Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Facing My Own Everest. One Hand, One Day at a Time

If you recently fractured your wrist or you're caring for someone who has, and you want to know what to expect after surgery and during rehabilitation, I hope you'll draw comfort from my experience. After a fall that broke my right wrist, I find myself facing my own Everest, so I improvised and learnt to cope with my non-dominant hand. 

February 12 (2016): I had surgery for a distal radius fracture and  distal ulna fracture, commonly known as a broken wrist. A titanium plate was fixed to my radius (the larger bone on the thumb side) and a K-wire to my ulna styloid (the head of the smaller bone on the little finger side). 

The K-wire's out!
April 28: I went in for day surgery and had the K-wire taken out under local anaesthesia.

Today, 5 months post-op: My non-dominant left hand has grown so used to picking up the slack sometimes I forget the right one's on the mend.  With my left hand, handling a fork and spoon, switching TV channels and opening doors has become as natural as kaya on toast. That's one unexpected icing on the cake.

As for my healing right wrist, about 90% of the post-op numbness and tingling pins-and-needles is gone, little is left of the tight muscle twitches and stretches I had to endure up to 2 months post-op, and my scars are fading into  works of art, except where the healed ulna scar was reopened to take out the K-wire. The scar is now slightly raised and thick. My surgeon said it's a hypertrophic scar, and the tiny knot of dissolvable surture used to close the wound that's popped out from it is a reaction to the surture. I can now lift the kettle to make coffee and recently went back to lifting my 2kg dumbell, thanks to exercises prescribed to regain wrist stability and strength. 

After nearly 20 outpatient visits and therapy sessions and an ongoing wrist strengthening home exercise programme, my recovery is on track, although I still have some way to go. I still sleep and wake up to a right wrist and fingers that stiffen up when when not used. My grip is weak and there's still some ulna-sided tightness, tingling in the base of my palm near the thumb and the odd ache after the grip and weight exercises.