I have to publish this post before I forget how we have managed with Emily’s cast. The operation to address tenodesis was on December 9th with the original bulky white cast being replaced by a lightweight purple cast the following week. We were on the bus into town minutes after the vividly coloured, ‘punching fist’ cast had dried, well, it was the week before Christmas and a girl has to shop!
This is the second Christmas that Emily has been in a cast because surgery and rehabilitation can be scheduled during the long university summer break. It isn’t the best season to be wrapped up to the elbow as the heat does induce additional finger spasms with some neuropathic pain but these discomforts are short-lived.
A second hand surgery
This second surgery has been less arduous and draining because we had realistic expectation following our experience of deltoid to tricep tendon transfer in 2013/14. The cast has been easily accommodated in the shower with the help of a bin liner and sellotape. It didn’t dent our Christmas cheer or quash our New Year’s celebrations.It hasn’t impacted on our activities because we scaled down our diaries or is our nonchalance towards this purple fist cast because we accept Emily’s post operative immobility as we anticipate her future functional gain?
Emily has endured the needles, examinations and prodding that surgery involves. She has merrily eaten turkey, bubble ‘n’ squeak and sausages with her single left hand. She has lifted and balanced a chilled glass of water, wine or champagne with masterful expertise over the holiday period so it poses the question “Why has this surgery been so much easier?”
Second hand surgery – a repeat experience
This surgery has been easier because there was less fear, this second procedure was relatively straightforward and many surgical and rehabilitation aspects are repeat experiences. With a known entity comes placidity and patience. Recovery is welcomed with restraint and tranquility, nothing can be rushed or hurried, best to accept the inconvenience as a speed hump and slow down.
When a repeat experience leads to a positive functional outcome we are more likely to be consensual, compliant and co-operative as we acknowledge an anticipated goal. When surgery is an accepted part of the journey to increased ability there is minimal criticism because we value the consequences so highly. Basically I am less able to critic this event because it is already becoming our Christmas norm, a reality that isn’t feared, it isn’t as impactual as we’ve adapted, calmly anticipating its value to Emily’s dexterity and capability. If I don’t mention details now I will forget as I recall less and less minutia as I accept our circumstances, year on year.
Emily has coped admirably and held her cast aloft like a leader rallying her troops forward, encouraging us to follow her into Woolworth’s, onto the bus or up Spofforth Street to grab a sandwich and a latte!
We visit the hand clinic tomorrow. These visits are unceremonious, amenable and relaxed yet the surgeon’s skill is so evident, Emily gains through this specialist dedication and proficiency. There is one facet of medicine that will always prevail, our thanks to the nurses, doctors, surgeons and physiotherapists, we are very grateful and I would never forget to mention that.
Hand Surgery 2019 Update
In 2019 I reflected on Emily’s second hand surgery. The tenodesis we sought was not achieved but that maybe due to Emily’s complete C5 injury and lack of nerve pathways rather than a fault in this surgery.
Emily’s right thumb was pinned tightly towards her forefinger with the hope that she would be able to pinch. Emily can manage a pinch with lightweight objects i.e. paper. In summery the second hand surgery has been underwhelming and Emily would not consider any further hand surgeries.
Technology, not surgery, has had the most impact regarding Emily’s ability to integrate back into society. iPad, iPhone and computer, all are touch screen with Siri so compliment Emily’s ability. Technology, smart gadgets and artificial intelligence are the future, also working towards a paperless society as advantageous for everyone including people with quadriplegia.
Further reading regarding technology for the differently-abled and carers