John Elway has Dupuytren’s contracture. So do I. For those who don’t know about it, it is often called the “Vikings’ disease,” as it appears to afflict people of northern European extraction more than others. My mother was Irish, and she and her sisters were known as a bunch of redheads, so I assume that is where it came from. She had it, as did my older brother.
The disease causes certain fingers on the hand to contract and pull towards the palm, as if making a fist. It is uncomfortable, and there is no cure. That is key and critical to Elway’s involvement. In severe cases the symptoms can be alleviated, but only temporarily.
The last time I saw a physician about my case, it turned out to be a good physician. He told me to live with it, as symptoms don’t always get worse. It could be that mine will not worsen, and indeed they have not since that time. I have three fingers that are bent, but my brain has adapted and I can still work a keyboard as fast as ever. I have on occasion shown my hands to people, palms facing one another, saying “Look! I can point four directions at once!”
However, in 2015, I was more concerned. I thought it was arthritis, affecting only my right pinky. A different doctor recommended treatment, which consisted of painful injections in the palm of the hand and finger itself. A day later, after the injection had softened the cords that had formed, she (standing all of 5’2″ and weighing maybe a hundred pounds) grabbed the finger and twisted it with all her might until there was a Pop! And then another. It was quite comical.
I was supposed to go to physical therapy after, but one session told me I could do without it. The finger was normal again. End of story.
Over the following year the contracture returned. It is now just like it was then. As I said, there is no cure, but this is critical and key: I was shocked, and I mean shocked, to see the invoices that passed between the doctor and Medicare. The company that made the injection, the enzyme Xiaflex, (Endo Pharmaceuticals), charged $9,999 for it! Medicare only reimbursed $3,333, but I was left with Catholic guilt. That amount of money for my pinky?
Beyond Xiaflex, surgery is available for the disease, and it is even more expensive, and at least as effective, that is, the disease returns. It takes about a year, sometimes longer, for symptoms to reappear in full blossom.
This is where Elway comes in. Why is he recommending expensive surgery for an incurable disease? The answer is simple, the same as for the question “Why is Elway’s name and photo splattered all over car lots in Denver?”
The answer: money. Elway was hired to promote the disease and treatment, because Elway likes to use his quarterback reputation to make money. I don’t know that, of course. Maybe he is just doing a public service. But honestly … I know.
By the way, the 0-4 Broncos are testimony to what was once called “The Peter Principle,” that “each man rises to his own level of incompetence.” Elway was a good quarterback. He should have stuck to selling cars after he retired.
Gotta quit. My hands are tired.