Hand Surgery Play Book
On December 20th I had a 2.5 hour hand surgery to improve grip and internally reattach my thumb. I had a difficult time finding personal experiences like this online, so I decided to write a timeline of how mine went!
For a detailed description of what surgery I had done, feel free to read my Hand Surgery Before Christmas post.
I am lucky enough to live in the Seattle area and be near the amazing. Dr. William Ericson. He is one of the few people in the U.S. to perform this surgery, and it is known for being a huge help to people with EDS. Before he retires this year, I was glad to snag what's been deemed an "Ericson's Special."
2 WEEKS BEFORE SURGERY
Went over what surgery would look like, recovery time, ask questions, etc.
3 DAYS BEFORE SURGERY
Surgery Center called with time of surgery (7am) and check-in (5:30am).
NIGHT BEFORE SURGERY
Stopped eating and drinking at midnight.
Checked in. I was able to bring my mom in with me before getting called back. Due to COVID protocols she had to wait to come back to the pre-op room.
Signed my name on some papers and made my way back to an individual pre-op room.
Peed in a cup (surprise, I'm not pregnant!)
Sterilized arms, legs, belly, and back with provided wipes
Changed into two gowns; one in front and one on back. Those lovely no-slip hospital socks, and what I always like to know: yes you get to wear your undies😂
Had an IV placed
At this point my mom was able to come back and sit with me
Anesthesiologist came back to go over their role and explain what would happen during surgery
Dr. Ericson came in. Signed and marked up my arm, went over the surgery and recovery with me, and chatted away with my mom.
Funny side story: I told him that my mom's hands were just like mine, and he showed her the exact same issues with her hand. My mom told me I can be the guinea pig, and then if it works, she'll get the surgery.
I said goodbye to my mom (who was allowed to wait in the lobby, or leave. The nurse called once I was finished), and a nurse walked with me back to the operating room.
In the OR
If you've never been in an OR, it's cold. But don't worry, you won't remember it much!
I laid down on the operating table and the Anesthesiologist put an oxygen mask on my face.
Fun idea: This is where I like to test my memory. I try to think of a song right before they give me anesthesia to see how much I remember. This surgery's song? "Rudolph" and "Frosty the Snowman."
When he injected the anesthesia drug into my IV, I got a burning sensation in my face (he warned me that might happen)
One second later... nighty night.
Recovery Room #1
I woke up in the recovery room, sleepy but aware. I'm lucky to have little to no reaction to anesthesia. I also had zero pain.
All people have different reactions to how they wake up. Some common reactions are nauseous, goofy, forgetful, or emotional. All wear off with time 😊
My thumb and wrist were wrapped in a splint and gauze. My forearm had two gauze/bandaid type things.
Dr. Ericson stopped in and showed me how my strength was immediately back in my fingers. Pretty darn cool.
The nurse helped me get dressed to go to the second recovery area.
Surgery tip: wear comfortable loose clothing. The easier it is to put on your clothes the better. I wore sweats with an elastic waistband (no ties), and a big sweatshirt. It was perfect! If you're comfortable with it, skip the bra, it would just be a hassle to figure out with one hand. Also keep in mind your hand will be wrapped up, so skinny sleeves won't work.
Recovery Room #2
I used the restroom, and then walked to the second recovery area.
There were nice reclining chairs separated into little cubicle-like designs.
This is where my mom would have been able to be with me if it wasn't COVID times.
There was a whoopsie with my prescription, so I had. to wait there a little longer than usual.
I drank lots of water and took a little nap while I waited.
A nurse put my mom on speaker phone and went over the recovery paper work in-case I forgot.
The nurse walked me out to my mom's car and I said adios to the hospital.
I had my right side operated on, so it was easy to prop it up on the passenger side.
Just a tiny bit of pain at this point.
Recovering at Home
Most people (including myself) after surgery just sleep.
I put on some Netflix and just switched between watching that and sleeping, eating a little, and drinking lots of fluids.
Before I went to sleep for the night I had my first dose of the Oxy + supplemental drugs
At this point I still had very little pain. I only took the drugs in case I woke up in pain.
DAYS 1-2 AFTER SURGERY
I expected to be in a lot more pain.
I only took one oxy in the morning, and one before going to bed. There was still pain during the day, but it was very manageable and comparable to my normal daily pain.
I tried to keep my arm up as much as I could, and that is where it ended up being most comfortable.
I couldn't fully straighten my fingers.
The most pain came from the thumb joint.
Pain was caused by: movement of thumb, pushing hand through sleeves, excessive movement of the arm, and certain still positions.
I had occasional weird twitching and tingling sensations through my thumb and fingers.
I was able to shower as long as the dressings were full covered. We opted for a garbage bag or saran wrap.
I stopped taking any pain medication. The key is to stay on top of your pain after surgery, and my pain felt very manageable.
I was able to fully straighten my fingers. I could use them to press (like light switches), but couldn't pull or take on any type of weight.
Pain was caused by same movements. Noticed wrist pain more since the swelling went down and the wrap/splint became a little looser.
Continued to shower with arm covered.
Funny moment: my glove didn't fit on my hand, so we went with a hat instead🤷🏼♀️
1 WEEK AFTER SURGERY
I finally got to take off all the dressing and see what was underneath!
Taking off the splint for this first time was a bit painful, but that was to be expected. The most pain came from my thumb and wrist.
7 incisions total
Still pretty swollen and a bit bruised
Told 8 weeks is complete recovery
Dr. Ericson said it's pretty difficult to mess up the surgery, so that gives me reassurance that I won't do something stupid and ruin everything.
Had a separate appointment to get a custom thumb/hand splint
She used thermal plastic that formed to my hand using heat (super cool!)
Now I have ability to move my wrist and bend my thumb
Wrist is sensitive and painful with movement
Thumb is partially numb, and painful at the base
All of this is normal!
I was told no pinching motion because that puts direct pressure on the thumb joint
I will wear this full-time for at least a month and then go from there.
Best part?? I can shower without a trash bag over my arm!!
Well there's one week for you! It's a lot, but definitely doable. Fingers crossed for continued progress! Okay well, metaphorically because I can't actually cross my fingers😉
If you have any questions feel free to comment or contact me!
Be Brave. Stay Kind. Much Love.