Monday, January 30, 2012

Can They Fix My Elbows?

The new hand is still working out well.  It is FAR better than it was before.  Thank goodness for that.  I am really appreciating and enjoying the relief.

What I'm not appreciating are the ulcers forming on my elbows.  They start out as really deep, dry, almost scab-like skin.  Then they turn into sores or ulcers.  That, like my fingers, can last for months at a time.

I've been noticing that my elbows were tender the past few days.  By this afternoon, the right one is sore enough that I can't prop myself on it in bed.  I have to roll over with caution and care.  Hopefully, they heal quickly.

Today's afternoon nap ... 2 1/2 hours!  Holy cow!  I was feeling pretty energetic yesterday and today.  Getting a lot accomplished.  Yesterday's nap was just half an hour and did the trick.

Today, by the time I laid down at 2:30 I felt like I really had zero energy.  Tonight, I dont just feel like I have zero energy.  I actually do have zero energy.  I just want to sleep some more.

Which is a BAD thing.  I don't even have the energy to make dinner.  I can't even pull together a recipe because I'm all foggy and cant focus.  I just want to close my eyes some more.  I've been making nothing but healthy, clean meals for the past two weeks ... tonight we're eating crap.  Pizza Hut will be delivering to our front door.  I think I'll ask hubby to throw together a salad to go with the "crap" so I at least get something healthy in my there, too.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be back on my game.  I don't want to fall into the bad food rut, again.

Right Hand Arthrodesis is a Success!

I wrote this on the plane on the way back from Baltimore on 1/27/12, but had yet to ost it because I was waiting for pictures to go with it....

Transformation one is complete and deemed a HUGE success.  The seven weeks of healing were long.  V-E-R-Y L-O-N-G.  Very worth it though.

On Monday one pin "fell" out at home.  It was already loose and didn't hurt at all.  In fact, I didn't even know it had fallen out until I saw the blood on my finger.  This morning the remaining pins were removed by my awesome hand surgeon, Dr. Spence.  These last two pins were a little painful coming out, but nothing a little holding my breath and clenching my teeth didn't take care of.

Immediately after my appointment, we headed to Kohl's so I could take advantage of their jewelry clearance.  Let me tell you, I did!  I got five new rings to wear on my middle finger, like I used to love to do, back in the day.

I now have a "functioning" right hand.  My thumb isn't flexible like it once was, but it's ok.  My fingers don't straighten, but it's ok.  My fingers don't bend in the middle, but it's ok.  They wont get ulcers on the knuckles anymore, that's ok.  MORE than ok.  My grasp is weak, but it's ok.  My fine motor skills are lacking, but it's ok.  Though I'm still limited in some ways and always will be, that's not important today.

Today, what's important is what my hands CAN DO.  That in and of itself, is completely and totally amazing.

Just seven weeks ago, I had to use two fisted hands to hold a drink.  Today, I can hold some smaller cups and bottles in my right hand alone.  I can fit my hand over the top of a small fast food drink.  (Don't worry, it was iced tea)

Since 2010 I have adopted Lily, Cooper, & Gretchen and until five weeks ago, I had never felt their fur on my fingertips or on the palm of my hand.  Now I can pet them and feel how soft Lily is, how fluffy Cooper is, and how Gretchen has typical, course, German Shepherd hair.

Driving my car was becoming difficult.  I had to force my fingers around the steering wheel.  Parking lots and backing into the driveway took much care.  Now, my right hand comfortably fits around the wheel.  Steering is still a little difficult as my gripping ability is now drastically altered because of the lack of flexing ability at those middle knuckles.

I can wear rings again, I can more easily cut and file my finger nails.  By the end of the weekend, I have a funny feeling that I'll have painted nails, too.  I can use lip gloss out of pots.  I can loosely tie my yoga pants.  It's not a great tie, nor will it ever be, but it keeps my pants on while around the house.

I can scratch an itch with my fingernails.  I can get goop out if the corner of my eye using a fingertip.  I can scratch the inside of my ear without needing a Q-tip or pen cap or something of the sort.  I can kind of sort of pick nose.  Yep, I just said I pick my nose.  I think most people do, just nobody wants to own up to it.

The list continues to grow almost daily.  Things that I've either given up on in the past or struggled like hell to do.  It certainly does help with appreciating the small things.

Now, life hasn't miraculously become rainbows and butterflies.  Some of the same shit is still shitty.  There are some new limitations and challenges, but this post isn't about that.  This post is about the awesomeness that I am experiencing.  I'll save the the other stuff for a day when it's bugging me and things are rough.  Right now, I just want to ride this high for awhile longer.

Here are some pictures of the process.

My hands prior to the arthrodesis.  They didn't open
or close any more than this. In these pictures I have two ulcers
on my index and middle fingers and one on my ring finger.
Those ulcers would last for months at a time and be
This is what my hand looked like afte the surgery.  You
can see the incision marks where my knuckles were.
The blue things are caps on the pins that run from just
at my cuticle, through my bones just past the incision
marks.  Those pins hold the bones in place while they
grow together.
This is the final product.  They don't straighten any more
than that and the fingers don't bend in the middle.
They still do bend at my hand allowing for some grip
and much added flexibility at that joint.