HAND SURGERY UPDATE, WITH PICTURES!
[Warning!: Graphic photos at the bottom of this post, so don’t scroll that far if you don’t want to see them. Or at least cover one eye.]
Okay, I wasn’t planning on visiting the topic of my recent hand surgeries again, but so many of you have been kind enough to inquire after them on a daily basis that I figured it was time to let everybody know all the details ensemble. And since I just had my final stitches out yesterday, what better time than today?
And I’m sharing some of the gory pictures, as well, so consider yourself warned. (I should have published them yesterday because they would have fit in perfectly with Halloween!!!) I’ll put them all at the bottom, though, so you can still read this but avoid the images. (Let’s put it this way—definitely don’t be eating, or even plan to be, when you look at them. I have a feeling my sister would faint. And my mother would cringe, let out a dramatic “ew,” and then liken the stuff coming out of my hands to something funny. But I do think they’ll be interesting to many, including science and med students, and people who are going through the same thing.)
Before I tell you the short version of what’s going on with my hands, I really want to thank the two men who helped me get through this ordeal, and it was definitely not any medical personnel! The first one is, of course, Mr. X, who is the champion of champions. I’ve always understood why my mother constantly declared that he was her “favorite relative,” but even I couldn’t imagine the incredible care that he took of me, (and is still doing,) for the past three and a half months. He’s gone so above and beyond that I can’t even put it into words.
The other gentleman who totally helped me out is a surprise; it’s Richard Diamond, Private Detective. No, he’s not a real detective, nor even a real person! He’s a fictional old-time radio shamus, played perfectly by Dick Powell. Mr. X discovered these old-time radio shows a few years ago, but this is the only one I got really into. I seriously can’t fall asleep unless I’m listening to it. Even with Richard Diamond, I’ve had very little sleep since this medical situation began in early July, but I would have had totally none without Mr. Diamond distracting me for at least part of the night, and for that, I am thoroughly grateful.
Okay, so here’s the short version of what happened, for those whom it might help, those who are concerned about me, and those who are simply curious. (I’m hoping to write the long version, for others who find themselves in the same situation as I did, for a magazine in the near future, so that will have more details.)
On July 13 of this year, both my hands got into excruciating pain for at least a few hours each day with bouts of numbness on all fingers except for the pinkies. The other four fingertips of the right hand went totally numb, where I couldn’t make out what I was feeling, and the left hand fingers were doing that on and off each day. The worst, though, was the pain of feeling like they were being crushed in a vise grip, and I would just writhe in pain, screaming, for anywhere from a half hour to twelve hours! It was truly torturous.
So after a month of this, (I’ll explain some other time why it took so long to get to this point,) I had carpal tunnel surgery on the right hand, which stopped the pain on that side almost immediately. It took about three weeks from my fingertips to get their feeling back, but now they are normal, as well. It’s ten and a half weeks later now, and, although my scar is uncomfortable all the time, I couldn’t be more thrilled with those results.
But, through no fault of my own, I had to wait three months for the surgery on the left hand, which was in far more pain all along. The only good to come out of that waiting game debacle was that I found the loveliest doctor ever, who is a pain management specialist. But it never should have gotten to the point where I needed her to begin with! (Details on that, too, some other time.)
But all of the meds, that I begged not to take, actually made me much worse! So I endured three months of pain, many extra hours of doctor visits, major expense of medications not covered by insurance, and pills that made me suffer even more. All of that could have been avoided had I just found a less popular doctor, which I was in too much pain to think of doing. Please keep my ordeal in mind if ever you need surgery, and adjust accordingly.
So, after much begging, my left hand surgery was finally scheduled for three weeks ago. But the week before, I stopped being able to even come close to making a fist, and I was really concerned, so I called the surgeon’s office once again and left a message for him. Not hearing back, I suffered along until the big day. I didn’t sleep at all the night before, rose at the crack of dawn, got to the surgery center, did all the check-in and pre-op procedures, was in the bed in a hospital gown, with the IV in my other hand, and was about to be wheeled into the operating room. You can’t even imagine my relief that this nightmare was about to be over.
So the doctor came to the end of my bed, and asked me to make a fist. When I told him that I couldn’t, and that I called his office a week ago to say as much, he told me that if I couldn’t make a fist, I can’t have the surgery that day! I immediately started crying and begging, and Mr. X was about to punch the wall. I started pushing my left hand fingers down with my right hand, desperate to make the move so I can have the surgery right then, as planned.
When the surgeon pushed the pad below my pointer finger on the palm side, (that I had been telling him all along felt like someone was sticking a knife into,) I screamed; it turned out that, in addition to the carpal tunnel syndrome I was experiencing, I now had something called “trigger finger.” It’s too long to go into here, but with promises to take a drug that had made me sick in the recent past, beginning the next day, and agreeing to also have it shot into my hand, I did get the surgery that day, but I had to have two surgeries in one. That also meant I would be under the anesthesia for longer, and going into it in a hysterical state, which is never good.
So, to look on the bright side, the surgery side of my ordeal is behind me. But that second surgery rendered my pointer finger totally numb, yet incredibly painful at the same time. And no person in the medical field can tell me if it will ever come back or not. (I was told yesterday that it should come back, but not for months!)
I’m still in a lot of pain on the surgery sites. And I can’t drive or fly until further notice, and both hands are exceptionally weak. We’ve tried every pain pill in the book, with none of them working, but all of them making me dizzy and nauseous, and worse. There’s nothing left to try. And I still have a long road ahead of me in my quest to discover the underlying problem behind my hand woes. (There is one; I just don’t know it yet.)
But I’m incredibly grateful that I can use my hands again pretty much. And I’m not in that excruciating pain anymore. And I can feel with eight of my fingertips. It’s definitely an improvement over what I’ve been through.
And I’m hoping for the best. Because that’s all I can do.
Note: Just to be clear, I am definitely grateful that I got an excellent surgeon, and staff to go with him. I just hated the wait in terrible pain. But I’m always happy to see the nurses and office personnel in that practice. And I do get a kick out of the doc. I just wish it had all been done three months ago.
I’m making them small to not gross everyone out, but I believe you can click on them to enlarge the ones you want. There were more, but I figured these two are enough. The one to the left is them pulling a tendon in my hand to make my finger move, and the one on the right is them holding open the base of my palm to get into the carpal tunnel. Good times.