Sunday, June 15, 2008

I've Lost That Magnetic Feeling

Steel plate (5-1/2 x 1/2 x 1/8") & 11 screws removed from my arm on Friday the 13th. One of the screws was outside the plate, holding together a split in the bone.

The surgery to remove the plate (above) from my right arm and release the carpal tunnel went very well, I was told as soon as I regained consciousness late Friday morning.

I'm heavily bandaged from armpit to knuckles, with a plastic brace from just below the shoulder to 4" above the wrist, keeping my arm at a 120° angle. I'd thought the carpal tunnel surgery would be at the wrist, but when I peeked inside the bandage on my hand, I saw a red gash across my palm. No wonder it hurts when I stretch my hand! (Which I'm doing as little as possible.)

The reason for doing the carpal tunnel surgery was because my middle finger was almost all numb, the index and ring fingers partly so. Therefore I was alarmed, to put it mildly, to have ZERO feeling in my middle and ring fingers (they might as well have been made of wood), increased numbness in the index finger and a partially numb pinkie.

I was repeatedly assured that the numbness was due to a powerful local anesthetic that had been injected in my hand, which would take 5 to 6 hours to wear off. I wasn't feeling so hopeful at 7pm--11 hours after surgery--when my fingers were as numb as ever. But by yesterday morning they were as before the operation.

Nerve tissue repairs at the rate of 1mm per day, so I have a long wait till the feeling in my fingers comes back; possibly longer till the pain in my upper arm subsides.

But at least I have that damn hardware out of my arm (though I'm grateful that it pulled the humerus back together). And though I can't bend or straighten my right arm much, I can--big bonus!--type with that hand, as long as the arm is propped on a pillow (i.e., in bed, not at my desk).

The other good news is that I'm not in much pain. After long and earnest discussions with medical personnel over which oral pain meds I can tolerate (hardly any, though I'm OK with IV morphine & love how Fentanyl* makes me feel absolutely nothing), I was sent home with a scrip for Demerol. The stuff is supposed to make one drowsy, but after taking two 50mg caps, I woke up every two hours last night. So the Demerol is going into the unused medicine drawer. If my arm starts hurting again, I'll just have a margarita.

*I just read on Wikipedia that Fentanyl is available as a transdermal patch. Why the @#$%! didn't any of my doctors prescribe it to me two years ago, when I was in agony for months and unable to tolerate any other pain meds? AAAARGH!!!


Gina Black said...

OMG, I got one of those squicky feelings just looking at all that stuff. You must have lost several pounds when they took it out!

Best wishes for a speedy recovery. That nice black arm-warmer I saw in your other post should help a lot. Especially when it commences to vibrate. I heard that will help cells knit back together. ;)

Bella Stander said...

I thought I would have lost at least a few ounces in the hospital. Instead I gained FIVE POUNDS overnight, most likely due to all the IV fluids pumped into me. I was so bloated, even my under-eye bags had bags.

Max is doing his best to help me heal--or at least find someplace cushy where he's most likely to get the occasional chin rub.

Danielle Younge-Ullman said...

I'm suddenly feeling grateful for my fairly minor tendonitis! Good luck healing, Bella, and I hope you don't have to drink too many margaritas.

Bella Stander said...

Thanks, Danielle! No margaritas yet; just a little Valium at bedtime. One of these nights I might even sleep all the way through again. Maybe tonight...

Jen Singer said...

Geez, Bella. You've been to hell and back.

I could have told you about the fentanyl patch. My roomates on the onc. floor had them.

I hope you stay pain-free.


Jen Singer

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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