I first thought it was the onset of arthritis. That winter I had chopped wood, lots of it. Not just small logs but great big ones, mainly pine, and as my skill improved, so did the fun I had doing it. I knew exactly where to land the axe to get the wood to split. But when my wrist started hurting and didn’t stop hurting for a good week, to the point where the pain became excruciating, I became worried.
Integrating was one thing, but I began visualising that my hands and wrists would end up like that of the majority of female villagers; deformed.
My GP, a stoic Galego who tends to write of most things as ‘nerves’ took one look at it, prodded it a bit and declared it a ganglion and that it was nothing. “But it hurts, “I insisted. He insisted back that it couldn’t hurt. I asked him what I could do about it and he sighed his usual sigh, peered over his glasses and said “nothing.”
It was a few days later that my wrist began to swell, not just a little but to the point where there was a clear ball visible on my wrist. But the good news was, there was no more pain.
However, the lump didn’t go unnoticed and so started the “What on earth is that?” phase. Not just villagers I knew, but complete strangers would recoil and ask what it was.
It did look pretty horrific I must admit, as if my wrist bone was about to emerge – aliens style- from my wrist.
Some villagers were worried it might be something serious, and when I said that the local GP had said that it was nothing to worry about, they scoffed. Didn’t I know that he had once misdiagnosed villager S’ cousin and that she died shortly afterwards of cancer? I ought to get a second opinion.
Kids looked at my wrist in horror and I started to make sure I covered it up with long sleeves, which was ok until it was summer. I convinced Villager M’s granddaughter, who never stopped staring at it, that it was a special wishing button and that she ought to press it and make a wish. She then was less scared but she never stopped nagging to press it.
I went back to my GP after half a year or so when it was still there, he said it was pointless trying to remove it, that it would go away by itself.
I had now entered the “Have you still got that thing” phase, where my neighbour told me every week that her daughter in law had had one too and that her son had massaged it with great force and that it had disappeared and that I should go to the chapel of Saint Benito and make an offering.
Others simply urged me to tell my GP to refer me to a specialist.
Youtube told me to bash it with a big book which I tried several times, with no result, apart from pain.
A few years before I had cured tennis arm like pains in my arm by letting stinging nettles sting the affected area, which worked. (Villager T had heard I had done this and allegedly tried to cure his shoulder ache, but only ended up with a massive itch)
It didn’t work for the ganglion.
Villager P’s brother, who often rode past out village on his donkey, noticed it one day while I was washing my clothes in the outdoor tank build for that purpose in the middle of the village.
He was evangelical with his suggested cure: nail slime. I listened patiently to him explaining how I had to apply it and how often and I thought that idea so crazy that I had to try it. Herbal remedies I had heard off obviously but snail slime? I googled and some beneficial stuff came up, I hunted down some snails from spots I knew where to find then and kept them in a plastic container, rubbing them over my ganglion three times a day. It was disgusting. It also didn’t do anything, so I stopped.
The next time I saw Villager P’s brother, a month or so later, he immediately asked if it had worked, and when I showed him my ganglion was still alive and well in all its wristy glory, he claimed I had been doing it wrong.
But I was fed up with all the useless remedies. I decided to just leave it alone.
The ganglion weirdly had become part of me over time, as if I’d grown an extra limb, I found myself often pressing it, even though I never made any wishes.
Last summer I visited a special spring in the area, I’m not a great miracle believer, but the minerals in it are good for plenty of ailments. I let my hands run under the hot water because it felt nice.
Two days later, my spring visit forgotten, my wrist started hurting again, but it did so now and then and I paid little notice. The next morning, my right hand automatically moving over to my left hand to press the ganglion, I noticed it had halved. The next day, it seemed to have completely deflated.
And so the last phase started. The villagers asking where on earth that big lump had gone.
It must be something in the water, I answered.