Thursday, October 5, 2017

Bye, bye carpal tunnel syndrome!!

Let's take a little trip back in history ... waaaaay back to 2006 when I was diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel. At that time, however, only my left wrist was bad enough for L&I to cover the surgery that would eliminate the associated numbness and pain. Also at that time, I was told by the doctor that my left hand would eventually get bad enough to require surgery, but it would take longer because it isn't my dominant hand.

Fast forward to last summer, my left hand's symptoms got bad enough for me to say enough is enough. I brought up the issue to my physician, who agreed it was bad enough to warrant corrective measures. After filling out many, many, many forms and waiting for updates and approvals, I (finally) got the green light from L&I to get my left arm fixed. (Let's all pause fora quick round of applause ... ok, you can clap... it hurts for me to clap.)

On 9/25, Eric and I headed to NW Hospital's outpatient surgery area so I could get all fixed up. (Feel free to clap here, too, if you'd like.) We keep giggling about how a 30-45 minute procedure basically at up most of the day. We arrived, checked in, and waited for a few minutes. Then, I was escorted into the changing area to put on the ever-so-fashionable hospital gown, robe, and non-slip socks. (Watch out -- those non-slip socks will be on the Parish fashion runways before we know it!) I then had an IV started in one hand and had a port for my local anesthesia put in the other hand. And that, dear people, is when they had me fill out additional paperwork. Huh?? When both of my hands are lacking mobility due to things sticking out of them? Oh well...

Yeah... not so easy to fill out forms with my hand looking like this!

Unfortunately for us, my surgeon was running about an hour and a half behind schedule by the time my surgery was supposed to start, so Eric and I sat around chatting and inspecting my various pieces of IV hardware to keep ourselves occupied until I was called back to the OR. It is a good thing he and I can entertain ourselves as well as we do! :)

Soon, I was on the OR table waiting for the big moment to arrive. As the team prepped the room and me, we told jokes and listened to upbeat music. For an OR, it was a fun place to hang out!! About 20 minutes after arriving in the OR, my doctor said he was starting the procedure. Great! Wait ... NOT GREAT ... I could feel the incision and quickly alerted them to the fact. They profusely apologized and gave the local anesthesia a bit more time to take effect. Starting (again)... still STILL NOT GREAT!! I still have feeling in my left arm. No bueno! That was when they opted to use litocaine (or novacaine ... some numbing "caine") and were able to proceed without me saying, "Ow! Ow! I can feel that." So, win all around!

Before too much longer (well, I'm not actually sure how long because they gave me some "I don't care" medicine, so my sense of time went a little wonky) I was moved from the OR to the recovery area to let the sedatives wear off and to get a little food in me.

My post-op hand

I'm going to pause my story here and give some much-deserved praise to the amazing people to cared for me during this time. The nurses are top notch and deserve countless pats on the backs, thank yous, and gratitude. They were compassionate, competent, and professional. My surgeon (Dr. Stephen Kennedy) was also top notch. Surgeons seem to have a bad rep for having less-than-ideal bedside manners; Dr. Kennedy breaks that stereotype. He is great at explaining things clearly, giving choices to the patient, and making his patients feel like they are people, not just bodies that require his surgical skills. If you ever need outpatient surgery and have the chance to be cared for by one of these people, jump at it.

OK, back to our regularly-scheduled blog post...

Once I proved I could eat/drink without feeling sick and could stand without falling over (all good things, in my opinion), I was released to go home. We were warned that sometimes the car ride home can cause motion sickness due to the meds ... Eric and I are both happy to report we had no such issues!!

We got home, ate some lunch (I hadn't eaten since dinner the night before and was verging on becoming hangry!), and I proceeded to veg out on our couch while watching TV and icing my wrist. I spent the next day doing the same thing.... and the next. Ice, the couch, and I were very good friends for a few days. On the Thursday after my surgery, I was able to downgrade from the post-op bandages to a bandaid. I was also allowed to shower and get my arm wet. (Everyone within 5 miles took a huge sigh of relief when I hit that milestone, I'm sure!). By the weekend, I was feeling pretty good ... mostly achy instead of in pain, which I took as a win.

I returned to work a week after my surgery and was completely wiped out after the first day back and my wrist was quite sore from being used more. The following day, I got my stitches removed (HURRAY). My surgeon was happy with my progress and told me that if I need anything, his door is always open.

No more stitches!!
For the most part, the recovery has been smooth and steady... except for occasional bumps  or nudges (usually by the kids as they try to get my attention) on the Thursday when (out of habit) I reached behind myself with my left hand to bump a door closed. NOT the best choice and once I was able to breathe again and the little birdies flying around my head (and hand) cleared, I grabbed the nearest ice pack and vowed to never do THAT again. (Ask me what I did this morning ... will I ever learn???)

Earlier, I called out the nurses who cared for me at the hospital. The were great. My in-home care taker also deserves mucho kudos. Eric went above and beyond to make sure I rested (not something I do naturally) and didn't overdo things. He was quick to plop me back on the couch when I was up, kept me up on my meds, and fed me. Thank you, Hon, for all you did to ease my recovery!!!! This morning, I realized he has seen me though surgery on all four of my limbs and my torso at this point. Talk about one heck of a spouse!!! Sweetie, you're THE BEST!

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