There May Be Some Discomfort…

Well, the Thanksgiving break is almost over and I have had more fun that I could possible describe.

Actually I can describe it easily… I’ve had ZERO fun.  I’ve gotten several messages asking about it but until today typing this post would have taken all day and several more pain pills.  Bottom line, I have been house-bound recovering from wrist surgery and trying to force that recovery so that by Monday, December 1st, I can dress for school and actually fasten my pants.

Yeah, yeah, laugh away.  I did too when I was totally in denial and massively underestimating the seriousness of the procedure.   Or perhaps I simply underestimated what a weenie I have become,  but I honestly assumed that after a few days and certainly no more than a week after the surgery I’d simply be anxiously waiting for removal of stitches but otherwise fine.  Right… hold that thought…

One of my students is an orthopedic surgeon and, looking back, he tried to gently suggest I may be a bit over-optimistic.  But in my defense, I did have logic on my side, after all the problem was a small one.  For you anatomists or medicos out there, the situation was that I was having lots of wrist pain due, the X-rays showed, to some arthritic bone spurs on the scaphoid and a complete loss of the cartilage surrounding it but most noteworthy, along the radio-carpal joint. In the shot below, the green area is where this individual still had cartilage but I had none.  The scaphoid was now in a bone-on-bone configuration with all of its surrounding wrist bones and, more importantly, sitting and scraping directly in contact with the head of the radius, the big lower arm bone.  But, I told myself, those are mostly all small bones.  It can’t be that bad, after all, I’ve had lots of bone trauma and to much larger bones… right.

Here is a web capture of a wrist joint X-ray.  It is not mine but will serve for illustrative purposes.

A web captured image of a wrist X-ray to illustrate what was addressed in my own wrist.  This is looking down on the right hand.  The scaphoid is the bone that was seriously arthritic and had to come out.  The green area shows where is SUPPOSED to be cartilage between the scaphoid and the radius but where, among other bone interfaces  in the wrist, I had none.

A web captured image of a wrist X-ray to illustrate what was addressed in my own wrist. This is looking down on the right hand. The scaphoid is the bone that was seriously arthritic and had to come out. The green area shows where is SUPPOSED to be cartilage between the scaphoid and the radius but where, among other bone interfaces in the wrist, I had none.

Logic or not, what I clearly did not have on my side was anything akin to proper medical knowledge vis-à-vis this condition.  And, I did sort of miss the giant clue contained in the message that we were using a general anesthesia not just a local one.

My friend and often shooting partner especially for food photography, Cynthia had arranged to take me to the hospital and as a trained nurse herself, was there when the surgeon gave a last pre-operation run-down on the procedure ahead.  None of it meant much to me but I could see her eyebrows raise when he talked about having to “break up” the scaphoid in order to remove it.  Yep, I did sort of miss the implications of that if I had heard it at all.  When her demeanor changed into a way more serious one, I started to realize perhaps I had made an error of expectations.  As I quickly point out to others, drawing conclusions from a position of near terminal ignorance, has a very low success ratio.  I sit here – and have sat here for over a week in some considerable “discomfort” – as a testament to that fact.  I had ZERO idea what I was in for…

The reality was a very rude and very painful awakening.

Anyway, that is why while others have used the Thanksgiving Day break to go have fun and get some great images, I have nothing to show for it… well, except for this..

Wrist my splint/bandage that will hopefully be removed this coming Wednesday (12/3) morning...

Wrist my splint/bandage that will hopefully be removed this coming Wednesday (12/3) morning…

Cynthia even brought me some ham and all the  trimmings so I would have something for Thanksgiving Day dinner.  Wow, that was unexpected and nice.  But when the time came I couldn’t carve it so ended up tearing off chunks like some feral dog.  It sure was good though!  I don’t want to complain or look a gift cat in the mouth, but I was getting the tiniest bit tired of the cat’s cooking.  She can’t read so will never see this and be offended, but her sense of timing is a bit off and the Savory Salmon Feast and the Savory Beef in Gravy, wonderful as they are, seemed always to be a little over or under cooked.  So the ham and fixin’s were a blessed treat and relief!

Meantime, it has slowly but steadily gotten better this past week.  Both pain and swelling going down… but I gave myself a scare and a setback yesterday.  I was sitting on the couch reading when the phone rang.  I have gotten up off of that couch a gazillion times. This time, I was holding my iPad in my left (good) hand and wrist and out of habit and distraction, and completely without thinking, pushed off with the bandaged arm. Now that, boys and girls, was a huge mistake.

The last time I recall such a shock of pain wash over me like that was when, in the military, the field medic set my broken legs without any anesthesia. In retrospect it was probably just some tortured nerve endings firing in protest but I had the clear sensation of warm liquid running down my arm under the bandages.  I assumed that would be blood and that I might have torn out some stitches… but nothing appeared to be dribbling out from under the wrapping.

It did, however, leave me gasping for air.  I used up the last of my pain meds, iced and elevated it, but only time, about 40 minutes worth, got the pain back down to where it had been before my stupid move and I was taking normal sized breaths of air.  I can tell you all without the least fear of contradiction, I am pretty sure I do not want to do that again…  I now have one of my walking sticks handy to help me get up and to remind me how NOT to go about it!

Next week most of the classes will be devoted to “lab” to get their final portfolios together so I will not be required to use the wrist much and it can continue to heal.  Maybe next time I will have a more visually stimulating post. It would be a lot more fun for me!!!

I confess too that I would NOT be pleased to look foward to another Thanksgiving like this one.

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About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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