I’ve discovered that hands are remarkably sensitive. The dexterity I’ve taken for granted is controlled by a complex network of muscles and nerves that interact with the grace and beauty of Baryshnikov.

I’ve discovered this the hard way. On July 24th I underwent hand surgery on my left hand little finger to correct the tendon tightening disorder called Dupuytrens Contracture. The condition mostly affects men over fifty of Northern European ancestry. Its nickname is Viking Syndrome. [And Niland is a Norse Gaelic name! I guess it was inevitable.]



Hands, like sight, and hearing, and smell, connect us to the world. Hands in so many ways are the most sensual of our senses. We sense hot and cold through touching. Hard or soft. Prickly or smooth.

The sense of touch is the first sensory system to develop in the womb and is likely the most mature at birth.

A man’s hands are more sensitive than his penis. A man loves with his hands. What a man touches he knows.



My surgery was largely successful. Now six weeks out I can move and bend a mostly straightened finger. However, the surgery, and the three weeks of wearing a splint and dressing that immobilized all fingers but the thumb on my left hand, have left my hand with nerve damage that causes pain to my thumb and pointer finger, hand tingling and numbness, and numbness to my entire arm if rested on any surface including being in bed.

I’m on my third support brace to help correct the condition, which hasn’t yet improved very much.

This morning I saw my physical therapist who’s ordered a nerve conduction test to determine whether the tingling numbness is related to my carpal tunnel nerves.  Maybe, maybe not, since my entire arm goes numb when pressured.

What I’ve learned is appreciation for my hands. In Werner Erhard parlance, I’m “out here” with my hands…deep scrutiny of their appearance, sensations, how they bend and stretch, the tightness of my left hand finger muscles, what it feels like to touch different surfaces, hot or cold, my own body. My left hand touch, now, feels entirely different from my right hand, like two different people. My skin feels different to my left hand than it does to my right hand. All those little muscles and nerves playing different right and left hand roles.

I want my left hand returned, back to being synchronous with its mate, and with my whole body: a unified whole of being. Time–and all those hand exercises–is the healer.

Paul Cadmus Tutt’Art@

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  1. I hope your healing goes better soon.

  2. Niland B Mortimer

     /  September 5, 2019

    Thanks, Tim. Weird numbness and tingling continues, but slowly diminishing.


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