I had my carpal tunnel release on Wednesday. My dad was gracious enough to pick me up at 6 a.m. and take me to the clinic. This allowed Melanie to get Eddie and Peter to school, Beegy to my mom’s, and herself to work. It was an outpatient surgery, and I was on my way back home before 10:30. Not bad. I had been told that I would have a choice as to whether or not I was put under, but apparently I misunderstood what exactly was meant by this. My choice was between being “sedated,” where I’m asleep through the surgery but able to breathe on my own, and being fully anesthetized, where they have to stick a tube down my throat to do my breathing for me. The choice was easy. I chose to be sedated. (Cue The Ramones.)
I was wheeled into the operating room around 7:30 a.m., give or take. I had the full hospital gown on, and it all seemed like a much bigger deal than I had anticipated. The anesthesiologist started asking me what I do, which led to me talking briefly about my dissertation. I quickly felt my head swimming and knew the conversation was just a ruse to distract me as he put me to sleep. I almost called him out on it, but I was gone too quickly. It’s kind of funny. I don’t quite remember waking up, but I vividly remember going to sleep. This is the opposite effect of my surgery in 2007. Then again, my surgery in 2007 was on my left foot instead of my right hand, so I guess I should expect quite opposite results. (Cue laugh track.)
After waking up, they made me stick around for an hour or so. My hand felt mildly sore but otherwise didn’t hurt, which was a pleasant surprise. I thought it might be whatever drugs they had me on at the time, but honestly, the pain has been minimal. I haven’t even been taking the pain pills they prescribed me. I rarely take pain pills I’m prescribed, because I rarely to never feel a need for them. I guess I’m lucky in that regard. Before releasing me, they gave me all the warnings about not making any big decisions over the next 24 hours, not eating too much for the next 12 hours, and not driving while on pain pills. They directed most of their warnings at my dad, as if he would be the one caring for me. They then wheeled me out to my dad’s car, as if I had just had a hysterectomy or something. Like I said, it all seemed very overblown considering what had happened. Even though I felt completely normal mentally and in my stomach long before I left the hospital, I followed their medical advice and had only soup for lunch, limiting my decision-making to choosing broccoli cheese over other flavors. Approximately 9 hours after surgery, I threw caution to the wind and ate a few tacos and other assorted items for dinner. No complications. (Cue applause.)
Since the day of my surgery, I have been taking things easy. They told me not to lift more than three pounds until I’m given explicit permission from the doctor at a follow-up appointment. I’m also supposed to keep my hand elevated as much as possible, which means I’m usually walking around with my hand raised as if I’m greeting everyone I see. I’m also supposed to ice my hand several times a day. For these reasons, I find reading and watching TV to be the best activities I can engage in. It’s been kind of nice. I’ve gotten online a little bit, but typing can be somewhat awkward because I’ve been mostly typing with my left hand. Sometimes I employ the ring finger on my right hand. This blog post is actually the first thing I’ve typed where I’m pretty much typing normally, using both hands and the “correct” fingering. I was told that I could probably resume typing within a couple of days if I felt up to it. I was leery that I would, but it actually doesn’t feel that bad. (Cue murmurs of surprise.)
As for my fingers themselves—you know, the ones that went dead back in June—they feel the same. Tingly and numb, exactly as they felt before the surgery. They say it can take months to regain sensation. I don’t know why it takes that long, but I’ll have to be patient. The doctor did say that it’s possible the surgery won’t actually help matters. That sure would suck. Of course, he also said that in extremely rare cases, surgery only makes it worse. Having had the surgery, part of me wonders if it makes any sense for me to do this to my left hand in another 10 days. My left hand has always felt so normal compared to my right hand that it almost seems insane to bother doing something to it. But I suppose it’ll stand a much better chance of fully recovering precisely because it’s not so bad. And that makes me as happy as a cute and cuddly puppy. (Cue swooning and shouts of “awwwwww!”)
I have photos. Yup, they gave me some internal pics of my wrist, both before and after slicing my transverse carpal ligament—or flexor retinaculum, for all you Latin buffs. In the first photo, you can see a kind of white film that stretches across the center of the frame (just above what appears to be something like the head of some nail clippers but which is actually a surgical instrument holding my wrist open). In the second photo, that white film—which is actually the ligament—has been severed. Enjoy!