thumb and hand progress

My left hand is obviously much more talented than my right. It is taking to physio like a duck to water. My range of motion after less than a week of exercises was nothing short of miraculous. Strength building will take a lot longer as the thumb joint continues to heal, but I’m feeling very optimistic about the process. I’ve worn my splint full-time, except for time out to do exercises. The next step is to wear the splint when I’m doing anything physically demanding or possibly dangerous to the joint. I should do my physio exercises every hour or two. Do you have any idea how tedious that schedule is? I just have to remind myself how it is very worthwhile. It is very worthwhile. It is very worthwhile. Got it.

I attended my first yoga class since January and was pleasantly surprised how easily I could adapt poses. Class was excellent and I’m looking forward to regular attendance. My body and my mind both need to attend class. How fortunate that they usually work as a team! Not always, but usually.

Here’s what my hands look like now – not much to see but they feel pretty darn good. My left palm is still a long distance off the table compared to the right.

hands after surgery

 

The left hand is still somewhat swollen but continues to improve. The incision is healing nicely. Dr. Beveridge does lovely work.

left hand incision

right hand incision

I am able to do things that require flexibility as long as the strength and pressure requirement is low. I think I’ll start posting less often about my hand, as the rest of the recuperation process is slow and uneventful. I’ll just keep working on it and comment on occasion.

proper splint

First of all I want to mention something about my appointment last week at the cast clinic. Once my cast was removed, my surgeon asked me if I still had the last splint. He meant the splint that was made at the hospital, immediately following surgery. My mind went back further to the splint that I’d had for my right hand. I was so confused, because what good would a right hand splint do for my left hand? I did not have the splint from surgery, because as soon as it is removed for a cast to be made, it is thrown into the garbage. Doesn’t this seem like a lack of communication somewhere? Oh well.

In order to meet with occupational therapy to have a proper splint made, you must have paperwork created at the cast clinic when your cast is removed. This can take a long time if there are no appointments available. I was able to circumvent this by booking an appointment to have a splint made for my right hand before I went to have my cast removed, as I was still seeing O.T. Then I only had to wait 3 days to have a proper splint. Thursday I was at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre for my appointment with occupational therapy. I met with Joanne and she made me a splint for my left hand. (of course by then she had the paperwork to approve a splint for my left hand. It was only a little confusing – much like this post.) It is easier to wear something with velcro closings and not a giant tensor bandage wrapped and pinned in place.

The splint is made of heavy-duty plastic that is extremely pliable when heated. It looks like something that would be fun to create sculpture with. Since they don’t give it away, I had to settle for the splint. The first photo shows how well the incision is healing.

hand healing nicely

cotton sleeve for under splint

forming the splint

cast away

For the last 5 or 6 days I have felt an aggravating pain under my cast. I was pretty sure the cause was the end of the metal pin that had been inserted to stabilize my reconstructed carpo-metacarpal joint. There were 2 options for how to deal with it. The first involved booking an appointment and going to the cast clinic, having my cast cut off, having the pin readjusted and getting a new cast put on. The second option involved moving my hand as little as possible and taking Tylenol and Advil again, and toughing it out till Monday. I chose to tough it out. But I was really looking forward to my appointment on Monday. My memory of my cast removal last July was pleasant – a relatively comfortable procedure, aside from some mild discomfort when the pin was removed. I don’t remember any bad after effects. This time was definitely different.

I arrived at the cast clinic in the best of spirits as I anticipated the removal of my cast. After a very short wait, the vibrating wheel was put to work and voilà – the cast was gone.

cutting the cast

cutting the cast

cutting the cast

another thumb update

It’s been 8 weeks since my surgery, so I thought it was time for an update. I met with my surgeon, who seemed less than interested in my hand now that his job is done. He seemed anxious to pass me off to physio. No problem. I’m an adult and I don’t need him looking after me forever. (I can’t be rude and insulting to someone who will probably operate on my left hand at some point in the future.) I was looking forward to starting the real work of making my hand functional. I was scheduled to start last Friday but the appointment was cancelled – extremely upsetting! I did have an appointment to have my splint checked, so I prevailed upon the occupational therapist to supply me with some basic exercises. At least I could get started in the right direction, since it will be an additional 2 weeks before my first official physio appointment. No one seems to be in a hurry but me. By the way, here’s the custom made splint I now have, now that I don’t need to wear it all the time of course. I need to wear it when I’m doing heavy work, like gardening, shopping, housework (like that’s going to happen), and travelling. I tend to bang into things when I travel, so I need the protection to be able to relax.

back of my hand wearing custom made splint

palm side of my custom splint

I also have a little mini splint that protects my carpo-metacarpal joint. This one I wear for anything less strenuous where I need a little support. Perfect for working in the studio.

back of my hand with mini splint

palm side of hand showing mini splint

I should mention that I’ve also since met with my “other” daughter, Julie, to get more advice on stretches and exercises for my thumb. Julie is studying physical therapy at U of A. Now I just need to get one of my children to learn massage and I’ll be laughing!