Perhaps some Juniper Berry readers have genetic origins in Central Europe. In the early 20th century there were no countries in Central Europe yet such as Hungary, Poland, etc. There was only a large, mountainous region known as Galicia, and within that region there was a section that is now called Hungary.
In 2008 I developed Dupuytren’s Contractures, a condition that Central Europeans are prone to, which caused my hand to turn into a claw almost overnight and become paralyzed. I ran to a hand doctor named Dr. Ignatius Daniel Roger in Woodhaven who I had heard has a lot of patients originally from the Galicia region in Europe.
I insisted on seeing him that day, saying that I would not leave until he saw me because my hand was no longer functional after only a few days. When he finally saw me as his last patient he asked me why I was there, and I held up my claw and his response was ‘So, you’re Hungarian?” Yep, that was my family.
That’s when I heard about Dupuytren’s, and was warned that if I did not get it corrected within ten days, my claw would turn into a fist and he would not be able to get in there to fix it. Long story short, two days later I was operated on for almost three hours. My hand was flat again by methods that you would not want to know about, and I learned that my hand would no longer be functional.
After months of hand therapy to keep it flat, I made up my mind that I would get function back no matter what I was being told. I started by tying a brush to my fingers with twist ties and fooling around with Chinese ink callig- raphy. By the end of the year, I was actually getting some movement back and thought that I would keep painting and try to assemble scale model cars. Being the forever optimist and to make the hand useful again, I also decided to forbid myself the use of tweezers to assemble the very small parts in the car kits. I became my own physical therapist with no co-pay.
I insisted on seeing him that day, saying that I would not leave until he saw me because my hand was no longer functional after only a few days.
You should have heard the cursing each time that I dropped the tiny door handles that fit on the models. This went on for months. Again, long story short, by year number two I was still fumbling, but was now attempting oil painting, and my car models weren’t looking half bad.
Fast forward to 2020, and over 60 of my models are now in a lit glass display case in a fine automotive museum named America on Wheels in Allentown. PA. And also, we have run out of walls to hang my paintings. And to look at my hands, you would never know that there was a problem. Dr. Roger rocks!