Nothing to do with stroke or vision loss, but I have another interesting disease, I’ve discovered. In the photograph above of my left hand I’ve outlined three small hard nodules beneath the skin. They are not very easy to see in the photograph but I notice them a lot when I wash my hands, or sometimes when I grasp objects. Each is about the size of a pea.
I though they must be the first signs of Dupuytren’s contracture (something like ‘Dew-pwee-trenz’) and my doctor confirmed this for me today.
The condition is caused by thickening of connective tissue in the palm. If it progresses far enough it will cause my fingers to become permanently bent. You can see that the middle and ring fingers are the ones affected. It’s not life-threatening but it would make it hard for me to grasp things and it would interfere with typing. I was thinking of taking up the mandolin again and of course it would be disastrous for that.
It is named for Baron Dupuytren, a very notable surgeon and physician near the beginning of the 19 century. (It seems he had the honour of treating Napoleon for piles.) Dupuytren was not the first person to note the disease but he seems to have devised an operation to relieve it, and he gave a lecture which was translated from French into English and published in the Lancet.
And where do Vikings come into it? Well there is a gene the predisposes people to Dupuytren’s and the disease is commonest in northern Europe, with its highest prevalence in Iceland. So this has led people to suggest the gene is of Scandinavian origins and was spread by the Vikings. This suggests I have Viking ancestry somewhere!
What’s my prognosis? Well it may progress slowly, it at all, and I might escape significant contracture. Even if my fingers do start to bend seriously there are a range of surgical and non-surgical treatments. So I’m intrigued rather than worried by this disease.