After a summer of pain and frustration, I’m finally going back to work. I’ve had a lot of people ask what happened to me, so (since I tend to believe in lots of transparency) here’s the very truncated story of what took me down and how I got back up. Sorry if this is too much information or too medical in nature.
It all started on June 13th on the morning before the start of
The Komen Race For The Cure. The race route goes right in front of the radio stations I program, so we turn out in a big way every year to support the racers.
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I was out early that morning and was walking on Market Street towards one of the station’s tents. I tripped on a lump of asphalt or whatever they pave streets with and fell forward with my hands getting pretty deep lacerations and bleeding a LOT. Of course, all the streets were closed as the race was about to start, so the very kind people who work with me emptied all the First Aid kits at work and helped hold back the bleeding until someone could drive me to the E.R. Its a long story, but if I break my skin in a significant way, I have to go to the E.R. for examination and antibiotics.
After dealing with the deep abrasions on the hands and one on a knee, there was also lots of pain, especially in the left hand, to deal with. It took ten weeks of doctor visits, physical therapy, testing, dealing with my very generous employer and their insurance company along with the not so generous Missouri “no rights for employees” Workers’ Compensation rules and lots of discomfort to come to the conclusion that my Ulnar Nerve in my left arm was damaged and it would need to be repaired with surgery. Click the link above to learn more than you’d ever want to know about the problem and the solution.
After a really bad experience with a hand specialist, I was sent to Dr. David German, a very gifted surgeon. I only mention him because he did a fantastic job. No consideration was offered or taken for the mention. The surgery was done on September 16th, and it was a bigger deal than I thought. You can read about the surgical procedure here or check out this short description and illustration:
One method is called ulnar nerve transposition. In this procedure, the surgeon forms a completely new tunnel from the flexor muscles of the forearm. The ulnar nerve is then moved (transposed) out of the cubital tunnel and placed in the new tunnel.
The following images show each step
Even I say “ewwwwwwwww”. My muscles were cut, the nerve was moved from one side of my elbow to the other, and the muscles were reconnected. Amazingly, I had begun to get feeling back in my previously numb fingers in the recovery room, and the feeling continues to return, but not without pain. I got to wear this lovely 20 pound apparatus on my arm for about a week too.When the casts (there were multiple casts including a softball sized plaster mold protecting my elbow) came off, I had more feeling and movement in my fingers, but my elbow hurts more than watching Tom DeLay dance. So its Physical Therapy time. I’m going three days a week for about 90 minutes per session. I have a feeling I’ll be doing that until the end of October, maybe longer. The elbow needs a lot of work, the fingers still aren’t perfect, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get back to as normal as my icky bad body can be.
That’s the deal. Its been a very difficult Summer, there is still rehab ahead, but I’ve been blessed with a very passionate and generous employer, an insurance case manager who really knows her stuff and cares, and a gifted team of medical professionals. I’ve also gotten tremendous support from a long list of people at work who have done everything I’d usually do while I’ve been recuperating and will still be doing some of my duties going forward.
I don’t need to sit home and watch Judge shows and The Weather Channel all day, so I’m returning to work, or to whatever work I can get done. I’ll be in the office as much as I can, but will be going to PT (that’s what us in the Physical Therapy Club call it) and doctor appointments, combined with the extra effort everything seems to take these days, will limit the amount of time I’ll be able to work. Typing, lifting, and lots of everyday duties are either forbidden or a huge challenge, and it will just take time to get back up to full speed.
I hope this helps explain what life has been like since June 13th and what to expect, especially if you’re trying to reach me by phone, in the next few weeks. I’ll try to take as many calls as I can at work, but I’ll need extra time to do everything else, so you will most likely get voice mail if you call. E mail is the best way to find me, and I can respond without typing by using very cool voice recognition software on both my computer and BlackBerry.
Here’s to healthier, happier, and more enjoyable times ahead for all of us!