The Importance of a Thumb

ThumbupI haven’t been here for over a month because back in December 2014, I managed to get a nasty infection in my right thumb. How? I’m not sure. Was it the crab I cracked (and scratched myself with)? Was it my pre-holiday manicure? My cat, who somehow got a single claw stuck in my hand? All of the above? None of them?

We’ll never know.

I’ve been obsessing for weeks over the cause and finally I realized my infected thumb is no different than my daughter Katie’s autism. It simply is. There is no need to know the cause because it won’t change the fact that my thumb is now infected and swollen to the point that I can’t bend it. Not even a little. Knowing the cause won’t change the fact that I had to take four rounds of antibiotics, and after two lengthy visits to urgent care, have been referred to a hand specialist who is closely monitoring my progress (or lack thereof)* with bi-weekly appointments.

So far, although it’s definitely been a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of ordeal, I am making progress, although it’s not as fast as I would like. In fact, it’s been downright slow. Glacial even. And that frustrates me because the specialist has already told me that I’ve got at least three months of physical therapy and rehabilitation after my thumb heals to regain full mobility of my sorry looking digit. And don’t even get me started on how I feel about losing my thumb nail. Sigh.

Like I said, it has been, and will continue to be, a slow recovery process.

Here’s the thing: knowing the cause won’t change any of that. Sure it might be interesting to know for sure, but really all that information does is give me something to blame. If autism has taught me anything over the past eight years, it’s that anger and blame serve no purpose. Instead, I need to embrace my situation with acceptance, compassion, and yes, even love. This is easy to do when things go well, but much, much harder during times of pain and sorrow.

800px-White_flowers_summer_dayAfter nearly two months without use of my right thumb, I’m struggling to accept my (temporary) limitations and the slower pace they bring. Things I’d planned to do have been postponed. But this also frees up precious time for reflection and relaxation. So I’m embracing my situation rather than resisting it. I’m focusing on growth and healing. When my thumb is once again fully operational this spring, I’ll be ready to bloom.

Until next time,
Cynthia Patton

* NOTE: As an attorney, I get to use words like thereof that other people can’t. I think it’s written right on my diploma!

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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