If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.


As a husband, father, son, and physician, I am used to being the rock.  I am used to being the one that has an answer for everything.  When something happens, I have that “normal face”, and remains calm to work through the situation.  The most humbling experience I’ve had lately is to suddenly have to use this calm reasoning on my own situation, and question everything I thought I had already figured out about injury.

I was recently working on my bench technique, 7 weeks out from a bodybuilding show which you shoulder never do by the way, and hurt my left thumb.  I changed grip on the bar and felt a pop on the pressing phase of the bench.  I racked the weight, and the tip of my thumb had a spasm into flexion and I couldn’t actively extend it.  I immediately did a self check to make sure I could passively move it, then politely asked a bystander if I could see if I could squeeze him arm, to see if I could still do my treatment to work.  I then thought about my family and if I could still change a diaper.  My whole Chiropractic career flashed before my eyes.  Will I be able to practice still?  I use my thumb for my treatment, how long will this take to heal?  Do I have to change professions now?  Will I be able to provide for my family still?

As I was driving to ProScan Imaging to get an MRI, I was pondering everything in my life that I thought was important and these were replaced by the things that are ACTUALLY important in my life.  I still can breathe, I can still walk, I still have my family, I still can drive, I am still conscious.  I immediately thought about the love and support I get from not only my wife and kids, but by my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, other relatives, and Chels’s family.  It gave me a sense of overwhelming calmness and I was able to collect my thoughts and come up with a plan.

I have four options:

ONE: I ruptured my distal extensor tendon, have to get surgery, and will be unable to use the thumb for 8-12 weeks.  So I started texting my Ortho buddies for possible appt times and thoughts on this.

TWO: The tendon avulsed the bone from the finger, or the tendon actually ripped a small piece of bone away from the finger, but the tendon was still intact.  I could splint and let heal for 6-8 weeks and resume life.

THREE: I partially tore the tendon.  I could splint and let heal for 6-8 weeks and resume life.

FOUR:  This would be the best case scenario.  I severely strained the distal extensor tendon and the trauma and inflammation caused a “trigger finger” reaction.  I would splint for 1-2 weeks and rehab appropriately.

Luckily, in the end it was option FOUR, a very bad strain, with so much inflammation that it imitated a trigger finger.  I am treating it consistently, and it is improving quickly.  During these moments I am reminded of how close we come to injury in our daily life, and how important it is to train to be “anti-fragile”.  I was also reminded of how important my family is and my health.

As a doctor, it is helpful to sit on the patient side from time to time, to remind yourself what its like to be in that journey to improve your current state.  I have been living more in the moment since then, and tell my family how much I love and appreciate them every day.

If you want to share a similar story that challenged and then inspired you, reach out: brian@indymuscle.com


Brian Watters