The Opposable Thumb


The day after thumb surgery 2019 © Stephen Bruno

Perhaps you’ve heard about the opposable thumb that we humans share to a degree with all primates. I have known this relationship with primates since I was a child. Of course, as a naturalist, I understood the importance of the opposable thumb. However, it took an unexpected injury to learn just how significant our opposable thumb is to us, humans.

One morning I awoke intent on performing my countless routine tasks and getting out in nature to photograph wildlife. I quickly realized that whenever I moved the thumb of my dominant right hand in a specific direction or touched something too hard, I experienced intense pain.

I can’t recall having a trauma that created this unexpected situation. I had recently moved to a charming small mountain town and for the first time in many years had to shovel snow on my driveway. I thought maybe that was the cause, but I don’t remember the thumb being painful soon after the snow shoveling. I can’t think of anything that had occurred within a few weeks of the pain that I had done to create this condition.

I could not easily turn the key on and off my vehicle, write using a pen or pencil, brush my teeth, open jars, and at least twenty other normal activities. It soon became apparent that how this occurred was not as important as how it had suddenly and dramatically changed my life.

The intensity of the pain was distracting, to say the least not to mention how restrictive my life had suddenly become. I’m certain that if any of you have experienced what I’ve described some of this is not new to you. Each day I am amazed at the new tasks that I could no longer do without pain.

This month I had surgery on my thumb, and I continue to encourage healing. I remain optimistic in my prognosis.

Throughout all of this and in spite of the pain and definite limitations, the majority of my thoughts are a wondrous curiosity about the power and influence of our opposable thumb and how vital it is in our daily life. How could I have missed this obvious awareness?

Perhaps, it’s true that we don’t fully appreciate something until we no longer have it. I will look at other aspects of my life that I’ve taken for granted with equal dismissal.

5 comments on “The Opposable Thumb

  1. healingbrain says:

    this story meant a lot to me and prompted me to also look at several body, and other issues I took for granted, and giving them more serious consideration. Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the bandage that you have on your hand, it looks comfortable. For some reason I did not realize that it was your thumb that was having the surgery! Wishing you the best recovery and sending strong intentions that all pain subsides and disappears. My goodness I hope that this surgery gives you back your life Stephen. Blessings to you and thank you for sharing your blog with us. I am grateful that you are on the healing side of surgery and that it is over with. Love and Light!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. aeolosgia (Giacinta) says:

    Thank you so much for writing this beautiful share. Anticipating all the wonderful things you will embrace as a result of your exploring those areas of your life that you mentioned taking a look at. You’ve touched my heart with this. Wishing you the perfect timing for your recovery! I’ll be taking a look at aspects of my life that I may be taking for granted too. Seems like a good idea now that you mention it. 😊Great photo by the way! Blessings 🙏🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Clarence O'Neil says:

    I also can relate to those mysterious aches and pains… the monsoon season and Arthur(arthritis) don’t get along at all. Our body talks to us and we listen, especially when we meditate, walk or spend those moments in silence. Stephen, Thank you for sharing your blog and wishing you a speedy recovery. Bright Blessings…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cindy Litton says:

    Im sorry to hear about your thumb Stephen. Wishing you a speedy recovery! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

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