Under the Knife

Last Wednesday I had surgery on my left hand due to Carpal Tunnel.  In November of 2009 I had my right hand fixed, so now it was my left hand’s turn.  In a weird sort of way, this is in preparation for our Denali trip in June as well.

If you read my posts on our Denali Prep course in May of 2010, you might remember how my left hand was really bugging me during that trip.  We did a lot of hiking with poles, lifting of ice blocks, cutting ice blocks, rappelling and other activities that required lots gripping.  By the third day, my left hand was hurting pretty good at night.  The only way I’ve been able to get relief is to sleep on my stomach with my hand down to my side and the palm up.  Well, you can’t always get that prefect position when sleeping in a small tent in a sleeping bag.

So I decided to get my left hand taken care of before leaving for three weeks for Denali.  If it was bugging me on Rainier, it’ll really bug me on Denali.

Just like last time, it went off without a hitch.  Everyone at St Als was great.  Dr Clawson does great work and everyone says he’s the best.  Although my hand is still sore and bruised a bit, I was able to start using it the next day.  I still can’t twist things, pull objects or put much pressure on my wrist and palm.  He allowed me to bring my camera in to the OR again too and my CRNA, Joe, took a bunch of pictures during the operation.  They were even posing my hand for pictures.

Here is the nurse putting my IV in.  When she finished she ran into Shelley in the hallway outside and I overheard her tell Shelley, “It only took 5 tries!”  Yeah, funny.  One try and it was in.  No problem.

Just before going into the OR another nurse realized I hadn’t signed one of the consent forms.  Joe had already given me my Versed via the IV and was about to give me the Fentayl when she saw the blank form.  I could feel the Versed taking hold as she filled out the form and pointed me to the blocks to initial and sign.  I guess I could claim I was signing the consent under duress, yeh?

I presume that Joe took this one.  Here I am all sound asleep while they are cutting on my left hand on the other side of that curtain.  Too bad I couldn’t be awake (and pain free) that would have been cool to watch!

For you doctors and nurses out there, here’s my monitor during the operation.

They took a bunch of pictures during the operation.  This is the best one of my hand.  You can see how they are posing my hand for the photo.  They were great!  The blue check mark on my forearm was put there by Dr Clawson while I was in the waiting room.  Just to make sure he was operating on the correct hand.  I was pretty surprised by the checks they go through prior to surgery.  I must have been asked half a dozen times to confirm the type of procedure I was going to have and on which arm.  Then, just before being wheeled into pre-op, the nurse who I had just been talking to about my health history comes in with my wrist band.  She asks me to tell me my name and date of birth.  I look at her and said, “You were just talking to me.”  She just smiled.  I understood what they were doing by that time and played along.  It almost got silly, but it’s understandable why they have these checks.

Now this photo is interesting in that I have no memory of ever taking it.  Evidently, after things were over and done with, there is a few minutes where I was talking and taking pictures but your mind has no memory of that time.  When I got to recovery and started reviewing the photos, I could tell it was taken by me from the bed, but I didn’t remember doing it.  When the nurse came in to check on me, I asked her about it and she confirmed I took this photo.  As you can see, she is laughing in the photo.  So, what exactly was I talking about?  Well, no one will tell me!

If I had been thinking, I would have hidden my iPhone under my gown and hit the recorder.  Then I’d be able to hear what was going on later.  Might have to consider that if there is a next time.  This operation was short enough (like about 15 minutes) that I might have gotten away with it.

Training for Denali has certainly been impacted by all of this.  I hope to get back to training next week.  I haven’t been able to lift weights and the weather outside has been too muddy for hiking in the foothills.  In fact, the weather for the next few weeks is probably going to stay muddy.  So, it looks like a pack and the elliptical will be my only “hiking” I do for a while.


3 Responses to “Under the Knife”

  1. T Rex Mom Says:

    Cool Posting – glad you didn’t post anything too detailed – T Rex Dad doesn’t do well with those things. By the way, I think talking to the fentanyl/versed you would be fun to talk to! It’s a cool cocktail, huh?

    Bread awaits.


  2. rich Says:

    Joe took a lot of photos, but that was the only one that really turned out well. The light was so bright on my wrist during the operation that the photos didn’t turn out. So, alas, no bloody pictures. It was so funny trying to sign that form with my head starting to swirl around from the Versed. I also have a really cool picture that Shelley recommended I do not put on a public sight. I’ll bring the lap top to dinner tonight and show you. It was awesome!


  3. Barbara Says:

    When I had my knee replaced at UW, the docs initialed the site. Pretty funny to see initials on your skin….


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