Friday, March 27, 2015

Wrist surgery: I have gory photos!

I'm going to let the pictures tell most of the story here - it's much easier just now!

First though..........

Photo 1:  Day before surgery......... not knowing exactly how I was going to feel, or what I was going to be able to do, despite feeling knackered I went out with my mum.  I decided it might be the last time in a wee while for 'real clothes' (ie not sweatpants), make-up & my hair done properly. Vanity?  Maybe..... but really more: 'it makes me feel like ME ' than I care what anyone else thinks. It's taken a while to get to here, this is a reminder I have done it before & I'll do it again.  And it was a good decision!  Not sure when I'll manage buttons again; or sleeves with cuffs!  And even pulling leggings up with one semi-functional arm isn't easy when it can't reach all the way around my body!  Sweatpants and ponchos are my current fashion statement! (Yes, together.) :-D

Photo 2: Hospital gowns just aren't that flattering!  I would totally redesign these.  Plus they just give the illusion of privacy & then different people still have to stick different tubes/ sensors/ needles etc through all the holes that absolutely do *NOT* sit in the right places on me.  I am not a 'one size fits all' in anything!

The difference a day (& some make-up & sunglasses) makes!

Briefly: surgery went ok.


Not much point in looking ridiculous if  you can't laugh at it (I'd redesign those hats too)!

And the IV into my SORE right side did hurt, but I declined the offer to have it in my FOOT
- I'll stick with a wrecked upper body & not invite other areas to join in..... 

Post-op dressing & FAT fingers:

On my inspirational pillow!

My friend actually sent me this pillow after my first surgery for my 30th birthday
- the entire pillow in a massive parcel from Scotland to the US.
 Made with one of my very favourite quotes - it's seen a lot in those 3 years!

Ice became my favourite thing for a few days again!

The surgeries were:

  • carpal tunnel release 
    • a nerve release
  • deQuervain's release
    • a tendon release
  • trigger finger (thumb) release
    • a tendon release; should stop my thumb getting 'stuck' in position
  • wrist arthroscopy
    • "cleaned out a load of junk"
    • "junk" = inflammation & frayed/ damaged/ dead tissue

These all essentially create more space in an area so nerves/ tendons/ joints aren't being 'squeezed' by too much inflamed tissue making movement extremely painful/ impossible.

My surgeon has said the surgery went very well - and he was pleased not to find any torn ligaments, which he thought were a possibility.  

Incision photos below  

I must admit, there's something a little satisfying about these for me.  My shoulder was so neat and barely bruised with very little swelling with both ops - even the scapular one, which was major surgery...... ok, I have my 18 staples photo but it really doesn't look like it FELT.  This............. this pretty much looks like it feels!  

After I showed my Dad the incisions on Tuesday, he said "Now I understand why you're sore." (And made appropriate "ooft" noises".)  My Mum said - "Did you not believe her?!"  So............ justification! This HURTS right now!

(P.S. My right shoulder/ side still HURTS too............. and it's pretty useless. I suppose it wasn't magically going to come to life because the other side is suddenly totally out of commission!  It's trying - I'm trying -  really; but 'we' were trying before this; always trying - and it's still as useful - or as useless! - as it was last week, or the week before.  My head is becoming as useful as my feet - really! - but I have consciously had to stop using my teeth or I am going to break them on something!  It's pretty frustrating.)

Each cut is a different thing from the list above (there's still a lot of marker pen; I think the surgeon just liked drawing!):

Bottom of thumb: trigger finger release - there are stitches you can't really see for the ink (& blood)

Base of palm: carpal tunnel release

Quite a bit of bruising, even on my hand, which is kind of unusual for me as generally don't bruise much - more justification for the pain I have!  Got lots of arnica!

 release along lower forearm/ wrist - still covered

Arthroscopic incisions on the top of my hand

Surgeon removing the stitches from the arthroscopic incisions

Incisions/ stitches re-covered after surgical dressing was removed

Custom made splint

Watched as the therapist made this, shaped it to my wrist/ thumb; reheated
the plastic (in hot water) again, re-molded it to my wrist; fitted it, reheated to cut
to size; repeat until the perfect fit  -  it was pretty cool!

Back next week to get the rest of the stitches out and the splint readjusted.  

And I should make a confession....... I don't know why; it's not the worst pain I've had - it wasn't even the worst pain I had right then; but after I'd photographed my surgeon removing my stitches, had a good look at my gory incisions and bruises (& I know they're not the worst - but I was expecting 4 dots and two 1cm incisions - that's what he drew on me in the appointment prior to surgery!); we went through to the therapy room where I'd get my splint, sat down and kind of suddenly, I said to my mum, "I don't feel great."  She told me to put my head down on the table.  Less than a minute later, she told me to put my head between my legs.  Ugh.  There were OTHER PEOPLE there.  I know I get severe pain responses with my right shoulder - but that's usually when I'm trying to make it work hard - or someone else is.  This just washed right over me for no apparent reason until the room was swimming.  Fast.  Head down, the therapist (who was doing about ten things at once) came over pretty quickly.  Next thing I was 'assisted' through to a separate room and laid on a bed with ice on my neck and my feet up........... and given a (compulsory) lollipop!

Note my Mum smiling!

(Just because she's the one who usually passes out!)

The quote from my pillow -  always good advice - words to live by: 

“Learn from yesterday,
live for today,
hope for tomorrow."

   ~  Albert Einstein   ~


  1. If you think of it and don't already have one, ask for a scar pad. I'm still using one from my Carpal Tunnel and two trigger release (with complimentary cyst removals). PT said the scar pad will help re-mold the scar tissue and keep it soft and protected as it's healing. Ow. (I have similar pictures ...). What is it with these surgeons and their marking pens?!

    ~Heidi in bright, sunny Minnesota

    1. Heidi, also, I am sorry I have missed a couple of your comments. ... my blog has been neglected since summer for various reasons... hopefully I'll have time to update some catch ups soon ☺.

      I did mean to tell you I had scar pads made. Different from yours, by the sounds of it. They were made of some 'exothermic' stuff, activated by body heat that I wore while sleeping. They basically looked like putty, moulded to the shape of my hand, and wrist, and they fitted in place & then I put a (loose-ish) tubular bandage over them to keep them in place & they worked while I slept. They made a good difference.

      As for the marker pen... I'm not 100% sure, I still think some surgeons just like doodling 😉. .. but reading my surgical report & guessing, I think they mark on the outside where stuff was done inside, viewed through the arthroscope. ... I keep meaning to look it up!
      I hope you are doing well at the moment.... sending my best wishes from a dark & blustery Scotland!

  2. First off, congrats on what appears to be a successful surgery on your wrist. Freeing the nerve at the carpal tunnel is like bomb disposal. So yes, what a relief. You only have to rest at this point and let it properly heal, before resuming with your normal routine. Take care!

    Jacqueline Hodges @ Dr. Koziol

  3. I'm not sure why I've just seen this post from July Jacqueline - sorry for not responding to your well wishes, I hope you get a notification as this is clearly a VERY late reply!! I am going to quote you on the "bomb disposal"! After having such major surgery on my scapula (in the 2012 archives, February - briefly 12 holes drilled through my scapula & my lower trapezius -which was "flapping" - & my lower & middle rhomboids were surgically reattached through the drill holes, along with the infraspinatus which they had to "get out of the way of the drill" 😞 first), this didn't seem like such a big deal. I also had surgery in Dec 2014 to remove adhesions sticking the head of my humerus to my lateral border of right scapula, also associated with the injury to my right side (description: I *really* wrecked my entire upper right quadrant is the best description). 4.5 years & counting - brachial plexopathy & thoracic outlet syndrome making everything more complex. The surgeries have been successful, but rehab has been extremely complex - new injury, no fixed programme as they are learning with each patient.... just so so lucky to have awesome doctors & therapists helping me get through it, in every sense of that.

    However, when my hand surgeon said this wouldn't be as big a deal: "I'm not going to be drilling through your scapula or anything like that" I think I severely underestimated the repercussions of the surgery & the healing. Of course, I hurt my left wrist because I slipped and saved myself with my 'good hand' 😩! It wasn't until a few weeks after surgery, when I was still really sore (adding in the fact it was really 4 surgeries in one, & the surgical report states some minor ligament repair was done arthroscopically too) that he said "we don't usually do that much at once" & when I told him on a scale of ingrown toenail to drilling through the scapula, I think I'd envisioned the wrist surgery a little too close to ingrown toenail - his response "ingrown toenails hurt!" (I get them all the time, I have weird toes, a few weeks ago I pulled a toenail off & didn't realize that's what I'd done until I ended up looking for where the blood on my sick had come from! Oops. So I think we were definitely on a different page!

    Additionally, I grew up as a gymnast (Scottish acrowbar actually). Since being injured, I am realising how abnormal many things in my childhood/ teenage years actually were..... including pain perception & rehab perspectives! So.... agsin, DEFINITELY using that "bomb disposal" description. (And that's just the carpal tunnel bit!)

    And thank you for also reminding me of all those thoughts - now months old, but today they have reminded me why it is not 100% yet..... still improving, & still working on it, but because my right arm has such limited function, my left *has* been the lesser affected side & so it has simply had to do things when it would have been rested more 'normally' - & unfortunately I am nowhere close to 'normal'!!!

    I am sorry for the delay, I hope you get this - thank you & I hope you have had a good year.... since July!