I have a terrible habit of cracking my knuckles.
I do it all the time. When I’m bored, when I’m anxious, in the morning, in the evening…
Most people do it anyway, so I never thought it was much of a problem until there was a sickening snap. And I can assure you, whatever image you have in your mind, it was ten times worse. It wasn’t the second knuckle that had dislocated, but the first so my thumb was basically bent at a 180-degree angle.
I reacted just as anyone else would: I panicked and immediately snapped the joint back into place.
Truthfully, I hadn’t even processed what had just happened yet. I had gone through the seven stages of grief in seven seconds, and now I was going to go to bed. No big deal.
But there was a little nagging voice in the back of my head. Naturally, I turned to Google, and when I realized what just happened my hands started to shake.
Luckily, my parents lived about ten minutes away from my apartment in town. I called my mom and explained in rambling sentences what had just happened and that I had to go to the ER.
When I got there and explained the situation, I was hyperaware of how ridiculous and phony the whole story sounded. At this point, my thumb looked totally fine, albeit a little swollen. It didn’t even hurt, but in retrospect, that was probably just the adrenaline.
Waiting was the worst part. I was between hysterically sobbing and maniacal laughter as I waited to be taken back, waited to be seen, and waited for the x-ray technician. To his credit, he had an excellent bedside manner. I would have given him a five-star review on Yelp if I could. He made a joke that I had “one hell of a panic reaction” and (although he wasn’t my doctor and couldn’t diagnose me) said that the x-rays looked good. That really helped me to calm down.
When the doctor finally did show up, he checked my range of motion (which was a task in itself as I was terrified of moving my thumb at all at this point) and as the x-ray technician had said, everything looked good. I was told to follow up with my doctor in a couple of days and was promptly discharged.
I know I shouldn’t have tried to fix the problem myself, but the fact that I had managed to pop the joint back into the EXACT position it needed to be without making the situation any worse was the icing on the cake.
Let this be a cautionary tale.