I have been a bad blogger. I apologise profusely, although to be fair, it hasn't been easy to type much over the past couple of weeks because of the surgery to my hand. However, that is now healing and typing is much easier than it was.
For the first week after the carpal tunnel op I had to wear a sling, which made life trickier than usual, especially as I'm right handed and the surgery was on my right hand. The sling kept everything rested though, and helped the swelling. However, I was naughty one evening, took my arm out of the sling and tried to use some nail clippers with my right hand, with the consequence of a great deal of pain, a scream that probably woke my upstairs neighbours, and very little success with cutting my nails. I had to dose myself up with analgesics to get any sleep that night and the pain was still much worse in the morning than it had been before my attempts at nail clipper usage. I learnt through my stupidity though, and haven't tried anything quite as daft since then.
Ten days after the op I had to go back to clinic to get the wound checked and the dressing reduced. All went well and the scar seems to be healing well, although the surgery site is still fairly swollen. I'm not surprised as it's still only a short time after the op, and full healing can take several weeks. It was a relief to get the big bandage off and replaced by a much smaller, support bandage that I was told to keep on for four or five days. After the nail clippers episode I decided to be good and do as I was told. I left the smaller bandage on for four days and then thought I'd see how it went, but my hand - in particular my thumb - felt very precarious and quite painful, so I put the bandage back on for another couple of days, only removing it yesterday. Since then I've intermittently worn a Tubigrip support bandage, mostly when things have felt unstable or been getting very tired an achy, but I think it's also good to let the air get to the scar and be able to moisturise the scar frequently too. It's odd how dry my hand has got, and I don't want the new skin getting so dry that it cracks.
Obviously there's still a fair bit of healing to be done, especially inside, but I'm gradually getting a bit of strength back in my grip, and although there's some internal tightness and stiffness, movement is generally good. It's quite amazing what can be done. Best of all, I've been pretty much free of carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms :o)
Just before I had the surgery I asked how long it would be until I could drive, and the surgeon said not for at least ten days and then it would depend how things were going and what was said in clinic. To be honest, I was surprised it was as little as ten days, and even more so as those days wore on. I came to the conclusion that I didn't think I would be safe to drive with such a weak grip even if I was told in clinic that it would be okay, so I resolved myself for at least a couple more car-free weeks. As it turned out, I was told in clinic that I wouldn't be able to drive probably for another four to six weeks when I'm seen in clinic again by the consultant on 20th January. This is longer than I'd anticipated, but it's fair enough.
However, when I am given the all-clear to drive again I will be looking into replacing my car. As I explained at the beginning of the month, I have a Motability car, which was new only last February, but my needs have since changed and I now definitely require one in which I can get my electric wheelchair. I hadn't been able to find any information on the Motability website about the possibility of doing this before the three year contract was up so didn't know if it was possible. I contacted them first through email and subsequently had a very helpful conversation on the phone. It turns out that it is possible to change my car before the contract on my present car ends as it is due to a change in needs, and as this is the first contract I have cancelled then they will waive the £250 fee. Unfortunately I lose the right to the £250 bonus for looking after the car well during contract, but that's not unexpected.
One of the difficulties I face is that Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) have a much bigger down-payment than I can afford, and of course there's also the cost of any added adaptations I may need such as a lift for the wheelchair. However, there may be the possibility of some grants available through Motability for both the down-payment and adaptations.
I've been sent the details of the various 'converters' - the folk who convert possible vehicles into WAVs - and been told to contact several. Apparently most are national companies so I needn't stick just to those who are local, but instead discuss my needs with a variety of them who will then advise what they think I may need and will bring possibilities to my house for me to test drive. Excellent. After I've done that, I'm told I need to speak to the people at the Motability grants department and tell them what the converters have advised and what my preferences are. Grants are means-tested so I'm guessing there'll be lots of complicated forms to fill in, and I don't know how much of the down-payment or adaptations will/can be paid for by them. I've also been told that the grants department won't always give money for the car that you want, but rather what they and the converters deem is suitable, which I'm guessing could well be less than what you'd like. However, if it maintains my independence then any suitable WAV has to be better than none.
I'm still loathed to part with my lovely Vauxhall Meriva, and I'm having to make myself think about the positives of getting a WAV. I cherish my independence and this is a means to keeping it. That's what Motability is about at the end of the day, so I remind myself of that all the time that I'm looking into replacing MacTavish (my Meriva). I also console myself slightly with the thought that I don't have to part with him immediately, because even after I've done all the hard work of finding the best WAV for me, and applying for grants, and ordering the car, I'll still have to wait between twelve to sixteen weeks before I get the new car. It's looking like it'll be late spring or even early summer before I get a WAV, so I may have come to terms with parting from MacTavish by then.
I can't do anything much about it at the moment anyway, because I can't drive at all until my hand is healed and I get the driving go-ahead from the surgeon. There isn't a lot of point in doing a great deal of research or contacting WAV converters until I can actually test-drive some vehicles ... although I might start looking into the basics of boot opening heights against the height of my wheelchair so that I have a bit of an idea of what to look at when I contact the converters...