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bob thumb


We’ve had a number of “physical decay” entries in this blog during the past couple of weeks. Not to pile on, but here’s my story:

For the past week, at least three times every day, I’ve taken a couple of grams of a white drug that you lay down in a line on a card. Yeah, you guessed it: I’m doing VOLTAREN.voltaren Although it sounds like the name of a Star Trek villain from the planet Org, it’s innocuous, perfectly legal, and no fun at all. It’s a topical gel whose active ingredient is diclofenac sodium, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat sore or inflamed joints and muscles. You rub it into the affected area (the tendons that attach my left thumb to my hand), and it’s supposed to seep in there, and relieve the pain.

This sounds suspiciously like ASPERCREME, or BEN GAY, or any of a dozen other old-fashioned liniments and ointments our grandparents used to use. I distinctly recall, years ago, seeing Maria’s grandmother diligently rubbing ASPERCREME into her gnarled, arthritis-ridden fingers, day after day, and thinking it was a total waste of her time and money. Well, the laugh – and the goopy gel of dubious therapeutic value – is now on me.

The weird thing is, I have no idea how I got tendonitis in the first place. My doctor says it’s common among gamers and others, like compulsive smart-phone users, who constantly repeat, for hours every day, sweeping, scrolling, and clicking motions with that thumb. That’s not me. Somehow, I got the pain without the hours of pleasure of putting Angry Birds through their paces or rapid-firing virtual automatic weapons at endless hordes of baddies.

Worse yet, I don’t even think the gel is working. It takes quite a bit of rubbing and massaging to get it to soak in, and when I’m done I imagine for a few brief moments that the pain seems to fade. But wouldn’t I get that effect from six minutes of massage with regular old hand lotion?

Let’s consider my options if this goop doesn’t do it: There’s acupuncture if I want to go the age-old-but-pooh-pooh’ed-by-modern-medicine approach, or the reportedly instant gratification awaiting me if I let them inject cortisone into the joint. They say the only thing that hurts after a cortisone shot is the spot where they poked you with the needle (and your bank account if it’s not covered), but there’s also the rumor that once you go down the cortisone road, there’s no turning back.

Let’s hope the mighty VOLTAREN does the job. Because if that glorified ASPERCREME doesn’t cut it, my choices are a bunch of little needles that might or might not work, or one bigger needle that almost surely will work but may doom me to a life of ever-less-effective injections. Do I want to be a human pincushion, or just another cortisone junkie?

And they say getting old isn’t any fun. Gotta go now – time to do another two-gram line.