Mommy Thumb

How writer Joe Donatelli got “Mommy Thumb.” Which is an actual thing.

My baby son is a large boy. If he was on a baby football team, he’d be a fullback. No neck. All torso and thick legs. Stout. He will probably be bigger and taller than me as an adult, which is both awesome (for sports purposes) and terrible…

Son: I would like a third steak.

Me: But we only borrowed enough money from the bank for you to eat two steaks today.

Son: Then I will gnaw on the credenza.

After months of feeding and holding the boy – and his twin sister – I began to notice a dull ache and then a sharp pain in my left thumb.

Like any guy I did the smart thing and immediately ignored it, knowing it would get better on its own through MAGIC. The magic of me. Illness and injury is something that happens to other people, not me, because, in my narrative view of the world I am the central character, and the central character does not get a hurty thumb from feeding babies. Well, after a few weeks I was unable to lift either baby without grimacing, which is when my wife nudged me towards the doctor’s office. And this is when I finally accepted that my injured thumb was not something to be ignored but rather was a very important medical development to be explored and written about because it was a thing that was happening to me.

I called my primary care physician, and I was referred to Dr. John T. Knight of the Hand and Wrist Institute in Beverly Hills. I felt relieved. I wasn’t being shuffled off to some lame doctor in the Valley. I was going to an institute, which sounded very official, the type of place where they probably heal you and also set national hand and wrist policy.  The fact that it was in Beverly Hills also set me at ease. There are two types of doctors in Los Angeles – doctors who are so excellent at doctoring that they can afford Beverly Hills’ sky-high rents and doctors whose doctoring errors maim and kill so many patients that they cannot afford a practice in the 90210 postal code.

The walls of Dr. Knight’s office are covered in classy art of hands and wrists. A clip of Dr. Knight making an appearance on “The Doctors” is shown on a loop on a flat-screen, all of which has been placed there to subtly remind the patient, “This will be expensive.”


I was taken to an x-ray room, which I thought was odd because no one asked me if I wanted to be x-rayed. I was told, “Please come this way for the x-rays.” I could have objected, but when someone in a doctor’s office thinks I should be x-rayed, I go because I am not smarter at medicine than someone dressed in scrubs.

The x-ray tech was very nice, and he made the type of comforting small talk that’s necessary when a patient is asked to drape a lead blanket over his genitals, like that’s a normal thing we all do every day—protect our reproductive bits from being radiated. The tech took several x-rays, none of which I ever saw (for all I know there are no x-rays and the whole thing is a scam by Big Lead Genital Blanket), and I was taken to another room to await Dr. Knight.

Dr. Knight was a very nice man. One gets the sense he sees many, many patients, which explains why my appointment to see him was at the very specific time of 3:50 p.m. After bending and twisting my thumb and asking a few questions and me telling him I had twins at home, one of whom was the size of linebacker Von Miller, Dr. Knight determined that I had “mommy thumb.”

Dr. Knight: We see it all the time, usually with moms. It’s called de Quervain’s tendonitis.

Me: I had no idea this was a thing.

Dr. Knight: You can call it daddy thumb if you want.

Me: No. Let’s use the official medical terminology: mommy thumb.

If you’re wondering how to avoid mommy thumbs: 1.) Keep your thumbs and fingers together in a cupped fashion when handling the babies – don’t splay your fingers 2.) Rest the babies on your body – your forearms for example – and not your hands 3.) Have children in your 20s, when you will be less likely to become injured by a 12-pound human being.

I was given a shot of cortisone and sent next door to have a brace made for my thumb and wrist.


The brace drew a lot of attention in public and in the office because human beings tend to fixate on physical maladies so that they themselves can learn something from your poor health so they can stay healthy because it’s never about you, the injured party, it’s about the other person whose health is perfectly fine, because we’re all selfish and terrible.

“What’s wrong with your wrist?”

“I have mommy thumb.”

Then I would explain what mommy thumbs were, and I could see people tuning out when I got to the part about how it was caused by my twins, which are a set of people most others don’t have in their homes and thus cannot relate to.

So I started mixing it up.

“What’s wrong with your wrist?”

“Mommy thumb. It’s from picking up my kids.”


“Do you have kids?”

“Yes, but I never got mommy thumbs.”

“I guess I just love my children too much. Well, see you later.”

It took a few weeks – I reinjured my thumb (heroically) playing softball, necessitating a second cortisone shot – but my mommy thumb is better and the brace is off, joining Das Boot in The Hallway Closet of Honor.



Why Not to Vote for Each 2016 Presidential Candidate (The Reasons are Many)

Reasons why not to vote for each presidential candidate in 2016.

If you’re the type of person who looks for reasons NOT to vote for a presidential candidate, which is typically a good place to start — with the assumption that anyone who wants to be president is a maniac — then you might appreciate our latest series over at (where I am an editor and which is now safe for work). Political writer Lucy Steigerwald is writing a series of anti-profiles on each candidate. They’re pretty much the opposite of the warm, glowing profiles candidates receive when they enter a presidential race. In this series we list all of the reasons each candidate should not be president. Each piece is titled President (NAME) Will Destroy America and Ruin Everything You Love, because this seems to be one of the main themes of this year’s election — how damn scary each candidate is to a large segment of the population.

We started with Donald Trump, and we listed all of the reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, and there were many.

reasons-not-vote-trumpThen we moved onto Hillary Clinton, and we published this piece about all of the reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton.


Next up was Ted Cruz, whom lots of people are new to not liking. For the new haters, we gave them a list of reasons not to vote for Ted Cruz.


Naturally, we had to include Bernie Sanders and all of the reasons not to vote for Bernie Sanders, even though there are a lot of you out there who love America’s angriest grandpa.


Marco Rubio is still in the race, so we hit all of the reasons you shouldn’t vote for Marco Rubio.

reasons-not-vote-rubioAll of the reasons Ben Carson should stick to being a doctor and not be president.


And finally John Kasich, from my home state of Ohio, also should not be president, for these reasons.


You can check out the whole series here.



The Reductress on Magical Thinking

Read the very funny Reductress article about magical thinking.


This Reductress article about magical thinking is good.

The intro:

I’m a mom, a wife, a doula, an urban chicken farmer, a life coach, an extended breast-feeder, a weaver, a kombucha brewer, a yogini, and a Therapeutic Healing Touch practitioner. But most importantly, I’m a mom. And as a mom, I know what’s best for the health of my family: magical thinking.

I’m not stupid. I went to college. I took science classes. So I know about microbiology, infection control, anatomy, physiology, and all that. I am fully aware that the scientific method – including use of a control group, randomization, double-blind studies, and the peer review method – is the best tool we humans have of unlocking the secrets of the natural world to find ways of curing disease.

Science is great. It’s done a lot of good for the world, to be sure. It’s just not right for me or my family.

Read the whole thing here.


On the 20th Anniversary of the final Calvin and Hobbes

Some of the world’s best cartoonists talk about Calvin and Hobbes and Bill Watterson with Playboy on the 20th anniversary of the final Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.


I have a soft spot for Calvin and Hobbes, which along with The Far Side is one of my favorite comics. So I highly recommend this appreciation of Bill Watterson and Calvin and Hobbes, which we published on, almost 20 years to the day after the final Calvin and Hobbes comic appeared in newspapers.

Scott Adams (of Dilbert) told reporter David Hillier:

Calvin and Hobbes will probably be remembered as the best comic strip of all time. It was a perfect combination of characters, art and writing. But I can’t say I was personally influenced by it, other than feeling sad that I couldn’t draw that well. I was a big fan, and the strip was great in its time. And while comics are generally not timeless, he owned his era, plus some.

Read the rest here.


Mayfield Mattress Store Mystery Update

Why are there so many mattress stores in Mayfield Heights? We now have some clues.


A while back I wrote a very important blog post asking why there are so many mattress stores in my hometown of Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Since then some clues have emerged, and I want to give those of you who are deeply invested in this crucial story an update.

Some people commented that they thought the stores might be fronts for organized crime, as Mayfield has been home to some colorful characters in the past. And lo and behold, supporting that theory, a Mayfield mattress store employee recently was charged with embezzling $675,000 from a local retail mattress and bedding company.

While I’m tickled by the idea of a new generation of pezzonovante greenlighting a series of illicit mattress joints, that explanation does not seem plausible. Opening a very public and very visible business concern takes some doing, and the preponderance of such stores draws attention to them. To what? Launder money? Move stolen goods? In this day and age when there is more money to be made by stealing online or through drugs? Does not seem worth it, unless the mafia is less ambitious than it used to be, opting for a more locavore criminal experience.

As it turns out, Mayfield is not the only city in America experiencing an explosion in sleep stores. Houston, Charlotte, Boise, Tucson, New Lenox, Ill., Schererville, Ind. and Chicago, to name a few, are also experiencing a boom.  People are noticing.

“Seriously New Lenox…how many mattress stores do we need?!?!?! There are 5 within 1 mile of one another,” wrote one New Lenox Patch FB commenter. “Can we get some other shops or restaurants please???”

So, what’s with all the mattress stores?

Over at The Straight Dope, Cecil Adams answered a reader question about my favorite business topic of mattress store clusters.

His responses, in a nutshell:

  • The Internet has not disrupted mattress sales. (People still shop for them in person, so brick and mortar stores are viable in a way bookstores are not.)
  • Running a mattress store does not cost much. (Ever been in a mattress store? It’s a big room with some lights and a desk. That’s it. It’s what the Apple store would look like if the Soviets won the Cold War.)
  • Mattress purchases are proof that we are coming out of the recession. (Mattress sales dipped when the economy tanked.)
  • The markup is insane. (Profit margins on a mattress run a whopping 30-60 percent.)

There are other theories floating about as well.

  • We notice mattress stores in a way we don’t notice other stores because their signs are huge.
  • Wave after wave of research has confirmed the importance of sleep for good health, so people are making good sleep a priority.
  • Mattress stores cluster near pedestrian foot and auto traffic, near a Wal-Mart or other large store or row of shops, so it makes sense that so many of them would be located in the same space.

Sorry to spoil everyone’s dream of a Sotto Capo di Serta running card games and stolen minks out of the back of a Mayfield mattress store, but it looks more like some heady entrepreneurs have gone to the mattresses.

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