Joe has had a problem with the fingers of his left hand going numb for quite a long time. Several years, in fact. The past two years the numbness has increased to the point that his left hand muscles have atrophied quite a bit between the thumb and index finger webbing. Our family doctor thought Joe might have some spine or nerve damage in his upper back. He was sent for lab tests and MRI screenings a few times during these past years.
A visit to a nerve specialist last October provided a different diagnosis. During the testing, which included Joe being hit with an electric taser gun in his left hand and left elbow, proved there was no spine or spinal cord problems. Joe was told he had Carpul Tunnel Syndrome and would need to have a follow up with a doctor which specializes in hands and wrists.
If you would like to know, exactly, what Carpul Tunnel Syndrome is you can read this article I found on the Internet during my research.
Joe has not only been diagnosed with Carpul Tunnel Syndrome but he also has Ulnar Nerve Damage as well to further complicate matters. You can check out this article on Ulnar Nerve Entrapment I also found on the Internet.
Joe had Out Patient surgery today, March 6th, 2014. We arrived at the hospital at 10:00 a.m. and his hands looked like this.
He was checked in through Administration and this is his hands at 10:09 a.m.
We were taken to a part of the hospital that looked like an emergency room. Curtained off cubicles filled with patients awaiting their procedures for the day. At 10:25 a.m. he was filling out the obligatory health history forms. Nurses were in and out of the little space taking his blood pressure, temperature, and getting him stabbed for the IV drip.
At 11:05 a.m. Joe had been seen by the final nurse before his surgery. The next person to appear through the curtained “doorway” was the Anesthesiologist. This woman doctor asked what he was allergic to and if he had any concerns. That bit took about 30 seconds to accomplish before the curtain was pulled closed once again.
Joe’s surgeon appeared at 11:06 a.m. to ask how he was doing, and if Joe had any questions about the procedure. Joe asked how long he would be off work. The doctor said 4 to 6 weeks.
Joe got his “Big Dog” look on his face and asked the doctor how soon before he could use the hand after surgery. When is the “earliest” I can use my hand? The doctor, poor guy, sensing Joe’s bull head was now making a stand knew this patient was not going to cooperate.
You will NOT use the hand for 4 weeks. You will NOT use a screwdriver, or any hand tool which requires you to hold tightly and twist. Nor any tool which weighs over 5 pounds. You will NOT strain the hand for any length of time during the 4 week period. If you do as you wish, the consequences are the tendons that facilitate the use of your hand will snap and you will no longer have use of the hand. Do you understand?
“So I guess it is about 2 weeks then Doc.” Is what Joe said to the surgeon that would have him on “Night Night Juice” and a sharp implement cutting into his tender flesh.
What is going on between the ears of my husband?! I ask you! What kind of ego trip is happening in that space?!
The doctor looked at me and finished his pre-surgery consultation with the words “4 Weeks is what it will take before I release him to go back to work.” With that, the doctor took hold of Joe’s left hand and wrote on the inner lower arm. One word in blue felt marker.
People came for Joe at 12:09 p.m. Not the “People in White Coats” mind you. He was whisked away and I was told to wait in the outer area until I was notified he was back from surgery.
The doctor came to the waiting room to see me around 2:00 p.m. He told me of the cut he made in Joe’s palm which followed the natural creases. He had to extend the cut into Joe’s wrist in a “Z” shape because the Ulnar muscle that goes into the wrist had twisted and laid itself atop the Carpul Tunnel and nerve bundles. It had been enlarged drastically and was putting a lot of pressure on the other nerves in Joe’s wrist. The muscle had to be snipped and placed where it belonged to take the pressure off the rest of the nerves. The doctor further told me Joe’s problems stemmed from many years of hard physical labor.
I was given instructions to have Joe’s hand held upright over the next 72 hours to keep the swelling down. He further told me to have an ice pack ready for Joe to use on and off every 30 minutes. He also cautioned me that 4 weeks would be the minimum time necessary for Joe’s wrist and muscles to heel properly. I think he was kind of hoping I would have more influence over Joe.
Uhmmm, I think I will need to go through the closets in the house to find the broom I used to ride all the time 😀
The surgery went well and Joe handled it well.
When I arrived, in his little curtained off space, the nurse was going over his discharge orders. Telling him what he could and could not do, telling him of the pain medication prescribed, what to watch out for if a problem arose. When I entered the room she went through the instructions and orders with me as well. Who knows what planet Joe was visiting after his “Night Night Juice” episode.
Sorry for the bad shot. I expected to see his arm in a sling. Possibly a cast on his wrist with little sausage fingers sticking out the top. I sure didn’t expect to see his hand tightly wrapped in some elastic bandaging. While his hand was in the air I told him to wiggle his fingers and thumb from time to time over the next 72 hours.
Joe hadn’t had anything to eat since 8:00 p.m. the night before and he was hungry. I had to stop at a drug store to get his prescription filled before we got home. Once home I heated up some soup I made a few days ago. Hopefully his stomach would handle that.
We had a bit of back and forth going on for a few minutes.
Me: You need to keep the hand elevated.
Joe: I can’t eat if my hand is in the air.
Me: You have another hand.
Joe: I want to use this one.
Me: Fine. When you are not using it…..put it in the air.
Joe: unrecognizable mumble.
Me: Don’t forget to wiggle your fingers and your thumb.
Joe: heavy sigh and a bit more mumbling.
Hunting through our home I located an ice bag from one of Joe’s other hospital stays. I filled it with ice and had him rest his hand on it. 30 minutes of cold and 30 minutes off the cold.
And so, now I have to deal with Mr. Cranky Pants who is coming down from his “Night Night Juice”.
I overheard Joe tell our friend, Jim, that he nearly backed out of the surgery twice today. He was afraid the whole thing would be 10 times worse than what it actually was.
As for pain….Joe is not experiencing any more pain in his hand than he normally has the past couple years. An ache and some numbness. We’ll see what transpires tomorrow. That could be a whole new kettle of fish.
Dear God. Help me in the next few days. This man has many ideas in his head and none of them involve rest and keeping the hand held high. He is planning on getting his new table saw out….well actually me getting it out and changing the blade. He is also talking about using the saw. I think I am going to be getting a crash course in how to operate a table saw…..just what I’ve been longing to do Dear Lord….another round of snow and or rain would be welcome in the next few days. Even if you only make it rain or snow around our house. That would do nicely. Amen.