My Knuckleball Will Be Strong

So I got surgery today to repair my hand for problems resulting from my fender bender, which limited the flexibility in my hand. My flexion was okay, but not great.

Flexion Spread

Long story short, if I made a fist, then I couldn’t lower my hand below parallel to my forearm.

Flexion with Fist

It wasn’t even that noticeable in daily use, except when I tried to pick up something huge and couldn’t quite use my hand the way it was intended to be used. Also, there’s that whole ‘firing a pistol’ thing. You know the deal. My extension was pretty good, but the active extension on my two middle fingers (when I tried to move the fingers without touching them) made it look like I was always doing the Beavis and Butthead “Rock On!” thing (sorry about the shadow).

Extension

Passively (pushing on the fingers with my other hand) extended them all the way. Also, my shaka was mad weak, so there was a lot of room for improvement there.
So I checked in to Tripler AMC today, changed into one of those ass-exposing hospital smocks, waited a while reading a book, then got called in. They put me on a gurney and started prepping me. The poor E5 who had to give me my IV (since I was going under general) apparently didn’t have much practice, so it took him a bunch of stabs to get it right. It’s all good. Better for him to improve his skill at home station on a relatively healthy person so he can do it right downrange on someone in a bad way on the battlefield.

The anesthesiologist came in, told me who would give me ‘a tiny dose’ of whatever it was they were giving me to ‘make [me] feel funky’ and ‘a little drowsy’. That was it for me, son. I was knocked out on the roll into the OR.

I woke up about 3 hours later and was only groggy for 10 minutes or so, during which time I watched Seinfeld on a little TV on a crane that was attached to my bed. I remember none of it. I don’t know what it is with me and Seinfeld. When Courtney brought me back from Germany, we watched a Seinfeld marathon while we were at Travis, and I have no recollection of it. I remembered watching Seinfeld, but immediately after each episode, I had no idea which episodes they were. Sorry, Jerry.

My girl Jo-Jo (hetero-lifemate D-Nice’s wife) picked me up and drove me home. I have been completely lucid since the end of the Seinfeld episode and (don’t tell anyone) drove myself to KFC at 6:00PM to break my fast.

So what did they do and what are the results? Well, first they sliced along the existing scar and separated the skin from the tendon, which was limiting the amount of travel the tendon could make (adhesion). Next, they cleared out a lot of scar tissue, which was sorta channeling the tendon left and right; again, making it difficult for it to travel as far as it needed to. My doctor also said that he would try to make the scar more cosmetically palatable, since it was a bit lumpy, asymmetrical, and gross (Courtney’s word, not mine):

Scar Spread

and

Scar Clenched

I can’t say how the stitching and scar removal went, since I am swaddled in all manner of padding, tape, and ace bandages, but I can tell you how the mobility is:
Frigging awesome! I can’t get an accurate measure of how far down my flexion goes due to the boxing glove on steroids that envelopes my whole hand, but by sticking it next to my other hand and doing a rough comparison, it is at least 75% (probably more) back to normal. It doesn’t hurt that bad, and they hooked me up with some nice drugs and 2 weeks of convalescent leave, which I plan to use to show up to work in civilian clothes and a beard, rather than spend time at home watching TV and not tossing knuckleballs (remember: boxing glove).
Boxing Glove

It is strange: I haven’t had the ability to move my hand this way for a year, and it is downright stange to be able to so now. It’s as if I’ve gained some weird new ability. There shouldn’t be any complications or further adhesion because I am able to move my hand around all the time now, which keeps the tendon from bonding to the scar as it heals. The first time I had work on my ECD, it was stuck at a 30 degree upward angle for two months so that it wouldn’t rip apart again, and that was the main reason it got stuck. I am already good at the scar avoidance stuff (I’ve had a year of practice), and, based on the pain I do have, they cleaned out a lot of the jagged scar tissue from the original accident.

Bottom line at the end: I’m smiling like a little bitch all the time now, and messing around by, say, picking up a Coke at an odd angle, just because I can.

UPDATE: I went to a brief meeting with the OT chief at Tripler today, because he wanted to get a program in place as quickly as possible. He took off the boxing glove and I got to see the visible results of the surgery. It was a really happy surprise. First, here are some good pics of my flexion now. You can compare it to the above photos, or for shits and giggles, do the same motion with your own hand to see how mine stacks up:

Spread Flexion (After)

Note how the fingers no longer fly up in the universal hand-and-arm signal for ‘poofter’.

Fist Flexion (After)

And here is with a fist, prior to any directed OT. Once those OT sadists get their hands and machinery on it, it will get even better.

Finally, and this is barely gross, here is what is left of the old scar, which will become a miniature new scar:

Spread Scar (After)
Some cool things to note:

1. The hand is slightly swollen from the rooting around in there with a scalpel. It was about twice as swollen yesterday, so that is going away quickly.
2. It is a ‘mattress’ stitch job, so there are only 4 stitches visible, which you can barely see. There’s one at the top, one at the bottom, and two you really have to look for. The rest are all hidden underneath the skin, I think. I guess it is a technique that plastic surgeons use to minimize scarring.

3. The big blue lines aren’t stitching, but are marker. I didn’t get to talk to my doc, but I surmise that they use those to line up the areas outside the old scar that are to be joined up. Bear in mind, those areas of skin used to be 4-5 mm away from each other.

All in all, I’m very happy. Mad props to Dr. Ingari and his staff. I hope nobody got grossed out my the wee bit of blood, but frankly, it is less gross than the old scar, no?

~ by kinshay on 2006-03-22.

No Responses Yet to “My Knuckleball Will Be Strong”

  1. the real secret is that you were working one out on the way to kfc. explains that smile now doesn’t it, junior?

  2. Congrats on the return of your hand! I’m curious to know the answer to the real important question that everyone is dying to ask. Will hair will grow back over your bumpy scar? It would be unthinkable to have a Corcoran Brother who had a millimeter of skin that wasn’t freakishly hairy. Maybe when it heals all the way you’ll find that you now have super human strength in your hand and can, like, lift a truck with your bionic wrist or shoot lightning bolts out of your middle finger or something. Just hoping for the best for you…

  3. That old scar was massive. Nice upgrade.

  4. Shane, it looks beautiful to me!
    Love,
    Mum

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