Tag Archives: surgery

Broken Arm Blessings – Surgery

We continue with our mini series on “Broken Arm Blessings” here with this newest installment.  In case you missed them, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here & part 3 here.

Off to surgery we go, off to surgery we go, hi ho the merry-oh!  It’s off to surgery we go.  I was not anxious about the surgery knowing that this too is wholly in the Lord’s capable hands.  I am sure the lack of anxiousness also stems from the quality of care I sense I am getting at Virginia Mason.  The other bigger factor in my level of calm is all the prayers!!  A dear woman from church, “Friend B”, came to take me to surgery.  This would be her third trip this week to Virginia Mason.  Trip 2 “Arrow” & I got a ride in with the orthopedic office manager who lives just up the street from me.  “Friend B” was such a blessing to us, sacrificing her family time to take me to my doctor appointments.

On the morning of surgery (August 5th) I was able to take the Arnica at 10 AM & again at 11 AM.  After that I was in the surgery prep area.  Before I entered the surgery area I stopped in the gift shop and purchased a lovely scarf.  I had plans for it… later.  That ‘s also when I sneaked in my last pre-surgery dose of Arnica.  “Arrow” and “Friend B” waited for me…

I was whisked off to the pre-surgery area where I got to change my clothes for one of those hospital nightgowns… why oh why do they tie in the back??  And how would I manage THAT with one usable arm?  Ah, one of the nurses helped me.  She also had to put “tape” over my earrings.  These are the small diamond ones given to me by my mother-in-law.  I never take them off and how would I do that with only one arm???  I think they asked me my name & birth date & if I was allergic to anything at least 10 times.  The first nurse came to put in my IV and I asked her my standard question, “are you good at inserting IVs into deep veins??”  I have deep veins that all but the most experienced have trouble inserting IVs into.  I am DONE with allowing one who is inexperienced to poke around and around my veins in an attempt to find my veins.  I have had my share of bruising from all that!  She told me if she couldn’t get it on the first try she would call over one who could.  She couldn’t find my veins… they are in there.  The anesthesiologist came over and inserted the IV into a vein in my hand.  The first nurse’s comment was, ‘oh, I would never have tried that one’!  He got it in one poke, and I never had a bruise.

After that, and more asking of allergies,  my name and birth date, I was wheeled into the surgery recovery area to finish my prep.  I was going to be given a nerve blocker.  But first they painted my arm with some lovely turquoise antiseptic stuff.   I got to watch the sonogram while they found the nerves and injected the ‘stuff’.  It numbed my arm from the elbow to the fingertips.

Because my surgery was being ‘squeezed in’ I did not meet the surgeon until a few minutes prior to surgery.  It was squeezed because I didn’t know I had a referral for orthopedic surgery until two days before my surgery!  By that time the break was already a week old and it was going to soon be VERY important to have the bone in the proper place… BEFORE it started it’s healing!  He and all the surgery staff at Virginia Mason were very kind & gentle & explained all possibilities that might happen to fix my arm.  Not only were they all of the above, they were also thorough.  The surgeon, whom I had only JUST met, proceeded to write “left wrist” on my left turquoise-colored bicep!!  I feel so much better knowing my surgeon knows this.  🙂

I got option A: a “left distal radius closed reduction percutaneous pinning & casting”.  They need to pin  the two bone halves so they are kept in place while they heal.  Only small holes are made for this, and a brief ‘going under’.  The same stuff used in ER that had no ‘recovery’ time!  I was also told it is similar to the Novocaine used at the dentist’s office.   The surgery was done by x-ray.  One immediate bonus to the surgery is the pain level is greatly reduced because the bones will be aligned properly and not rubbing wrong or whatever they do that causes the current pain.

In the surgery room, I was asked if I could feel anything as they proceeded to pinch me with ‘something’.  I was thankfully able to answer that I felt absolutely nothing!  Then my arm was ‘sheeted’ so I couldn’t see anything.  The anesthesiologist asked me if I would like a little nap.  I told him a nap would be lovely and I was g-o-n-e.  They woke me up to show me the pins and then I was gone, again.  The next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery area.

I think I surprised the nurses at how quickly I was awake.  They must have thought I was a nut asking for copies of my x-rays for my blog!!  I posted them below so you can also see the 3 pins I am sporting to hold the radius bone in place while it heals.  These pins will be removed in 4 weeks, and I will get another cast for another two weeks.  The surgeon said it would not have healed long enough to go without the second cast.

The moment I was out of the surgery center I took another dose of Arnica and then every hour for the rest of the evening.  I also took it the couple of times I got up in the night. The day after surgery I  reduced the dosage to 3 – 4 times a day.  Because of the extensive bruising (about the size of a large dinner plate or serving platter and p-u-r-p-l-e) from the initial injury & surgery I opted to take Arnica for an additional week or two but to gradually cut the dosage back so I was taking it once every three to five days.

Left wrist, side, thumb up

Left wrist, palm down

After the noon-30-ish surgery I had “Friend B” run a couple of errands for me on the way home.  I was out of surgery & in recovery at about 2 and in the car heading home about 2:45 or 3.  I was told that the numbing stuff would wear off in 4 – 6 hours. Well I processed through the surgery meds pretty fast & was in MAJOR pain well before we got home at about 4.  In all my preparing for surgery I had neglected to bring a dose of my pain medication – ugh.  It was all I could do to keep from screaming or crying… neither of which would have helped…  😐  I had “Arrow” call “The Patriarch” on my cell phone to ask him to have my pain meds ready for me.  He was so sweet, he was waiting outside for me with the meds and water!  It took the rest of the evening to get on top of the pain.   I was taking everything allowed as often as allowed & icing every 30 min for 30 min.  By bed time I was pain free and able to sleep all night!

——-   Day After Surgery   ——-

The surgery center call was what woke me up at 9 in the morning.   I was relatively pain free & hadn’t taken any of the vicoden for over 8 hours.  I think the nurse I spoke with was quite surprised!

Splint after surgery

“The Patriarch” has gotten quite good at taping my arm so I can shower.  He started his taping training when I had carpal tunnel surgery nearly 20 years ago and has perfected his taping technique with this current need.

On the night I broke my arm he helped me get ready for bed.  Every time we turned around there was something else that I realized I couldn’t do and he needed to help me with.  Two funny things.  First, he had to help me put up my waist length, curly hair.  Now THAT was humorous, I wish I could have taken a picture of it.  Then as I was heading to bed I suddenly realized that I still needed to take off my contacts.  Number 2!  The look on “The Patriarch’s” face was priceless!  It seemed all night long he kept asking, ‘well how do we do that’?  He held each eye open while I took out the contact.  That too would have been a really funny photo!!  No wonder he didn’t want to help me put them in subsequent weeks.

Don’t touch that dial.  Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of “Broken Arm Blessings”!

~Mrs. R

This post linked here: Gratituesday