Two weeks ago I had an appointment at the Plastics Hand Clinic, which isn't a clinic for those with plastic hands ;oP but for plastic surgery on hands. I find it a little odd that it's plastic surgeons who deal with carpal tunnel syndrome, but they are and I've seen the plastic surgeon a few times for CTS.
A little while ago I had nerve conduction tests on my hands, which wasn't very pleasant - bolts of electricity being shot through your arms and hands - which was supposed to detect the presence of CTS. It didn't. My results came back normal, but as my symptoms were still indicating CTS, the surgeon thought he'd try a second shot of hydrocortisone directly into the carpal tunnel. The first shot I'd had the first time I'd been to clinic had been given by one of the registrars and had actually made things worse because he'd accidentally hit the nerve with the needle as he'd gone in. I had shooting pains through my hand and fingers, which continued for ages and made the tingling and numbness symptoms worse. The consultant gave me the second injection with no negative consequences, and in fact (and as hoped) it helped the symptoms for a while. Numbness, pain, tingling, weakness etc all returned in the end, and the consultant said this, and my history, confirmed diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome despite the negative nerve conduction tests. Apparently false negatives are quite common.
So when I saw the consultant in clinic two weeks ago he offered me surgery to release my carpal tunnel. I'd asked what kind of time-scale I might be looking at for it, and to my surprise he'd said within six weeks, or maybe even before Christmas if I was lucky. I mentioned that it'd be a bonus if it were before Christmas as it then wouldn't interfere with my studies that will be resuming soon into the new year.
On Wednesday or Thursday last week (I forget exactly which day), I had a call from the hospital telling me they'd had a cancellation and if I wanted it I could have my op on Tuesday 6th December! No chance to get used to the idea of having surgery (even though I'd known it was likely), but I took the opportunity. Mum was coming down on the Monday anyway, and although she'd originally planned to go back home on the Tuesday, she was able to change her train ticket and stay until Wednesday so that she could be with me through the op/post-op period.
The surgery itself was done under local anaesthetic, which the senior registrar who did the op said would 'hurt like buggery.' He wasn't wrong, but the theatre nurses were good at trying to distract me and we talked about the 7th Harry Potter film while I was painfully having my hand completely numbed. Now for all that I've had some big difficulties at the RVI in the past (some of which I've written about), on this occasion they were all great. They were very careful and thorough regarding my allergies and asthma, and even though the op was done under local anaesthetic they had an anaesthetist hanging around and scrubbed in just in case I did anything 'exciting'.
I think I was running on adrenaline through the operation, and because I hadn't had much time to get used to the idea of needing surgery I was fairly relaxed about it all. The staff were chatting with me about all sorts of things, including the book I'm writing about my asthma, but the surgeon also told me a little bit about what he was doing, though I have to say that this was after he'd seen me glance for a few seconds at what he was doing. He was teaching a junior doctor at the same time, so on the couple of occasions that I asked a question the surgeon asked the junior if he knew the answer and then got him to explain.
Anyway, the surgery went smoothly, and despite the negative nerve conduction tests, the surgeon said that the ligament was thickened and very tight so surgery had been the right thing. I'm so pleased that I haven't been through all this for nothing, that's for sure, because once the local anaesthetic wore off - in the middle of the night - it was all very painful. The pain's improving a little, but I'm still needing regular codeine and paracetamol (which I'm sure my liver isn't liking, but pain control is my prime concern right now), and I've still got my arm in a sling until next Tuesday.
It's tricky being one-handed, especially as I'm right handed and the op was on my right hand. Driving Taz isn't easy either as I'm having to use my left hand for the controls on the right, so I'm having to twist slightly in the chair. It's not so bad for a short while, but it gets uncomfortable after a bit. There's also the added thing of not being so precise in my use of the joystick when I'm using my left hand, so there's potential for a lot more chaos than usual...
Things will become somewhat easier when I can have at least partial use of my right hand again. As I said before, that'll happen on Tuesday when I can keep the sling off. I then go back to clinic on Friday next week to get the stitches out and the dressing reduced, but from what I've read online it can take several weeks for fuller healing to take place. So long as the pain improves a lot before several weeks are up I'll be happy.