My personal episode of “House MD” began last Wednesday when, in the middle of my radio show, my right hand started hurting. The pain started in my thumb and, over the next two hours, radiated up through my wrist.

When I got home, my wife took one look at my swollen thumb and was convinced I’d been bitten by a tick and should go to the emergency room immediately. She got this idea from the actual episode of “House” we had watched the night before.

I already had an appointment with my physician for the next morning for a complete physical, so I decided to wait until then to see what he said about this mystery malady. By then, the pain was so intense that even putting my hand through the sleeve of a shirt made me grimace. I couldn’t swing my arm when I walked because the friction from the air against my thumb was so uncomfortable.

That whole “opposable thumb” thing that sets us apart from other animals is something we take for granted. You don’t realize how much you need your thumb until you can’t use it.

Try pulling up your socks. Try pulling up your zipper. Try turning the key in your car ignition without using your thumb (it’s even worse when it’s your right thumb, because now you have to lean over and snake your left hand around the steering column!).

I couldn’t use the mouse for my computer, although the keyboard was slightly manageable, as long as I remembered to hit the space bar with my left thumb — forgetting just once was all it took to learn that lesson. Pain is a very effective reminder.

Taking a shower was no picnic, either. Once the water was running, I realized I couldn’t hold the soap in my right hand, so I had to lather up as a lefty. That’s fine, until it came time to soap up my left arm. Not being a professional contortionist, my left hand can’t reach back to my left elbow, so this presented a dilemma — as did holding the towel to dry my back a few minutes later.

At my doctor’s office, the nurse looked at my hand, which now looked like a skin-colored oven mitt. I told her how sensitive it was to any contact, so she took my pulse and blood pressure on my left side. A few minutes later, my physician came in and started the examination.

After checking my hand out from several angles, he said, “It looks gout-ish.”

Gout? Gout? That’s what Ben Franklin had in his foot. Since I am neither in my eighties nor living in colonial times, I thought he was kidding. He explained that gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint, accompanied by an inflammation of the surrounding tissue.

Yep, that seemed to explain what was happening here. Then he explained that, if it was gout, there were two ways to treat it. One involved prescribing colchicine, which works like this: you take it every two hours until you throw up. In college, we did something similar, which involved several six-packs and a friend’s shoes.

I wasn’t sure how having my insides become my outsides was supposed to help my hand, but Dr. House wasn’t ready to have me popping the pills, anyway: “If this were a weekend day, I might do that, but since it’s Thursday, I don’t want you to start on the medication this morning and then, while I’m driving home this afternoon listening to your show, have you vomit all over the microphone.”

I agreed and asked what the other treatment option was.

He said that, since he wasn’t ready to make gout his official diagnosis, he wanted me to take massive doses of ibuprofen, keep my hand iced whenever possible, and get some x-rays to make sure I hadn’t fractured a bone while playing tennis. Then he took the usual blood and urine samples and sent them off to the lab.

Of course, if this were really an episode of “House,” he would have had his underlings break into my house without my permission and look for mold under the kitchen sink, while accusing me of lying about how I had contracted an STD while injecting myself with human growth hormones.

Fortunately, none of that happened, so I went off to get the x-ray. Naturally, they needed my signature on some forms, which I couldn’t do because I couldn’t even hold a pen in my writing hand. The clerk told me to do the best I could, and I somehow grasped the pen between my third and fourth fingers to make a completely arbitrary squiggle on the dotted line. To my surprise, it didn’t look that different from my usual signature.

I managed to do my show that afternoon and keep my lunch down the whole time, then went home and stuck my hand in a bag of ice while my wife logged onto to look up “gout.”

If you’re not familiar with WebMD, it’s a site that gives you basic info on all sorts of diseases, medicines, etc. Then, no matter what your illness is, WebMD tells you to lose weight — you could have a thyroid problem, appendicitis, or a stuffy nose, that’s part of their solution to every medical problem. I kept hoping I didn’t have gout. Not because it’s a difficult thing to treat, but because it just seemed like a stupid thing for a 47-year-old guy to have.

The next morning, Dr. House phoned to report that the x-rays were negative — no fracture, no break, no problem — and that he’d been in a fight with Dr. Cuddy about something inappropriate he’d said to Foreman and Chase the day before.

Just kidding.

I was happy to report that the pain and swelling had gone down a little. He suggested continuing the ibuprofen until we got the lab results back, and to keep him posted. By that evening, my hand had returned to near-normal size, and Dr. House called my cell phone with the lab results.

Uric acid levels were normal, so it wasn’t gout. New diagnosis: tendinitis, which meant no tennis for awhile but, with the effects wearing off, I should be good to go in a few days, and wouldn’t need any radical treatments of any kind. Phew.

I put the cell phone back in my right pants pocket and realized that, hey, I had just used my right hand to put something in my right pants pocket! For the last 48 hours, that would’ve been impossible — I’d resorted to wearing a jacket just so I had an extra left pocket.

Now, I’m back to using both hands at full capacity, and wondering whether I can sell my story to Fox. Maybe even work in a love scene with Dr. Cameron.