Thursday 4 May 2017

Do guinea-pigs have thumbs?

It's like that damn-fool pub-quiz question about how many knees there are for each elephant. And the answer is that guinea-pigs [not Cavia porcellus but Cavia metaphoricus] do indeed have two thumbs. I was down visiting Pat the Salt  and The Girl Who Invented Herself yesterday and she asked me if I had, with 4 years down at The Institute, seen any students through to completion and knew how they were doing. I was able to answer that question also in the affirmative . . .

I've been having trouble in the thumb department and when the Director of the Sports Rehab course asked for volunteers with twinges, sprains and torn ligaments to be assessed by about-to-graduate students, I put forward my name and my thumbs. I thought it would make a more interesting challenge than the usual ankles and cruciate ligaments and I'm not above getting a free second opinion. That meeting had happened earlier yesterday morning. It was providential timing because my appointment was in the middle of an all-morning meeting about something in which I had only peripheral involvement. Accordingly, I slipped out of the meeting and went to clinic building at the other end of campus. Things were running late there but I was surprised and delighted to see three students who were in one of my Cell Biology sections four years ago. I couldn't remember their names, of course, but their faces were familiar and their demeanour was quite different. When I taught them the difference between a liver and a pancreas as First Years they didn't know much but were willing to learn. Now, after all that education and a 4 month work-placement they were ready for launching at the world: upright, confident and I hope competent.

It was nice chatting to them about their prospects and aspirations - part of the course is about how to run your own business but work at the touch-line of the local GAA is more likely and pays better than stacking shelves at ALDIDL. Eventually one of them and I were called in to the treatment room and she started grilling me about whether I was experiencing numbness in my fore-arm. Obviously she had a hypothesis [Leprosy?] but I was able to scotch it with an emphatic No.  We worked through both hands and all 10 digits and after about 30 minutes she called time and I was let go. The two examiners told her that she had 10 minutes to write up her report and came out to the lobby with me. There, I go two further opinions and the promise of a free wrist-thumb brace and the advice to wear it.  They seemed to agree that if I followed their thumb-nurturing instructions I would get better.

When I slipped back into the interminable meeting, it was almost over - Win!

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