Years ago, my right index finger was permanently cocked as if pulling the trigger on an imaginary pistol. I could straighten it with the help of my left hand, but as soon as I released the finger it flopped back into the cocked position. After about a year of this I went to see the doctor.
The doctor scratched his head and sent me to a plastic surgeon, who called in the head of the department. They all puzzled over my finger and decided I had a neurological disorder, so they sent me to a neurologist.
I don’t know where they dug this guy up, but he was ancient. ANCIENT. He shuffled in carrying a clipboard, and slapped it down on the counter.
“What’s going on in your life?” He barked.
“Well, I started a new job…”
“That’s one thing. Who’s breathing down your neck?”
“Uh, no one. It’s just, well, a lot of work, and a little overwhelming.”
“I was unemployed for a year-and-a-half…”
“Who punched you in the eye?”
I had a black eye due to an encounter with a wooden shelf in my bathroom. I explained this with a lot of head-shaking for my stupidity, and finally he got down to business.
“Why are you here?” he said.
I showed him the finger…the bent one…and he had me sit on the exam table and do a variety of movements to test my neurons. He decided that I had Bell’s Palsy when I was young, because, according to him, the lines in my forehead were only on one side. Trust me, they go all the way across.
I insisted that I never had Bell’s Palsy.
“But I might have writer’s cramp,” I said, having researched it online, and his eyes lit up.
“Exactly! Trigger finger!”
He said, “We can shoot the muscle with Botox to make it relax, or give you an oral medication that isn’t effective.” Isn’t effective. He said there was a law against Botox treatment at the time, but a couple of guys at the facility could do it. A couple of guys? I asked about the side-effects to Botox, and he explained, “If they give you a big enough dose it could kill you.” Kill me. And then to really reassure me he added, “Look, we don’t know what we’re doing, but we have a treatment that could help.”
That made sense.
So he made an appointment with a Dr. Garcia for a Botox injection. Maybe I could get a shot in my forehead wrinkles to straighten them out too.
Dr. Garcia, a less ancient doctor of few words, explained the procedure.
“You’ll need a shot every six months. Forever.”
The idea of being injected with a neurotoxin twice a year for the rest of my years didn’t sound appealing. “What about acupuncture?” I said. “Could I try that instead?”
“Have you ever had a patient try acupuncture as a treatment?”
“No. Botox works.”
“Well,” I said, “Now you do.”
And with that parting comment I hopped off the table and walked out of the clinic and got in my car and drove home.