Surgery / yikes!

Wednesday: I had my second carpo-metacarpal arthroplasty. I’m writing this a few hours post surgery, since the drugs from the hospital haven’t completely worn off yet. Nice trick. The only thing is, I know what’s coming… Last June when I had my surgery I arrived home and zipped off an email to my family to let them know how great I was feeling. Little did I realize how I’d feel in a few hours! So, this might be it for a few days.

I had to be at the hospital 3 hours ahead of the scheduled surgery, which meant 9:50 a.m. Really – 3 hours to do some paperwork and WAIT? So boring. I wish they’d let you whip in there 20 minutes ahead of time, but apparently they prefer the patients to do the waiting, not the hospital staff. Last June I only had to be there an hour and 40 minutes ahead of time. Who do I speak to about this poor planning? Here are my hands in the morning:

hand comparison pre-surgery
unmatched hands
hand which had sugery in June
right hand post surgery
hand ready for surgery
left hand pre surgery

I checked into the hospital at 10:15 and found out there was nowhere to safely store my iPad. That meant no “Game of Thrones” for me while I was waiting. After doing paperwork I went for some blood work and then checked in at day surgery. Told to take a seat and wait. I do not remember this room from my last surgery. I think I was too nervous to take in my surroundings or perhaps it was because I was there at 6 AM and there was no one waiting. In June I was given a bed right away, but with surgery later in the day, you just get a chair in the waiting area. Nice.

At about 11, I was called into a curtained area by nurse Danika. I had to change into a large nightgown, a pair of pants big enough to hold three people, and paper slippers. (The kind they wear at crime scenes on t.v.!) I answered a lot of questions regarding medical history – had my height, weight and blood pressure taken and then I got to go back to – you guessed it – the waiting area. My blood pressure was a little high. The nurse asked if I was feeling stressed over something. I said, ” Yes, I’m having surgery today.” Silly me. By the way, that waiting room is too boring for description, and I’m being kind.

Eventually I was called back in to the day surgery area.  I was put on a stretcher, given a gorgeous blue hair-net and wheeled to the surgical holding area. What a shame I didn’t have a camera. I spoke with a nurse and with my anesthesiologist, Dr. Rubin. He’s my hero. I had to repeat my name, birthday, procedure (carpo-metacarpal arthoplasty) and location (left hand) about 50 times. I’m all for making sure that we’re all on the same page, but it started to get a bit redundant.

Finally I made it into the surgical suite (where I was a asked for my name, birthday, procedure (carpo-metacarpal arthoplasty) and location (left hand) one more time for good measure. My surgeon, Dr. Beveridge, drew a line on my hand to mark where to make the incision. I think he was trying to get it to match the one on my right hand. Dr. Rubin gave my right hand some freezing and an i.v. with drugs to relax. Good drugs. Then he put an i.v. in my left hand. Next he took rubber banding and wrapped my left hand and arm, starting at the fingers and ending towards my armpit. That was the most uncomfortable and painful part of the procedure. A super blood pressure like cuff was applied to my upper arm as a tourniquet and the rubber banding was removed. (That hurt too.) The freezing that was put into my left arm made it feel like my hand was on fire for a few minutes. After a few more minutes, the actual surgery started. At least I assume it did. There was blue paper draped in front of my face so I couldn’t see a thing. I felt a bit of pulling on my arm at times, but I can’t remember what Dr. Beveridge said they were doing to cause that. (Remember the sedation thing?) I chatted away throughout the entire procedure – having no idea of the time. Finally I realized that there was talk of stitches and that they were almost done! The drape was removed and I could see my hand with stitches and the end of the metal pin that was inserted for stabilization. I watched Dr. B. put on kind of half a cast, with padding and wrapping to keep it in place. Here’s a photo of the cast type wrap. It’s not the best looking thing, but I’ll only have it on for the rest of the week.

after surgery

all wrapped up

The fact that my sedation was light meant I could stay awake and remember most of the surgery. That’s what I wanted. What I wasn’t counting on was how much more quickly the freezing would come out of my hand. Since I didn’t go to sleep, I could have skipped the recovery room, except that there wasn’t a bed available in day surgery. So, I waited until there was a bed and I could move. Once in day surgery  I had to wait for one hour before I could leave – that’s the rule. I was monitored and checked over and went to the bathroom like a big girl, and then I went home. I hope that I wasn’t supposed to check out with anyone, because I didn’t. I  signed something (with my right hand – ha ha ha) so perhaps that’s all that was needed. No one has come looking for me.

Thursday: Must say that yesterday was a pretty fine day. I was able to control my discomfort with Tylenol 3 and extra-strength Advil. During the night when I’d slept past pill time it was a little sketchy for a while, but not too bad. I was up for a couple of hours today and had breakfast and my latte before I was overcome by nausea. Just went back to bed and slept for 3 hours.  Took another Tylenol 3 but think I’ll switch down to just extra strength next round. I don’t think I need the codeine. Looks like it’s time to proof and post, so that’s it for now. Three cheers for modern medicine and the wonderful staff at the Rockyview Hospital!

12 Comments

  1. I commend you for wanting to be awake through the surgery! You are made of tough stuff for sure. Wondering if you are needing anything, would like to get out for a walk or tea or need a chauffeur?? Just call. Take good care and I’m so happy for you this is DONE!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Pam. Today the surgeon asked me if I remembered anything from the surgery. He said that just because I was talking didn’t necessarily mean I would remember anything! Oh he of little faith! Talk to you soon.

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  2. I stopped in to say thanks for signing up to my blog only find you with a boo boo. A BIG BOO BOO. Bless your heart. I need the same thing done but I am chicken. I guess when can’t move my hands I wll get it done. Don’t be surprised if I turn to you for advise. Take care

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    1. I decided to put out all the details I could remember because it is hard to find anything but “technical” descriptions of the surgery. Hope someone finds it helpful! Feel free to get in touch if you decide to go under the knife. I am SO glad that I’ve done it – twice!

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  3. Good for you, Chum! It’s actually quite shocking what a difference there WAS between your two thumbs. Just checked mine to make sure – they both lay flat. Take care.

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