Measure twice, cut once… again

As I alluded to in Saturday’s post, I have some surgery in my future. Today I got confirmation that I’ll be going under the knife a week from tomorrow.

Folks who know me probably know that back in January of 2013 I underwent ulnar nerve transposition surgery. I had been having numbness and tingling in the ring and pinky fingers of my left hand (not the one I write with, thank Finagle), and at one point I couldn’t even grip a three-prong electric plug with my left hand to unplug it. When I had an EMG done I learned that I had already lost a bit of muscle mass, which explains why I couldn’t grip the plug with my left hand. After the surgery I was able to get back a lot of flexibility and strength in my left hand, but I’ll never get back some of the muscle mass I lost. I did manage to lose the numbness and tingling, although it took 18 months (to last July) to get it back.

Fast forward to the weekend after Thanksgiving last year, shortly after I got the Android phone I’ve been using. As I was holding the phone in my left hand to tap with the right fingers, I found not only did I have numbness and tingling again but I also had pain in my left forearm. That was brand new and I had to extend my left arm down and slightly behind me to get the pain to go away. Now any time I hold the phone with my left hand so I can see or use the phone I get pain either in my forearm or just above my left elbow. Sometimes I get it in both places, and I always try to limit how long I hold my hand in that position unless I’m intentionally going for the pain to show a doctor what my arm is doing.

Today I got confirmation that my surgery will be done next Thursday, 19 March. Dr. George Dyer will be performing it at Faulkner Hospital and from everything I’m seeing I’ve got a great doc to do it this time. (Online reviews show my last surgeon getting maybe a 3-1/2 star rating while Dr. Dyer gets 5 stars almost across the board.) It’s a day surgery so I’ll be cut loose after I come out of the anesthesia.I’ll end up with my arm in a splint for several weeks. In time I’ll start physical therapy, first to regain some of the flexibility I’ll lose having my arm immobile in a sling for several weeks and then to regain strength I’ll lose from not being able to use the arm and hand. Last time I was released from doctor’s care and physical therapy about 10 weeks after the surgery and I suspect it will take a similar length of time this time.

I’ll end up with my arm in a splint for several weeks so, unfortunately, my ability to do much will be pretty limited. I may be able to do some typing and taking pictures, but so much of what I do requires at least a little cooperation with my left hand so until I’m at least out of my splint please understand that my already limited output will be reduced even further. That’s the one thing I’m really not looking forward to this time around. Two years ago my writing was limited, as was how much I could carry, and just that could drive me a bit batty. I don’t even want to think how often having my left arm out of commission will limit things I now take for granted.

The surgery I’m having next week is basically the same surgery I had two years ago, except for the fact that my nerve is no longer where it usually is in the groove of the elbow, plus Dr. Dyer is going to wrap the nerve to try to prevent further damage. If you want a little more information on the surgery I found a nice web video explaining the procedure from the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. Don’t worry, it doesn’t show an actual arm undergoing the surgery. I like to see how things are done, but that’s something I have no interest in watching.

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