Jim Siergey: Almost Like Tom Thumb’s Blues

December 4th, 2018

I have a bum thumb.

It’s pretty bum.

It’s so bum, all it needs is a long stick with a checkerboard patterned bindle to complete the picture.

It’s been bum for a few weeks now, maybe as many as some. Don’t rightly know what happened to it but there are theories.

There are always theories.

Its sensitivity to touch is so painful that it reaches the yelp mark. By that yelp mark remark, I don’t mean online reviews. I mean an involuntary sound of discomfort. A yelp.

Trying to bend it is even worse. The yelpness of my condition makes it difficult to grasp so I’ve been operating with a thumb and a half. I may still have opposing thumbs but one of them is just posing as a thumb.

Like anything one takes for granted, if it is taken away, one notices how much one uses said anything. Such undertakings as unscrewing a cap, turning a doorknob or pulling up my pants have become difficult and clumsy.

I have become somewhat adept at using my two forefingers as a makeshift thumb but it’s tough doing stuff sans pouce, if you’ll pardon my French.

After about a week of this condition, I broke down and went over to Walgreens and got myself a thumb brace. It is black cloth-covered elastic that slips over my hand, leaving my fingers free and open. The thumb part is padded and stiff enough to work as a soft cast. It gives support to my thumb and decreases the yelpdom considerably.



As one might expect, the soft cast is somewhat cumbersome but like any good athlete, I’ve learned to adapt and now wield it with my usual amount of dexterity and grace. I’m like a gazelle.


Okay, it should be quite obvious by now that I consider any kind of personal discomfort as a situation of monumental concern, however, I do realize how lucky I am to not have a more debilitating disability.  I get the whole thing about crying because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.

A’course, my condition is a bit higher up.

Whatever. After all the adages and bromides have been rolled out, I still have a bum thumb and I still wonder why.

Could the cause be arthritis?  Possibly. This here afflicted thumb of mine was double-jointed. In my youth I could waggle it about in and out of its socket. It was enough to gross some people out. I could also shoot spitballs off of it. Not a great distance, so put down your Guinness Book of Records books, but some distance.

So, it could be ol’ Uncle Arthur coming to visit and stay awhile. O, how dear is the price I pay for phalangeal peculiarity.

But, it seems to have come on rather suddenly so another theory suggests that it could merely be a deep bruise from gripping a tined lawn implement too tightly and too often. Case in point, I have done an awful lot of raking this past Autumn, an awful lot.

We moved this year and these new digs have a great deal of yard space, front and back. And there are these Town Rules about how and when to discard leaves. Being new to the area and having an awful lot of dried tree droppings on my yard and not really knowing schedules and deadlines and such, I raked, like I used to vote when I lived in Chicago, early and often.

Hey! Is there a crime in tryin’ to be a good citizen? Harrumph.

I’m hoping the cause of it is Reason #2. That means it will eventually get better and I’ll know how to avoid such an injury next year. Avoid being the key word.

Ah, well. So I’m bummed by my bum thumb. Call me Sissy Hankshaw if you wish. I don’t care. She knows about thumbs.

And the blues.

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was The Smell Of Sawdust

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