My journey as a long distance runner who started the sport later in life.
It’s been done. I have had a second major surgery to attempt to restore the function of three fingers on my right hand. The first surgery was a bust, so my recovery clock has been reset. We are at time zero right now. When I regained consciousness the above is what I saw.
There are many things I did not miss about time zero. Having two hands is essential for such trivial matters as wearing pants, taking a shower, actually doing a thorough job of washing your hair, making guacamole, slicing a tomato, opening a door with a handle whilst holding something, cleaning up after a potty training toddler. Gross. I could go on, but if you’ve always been functionally two-handed I know you are mostly oblivious to the wonders of having two functional hands. I was. How humbling it is for me to both need and accept help for day-to-day tasks when I typically prefer to remain staunchly independent. I know there is a lesson in all of this and I am trying to take it in; to graciously accept help. A bandaged hand rather forces the issue, doesn’t it?
So, what’s new, you say? How will round two be different and/or better, you say? First of all, this surgeon is the hand surgeon known far and wide in this geographic area. He reduced all broken phalanges via the same method, using different plates and screws with more contact points between bones and screws. The same method means the same post-op treatment plan, and no delays, for one specific finger. More contact points means greater internal stability, which translates into more freedom for manipulation during physiotherapy (PT). He has assured me that these new fixtures are much improved over what he had to remove.
He discovered that my tendons were very much fused to my skin as a result of the previous surgery. This is a common complication of hand surgeries, especially when internal stability is suspect and PT is too gentle. That was partly the fault of uncertain stability, especially for the ring finger, the first time around, and partly my own naivety, being so worried that they would get damaged to really push the envelope on PT. This time I know that it is okay to be forceful, and then there is just the matter of enduring the pain.
I will be getting a splint, but, if I understand correctly, it will position my fingers such that their day-to-day use promotes movement in those same tendons, hopefully avoiding tendon fusion this time around. It only makes sense that a splint would elongate the affected tendons. Shortening tendons can lead to “trigger finger,” which is a rather weird and dysfunctional-looking condition to behold based on what I’ve found on Google images. This splint format was a thought I had on my own as early as two weeks post-op for the first surgery. I have Grade 13 Human Kinetics class to thank for this knowledge.
He performed something called encapsulation, but I only have a vague idea of what that was about. I think it had to do with joints and how swollen some of my knuckle looked even 3.5 months post-op. I sure hope so anyway, because swollen joints don’t tend to bend well and it would be nice to regain some range of motion in all nine joints.
In the end the surgery took 4.25 hours yet it was ambulatory. Time zero lasts for a few more days and then my tough work really begins. Stay tuned.