I had my one-week post-op follow-up appointment today for my second carpal tunnel release surgery. At my first post-op follow-up, which was two weeks ago and only for my right hand, the doctor came in and asked, “So, do you feel a lot better?” I said, “Um, no, I feel the same.” The doctor’s face went ashen and he said, “Ohhhh shizzzz….” Well, no, that last part isn’t true, but the doctor did seem surprised and not pleased to hear that there had been no noticeable improvement to my carpal tunnel symptoms. He said that about 70% of people experience at least some immediate relief. This was discouraging to me. I already knew there was some possibility that the surgery wouldn’t help the symptoms, even if it prevented them from getting worse. There is always a possibility that nothing will change after having the surgery and you’ll spend the rest of your life feeling as numb as you were before having the surgery. The doctor tried to put me at ease, though, saying that he wouldn’t really worry about my sensation returning until three months had passed. He said that some patients wait until exactly three months before they suddenly improve. That could be me. “Keep your fingers crossed—if you can even tell what the hell you’re doing with ‘em!” the doctor guffawed. Okay, he didn’t really say that last thing.
The surgery on my left hand went even better than on my right hand. Or, at least, my recovery from it has been even easier, which is saying something since it was already pretty easy-going with my right hand. Even so, a week after my surgery, my left hand feels the same to me as it did before the surgery. My left hand was significantly less problematic than my right hand—before the surgery, I mean—so I don’t have much to complain about. It’s only the very tips of my fingers that feel just a tiny bit numb. But again, it’s disappointing that nothing has changed.
Here’s the good news. At my doctor appointment today, they redid some of the testing that they do to measure your carpal tunnel. They have a little wheel with a series of prongs on it. There is a single prong, and then there are various pairs of prongs, each with a slightly wider gap between the prongs than the last. They have you close your eyes, and then they place either the single prong or a double prong on your fingertip and ask you to report whether it’s one prong or two. When I did this before having any carpal tunnel surgery, I performed miserably, especially on my right hand. The prongs had to be fairly far apart for me to distinguish that two were touching me and not just one. Well, at today’s testing, despite my continued numbness, I actually scored like a normal person on this test. Even with my right hand. The doctor was very impressed and said this is very good news. He said that despite my inability to recognize subjectively the process I’ve made, I’ve definitely improved. He said the numbness and tingling may still take a few months, but despite those things, I am getting somewhere.
As ridiculous as it may sound, this news made me quite giddy. I left the doctor’s office in the mood to celebrate. I have yet another follow-up appointment in six weeks, but for now, I’m just supposed to start trying to live as normally as I can. There are still weight restrictions, and there will be tenderness for possibly another several weeks. But I feel like today’s appointment was the last little to-do before I am again a normal human being. That thrills me. It’s hard to believe my fingers ever really will stop being numb, but I’m trying to be optimistic. And being able to move on with my life, tingly fingers or no, is an exciting prospect.