The story of my hand…

In December 2010 I cut my finger with a VERY sharp knife, at the base of my finger between the middle finger and the ring finger. It was mainly a puncture wound that did not bleed a lot, but it gaped open when I straightened out my hand. Immediately, I felt a burning sensation and then electrical shock type of feelings, then a complete numbness, which led me to believe I had severed the nerve. After a few hours, I decided to go into urgent care to see if I needed a stitch or two, and it turned out that I did. The doctor on call didn’t seem too worried about such a small cut, but he tested my finger for sensation and it failed. He put 2 stitches in, placed a splint on my finger and told me to come back in 2 weeks to get the stitches removed, and at time they would test my finger for feeling again.

Well, I got the stitches out 2 weeks later and that on call doctor gave me a referral to a hand surgeon, claiming that they just might be able to repair the nerve and I could possibly get the feeling back. Luckily for me, I did not cut the tendons and I could move and use my hand just fine, but I had no feeling at all in my ring finger. It took another 2 weeks to get in to see the hand surgeon and he also tested the sensation in my finger and told me that he was very confident that he could repair it, but that I should have come right in to see him after it happened – duh!! He warned me that it would take 12-18 months for the nerve to repair itself and the feeling to return to normal, if at all. He also warned me that I would have a cast-like splint that would hold my last 3 fingers in a curled up position for 3 weeks, so I would not rip out the repaired nerves from their new “conduit” that he placed them in. He gave me the weekend to decide if I wanted to have the surgery and told me that we needed to get it done as soon as possible.

I spoke to my brother who works in the OR with 4 orthopedic surgeons and he consulted with them and they recommended that I go ahead and have the surgery, because if I didn’t, there could be neuromas in my hand that would be painful for life. I called and scheduled the surgery for January 22nd, which was about 6 weeks after the initial injury, but that was the best they could do. I went in for the 4 hour out-patient surgery at the Riverside Kaiser hospital at 8:00 am and was out of there around 4:00 pm, with a big cast on my forearm…

Now, the surgery went fine and the pain was minimal for about 10 days – heck, I even went back to work 2 days after! It took a while to type with one hand, but I managed…. I was to come back in 10 days for a re-check and removal of my stitches. I had to cover my splint with a plastic trash bag to shower and it was so hard to do everything with one hand – drove me crazy! But, I did not have to do much of anything around the house, which was nice!

When the day came to have the stitches out, I found out why my hand had been hurting so much in the palm area…. he cut a large zig-zag incision all the way down into my palm and the stitches were pulling on my skin as they were drying out and healing – ouch! 10 stitches that hurt SOOOO bad when they removed them, especially the ones between my ring finger and my pinky. It felt like they were cutting my finger off!

I was so relieved to get those things out! The doctor put on a removable splint that I could take off only for showering and then had to wear that for 12 more days. After getting that splint off, my fingers were so stiff that I could hardly move them at all. The surgeon gave me a referral to physical therapy (which I hated, by the way) and now my hand is much better…

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