Letteralmente è "stato appeso per i pollici". Credo che abbia usato un'espressione non standart, ma di sua invenzione, per dire che aveva dei problemi economici, o che comunque era in una posizione molto scomoda per settimane.
Quello che ci dice Lee, mi sembra confermare che non esista una set phrase del tipo "to be hung by the thumbs".
I instantly recognized this as a reference to a form of torture, albeit a rather creative one. I believe the writer was saying that he has been tortured, "placed on the rack", or hung by a certain part of his anatomy (his thumbs, rather than his hands or arms, to cause greater pain to the victim), presumably as a form of punishment (for non-payment?). Unfortunately, without more context, it's hard to be 100% sure, though...
PS: Ciao Saoul. Non ti scordare le preposizioni! In inglese si dice sempre (e solo) "Welcome to..."! ;-)
Appendere per i pollici è un tipo di tortura, a quanto pare ancora praticata... Dal sito di Amnesty International:
Torture and ill-treatment were widespread. Reported methods of torture included being hung upside down by the ankles or being hung by the thumbs, beatings with cricket bats, whipping with chains, near-suffocation with plastic bags filled with petrol and chillies, and rape of female detainees.
There is also a site where you can see some photos about this torture, but I don't know if it's right to provide the link here, and I not recommend to do it.
Welcome to the Forum gorgone. Given this context the expression "I have been hung up by the thumbs for weeks" could be referring to the closing comment that two American comedians used to close their weekly Radio comedy show back in the 1950s. It was the Bob and Ray show. At the end of each show, One would say "Write if you get work" and the response would be "Hang by your thumbs".
The meaning or sense of the "Hang by your thumbs" response was "Its going to be a long time before I get work so don't hold your breath" or "you will be waiting in suspense before you hear from me getting work".
In your case it could be referring to waiting in suspense broke (with no money) for a long time to get the loan which was being delayed.