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What is the Value of a Pinky Finger? or Would you Trade Your Hand for Financial Security?

December 1, 2010

Yo-Yo Ma

These are the kind of things I think about as I drive to and from physical therapy. Today was my last visit with Kathleen at Triangle Orthopedic. I will miss her. She is a saint. The surgeon “officially” released me after nine and a half weeks of treatment. In other words, as she explained to me, they’ve done all they can do. The rest is up to me and whatever my body decides to accomplish on its own. I have made progress. In fact, they tell me I’ve made “remarkable progress” considering the seriousness of the injury and I am inordinately grateful…most of the time.  I still can’t help but wish now and again that I had my pain free, fully functioning hand back.

As a young person I was much better at “going with the flow” of life. I broke my leg at five, had heart surgery at seven and any number of other personal setbacks throughout my early years. Never once did I consider the future. I never questioned if I would walk after the cast on my leg was removed or whether the heart surgery would affect my life in any way. It was all good and I simply took one day at a time believing that my body would not fail me.

But now? The view from almost sixty is quite different. I move forward in a practiced way but I am considerably more aware of the permanent of physical illness and injury, such as the car accident that left me with a less than perfect pinky. “It’s just a pinky!” you say. Trust me, I hear the same words in my head, but I didn’t know how important having a pain free, fully functioning pinky was to me until I no longer had one. I use it for everything!

Down the road there will be financial compensation. The accident was in no way our fault, but that is when I raise the question, “is trading in my pinky for financial gain worth it?” I mean if I had a choice.  When I asked a friend this question she said, “Absolutely! I don’t need my pinky! I would definitely trade it for financial security.”  I am quite certain that Yo-Yo Ma would feel differently.

Automobile insurance is a wonderful thing. Everyone should have it. The driver of the truck that hit us should have had it. He also should have had a legal driver’s license. There isn’t sufficient money in the world, however, to replace the sounds that Yo-Yo Ma can produce on the cello using his pinky finger.

The permanence of my injury gives me pause. No, it isn’t serious in the overall scheme of things. Yes, it will continue to improve for at least a year or better. And yes, the financial gain will be appreciated. But, if I had a choice? No, I wouldn’t trade my hand for financial security. There is no dollar amount that can replace physical health and pain free living, at least for me.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2010 8:10 pm

    Hi Dorothy – thank you for finding my blog and passing along my invitation for Best Photo of the Year – I look forward to yours. I resonate so much with this post! I’m turning 60 on the 29th of this month and am not sure how I feel about it. My pinky fingers are fine, but my thumb joints are going the way of the dinosaurs…extinct. This idea of being “young in my soul” but creaky in my body is just not sitting well with me! I’ve been going through menopause for 10 long years and now look like my grandmother. Long ago now is the size 10 I wish I still were…but if that meant I had to change my current lifestyle to get it I say no way. I have a 3 1/2 year old grandson and I adore being a grandmother. I loved my own grandmother just as she was. In these 27 days left until I turn 60 I’m thinking more about what is still left for me to do. I’m planning to live to 100 before thinking of retiring and that gives me another 40 years to accomplish the many things on my list. I have many paintings still to do, many mosaics to do; my brain is chock full of digital designs still to be created; I’m starting a jewelry line featuring my images; my art blog is still an infant and needs care; and these are just my “vocation” things. Whether or not I face thumb joint replacement I don’t know. Whether I will adapt to useless thumbs as I get on with getting on I don’t know. But I wouldn’t trade anything I currently have for a financial security I don’t earn. – Have a very Happy Holiday Season this year!

    • December 2, 2010 8:58 pm

      What a joy to read your comment Linda! Of course I resonate with everything you say ~ being 8 mos. shy of 60. It is indeed a struggle to accept all the changes that have taken place in the last decade while facing the fear of the unknown future decades. I have a gazillion irons in the fire myself and wondering if I will get them all done ~ probably not! But I like the idea of living to 100 as long as my brain and fingers still work! I see women everywhere older than us and still going strong, but the thing we know we have for sure is right now!

      Come back again soon! (I love your art!)

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