The morning after the surgery I decided to write about it. I went to my computer and scrambled out a thousand words about my experiences. Being able to dance around the keyboard with my nine available fingers brought me to reckon my recovery time would be nil. But over the next twenty-four hours the hand which had been operated upon began to balloon into a purplish blob. Each of my fingers looked like an inedible éclair. They began to throb like someone had inserted a foreign titanium object into my body. But perhaps I was imagining this. I was like that guy in Kafka’s book who thought he’d metamorphosed into a cockroach, but had really just lost his mind.
Two days after surgery I was called in to substitute teach for summer school. I went in there with my sling and counted as the minutes went by so I could return to bed. The kids wanted to write on my cast, but I feared I would be stuck with the words, “Fuck Mr. Rolland” on my arm for the next six weeks. But then one of the kids said in shock, “Whoa, look at your fingers. They’re not supposed to be that swollen are they?”
My paranoia was justified. I called the doctor’s office and they assured me such a reaction was normal. “You can feel your fingers, right?”
“Yeah, they hurt.”
“Good. Everything’s fine then.”
My right hand was useless. Worse then useless. It was a twenty pound decorative weight keeping me down. There was not much I could do with it. Typing was out of the question as my right hand would collapse on the keyboard giving the spell check massive hemorrhages. Sports were a nono. Cooking was impossible as I couldn’t manage the leverage to use a knife effectively with my left hand. So I began to watch a lot of movies. But it was uncanny how many had a scene where someone got injured. I would wince with their pain as the characters were wheeled into the emergency room and in the next scene limped down the stairs in some sort of cast. And so I waited and waited.
I still have the cast until the end of the month, but the swelling in my right hand went down. The loose skin has settled into a gray wrinkled mess. My hand is like ET’s without the shiny power glowing from the pointer finger.