Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Under the knife

In 12 days, I will be having surgery on my left hand.

I have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS ~ which is compression of the median nerve that runs into the hand by the transverse carpal ligament that is chronically inflamed), a result of all the repetitive things I do in my job as a Dialysis Nurse. The tubing used in a dialysis treatment has many little thumb clamps that we open and close numerous times during set-up of the machine, during the patient's treatment, and while returning their blood when treatment is done.

(See all those red and blue bits? Most of those are clamps.)

I've been doing this for 15 1/2 years. Unknown number of patients and treatments. Hundreds, easily. You can see how many clamps there are on one set. (That whole mess up there is one set.)

I had this same surgery on my right (dominant) hand in 2005. At that time, nerve conduction studies showed my left hand to have mild CTS. Although I've done the stretches and worn the splint at night on my left hand, the condition progressed to the point where numbness, tingling, loss of strength and shooting nerve pain became unbearable earlier this year. (Thank the gods it is not continuous.)

If you don't stop doing what caused it in the first place, it ain't gonna go away!

While I saw the surgeon in late January, and could have had the surgery in February, I elected to wait until vacation planning had been done in March before setting a surgery date. I figured if I could wait... I would really like to have the summer off! I never get summer holidays because I just don't have enough seniority at work, despite having worked there for 11 years.

Well, this year, I managed to get the last two weeks of June for holidays, so I am off work right now. And the OR date is June 30th, which is when I should be returning to work, so from that date on, I will be off for eight (8!) weeks to allow things to heal and to do some physio. If I just had some kind of an office job that didn't require much use of that hand, I could go back in a couple of weeks. Given that I will be going right back to doing what caused this in the first place, I need that time to rehab properly.

So a little scheming on my part has resulted in me having summer 'holidays', if you can call it that! I won't be doing any projects around the house. I won't be riding my bike. Thankfully I had the foresight to buy one of these for cutting the grass:

It weighs all of 10 lbs, has two batteries (which is enough for me to complete front and back ~ my yard is quite small), and the trimmer pops out of the mower deck lickety split to trim around trees and curbs and such. I can handle it with one hand. I've practiced!

So in the time between now and the surgery, I am attempting to get the rest of the wall to wall carpet pulled out and the laminate flooring installed. I may be able to enlist the help of my nephew, who has said he'd be happy to help me with things as he's not working right now. He's my most favourite oldest nephew who just turned 40. (40!! I have a hard time wrapping my head around that, but I was just 16 when he was born.) He is a sweetheart and I love him dearly.

So when all is said and done, my hand will become more normally functional again... and... I will have matching scars!


  1. Best wishes for a successful surgery and rapid recovery.

    Wow! I have not seen a dialysis set before. That is a lot of clamps to deal with!

  2. I had no idea there were so many clamps involved with that!

    Here's wishing you a quick recovery!

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  4. Yer 'in the wars again' as we say here. I'm sure everything will go just fine. :)

    My taller pal suffers from CTS. Too many repetitive ehm.... 'movements' with his right hand. ;)


  5. Yes, it's very important to have matching scars !
    Good luck with all that.

  6. ' I won't be doing any projects around the house' Is that a promise?
    I love your header photo.

  7. Good luck with the surgery; I'll be thinking of you and I wish you a speedy recovery. I am happy that you get the summer off and have time to rest and recuperate after the surgery.

  8. All the very best of luck with the surgery, Pon. And make sure you do relax afterwards... we will be here to nag you to do nothing!

  9. Good luck on your surgery! People tend to downplay carpal tunnel syndrome, but it truly is painful. Hopefully this surgery can get rid of it once and for all, or at the very least lessen the discomfort when it acts up again. Good luck, and get well soon!

    Farrah Greenough @ US Health Works


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