it head on and deal with the consequences rather than hiding from the problem.
I encourage you all to get yearly physicals and to see your doctor if you have any serious issues. It’s better to know and to deal with the problem than to let stress and time make what could have been a solvable issue into a serious ailment.