Friday, August 27, 2010

Gerald's Crazy Bone Same-Day Surgery

Last fall I learned from the physiatrist who did the testing on my elbow that the “crazy bone” was really a nerve. You probably knew that, but I had just assumed a bone was a bone. My little finger and ring finger were going numb because of problem with that nerve, and he told me I needed same-day surgery. My primary physician accepted that recommendation and sent me on to a surgeon, who said we first needed for a couple of months to try a splint while sleeping. That worked for me.

So when Gerald’s same two fingers started going numb, we thought we knew what would happen. However, his nerve was in much worse shape and different in cause and effect from mine, and the same surgeon said a splint would not solve his problem.

Consequently, same-day surgery was scheduled for him on Tuesday. We went in at ll:15 a.m. as asked, but it was after 2 p.m. before the surgery took place. Then recovery time kept us there until the surgical center closed. We were the last patients out. Then we had to pick up pain pills at the pharmacy and go through the drive-in to get supper to take home since Gerald had followed directions and not eaten since the previous night’s supper.

Same-day surgery sounds so simple, and I guess in comparison to other surgeries it is. But when an arm is cut for four inches and the doctor has probed inches on either side of that, it is pretty scary. At least it is to the wife of the victim. Especially after the surgeon told me Gerald’s nerve situation had been very serious and it might be two years before the body rejuvenated the damaged nerve and strength in his arm might return.

Gerald was told not to lift but to start resuming his regular work the next day! I asked the surgeon if he had any idea what Gerald’s work day was like. (I was thinking hot and dirty.) Gerald has really been good about following directions on the instruction sheet sent home with us, but that two-page sheet is very confusing about two items. (They need a writer to edit one of their confusing instructions!)

The paper urged the patient to call about any questions, and when Gerald did about one item yesterday, he was never allowed to talk to the surgeon. The receptionist checked with the P.A. and told him completely different instructions than the sheet had said. He read her the sheet, and she had no explanation for the difference. A call this morning resulted in the same differing instruction, so we are hoping she and the P.A. know what they are doing.

Gerald seems to be doing splendidly. He is out and about working just like the doctor ordered, and he has needed to take few pain pills. His arm seems to be moving just fine. It has been a crazy experience, and we will be glad to see the surgeon again a week from today and have him confirm that everything is going as great as we think it is.

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