Monday, March 19, 2007

Wrist wrangling

kw: experience, medicine, surgery

Two weeks ago today I had a "tendon-release" operation on my wrist. While Carpal Tunnel problems are well known, I found that there are six more tunnels, one for each tendon on the back of the hand (two from the thumb).

One of these thumb tendons got inflamed, and physical therapy, cortisone, ice packs, and ibuprofen could only do so much. My hand doctor finally said I really had to get the tunnel "opened up." What that means is, the ligament is cut, and gradually grows back, looser than before. Thus, less potential to squeeze the swelling tendon.

Doctors are funny. You'd think they were better observers. This one said I'd miss "a couple days" of work. His prognosis was based on the speed with which a 30-year-old heals. I'm about twice that old, and I was out a week, and worked half days the next week. While I can stay at the office a full day now, I need a rest when I get home.

The inventory: an inch-long incision on the side of my wrist, just below the spur of the Radius bone; seven stitches were removed four days ago. There's a numb area along the upper inside of my thumb. Its boundary is "hot", hypersensitive and prone to searing pain when brushed. The nerve had to be pushed aside during surgery, and is supposed to recover over the next few weeks. We'll see.

I wear a wrapped towel at night so I won't flex the wrist too much in my sleep. I don't know when (or if) I'll be able to resume teaching music. Until I can strum a guitar, I won't be able to show a student how to do it. Finger style I can do, but the wrist-flexing strum is out for now.

Like Mark Twain's king Arthur in Connecticut Yankee, doctor's should experience what they inflict before they are conferred the right to talk about it.

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