Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Does this wrist make me look old?

Remember the Christmas before last, when I was wearing a wrist brace? Yeah. That problem never went away. When my wrist first started hurting, I waited a bit to see if it would go away on its own. About six weeks later, I broke down and went to the Student Health Center. I was still a student at this point, so that was where I had to go. They gave me a brace to wear and told me to take some ibuprofen every day for awhile and wait to see if it got any better. It didn't, and I went back. They then referred me to a specialist.

The specialist had me tuck my thumb into my fist and stretch my wrist sideways toward the pinky side of my hand. This made the side of my wrist hurt, so they decided I had DeQuervain's Tenosynovitis. They gave me a shot of steroids in my tendon, and told me that if the pain came back, I might need surgery. The pain went away for a little over a month, but then came back. The pain seemed to have traveled up to closer to my wrist, but the PA seeing me dismissed this. We talked it over, and scheduled a surgery to liberate my tendon.

So there I was in my cute little backless gown, hairnet, and booties, laying in a bed with wheels and side rails, about to be IVed. Dr. Johnson came out to meet me. He introduced himself, and took my wrist to inspect it. He prodded my wrist and asked if it hurt. He did a bit of a double-take when I said no. He had me do the thumb-tucking, wrist-bending thing, and when that hurt at the base of my thumb, rather than in my wrist, he called off the surgery. He had me come in to see him the next day.

The next morning, he took an x-ray, and felt around my wrist. The x-ray didn't seem to indicate any arthritis, which could have caused the problem. He then gave me a steroid shot in the joint, with the hopes that it would fix the problem. That was last fall. The shot helped for a few months, but the pain gradually came back. Since it wasn't a constant pain, I just decided to baby my hand and see if it would get better on its own. It didn't. I noticed pain with pressure against my thumb, like when I would put on gloves at work, or when I tried to carry a full pitcher of water with my right hand. I finally decided that it wasn't just going to go away, and went back to the doctor. They didn't know what was wrong, so we decided that the best thing to do would be to do surgery and scope my wrist to see what was going wrong.

So there I was: back in the drafty gown, fantastic cap, and brilliant no-slip booties.
 I got in another wheeled, railed bed, and had an iv put in my hand. That was just before 10 AM. I then waited for about two hours waiting. There were a lot of grandmas/pas getting their cataracts removed, Including a dude born in 1930 named Richard Nixon. One couple talked to their son (it was his birthday) on speakerphone. I'm glad we all got to share that conversation. Especially since their son neatly dodged questions about the wayward grandson and his court date. Fan-tastic. And now I know that people who have gotten only one eye fixed don't remember many details of the surgery, but everyone seems to remember all of the details of the second one. Two hours well spent.

So they wheeled me into the surgery room, and knocked me out. Next thing I know I wake up shivering with my wrist all bound up. Seriously. I was really, really cold. Something having to do with the way the anesthesia is metabolized by the body. Brrrrrrrr. The nice nurse brought me a heated blanket. It was awesome. Abby was there and she fed me strawberry yogurt and narcotics and drinks of ice water. Such a great friend. I don't know if you've ever been with someone as they're coming out of anesthesia, but it seems that people seems latch onto one idea and just keep repeating the same thing. With me it was something about there being a fire sale on cataract surgery. I thought the droves of old people getting their sight back was funny. 

So Dr. Johnson came out and talked with us. From what I can remember, they went in with their little 1.5 millimeter scope and cleaned out the junk that was floating around in my joint, and then they saw this:
 The white part in the middle is cartilage, and the darker parts are exposed bone. That means arthritis. Yeesh. I seem to remember something about him saying that it seems to be the result of trauma rather than something genetic. But I can't be sure. The whole coming out of anesthesia thing. I'll learn more next Friday when I go back to have my dressing removed.  

This is the end of my first day without one of my thumbs. Bathing was easier than expected. As was typing. Writing by hand is really hard. Peeling a banana is nigh unto impossible. Turning the keys in the ignition was a bit of a challenge.

**sigh** Arthritis at 30. Who'da thought.


  1. WHOA. Funky pic. I'm so glad Abby was there to take care of you! :) Yowza. That's all I'm gonna say...

  2. Fascinating! Lol, love the part about a fire sale on cataract surgery. I cringed when I read about the steroid shots in your hand because I know how painful they can be. I've been there before except my hand pain turned out to be a cyst that they had to remove. I hope you have a speedy recovery from surgery!

  3. Wow Karen. What a day huh? I'm also glad Abby was able to be there for you and I hope you recover quickly!

  4. What a day. I'm glad they figured out what the real problem was. Surgery and a party in the same week!? You are amazing. The cupcakes were so nerdilicious. I never would have thought of using the licorice ropes . . . I'm going to remember this idea for a future party. Feel better soon!

  5. I figured it out. It is probably from playing symbols in the marching band.