Monday, March 02, 2009

Give Me a Hand. No, Really.

Dupuytren's Disease

I went to an orthopedist today to have him look at what I thought was a run-of-the-mill ganglion cyst. It turns out that I have Dupuytren's Disease, also known as Dupuytren's Contracture. It’s a condition where lumps and thick cords form on your palm, eventually making it impossible to hold your hand flat and causing the fingers to curl in until you, quite literally, have a part-time claw on your hands. The condition is hereditary, most common in people of European descent. It usually occurs in men over 45 (it's ten times more likely to afflict men than women, cementing my long-held theory that I’m a guy that God accidentally put breasts on).

The doctor injected a load of cortisone into the lump on my left hand (which, let me tell you, hurts) in an effort to slow down the process. Then he examined my right palm. “Oh look!” he said, pointing to a thick cord that I’d mistaken for a tendon. “It’s already starting on the other hand, too.”

I got home and took to the internet thinking, “Surely this isn’t as serious as he’s making it out to be.” On various websites I was treated to such warnings as:

Over time, as the contracture develops, the fingers become clawed as they are pulled towards the palm.

The fingers are completely pulled against the palm.

Often, the skin of the palm is dimpled and puckered.

Ew, just ewww. And the really good news:

More severe disease often occurs with an earlier age of onset. (ie. Me)

“Are you going to have lobster claws?” Jess asked when I told her. “I really hope not, but they would help make you a cool-crazy old aunt someday.”

That would’ve been nice. I think I could’ve pulled off lobster claws. I’d have told people that it was a gang sign. “Yeah, that’s right. I run with The Crustaceans. What, you haven’t heard of us? We’re the new Latin Kings.”

But Dupuytren's tends to curl in the pinky and ring fingers more than the other digits. So it appears I’ll be spending my latter years looking like That Dude at the frat party perpetually shooting the finger guns at people. I’m going to grow up to look like a douchebag is what I am telling you. This, I think we can all agree, is decidedly less cool.

Many thanks to Kelley from Home in the Heights and Alana from, who plugged my blog today. That was a happy little surprise after an utterly strange afternoon.


Petunia Face said...

Oh dear god. At least you'll still be able to give the peace sign. And the finger.

BTW--I have a ganglion cyst on one butt cheek. My husband keeps telling me I should get it checked out, but now I'm not so sure. I would hate to find out that my butt will curl into itself over time.

Noelle Hancock said...

hahaha. I love it. Def get it checked out. Nobody needs an inverted ass.

Reeky said...

wow, wild stuff, never heard of anything like this.

will it affect your work? your writing?

later in life, you'll be the lady giving everyone "air quotes" when you talk.

Ranger Tom said...

I get this weird thing in my left hand from time to time... my thumb completely crosses over my palm al on it's own and covers my palm and I can't bend it back.

Weird, huh?

Noelle Hancock said...

Air Quote Lady! That's hilarious. I've found my new Halloween costume.

Lisa D said...

Please check with a reputable hand surgeon. A friend of mine was diagnosed with this condition about ten years ago. He was around age 60 at the time. He had surgery in Spokane, Washington. He no longer has any problem, uses his hands frequently to do intricate work (building/repairing machinery and small electrical motors), and is pain free. His hands looks normal except for a fading scar on the palm.

Ken said...

It started showing up in my left hand with 2 hard lumps at age 35, I had surgery to remove them and within 4 months I had 5 lumps in that hand !
I'm now 43 (male) and I have 2 lumps in my right hand also. My hands ache all the time.