My finger

After eight weeks after breaking a tendon in my forefinger in Rotorua, New Zealand, I’ve finally been able to take it out of the plastic splint for several hours a day and exercise it. It’s stiff but is getting more limber, but what a pain, both physical and logistical! Typing is still immensely difficult, explaining the number of typos I’ve been making for the past two months.

Here’s what it looks like. As with the other finger I did it to, it will have a permanent droop at the tip, though the therapist said it won’t exceed the 15% from horizontal droop considered the biggest tolerable angle. I suspect some reader will actually measure it, and go ahead:

I am told that the original tendon hasn’t grown back, but that scar tissue has formed a “pseudo-tendon”.  This happened to me before, about 15 years ago, with the center finger of the same hand, and I have the same droop there. And it happened exactly the same way: stuffing clothes into a duffel bag with great force, with the hand held vertically. Do not do that! Use your palm! The hand therapist told me that that kind of finger extension is bad, and that a lot of 16-inch softball players get the condition—called “mallet finger“—using the same kind of extension to catch the big ball.

I am wearing a New Zealand greenstone (pounamu) toki (adze shape), for I have pronounced myself an Honorary Kiwi™, and am also wearing my “Ceiling Cat is Watching You” tee-shirt, if you’re interested.


  1. John Crisp
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Jerry, Following your comment on typing, I wonder whether you have considered voice recognition? In my work, I sometimes produce up to 10,000 words a day, and generally about 5,000. I am a slow typist, and also suffer from Dupuytren’s contracture, but with voice recognition I can match the speed of a top-notch touch typist (essentially “typing” as fast as I can think). The system I use is 95% accurate, so proofreading is necessary, but that is true however you get your words onto the screen.

    • Posted June 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      I have been using voice recognition software for dictation of medical reports for over 8 years now and through several iterations of the particular software. I’m not sure which particular program John Crisp is using but I would give his recommendation a thumbs up. You may never go back to typing the old way again.

  2. Posted June 6, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    sorry I am a retired orthopedic surgeon who is now gardening and singing.
    when in practice the splint was in full extension without allowing the joint to bend for six weeks.
    Prior to my education these were treated with internal splint, a win driven across the joint token it from bending.I even found a package with the Riordan pin in a supply closet.
    at eight weeks post injury be careful, you don’t need lot more flexion, but if droops more will be irritating.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    My dad was the catcher on a championship swift-pitch softball team after the War. He ended up with a fist-full of those fingers from errant foul-tips.

    Too bad about your middle finger; the last thing you want is any kind of droop when you shoot someone the bird. 🙂

    • Posted June 6, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      🙂 When viewed straight on, as when you’re flipping the bird, the droop of the finger is not visible!

  4. John Dentinger
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I can empathize with PCC, as I jammed the pinky on my left hand 2 years ago, and even after a PT’s best efforts (and my worst efforts) it’s still not straight.
    My injury was proof of the bad effects of alcohol, as it happened while I carried a case of beer into a dark room, and jammed the pinky against the door frame.
    On the other hand (sorry for the ableist expression), I only type with two fingers, so I still drink a lot of beer.

  5. BJ
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry too much, Jerry. I did this to a couple of fingers playing sports (and toes just being straight-up clumsy), and eventually they feel like normal again (or, perhaps, one just doesn’t notice the difference anymore). After the worst parts are over, you’ll be just fine 🙂

  6. Posted June 6, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Are you listening to the cricket?!

  7. Nobody Special
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    You’ve declared yourself an honorary Kiwi, PCC(E)? Doesn’t one have to be declared such by the group itself? s’kultrul appropriashun’s wot that is!
    Ah well, good luck with the finger. Don’t overdo the exercises, time is the better healer. Interesting to learn that tendons grow a kind of callus similar to that formed after bones break (which I have a lot of experience with, having broken too many to count – some of them were even my own).

    • Posted June 6, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      You can’t be an honorary kiwi if you haven’t packed into a scrum or booted a Garry Owen downfield.

  8. DaveP
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I have the same injury on the same finger, but I’ve still got a few more weeks in the splint. It doesn’t give me a lot of trouble typing on a full size keyboard, but a laptop keyboard is difficult.

    Grappling/jiujitsu injury in my case. Not entirely clear on the specifics of how I did it, I didn’t even feel it, I just noticed my finger looked odd after training.

  9. Jiten
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    And which boots are you wearing? We don’t see your boots anymore!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      If he’s decided he’s an honorary Kiwi, it should be gumboots! 🙂

      • Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 6, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        No, bare feet! I met a woman on a FB group who was from NZ and I knew she was right away because her profile picture included all her family members outside in bare feet.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 6, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          It’s winter here remember! So gumboots are currently an acceptable substitute. But yes, since it’s summer in Chicago, I’ll need a pic of Jerry in bare feet to confirm his honorary status. 🙂

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 6, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

            I’ve seen lots of people in NZ in bare feet in the rain. Mostly they were kids though.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted June 6, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

              Yeah – you put your feet in the mud, or if you’re lucky a fresh, warm cow pat, to keep them warm!

  10. Sastra
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    On the bright side, if some modern Michaelangelo needed someone to model God’s hand as He gives life to Adam for the Sistine Chapel – you’re a perfect replica.

  11. Filippo
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    ” . . . stuffing clothes into a duffel bag with great force, with the hand held vertically. Do not do that! Use your palm! The hand therapist told me that that kind of finger extension is bad, and that a lot of 16-inch softball . . . .”

    I’m reminded of playing middle school basketball, intending to catch the ball passed to me with great force but instead the ball directly ramming the tip of my left ring fingernail, losing the nail, and damaging the nail bed. The nail has looked better over the years but not as it did. It was traumatic enough that I wouldn’t play if I had it to do over. (Looking back, it’s easy enough to fancy it a portent, a warning, nothing compared to the cartilage knee injury and surgery from playing high school basketball.)

  12. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad your finger is getting better Jerry, but I also see the typos are still coming. Greenstone = pounamu.

    • Posted June 6, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Oy.I’ll fix it. Does this make me lose my Honorary Kiwi status (self-assigned, since nobody honored me!)?

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted June 6, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        You can be one if you use more “u”s. As well as the u in pounamu, you have to put one in honour!

  13. Posted June 6, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Sir PCC(E): You are a citizen of the world as I
    hope is acknowledged by all members of this group. Given the number of people in New Zealand who welcomed you into their homes and took you to see unique sites/sights, I would hope that generous acceptance would be recognized as the membership it is.

    Sorry about the finger. There are so many ways to damage digits. I slammed my right hand middle finger in a car door as a youngster and it has never been the same. That finger also is misshapen due to using old technology for writing: pencil and pen. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve broken toes due to exceptional clumsiness. I just tape them together for awhile and hide them in shoes.

  14. ed hessler
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I thought immediately of former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, Alan Page (who also played a little football for Notre Dame and the Minnesota Vikings).

    Here are two paragraphs from the St. Paul Pioneer Press (May 13 2013) about one of his fingers.

    ““What happened to your pinky?” That’s the question Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page is asked in real life and in a new picture book, “Alan and His Perfectly Pointy Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky.”

    “Page was one of the Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eaters from 1967 to ’78 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During his football career, his left hand pinky finger suffered so many dislocations it now bends outward at a 90-degree angle. In the book, Page is visiting a school where the kids are supposed to be on their best behavior. But one little boy just can’t resist asking about Page’s pinky. Page shares his story with the children, accentuating the positives of having a perpendicular pinky.”

  15. Mark R.
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Good to hear you’re mending. I’m 13 months passed a rollover ATV accident that cost me 12 broken bones. Notably a fractured clavicle, 6 ribs and T1-T4. Luckily I didn’t get killed (wasn’t wearing a helmet). And after a year, I still feel the stiffness and lack of 100% mobility, plus new shoulder clicks. Not trying to be a downer…just observing that some injuries either don’t completely heal or take longer than a year.

    • Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Yes, some certainly take more than a year (or even a lifetime).

      I consider any serious injury (or surgery) to be, to some degree, a permanent “withdrawal from the bank”. At least that’s been my experience. Even when young and strong and fit, I never fully recovered from knee surgery (not particularly serious surgery) or shoulder partial dislocations or broken ankles.

      As I tell my wife: Orthopedic pain is just a normal part of my life.

      (I did it all: Mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, back-country skiing (walk up, ski down), and kayaking. I was actually young once.)

    • Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      And: Good luck in your recovery. As I tell everyone: Do your PT exercises at home — and never stop doing them.

      • Mark R.
        Posted June 6, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the wisdom and advice from experience. I did PT, but not consistent now. Probably should do more. I too have many injuries due to outdoor pursuits. Worth it though for the most part.

  16. Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Great shirt Jerry! Love it! 🙂

  17. Posted June 6, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about the injury. Coincidentally, I also presently have three injured fingers on one hand, because of a Very Stupid Thing I did several months ago. Sigh. In other news: where did you get that t-shirt? I just did a search on Google, and although there are many Ceiling Cat t-shirts out there, I don’t see any that are as good as yours! (The full-color design, the well-drawn cloud, the blue color.) Link?

  18. Posted June 6, 2017 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I dislocated my pinkie finger once. It hasn’t been right since!

  19. somer
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear it is finally off – and hope that it is not irritating when it finishes healing. Ceiling cat will want to lick it now.

  20. Posted June 7, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Kia ora bro! welcome! Aotearoa (The land of the long white cloud) has now a ceiling cat to help protect it’s shores. The finger will forever ‘point’ to the South Pacific by way of a reminder ☺

  21. Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Not to be contrary, but that looks a lot like your left ring finger. Are you a southpaw? I’ve got the same bend on my right ring finger. The popular name is jersey finger, not for the state nor for the island inn the Channel, but for grabbing a football opponent’s jersey with the stronger hand.

  22. Zetopan
    Posted June 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    “… a lot of 16-inch softball players …” I don’t watch ball players and I didn’t even know that there were softball players that short!

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