Dupuytren’s Contracture – Curse of the Vikings!

Dupuytren’s Contracture: The Curse of the Vikings! Usually, we blog about nature and yards at Winding Pathways, but once in a while, we digress. This one’s about Rich’s Dupuytren’s adventure. But it is related to nature, as putting on gloves and manipulating his hand was becoming more difficult as two of his fingers began to curl. Also, genetics is nature.

Dupuytren’s Contracture is fairly common. It runs in families. The fingers on Rich’s Dad, Henry Patterson, curled so severely that manipulating tools, knobs, buttons, and eating utensils became difficult despite two surgeries to correct the condition.

Curse of the Vikings

So, what is it? Dupuytren’s Contracture was named for a French surgeon who described it first. It’s most common in men with Northern European ancestry, especially from Scandinavia and Scotland. That fits. Rich’s ancestors were from Denmark and Germany.

Ring finger of right hand bent by Dupuytren Contracture.

It’s caused when a knot of fascia forms under the skin usually in the palms beneath the ring finger and pinky. Sometimes a hard cord of material grows up the finger, forcing it to curl downward. Eventually, the finger can curl to about 90 degrees from the palm.

Women can get the condition, but less frequently than men, and often it’s not as severe.




Rich first noticed a knot in his palm when he was 55 years old and gradually two of his fingers began to curl, making it impossible for them to lay flat on a table. There’s no way to predict whether Dupuytren’s will continue to grow or ever become a problem.

For many years Rich’s hand functioned normally with a slightly curved ring finger.

Doing Something About This

About two years ago he visited Dr. Clifford Novak, a hand surgeon at Cedar Rapids’ Physicians Clinic of Iowa.  He encouraged Rich to return if the condition worsened or interfered with everyday activities. It started to, so in mid-2023 he again visited Dr. Novak and learned of three possible treatments:  surgery to remove the material, needle aponeurotomy to cut the long cord causing the curl, and chemical treatment.

Because his condition was not profound and recovery sounded the easiest, he chose the needle method.


Man with bandaged hand after Dupuytren surgery.

The hand was bandaged for four days.

On February 23, 2023, Dr. Novak performed the surgery. Rich stayed in the outpatient Surgery Center for just four hours. He left with his hand heavily bandaged, making typing and any other form of manipulation difficult….but for only four days. On February 27th a physical therapist removed the bandages and gave Rich a series of exercises to help straighten the finger. Amazingly there were no sores or scars where the needles were inserted. For the first time in several years, he could lay all his fingers flat on a table. There was no pain. The result is amazing.



There’s no assurance the Dupuytren won’t grow back in the same finger or progress in other fingers, but the surgery was so successful it could be repeated if needed.

Dr. Novak’s advice was to treat the curled finger BEFORE it became difficult to use.

Rich did this with success as these after photos reveal.

Journal Writing Helps Recall Events

What did I do yesterday morning? Did I make it to that meeting last Monday? Darn.  I can’t remember. I’m forgetful. Fortunately, my journal writing isn’t.

18,250 days

Every day since April 1973 I’ve written a simple journal entry on small format lined binder paper. Haven’t missed a single day. Entries aren’t great writing and are rarely emotional. It’s not a diary. On some days I write only a few lines, while I might fill a page on more happening days.

My journal records about 18,250 days of my life. Combined notebooks take up about three feet of shelf space.

Uses of Journaling

Man reaches for journals on shelf


Useful? Yup. When did we go to Yellowstone National Park?  I remembered the month and year but not the dates. In minutes I found those dates in my notebook and learned what we did each day. What did we do on Christmas Eve 18 years ago?  My journal reminds me.

My notes are simple, short, and often skip perfect grammar, but they are meant to bring every day into clear memory………so each journal entry records something distinctive about that day. Here’s a simple entry:

Monday, January 16, 2023: Weirdly warm with temperature in the 50s. Made new plywood shelves for my tool cabinet. Payton (a neighbor kid) was visiting when sirens blew warning of a potential tornado. We sheltered in the basement. No tornado here but one hit near Williamsburg, the first January tornado in Iowa since 1967.

Like Brushing Teeth

I’ve been journaling for so long it is as routine as brushing my teeth. Blank journal paper goes with me on trips, and I’ve even scribbled entries by lantern light at campgrounds.

My memory lapses.  My journal never does.

What are Ways YOU Remember?

People have other ways to remember or “journal.”  Share some and we can post on Winding Pathways

Who Gets Tattoos and Why?

Tattoos to You

Recently we have noted people’s tattoos. How fun and meaningful they are. That has not always been the case. Throughout cultures, in eras past, tattoos have been both shunned and venerated. Dating from 5,000 years ago, in Japanese cultures, tatts identified gangs and slaves. Similar to today in different regions of the world.

On the other hand, ancient Egyptian themes centered on fertility and protection in childbirth, the arts and dance.

European Influence

The Picts and Celts of Scotland and Ireland sported fierce body art that duly impressed the Roman soldiers who admired the virile images and feared the fierce warriors.

Europe’s relation with tattoos has been influenced by the several other cultures that invaded over centuries. Again, its fortunes rose and fell as cultures adopted for signs of wealth or as ways to identify slaves. The sordid history of tattoos associated with Nazis soured Americans on tattoos until more recent years.  Today, people of all ages and social statuses sport tattoos. Most have special meaning to the person displaying them.

Here are a few we’ve chatted with people about.

Kate started the quest for stories at the recent Outdoor Writers Association of America conference at Gulf Shores, Alabama. When she travels she researches tattoo artists in the cities and countries she plans to visit, scans their electronic portfolios, checks their credentials, and connects with them. From standard to fine lines, and from nature to sayings by loved ones, each tells stories important to her and is a memento of trips.

Nature themes are popular. The phoenix theme rising again and a nod to the tattoo owner’s children and the magpie is often interpreted as a sign of good luck.

Egyptian themes have resonated with librarians and “mermaids!” Harthor, the Goddess of fertility, love, and protection in birth & parenting; the “good luck” scarab beetle; and cats, are always venerated in Egyptian mythology.

Triangles connect family, Buttercup, of the Powerpuff Girls, the animated TV series from the 1990s inspires humor and superpowers. The State of Kansas motto shines brightly on this man’s arm.

Sailors popularized tattoos in the 1700s when returning from long voyages, especially from the Pacific Islands, sporting elaborate tatts. Of course, soon, royalty had to follow. Purportedly even Winston Churchill and his mother had tattoos.

The popularity of tattoos is on the rise with personalized images and sayings in full display.


Following The Frog Statue Through the Seasons

At the foot of East Post Road SE, just by Indian Creek is the frog statue that dons varied outfits each season and for many events.  Take a look through the years. And visit our website for amphibian blogs.

The frog is serious about keeping healthy and helping after storms.


Further into the year:

Middle of the Year is graduation, summer fun, and the Fourth of July with a loyal “Vandal” from Idaho!


Always a civic Duty Calls.

We are “hopping” to add more photos as we walk by the ever-current and exciting Frog Statue. To learn about real frogs of Iowa visit the website link.






Ancient people accomplished what seems impossible.  How did they do it?

We recently toured the Earthmoving Legacy Center near Elkader, Iowa. On display were diesel and gasoline-powered machines able to move massive quantities of dirt for today’s needs.  (Moving Heaven and Earth)

A month later we stood in a field near Chillicothe, Ohio, gazing at an enormous earth mound. The next day we visited other nearby sites with earthen walls, circles, and squares. All were separated by many miles and were large – some spanning hundreds of feet long and dozens of stories high. All were made around 2000 years ago by people of the Hopewell Culture. We learned that the squares are identical and fit inside the large circles.  Somehow, they did this hard work without machines. No metal shovels. Not even wheelbarrows. How did they do it?

Can a Principle of Geology Lend Insights?

Visitors regard tall Mounds.

Recreated Earthworks

Hopewell, like visits to Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa and Cahokia in Illinois, stimulates more questions than answers. Perhaps a tenet of Geology can guide us.  The Present is the Key to the Past. So, let’s consider. Why do we build structures? How do we move earth today? What do people who build need to sustain them while they build? (Food, shelter, clothing) Who provides this? Where do we get our goods? Perhaps these questions can provide insight into the past.

History is Written by the “Victors”

In our 1950s and 1960s school classes, we learned that European explorers and early settlers discovered scattered bands of Native Americans making a primitive living hunting, gathering, and gardening. No mention was made of our continent’s once vast population of sophisticated, technologically-advanced, and organized Native Americans who built magnificent structures and had an extensive trade system. Some of us did learn about the impressive Mayan and Aztec cultures in Mesoamerica.

Amazing Commerce

Pipestone artifacts

Pipestone was traded far and wide.

Little did we learn about the varied North American indigenous cultures that were far superior than originally believed. For example, Hopewell people made tools of obsidian that originated at Yellowstone, created jewelry of copper from the upper Great Lakes region, and used shells from the Gulf of Mexico. They somehow got these distantly sourced goods without airplanes, trucks, or Amazon Prime! Somehow goods moved across thousands of miles before horses and even wheels were available.

Sources of Information

Archeologists have solved some riddles about how ancient people did things, but many mysteries remain. Puzzling and fascinating. We have had published a number of pieces on ancients including the desert Southwest, to Pipestone in Minnesota, to Mounds along the Mississippi from Effigy to Cahokia.

Together, let us learn more about the rich heritage that is both before, beneath us, and behind us. A good source of information is The Great Courses offerings by Dr. Edwin BarnhartAncient Civilizations of North America, and Dr. Daniel CobbNative Peoples of North America.

Sitting – a Rewarding Outdoor Experience

Sitting: it’s a rewarding outdoor activity. How can that be when everyone knows that being outdoors means movement? Hiking, cycling, skiing, canoeing, and swimming all get the heart beating and muscles working.


We love all these activities but recently were reminded that sitting quietly is a fascinating and productive way to spend time outdoors. On a gorgeous May morning, we stopped at the road’s end in Iowa’s Brush Creek Canyon Nature Preserve. A narrow informal path lured us past a rock outcropping high above a gurgling brook.

We carried the sling chairs and binoculars that we keep in the car down a narrow informal footpath. Just a hundred yards later we found a level spot with a perfect view downward through trees to the water.

Sit we did. Enmeshed in secluded quiet we sat so still that warblers and vireos flitted among the trees. Even a hummingbird buzzed in front of us. A fly settled on Rich’s pants, explored a bit, and then went on its way.

Active outdoor activities are good for the body and mind, but sometimes sitting is the best way to notice our world and its inhabitants. When we scurry down a trail, wildlife hides or flees. When we sit and become part of the landscape, wildlife ignores the human presence and goes about its business.


Moon through trees

Tree branches help you watch the moon move across the sky.

Here’s our favorite sitting exercise that can be done almost anywhere. As a full moon rises, position a comfortable chair with tree branches or even overhead wires between it and the moon. Sit very still. Using branches or the wire as a reference it’s possible to watch the moon move.




Oh, Brush Creek Canyon. We recommend it as one of Iowa’s wildest natural gems.  It’s just north of Arlington in Fayette County. Go outside. Have fun.