Sinus Surgery 2.0 Update: Recovered, Except for My Hand

It’s been over a week since my last update, but I promise I am not dead. In fact, I’ve been feeling pretty great in terms of recovery. I saw my surgeon for my post-op appointment on Thursday, and he was impressed with my recovery. He said – again – that he is certain this was my final sinus/Graves’ disease-related surgery. Hallelujah! I still had some big scabs up in there, so he didn’t “roto-rooter” me (which would cause heavy bleeding, especially given last year’s issues) and instead said to continue doing my saline nasal rinses twice a day so help everything heal on its own. I still pass really big clots when I use my NetiPot and I have a ton of congestion (which is blood rather than boogers), but I feel 95% recovered.

At the end of my appointment, I showed him my hand and explained that the pain was so severe that I effectively could not use my left hand/wrist at all. He said that was not normal and seemed pretty concerned, and even mentioned “compartment syndrome.” He suggested an appointment with a hand specialist ASAP, and his poor assistant spent 15 minutes trying to get me an appointment next-door at MGH within the week, but had no luck and seemed to be dealing with a very unfriendly assistant at that doctors’ office. Instead, my surgeon urged me to walk myself downstairs to the MGH ER to get my hand assessed immediately. Sure, the pain was awful and the bruise was disconcerting, but being told to go to the ER sent me into panic mode. It took me a solid 10 minutes to actually navigate through the corridors, but once I arrived at the walk-in ER waiting room (as opposed to the area where ambulances pull in), I was amazed by how clean and calm it was.

A triage nurse took my vitals right away and we talked about my symptoms and how my surgeon had sent me directly from his office. I was taken back to the “Fast Track” waiting area within 2 minutes of walking in the front door, where I only waited for about 20 minutes to see a doctor. Two doctors took their turns checking out my hand and poking around, and I unfortunately learned the hard way that the most painful spot wasn’t the big bruise on my hand itself, but the front of my wrist right where it bends. I just hadn’t been prodding myself so I didn’t realize how painful that was, and I was now more uncomfortable than ever.

20170921_143652The official diagnosis is neuritis – basically they hit a nerve when re-doing my IV (when I was unconscious), which can happen but is not dangerous. The second doctor promised I would not lose my hand, but that it was probably going to hurt for a few weeks. He wanted me to keep it immobilized to speed recovery, and “borrowed” a splint from the ortho department to give me so that I didn’t have to pay or go through insurance for it. He offered me gabapentin for the pain, but my mom takes that for severe degenerative arthritis, so I said I’d make do with Tylenol/ibuprofen. He also told me to schedule an appointment with a hand surgeon for 2 weeks out, but to cancel it if I felt better by then. That part worried me a lot, but I was trying to stay positive.

By some miracle, the entire process took less than 90 minutes, and I got to my 2-hour metered parking spot just outside the hospital after about 2 hours and 15 minutes without getting a ticket! I wasn’t planning to be more than 30 minutes at my post-op, so thank goodness for the parking meter app!

It’s now been 5 days since that appointment and my wrist feels no better or worse. Maybe better, actually, because I’m barely using it. The brace is annoying to type with and uncomfortable in this incessant Indian Summer weather, but I’m wearing it pretty much constantly except to shower. But it looks SO much better. I can actually see the veins in my left hand now and the bruise – I couldn’t see them at all before. It was like my hand was too swollen and bruised or something. And the big dark bruise is totally gone.

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