My Wrist Surgery Story + Healing Tips
Hello my friend and welcome back to my little space on the Internet! I hope that life is treating you well. However, if you're in a rough patch right now, I promise that things will always get better. Plus, I'm always available to talk, and I hope that this post might even help you a little bit. It's also a way for me to remember a lot of the details for myself!
Alright, this story time is a long one, so grab a snack and settle in. If you're like me and are new to some experiences within the medical realm, I hope to ease your mind!
How it all began
For some reason I have always been drawn to the style and pastel colors of beach cruiser bicycles. I always gawk at them in stores that carry them. So, for our five year anniversary, my boyfriend Jared got one for me. I was so excited because he got me a beautiful rose gold one, and I couldn't wait to ride it. We rode on the Rail Trail a few times and even went 16 miles once! I love exercising and was also on a running kick again. But on Tuesday, September 10th, our bike ride was different. We were riding single file line to let others pass beside us, and then Jared called "okay come back up beside me". If you know me well, you know that I am an easily excitable person. So I happily trekked up beside him and accidentally got too close... I tried to swerve away and stop, but I knocked both of us over and put my arm out to catch myself. I felt awful. I looked over and his knee was skinned up, and the front tire of my bike was folded in. Panic set in. I told him how sorry I was. And then I felt it. An excruciating pain rushed through my wrist and hand, my dominant wrist of course. But, there was a slight problem. We were on the trail... far from our car... with two bikes. Jared had to carry my bike and I wheeled his, with my arm resting across the handlebars. I literally had to carry it...
We made it to the Seneca Center where we could drop off our bikes. A local bicycle shop inside the building told us that the retailer that we received the bike from, had not properly assembled the spokes. I still am not sure to what extent this made an impact on the accident.
Once we made it to MedExpress, I was in a very high amount of pain. The most pain that I felt during this entire experience was my first set of X-rays. I had to lift my arm onto the table and move my wrist and fingers in very challenging positions. The doctor folded white material around my arm that went over my elbow, and told me that I needed to see a specialist tomorrow. I went to my mom's house that night and she took me to the specialist the next day. Luckily they were able to fit me in.
I went to Mountainstate Orothpedics, and boy was I in for more than I had ever dreamed. Sitting on the paper-lined bed, I received the news. My future surgeon told me that I 1000% needed surgery. A wave of fear hit me, because for some reason surgery has always terrified me. His words were "this is worst case scenario for a wrist break", and that I was on the high spectrum. I couldn't believe my ears because I never imagined a medical professional would ever say those words to me. My mom gave him a look because I started to tear up. Looking back now, I appreciate his honesty and that he was upfront with me. I remember going out of the entrance doors and trying to process everything while my mom scheduled my next appointment. I had to get a CT scan so that my surgeon could have a more thorough look at everything before surgery. At my second appointment he told me that there weren't any surprises and then we scheduled my surgery for Tuesday.
I had to wait an entire week for surgery. Yes, I was on pain medication, but the anxiousness was actually the worst part. I was instructed to not eat or drink ANYTHING after midnight. I realized I couldn't swallow pills without water, so I couldn't take my pain medicine, and it truly didn't phase me. I am thankful for the support from family and friends because I was pretty nervous the night before, as this was my first surgery. I prayed for "best case scenario" and that God would help me to be strong.
After checking in, my pastor actually met me in the waiting room and prayed for me. I then filled out paperwork and was escorted back to my prep room, lucky number 13. I was born in room 313, so I felt a spark of happiness. I changed into my surgery gown and was then given an IV. Even having an IV was a new experience to me. My family and Jared were allowed to come back to the room with me. My surgeon, the same doctor that I saw at the orthopedics office, came in and made sure that I was doing okay. He also told us that the anesthesiologist would be potentially giving me a nerve block (it would numb my entire arm for 24 hours after surgery) because the pain would feel like I just broke it for a few days with everything realigned.
It was officially time. I said my goodbyes and blinked away tears while the nurse wheeled me back because I was going to be alone now. Jared ran back to make sure I was okay, and I told him that I was. (He's the best) I was going to get a shot in my clavicle, which I had no previous knowledge about (probably for the best). The nurse took me to a dark room and the anestesiologist was told that it would be a few minutes because he was being called to a different wing. I took this time to pray to myself and I instantly felt better. I was at peace and I completely felt ready. I was joking with the nurses and the anestesiologist came back and started filling my IV. He told me it would make me feel loopy and like I drank a few. I felt it kick in pretty quickly. He used an ultra sound and i remember him saying "her anatomy is a little different". I laughed and then there it was, the giant needle. It wasn't so bad.
Then, I was taken into the surgery room. It was so surreal with the big blue lights over me (something I've only seen on TV shows). I heard them talking about how they would have to lift me onto the operation table because I couldn't move my arm. They lifted me up and slid me over from the bed that I was originally on. They held a breathing tube over my mouth and instructed me to take a few breaths. I felt a female's hand on my knee which was comforting, and then my surgeon said "give me one more big one". And everything went black.
All I remember next is waking up with my family surrounding me in my post-operation room. I had a giant sponge block around my arm to help keep it elevated. His name is cheese. :) I was also starving and Jared kept feeding me crackers haha. Once it was time to leave, the nurses told me I could keep my gown on so that I didn't have to worry about changing again, and then I was wheeled down to the car in a wheelchair.
You can tell the nerve block was in full effect in the first photo because it numbed clear up my arm and even made my eye droopy haha. :p (The last photo was from the next evening)
The night after my surgery I couldn't feel my arm and my mom had to carry my arm in the cheese block anywhere that I went because it didn't even feel attached to me. It was the strangest feeling, and actually felt a lot different from being numb after a dentist visit. Apparently, patients often sleep very well the night after surgery, but my arm would tingle here and there which made it difficult to sleep.
Hi, if you're still here.....
The next day, my friend Maria come over while my mom went to work. I could feel my arm tingling a LOT to regain feeling and once I did, the pain set in. But, it was okay because I made it through a successful surgery and God was taking care of me.
For two weeks my wrist and part of my fingers and arm were wrapped with gauze and light cloth material "a splint". For the first few nights I had to sleep with my arm upright in the cheese block to keep it elevated. I also used it during the day because it releived some of the soreness from holding my arm up all day. I actually grew to love cheese. :P My mom had to help me shower because I had to keep my left arm dry. She took such great care of me, and even got me little surprises along the way.
I had my two week follow-up appointment and was given a velcro brace to work on gaining mobility in my fingers. I actually learned to do a lot with my right hand and showering wasn't as challenging anymore!
At my four-week follow up, I had another set of Xrays. The bone that I broke, that now has a plate, is completely healed!! My surgeon said that I could now start occupational therapy, even though he usually waits six weeks for patients to start. He told me that it will always be a little more stiff than before I broke it, but now my goal is to make it stronger!
I have started my first week of occupational therapy and yes it is challenging. I realized that I still have a ways to go and have to work on gaining mobility in my wrist (even just learning how to move it side to side again). It really is crazy how much strength and function you lose after surgery... But I know that it will get better, and if you ever have to go through surgery, I know that it will for you too!
Tips for healing
So, here are a few things I've learned along the way:
1. You will NEED to lean on others - Yes, I know it is hard to accept help from others when it's for so many simple things, but trust me, your family and friends want to help you get better. No matter what your challenge is, physical or mental, let. others. help.
2. Shower with a trash bag- This helped to keep all of my wrist contraptions nice and dry. Plus, you can reuse them or throw them away.
3. If you are given a splint or cast, your skin very well might peel- I was not expecting this and I had to use so much lotion lol.
4. Trust your doctors/surgeons- I get it, it's easier said than done. They have so much control over you and your future health, but they are trained professionals. And they want you better too.
5. Some days might be frustrating- But you've got this!! No matter what you're going through, things will always get better.
6. If someone you know is having a hard time- Go over and just jump in and help. Even if they don't seem like they want it, they might need it more than they realize. Even it's a card, show that you CARE.
7. Mindset is key- If you believe you will get better, you WILL. Just stay strong. <3
Alright... we have made it to the end! I am thankful for all of the support from my family and friends, as well as the kind messages and comments from you. As I stated before, I am always here if anyone needs a friend. Hopefully I was also able to ease your mind a little bit if you are going to be facing a similar experience!
XO - Allie