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Finger/Thumb Left thumb joint's LRTI coming up May 21, 2020!

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Grammyof2

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Just had another OT session with the same person. I started off purposefully, setting boundaries in a friendly manner and stating what I hoped we would do.

It went well.

She did the usual measurements and said I'm healing nicely and gaining a remarkable degree of motion. She praised the results of my "scar massage." This time she focused (as I wished) on observing me doing the exercises--turns out I had misunderstood one, so now I know how to do it properly. I can never learn by observing someone else or hearing descriptions.

Because I'm doing so well and no additional exercises are scheduled to be given next week, we're skipping next week's session. We also rescheduled a couple of later sessions when she'll have to be out of town.

She made no derogatory remarks. She softened and re-molded my brace/splint twice to get it just right. (It needed to grip the back of my hand a bit more snugly; its lower region was given a slightly different curve to prevent it from pressing too hard on the lower reaches of my thumb; it does have to keep my hand from bending too far in that direction).

At 11 am on June 30, I'm due to get a phone call from my surgeon's assistant, so my OT offered to bring her up-to-date on my progress first thing that morning. I saw her make a note, but I plan to remind her the week before. If the surgeon's assistant gives the OK, at 1 pm that very afternoon the OT and I can start working on splint-free exercises for additional flexibility and strength.

I'm really looking forward to that. My right thumb is increasingly painful, and I'm eager to get the left hand working soon so the right can have its turn at surgery. I was given a range of 4 to 6 months between them, so I'm hoping for late September.
 

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I'm glad things went better. I'm sure it helped that you set the tone and gave the message that you were in charge of the session. Good job.
 
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Grammyof2

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Excellent OT session today. My left thumb's range of motion is now quite good for five weeks post-surgery.

The OT stayed on topic. I did have to remind her to give me time to practice each new exercise myself (rather than just glance at the photocopy or watch her hand). I'm pretty sure I can figure out the exercises, but if I can't be sure I'll resume Googling videos. I'm not supposed to start doing them until the day after tomorrow, after my scheduled phone call with the surgeon's medical assistant.

Now I can keep the brace off most of the day, as long as I'm not doing anything that might stress the thumb joint. So I can type, put away silverware, and fold laundry, but must wear the brace when lifting our heavy stoneware plates, putting laundry into or out of the washer or dryer, and gardening.

I won't get clay to manipulate until the 12-week mark (late August). My OT says everyone with hand surgery is eager to start that and frustrated by the delay! But there's an order to these milestones, so I can wait.

My big concern continues to be how soon my left hand will be healed and strong enough to do what needs to be done, so I can have the same surgery on the right thumb joint. I'm right handed... that will be harder. But my husband can take over most tasks for the month the cast will be on. I plan to ask the medical assistant about that.

I've been concerned about the November election--an extremely important one. Lots of talk about voter fraud is being tossed around by one of the candidates, so there's a chance that if my signature on the absentee ballot doesn't perfectly match my usual signature (and how could it, with my right hand in a cast?) my vote might not be counted. I do NOT want to have to go to a polling place during COVID-19!

But today I realized I can take my absentee ballot to City Hall, which is rarely crowded these days, as soon as it arrives, show them my cast, and sign the envelope in front of them. That should do it! I can keep gently advocating to have the right thumb's surgery in October without having to worry about signing a ballot with my cast on, in early November. (I want this surgery ASAP because my right thumb now hurts more than the left.)

I'll write more after I've had my chat with the medical assistant. My OT said she'll make sure she sees my latest ROM results.
 

Jamie

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Grammy, you make an excellent point that I never considered....the fact that one's signature might change due to hand surgery, pain or other problems and it could impact voting. This could be a problem even without COVID in play. Thank you!
 
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The surgeon's medical assistant called today. She's making an August appt. so he and I can discuss how soon I might be able to have my right thumb joint repaired (and the same carpal tunnel fix).

I'm no longer wearing the brace except for heavy chores like hauling hoses around our back yard or (gently) wringing out a stained blouse I had to soak in bleach in the laundry sink, rinse, and get to the washer. I don't have to wear it to bed, either--the OT had been stern about that, but the medical assistant said "Don't bother, but don't tell her I said so!" I'll wait a week, though, just to be safe.

I'm astonished: No pain!! Not even with the new exercises. :happyfeet:

No swelling, either. I no longer wrap my hand in the clay-filled cold pack when we sit back to watch a movie after supper.

Of course, I remain quite careful. I instantly assess every move I'm about to make before I make it. If I feel a bit of a twinge (so wonderfully rare), I use a different grip or different hand. That process has been second nature since my left knee and then the right got well into disintegration, and during their PT.

Today I realized that I can start gently practicing ways to let my left hand play the "dominant" hand role after the next surgery. For sure, it's not dexterous! :wink:
 

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@Grammyof2 Thanks for keeping us updated. Sounds like you are doing really well! No harm in being careful about how you move. You wouldn't want to ruin all your surgeon's work let alone your recovery.

Really good idea to start using your left hand if you can. In many cases it's just a matter of strengthening your less dominant hand.
 
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Thank you, @Jaycey. Yes, my left (non-dominant, surgical) hand is gradually getting stronger. It's a glorious experience.

I'm wondering what it will be like to have my dominant (right) hand be in a cast in two or three months, and the left learning all sorts of new tricks. Time will tell!
 

Jamie

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You've done wonderfully well with your recovery. It's so great to have it documented here for others to read. You will be easing a lot of minds in the coming months as I imagine almost everyone would have some level of fear about how things might work after their surgery. Thank you so much! I hope you'll be able to document your right hand in the same way so as to provide some perspective on what it's like to recover a dominant hand. Your idea to start practicing with the left to do things is excellent. You'll be ready for that next surgery when the date can finally be set.
 

lionsm13

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Been watching your recovery G-of-2 as it appears that I will have to have this procedure done too.
In fact both thumbs are bad.

This past April started to have stabbing pain in the right CMC joint and was told it was Arthritis.
Gradually gotten worse. In the middle of May had a cortisone injection which did little to nothing.

Have seen two ortho's now and will more than likely be having to have the LRTI in the very near future.
Somewhat worried as I have to type still for work.
Still wearing a thumb splint too but it's just so so.

"They" say "it'"s a 90-95% recovery and that "it" will last 15-20 years.
 
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Grammyof2

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Thank you, @Jamie. I love this forum. It was so helpful with both my total knee replacements. I learned so much from reading about others' experiences and receiving advice and support. That's why I decided to come here during my Year of the Thumb Joints. :flwrysmile: I hope to do my part in giving others an idea of what this adventure can be like. I do plan to continue to post during the Left thumb's recovery and also the Right thumb's surgery and recovery (which will be very different for me since I'm right-handed).

My appt. with the surgeon's medical assistant has been set for August 18. We'll be discussing plans for my right thumb. I keep yearning to have it repaired ASAP, but (gently knocking on wood) though it's painful it's not getting worse very fast. So even if she said I could do it in early Sept., I might delay it until I've had plenty of time to harvest our own corn and buy a few dozen extras. Two strong hands are required for the device I use to scrape off the kernels so we can freeze them.

On the other hand, there's the threat of elective surgeries getting postponed again. I'll be working around that, too.

I just keep focusing on what I can do, staying active, and so on, so I won't fret.
 
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Hello, @lionsm13 !

I wish you all the best with your likely approaching LRTI surgery. I'm retired and no longer have to type at work, but I do spend a lot of time typing for pleasure (I journal a lot, write emails to friends, and comment on Facebook and online newspapers).

I never really touch-typed, though I took classes in high school, but even during the weeks I had a cast on my surgical hand, my four free fingers were able to do their part. Slowly. Of course, there was pain to consider--just general pain in the surgical area, not specifically from typing. And drowsiness from taking painkillers (Oxycodone and Tramadol were prescribed.)

You might look into Dragon Naturally Speaking 15 (not the Home version; it's called Professional). It's pricey but so very handy and the learning curve is now quite short. You dictate into a headset microphone and your words appear on the computer screen. Come to think of it, you might be able to find an earlier version on Amazon at a much lower cost. They don't change much from one new edition to the next.

It sounds like you're a bit concerned about how long the repaired joint will last. Dragon would spare your hands from typing, perhaps helping the joints last longer.

I hope you'll post about your own experiences. :)
 

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Hello @Grammyof2.
Not too concerned about the typing as the ortho said that I could still type, but of course would not be able to use the thumb.
He said that he basically wanted it to be immobile for 6 weeks I think it was what he said?

I am retired too but teach corrective thinking part time for something to do and also spending money via telehealth now due to the covid thing, but it's rumored that we will have to return to the group room come the 1st of next month social distancing and everyone wearing masks and what not.

As far as longevity of the joint I was only stating what I had heard of how long it will last.

I've used dragon in the past and it's kind of a pain to use, but I may have to make some concessions.
My work does not require lots of typing but does some w/group notes and what not.

I guess I just hate surgeries, period, due to the un-for-seen unknowing aspect of it all,
that is whenever I get brave enough and just can't stand the pain anymore.
The ortho said he could wait as long as I could. lolol
 
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Looks like I forgot to mention last week's OT appt--my usual person was out, so I had a substitute--a man named Ben.

I like him so much better than the other one! I plan to request him after my right thumb's surgery.

He carefully, gently, and thoroughly palpated flesh and bone, all over my hand. He made sure muscles, tendons, and bones were doing what they should, and found the places that weren't painful and those that would be if pressed just a tad more.

He counted out the weeks since my surgery (which the other OT doesn't do) and said I'm "right on the cusp" of the next set of exercises, and because my hand is healing very very well he decided to have me start them. Even using "clay" (which turns out to be a whole lot like Silly Putty)!

So now I never wear the plastic brace unless I'll be doing heavy work like hauling long hoses around the yard. I do a series of exercises with the clay--he reminded me to go slowly and gently, having noticed that I tend to be quite ambitious. I'm doing my best... He also said that--though I must do the exercises--in a sense I hardly need them for flexibility since it's obvious from my progress that I use my hands quite a bit every day. But I must do them to gain strength gradually.

I happened to mention that my hands falling asleep (going numb, but sort of buzzing like a knock on the funny bone) in a very painful way wakes me every night; I have to get up and walk around, and change position a few times, before going back to bed. And they're numb when I get up in the morning, too. I had an Electromyelogram (EMG) about a year ago because of this sensation; it showed carpal tunnel. But the carpal tunnel on my left hand was fixed during my thumb surgery, so I was surprised my left hand still gets numb. At least it's not as numb as the right hand.

Ben pressed various parts of both my arms and nothing felt numb. We concluded that this problem might be due to the arthritis in my cervical spine. Eek! An x-ray revealed that arthritis a year or two ago, but it was not considered worth doing anything about ("anything" meaning surgery). I had some PT which didn't make any difference, and forgot about it, especially after carpal tunnel was diagnosed.

I'm concerned, BUT... the other night it occurred to me that this painful numbness started getting worse right after I changed pillows, substituting a nice plump one for an old flat one. Last night I used the old flat pillow. No numbness! Yes, I'll be talking to my PCP about this, but I'm no longer quite so worried. And having my right hand's carpal tunnel problem repaired this fall might significantly reduce the numbness in that hand as well.

Next week my OT returns. Bet she'll be surprised to learn that her substitute started me on the clay! Last time I saw her, she laughed when I asked about clay, saying that everyone longs for it but it was still way off in the future. Well, guess what? I'm doing those clay-based exercises, feeling stronger, and not having pain.

:heehee:
 
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lionsm13

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@Grammyof2.
Seems like the guy knows and cares more.

You should be able to have a say in who you see and who works on you I would think, or who you think is better for you?

I think I'd be switching OT's if I were you unless you signed a contract?
 
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Grammyof2

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Hi, @lionsm13 . You're probably right. Guess I'm scared of that process. My current OT is good enough, just not the best available.

I've got the current OT sort of trained not to wander off on conversational tangents. There's a protocol they all follow, new exercises to do week by week. I don't think I'll need a whole lot more sessions for this thumb, as it gets stronger & more flexible every day.

I'll put off any firm decision until after tomorrow's session. Thank you for the good advice.
 

lionsm13

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Hi @Grammyof2.
I don't think asking for who you want to work with is a bad thing.
You just seemed to click better with the new person than the person who you were with before.
I'd ask when you could start working with the new guy.
What could they say?
 

Jamie

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Grammy, I'm so pleased to hear how well you're doing and that you've found a therapist that is more in tune with you and what you need. Please don't think twice about switching. This happens all the time. These people are professionals and they (should) realize that not everyone is a match. You are the customer and you're entitled to get the service that is best for you. You can thank the old therapist for all she did for you and then move on to the better one who will get you to the next stage.

At any rate, you are doing very well and your documentation of your recovery will be welcome reading for many BoneSmarties who follow you in surgery. Thank you so much for taking time to document your journey.
 
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Grammyof2

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Good OT session today. Got six new exercises. Building strength now plus additional flexibility! I can manage with this one until it's time for Thumb #2.

I've got a lot of family stuff happening now, so I might not write for a bit.
 

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