Saturday, October 19, 2013

About Time

One month ago today, I had surgery on my right wrist to solve the problems I was having with my thumb and tendons. I have had several surgeries before this one, but they've all been of the emergency room variety where life and death hung in the balance. I had more than a week to dread the surgery before it ever happened, and I really had no idea what to expect in the aftermath.

The day of the surgery, my husband took me to the hospital where they put me in a private room for pre-surgery prep and for post-surgery recovery. The anesthesiologist came in for our consultation, and recommended a block instead of being fully put to sleep. Because I faint when I see open wounds, we nixed this idea. Later, the surgeon came and drew the marks on my arm to show where the incision would be...that comforted me because I knew that at least they wouldn't operate on the wrong arm.

After being taken back for the operation, I was given a shot to knock me out, so I don't remember anything until coming to in recovery. I was nauseated from the anesthesia, and I felt so sick. The nurses wouldn't let me leave until I ate something and had gone to the bathroom. I managed to get down a biscuit, so eventually, they let me go. I could barely stand up to check up, and although it's less than a mile from the hospital to my house, I felt carsick the entire time.

When I got home, I immediately took a pain pill and went to bed. That day, a Thursday, I spent most of my time in and out of consciousness and completely sick. According to my mom, I have never handled anesthesia very well, so when she came to check on me, she said my green pallor didn't surprise her at all. I don't remember much about Thursday except that my friend Lori cooked us supper. I managed to get up to thank her, but when she saw how ghastly I looked, she sent me back to bed. Honestly, I didn't feel better until Tuesday. Dealing with the anesthesia was the worst part of the entire experience!

As for pain, I never really had any. In that regard, I was lucky. However, the contraption my wrist had been put in was obviously built during the Spanish Inquisition as a torture device. My thumb was strapped in such a way to render it motionless (the whole purpose of the surgery after all), but the formation of this "wrist cuff" caused my entire hand to be immobile. Also, the curve of the cuff gave me a slight claw look.

To my surprise, bathroom duties weren't hard to overcome, but brushing my teeth and hair proved to be problematic. Other things that turned out to be a challenge included (but is by no means limited to) unlocking key-locked doors, pulling paper towels of the roller (unrolled an entire roll), ctrl+alt+delete to start my computer, opening lids on pill bottles and drinks, buttoning any pants, and worst of all, eating with a fork. I was able to avoid writing for a while, but I had to eat, and each day, I ended up wearing half of what I put on my fork!

After two weeks in the claw, I was ready for my follow-up visit to the doctor. I seriously thought that I was coming out of the splint that day, so imagine my horror when after removing my bandages and stitches, the nurse came in with a new splint. Although it returned to me the use of my four fingers on my right hand, having to slide it over my incision was painful. I was mortified that I had to spend another two weeks in a splint!

I must pause here, though,and elaborate on the bandage removal. The surgeon had a large bandage on the incision spot, and I was not permitted to remove it. So, for two weeks, I had purple marker peeping out from underneath the edges of the bandage. Underneath that bandage the surgeon had placed suture tape to help close up the wound. When the nurse removed the tape over that fresh incision, I nearly cried! Yes, it hurt! I got an involuntary wax job because she yanked out every hair on my arm where the tape was! Only now, two weeks later, is the hair starting to grow back.

Monday, I returned for my second follow-up appointment, and I got the splint off! I still have to sleep in it at night because I tend to twist my hands and sleep with them tucked under my chin. I was given exercises to do, and I was worried that they would be painful. Again, I have been lucky in that regard. The incision is tender, but I have not had the pain I thought I would.

Although I still have weeks before I am fully recovered, I am so much better now than I was before the surgery. I'm not sure, knowing what I do now, if I'd re-do the experience, but then, if all goes right, I shouldn't have to.