Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How I Spent Two Months Not Making Pots. Chapter 3.

The next morning I called the surgeon and found out that he did not accept my insurance, which is crazy because I have the biggest insurance company in the USA, whom I quickly called. They verified that he was out of network, and that it would cost me $9,000 out of pocket if I went to him. So they gave me the names of some other doctors. The first number I called was out of service, and the second said they could see me that morning. So off we went.

The surgeon took a look at my fingers and said I would need pins to hold the little broken bones (cornflakes, he called them) in place, lots of stitches, and that he would have to remove my fingernails, clean up the nail bed, and put the nails back, to make sure my nails didn't die off for good. He did all this the next morning.

When I woke up from surgery, my hand was wrapped up halfway up my forearm with a bandage and rigid plaster splint, which seemed excessive for injured finger tips. The confused look on my face was noticed by the nurse, who said the doctor found that I had also cut the flexor tendon in my middle finger, so I would not be able to bend my finger or wrist for the next 6 weeks. Go big or go home, as they say.

The next week was awkward, but not too painful thanks to my happy pills. I even went to a broadway show, The Book of Mormon, which was excellent and everyone should see it. After a week in my bandage I was unwrapped to reveal my shiny new fingers. The middle finger looked pretty good, but had lots of stitches. The index finer had very few stitches, but there was no skin on the pad. Yuck-o-rama. I had to buy some $200+ salve (thank god for insurance!) to put on it that would allow the skin to grow back, which it did. Pretty amazing stuff.

I was then sent next door to get a splint made that I would have to stay in for the next 5 weeks, and to start physical therapy (PT). The splint was basically a big slab of plastic that covered the back of my hand and forearm, and was held on with velcro straps. I could take it off to shower, as long as I didn't bend my wrist or bad finger back, which would rupture the tendon.

I started going to PT twice a week. The goal was to keep my broken tendon moving so it didn't scar and sieze up.  So 6 or 7 times a day I would do my exercises, and twice a week I would show my therapist what I had accomplished, and get some new exercises. Two weeks ago I got to put away the splint for good, and the range of motion in my finger is about 80% of normal. They still swell up a couple times a day and are pretty stiff, but all that will go away with time. I should get back to mostly normal in the next few months. For now they're quite functional.

All this brings us to today, Pin Day! That's right, today the pins were removed from my fingers. The doctor just grabbed them with some forceps and pulled them out. Only took about 10 seconds. The X-ray showed that the corn flake bones are all solidified, but they may or may not be solid with the main bone. Chances are they are being held solid by cartilage, but that doesn't show up on x-rays. The doctor said most likely they are fine, as he's only ever had 1 patient that had a problem, but we won't know for sure until I start using my fingers. So we'll know next week after the pin holes heal up. If they aren't solid, he'll have to graft in a piece of bone from my wrist. Fingers crossed!