I did a long bicycle ride on Wednesday. With about 20 kilometres to go, my right thumb stopped working. I use it to press a button which moves me to a harder gear. I pressed … and nothing happened. The thumb just collapsed. A very big “Oh, oh!” And a very big panic welled up. No thumb, no gear changes, no Tour du Canada.
I let the fear take over for a minute or two. There was a compression in my body and a sadness in my soul. Then an inspiration: I moved my right hand to a place where I could brace the heel on the handlebar, and pushed the button with my index finger. It worked! Gosh, I’m so smart – until that finger buckled. I then moved to my middle finger (you know, the one that’s so good at saluting) and finished the ride that way.
I woke up on Thursday morning with an aching thumb and wrist. I deduced that I wouldn’t be able to see a physio until after my plane to Vancouver takes off (next Friday) so instead I went to Shoppers Home Health Care for a brace. The woman helping me was brilliant and found a sturdy one that addressed arthritis and the particular joint that was sore. It definitely helped but I still had trouble turning the key in Scarlet’s ignition. I figured the digit needed rest for a day or two.
And then this morning I awoke to the word “physio”. In the shower, I couldn’t squeeze the shampoo tube. And the fear rose.
Off to St. Thomas and the physiotherapy clinic I’ve patronized over the years. It didn’t matter that an appointment was unlikely … some force was propelling me there. The receptionist was polite, but informed me that the earliest available session was on June 14, the day before I fly. (Sigh) I was about to walk out the door in search of another clinic when a voice behind me said “Maybe I can help you. I don’t want you to have to leave.” And there stood my guardian angel.
“Emma” smiled and told me acupuncture could help. “Oh, please yes!” In the loveliest of serendipities, a client had cancelled for right then. Emma took my wrist in her hands and there was a crunch – all those bones rearranging themselves. Then she sat me down and inserted five needles from my hand to my elbow. What an odd, slightly stinging sensation. I felt some relief when Emma took the needles out. Plus she’s making room for me on Tuesday.
Off to the health food store to stock up on herbs for my big trip. The woman behind the counter gave me a dab of Kalaya Pain Rub, full of wondrous natural ingredients. Soon after I took off the brace to receive the ointment, my hand started shaking. I watched, fascinated, as my friend explained about electrical activity. It was very cool to watch.
Next was a message from the ether – “Go to your bike shop.” I figured it was just to get some emotional support, as I struggled with the possibility of not riding across Canada. Once in the door, I approached Sygnan and heard myself saying “Is there anything you can do for me?” I really didn’t think there was. Going over to a display bike, I tried pressing on the same type of button as I had on ta-pocketa, and I couldn’t budge it. (More sighing) But Sygnan, my hero, found a rotary gear shifter in a catalogue, one where I’d use my whole hand to change gears rather than putting pressure on my thumb. And he also located a brake lever that was far easier to move than what I had.
I drove over to a shop in London to pick up the shifter, and the brake levers should be in on Tuesday. So I can have them installed by Wednesday, have Sygnan partially dismantle ta-pocketa and pack her in a bike box, and head to Toronto airport on Friday morning, on the road to my summer adventure. My dear right thumb won’t be needed. It can take its time to mend.
So … there are forces in the universe holding me tenderly, supporting me in my vision of crossing Canada and being good to all the folks I meet. I am surrounded by love and am being pulled towards the future. There’s mystery and grace and sweetness in the world.