Day 12 Post-Op Update

On the highway back to Ottawa

Was the surgery for a carpal tunnel problem?

Was it successful?
My arm successfully hurts and is in a cast.

Not too big, but does look like a bit of a mummy parchment

How are you doing?
Within three days of the surgery I was off the heavy narcotics (Hydromorphone), though not without the challenges that presents. Today I’m still on pain killers, because – and I know this will come as the shock of the century: it still hurts. The plaster cast is certainly challenging and heavy, but I’ve already graduated to garbage bag showers so personal odour hygiene life is a little better. Irritatingly now the swelling in my arm has subsided, the cast is now too big and my arm is rattling about within. I’m ready for this thing to come off and/or get replaced any day now – which is good because I’m having my follow-up visit with the surgeon on Thursday morning! (taking suggestions for replacement cast colours, I presume it will be fiberglass so I should have options!)

The rite of the gauche writer left

I shouldn’t complain too much because it’s just a short arm cast, rather than the full arm cast that I was afraid I would end up with!

Adapting to non-dominant left-handed life is a little bit more challenging than I expected, but not too bad since I’ve been practising and preparing since April. About a week before the surgery I realized I had yet to practice hand writing or brushing my teeth with my left hand, so those both had poor results but on the upside I barely write anything at all (signatures notwithstanding – that is comical…), and I was kindly gifted a new electric toothbrush, which has eased the other part of the challenge there. Getting dressed takes longer, but wearing long sleeves is not really an option and the temperature has plummeted in the past week so going outside and doing things in the great outdoors isn’t very attractive. I’ve already switched to my warmest down jacket because I can’t fit my arm down the sleeves of anything I own, so might as well keep the rest of me warm. Jogging pants and track pants feature as a good portion of my presently viable wardrobe.

Something to do

Computer’s (Apple/Siri) speech-to-text has improved a lot. Most of what I’m doing on the computer is through it now, even this blob post is mostly dictated – with a healthy amount of hand editing by keyboard mind you. It is not good enough for me to do my usual systems administration work, (“cd / ; rm-rf *” becomes “CD/;RM– RF Asterix“) but it’s sufficiently getting me through text messages and emails. The Apple watch has proven about as useful as I thought it would, and I’m glad I got it. (my replacement also seems to have gotten a sticky crown… Is this something I’m doing? Or is this is a common problem?)

Ye Old Trashbag

One thing that I wasn’t prepared for was how exhausting recovery has been; just carrying around a few extra pounds on my arm is physically tiring, but overall I just don’t have a whole lot of stamina; the cold weather is not helping. YouTube has certainly been a primary center of entertainment during the times where I’m awake but not mentally capable of being productive. (wow evening television is even worse than I thought it used to be!!!) I wish I could play guitar, and not being able to properly type is very frustrating.

How did it go?
Since I’m now aware that some of my readers don’t quite appreciate all the gory details of orthopedic disorders, I suspect you also won’t appreciate all of the gory details of having surgery… so you may wish to stop reading here.

Toronto Western Hospital

Halloween started early, like 5:30 in the morning early. (I’ve heard rumours that there’s a 5 o’clock in the morning every day?!) I was to present myself at the hospital by 6:30 which gave three hours of prep time.


Pre-operative care was a lot like last time, but instead of performing the nerve block by my clavicle, they did it in the fold of my armpit. I’m sure glad that they had me chilled out on Versed because I probably would have run screaming from the room once they started… Let’s just say they poke a large bore needle through some pretty strong tissue – this is the nightmare or torture scene class awfulness. They had to double up on the sedative and the local anaesthetic because I could still feel what they were doing and I was getting uncomfortable. Worse still, even after they pumped 30cc into the nerves in my armpit, I never fully lost feeling in half my hand.

At one point I looked up and realized there were seven people attending to me, and I just drunkenly looked at them all. Shivering because I was cold – because I hadn’t eaten anything in 18 hours, and because I was an nervous wreck…

In the operating room, my surgeon was demonstrating how to dislocate and sublux my wrist in various ways to one of the other doctors (I think it was the anesthesiologist because she seemed quite interested in what I was having done) and I realized I could still feel the manipulations, and my doctor also noticed that I still had muscle tone – and that’s when they knocked me out.


Coming to, I overheard conversation about someone being given four extra hits of Propofol – turned out they were talking about me. Noticing I was awake, the nurse asked if I had any pain – which I did. She was surprised and started touching my hand asking if I could feel it, and what was she touching. The feeling in my thumb, index and middle fingers was palpable, while my ring and pinky fingers we’re still mostly (but not completely) numb – “you shouldn’t be able to feel any of that!” she said… And then loaded me up on a pile of Oxycodone and Tylenol. So in hindsight, it’s clear that the nerve block didn’t fully take – especially if they had to hit me with Propofol for extra times to get through the procedure.

The good news was that the the arm cast didn’t go above my elbow.

Cat Tax