Written by Dr Ilana Mendels

This week I suffered an excruciating injury to my hand. Luckily, it was my left hand. Unluckily it was my thumb. Luckily, I live in Sydney home to the Sydney Hand Hospital frequented by surgeons and musicians globally.

Being the sort of person who makes sure everything is stable before proceeding to action, I promptly took myself to emergency. It happened after bending my thumb back during training, and hearing that G-d awful soft tissue tearing sound that is as equally horrifying as feeling your pants split when you bend to pick up a patient. Both are equally embarrassing, but this hurt more; much more.

I felt so grateful, that the radiology department could rule out a fracture quickly, and that the emergency doctor was well trained in assessing hand injury. The professionalism and acute care was brilliant. And having been involved in hospitals over the last couple of years for different reasons, it was nice to see a speed of service similar to what we offer in the veterinary clinical setting for a change.

Still, I was forced to consider my options; while I sat there waiting for confirmation as she spoke tothe specialist consultant, that no serious long term injury would be predicted. What would I do? How would I work? Would I like not working?

Since graduating, I have held income protection insurance. Mainly out of the fear that breast cancer which plagued my grandmother would befall me eventually. I never thought something as acute as a sporting injury would cause me to cash in. And yet, there was great comfort, as I sat there knowing that I was protected even if I was off for a month. And that the policy had been up regulated with my income over time. So, I was safe.

Now, as a locum I depend on the regularity of my casual work for regular income and professional joy. I imagine I would be quite sad if I had to give it up. Especially, since I spent so much time learning and growing into the role that I love. And I affirmed, I really do love it!

As I sat waiting I practiced flexing and mobilising every other joint in my left hand, and was pleasantly surprised with my dexterity and co-ordination. It seems that a decade of frustrating 3 & 4 finger OHE ligament manipulation and splenectomy haemostat application without an assistant has its benefits over time. Good job, I told myself!

“I might be able to work without a thumb” I thought in the extreme… why not? We often take for granted the small things our body learns, and can do. And we often neglect to put in place mechanisms to nurture and protect the bodies that we grow into. I’m happy I won’t end up in surgery or with any permanent damage, and I’m happy I have income protection insurance too.

Have you every had an injury that effected your work life? Let us know in the comments below!