From what I was told last evening my surgery went well and quite to my surprise I am, in fact, happy my arm is in a sling.
The doctor was running a tad late so I went into surgery later than expected but when I woke up in the recovery room I found my arm in a sling and I was being offered not only water but also a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin. Of course, I said yes to everything. Since my surgery was scheduled for the middle of the afternoon I wasn’t able to eat anything in the morning but I was allowed to drink clear liquids so I had some cranberry juice for breakfast and I drank water all the way up to ten am, the cutoff time for my drinking. I could have had some coffee yesterday morning, but I was restricted to black coffee and I’ve never been able to drink black coffee. The folks up here in New England call it regular, but this southern boy just calls it cream and sugar, and I really don’t like my coffee without either of those two.
I had forgotten that this time my surgery wasn’t a duplicate of my January, 2013, surgery. They did another ulnar nerve migration to put it back under the muscle (in case it had slid out of its new home) but they according to the office visit summary that I just saw on the patient gateway they did what’s called an ulnar nerve neurolysis. That entailed seeing where the nerve had gotten itself to, cutting it free, and clearing off any scar tissue that had developed. They also wrapped the nerve to try to protect it in the future before tucking it back under the muscle. (Sorry, I have no idea what muscle they tucked it under and I forgot to ask.)
My previous surgery had been amazingly pain-free, but I’m not that lucky this time. The pain isn’t horrible (yet, knock on my wooden skull) and I have some good meds to help keep the pain down, but I am definitely having some “ouch” moments this time. Part of that is finding out what I can do and what I can’t. Two years ago I was basically told not do anything with my left arm and hand two years ago, but this year my instructions are, “You may use your hand and fingers for light activities, but do not do any heavy lifting or strenuous activity.” The pain wasn’t bad enough to affect my being able to sleep last night, and I think the sling helped me keep my arm on the pillow that I had placed on my left hip as I went to sleep on my right side. I still wanted to sleep on my left side, since that’s how I tend to sleep anyway, but at least I didn’t try to move my arm in a way that would wake me up with pain. Of course the very hard splint my arm is wrapped in helped keep my arm from trying to straighten out or bend any more than it already is, and I think the sling helped me keep my arm where it was best placed.
I’m discovering that while I can type a little with my left hand it can get to hurting fairly quickly so I’m going to be doing a bit more one-handed typoing until I can see exactly what I can do and what I can’t.
I’m also allowed to change the dressing in five days, something that is completely new this time around. Next week I’ll have to see exactly what that means because I was expecting to be told to leave everything alone until I see the surgeon, which is scheduled for the 30th.
I want to give a great big shout out for everyone at Faulkner Hospital who took such good care of me yesterday. Not only my surgeon, Dr. George Dyer, but also his assistant Dr. Timilehin Wusu, and Phyllis Garr and everyone in preop holding who not only made sure I knew Dr. Dyer was running late but also making sure I was in the loop as to how the schedule was going. I also want to thank Dr. Napoli, the anesthesiologist who was planning on doing a peripheral nerve block but didn’t even bat an eye when he heard I prefer getting general anesthesia. I ended up getting both, which is fine since they’re the experts, but when getting surgery on my arm I really like being put completely under for the procedure. It may be unnecessary from a medical standpoint, but my brain does better knowing I’ll go to sleep shortly after being rolled into surgery and wake up in the recovery room. Speaking of the recovery room, I didn’t catch the names of anyone who took care of me in the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit) but they did a great job getting me awake and making sure that when I went home I was ready to go and didn’t have any issues that would have indicated I stick around any longer.
All in all, if you’re in the Boston area and need surgery, if your doctors are part of the Brigham & Women’s network I strongly recommend Faulkner Hospital. Not only are the people who work in the emergency room and on the units fantastic at their jobs (as I found out last year when I had a urinary tract infection) the folks I’ve dealt with in the surgical units made this a much more pleasant experience than my last surgery was. I’m not going to identify who did the last surgery or where, because it wasn’t horrible, but the people at Faulkner set a pretty high bar in terms of patient care.
And since I probably won’t be online this weekend, HAPPY SPRING!