Pain and anger

I know anger won’t solve (m)any problems. But when the problems grow too big for me to handle, I do get angry. And most of them have a relationship with pain.

Ever since I slipped and fell in the shower in October last year, my left thumb had been hurting. So much, that I went to the GP. They didn’t trust it, so onwards to the emergency department of the hospital I went for x-rays. They assured me nothing was broken and physical therapy should be the key to resolving my pain. My therapist tried several things, most hurt like hell. I got a brace which isn’t comfortable and doesn’t help me all of the time. As the pain did not leave me, dispite the efforts of the therapist and the support of the brace, my wife called the GP again (after 6 months of lots of pain). I finally got a referral to an orthopedic doctor at the hospital. But, another 4/5 weeks of waiting until the appointment.

I tried what I could in the meantime, but I only felt I could do less and less… So when finally the appointment came, I was very curious to what was causing the pain and discomfort. He checked the old x-rays and saw a dislocation of my thumb… Yes, on the OLD x-ray… So it was there to see 7 months prior… He sent me to make new x-rays to compare them with the old ones. And it showed him that there was onset arthrosis. That was the main cause of the growing discomfort, even with the brace, the taping and exercises my therapist did… And then came the word I had been fearing: surgery.

Of course I wanted the pain to leave, the discomfort to end and my thumb to be usable again. So well, yeah, OK, plan me in for that surgery.

It would take another five weeks until the date of surgery. The pre-op talks I (well, we, as my wife supported me) had a week previous to the surgery were weird. My questions seemed unwanted and their response was not very open. When I told about my intolerance to paracetamol (a sort of painkiller, this is the name it has in the Netherlands) the woman told me without even blinking an eye that my reaction to the medicine was a normal one… Well, in all my years of living with the intolerance (even when it’s an added bit to another painkiller, I get those reactions), no one ever told me that migraine like headaches and throwing up loads were normal reactions towards paracetamol. Nor could Google tell me that, as it seemed that even the largest search engine could not find anything that proved that woman right. On the contrary, paracetamol was often the medicine to use against headaches (as I already was aware of)… So when the surgery date neared, I had mixed feelings. But I wanted the pain to end, I wanted most of the functionality of my thumb back.

As the hospital provided me with no information on paper whatsoever, I again had turned to Google. There I found information on the surgery and the recovery afterwards. Several sites mentioned a recovery time of 4-6 months, several others mentioned 6-9 months. So, pessimistic as I can be, have my mind set on a good recovery in nine months time… OK, I’ll be more optimistic and say 4 to 9 months then.

The day came and my wife brought me to the hospital. I had my night bag with me, just in case… The pre-op was very, very painful. The way they shoot your arm full of the numbing drug, that hurts! My wife was not allowed to be there when they did that, but had I known before, I would have begged for her to be allowed during that… It hurt so much, it made me a bit scared for the surgery itself. But I tried to be a happy camper and did the best I could. When my arm finally went numb… I had to pee… I went before I got my bed, around 8:50 and it was now around 11:20. They tried a bed pan thing, but I already told them I couldn’t use it due to my pelvis after all those triple osteotomy surgeries. But they had to try so I endured the pain and they saw it indeed did not work. They got me a pee stool thingie and with help, I got on and it felt like a huge relief. Half an hour later, they send me to the OR.

I got a sleeping help thingie so I’d be out during the cutting and all. When I started to come around, they were just about to sow me up. Then some plaster around it to make a heavy cast. When all was done, I had to get on my bed again and they wheeled me to the recovery room. It didn’t take me long to be well enough to get back to the room. So the nurse called for me to be picked up. And I waited… In the meantime, a man got wheeled I the area next to me and damn, he was giving me a headache. It was an asylum seeker who spoke absolutely no Dutch nor English and kept yelling stuff… Staff could not get any decent answers and even joked abiut sedating him some more cause of the noise he was making… I then asked a nurse if a, she knew when I would be picked up and b, if there was no translator around… Seeing that he should have consented with the surgery, so someone should have translated it… She quickly called again for me and then indeed if there was a relative or support for that man. He was so incredibly loud…

After about 30 minutes after the first call, and 20 minutes with that loud dude, I finally got picked up. That nurse asked me if I wanted some food, yes please, and I asked if she could call the wife to come pick me up. She acknowledged it and went off. Came back with food, so I ate while waiting. When she came again to pick up the plate (about 20 minutes later) I asked if she got hold of my wife. She hadn’t even called yet… Sigh…

When I finally got picked up by the wife, I could get into my own clothes. Then pick up the painkillers and head home. I felt OK, a bit sleepy, but the meds were still working. My left arm was so not mine, I tried to put on another shirt at home, and I hit my own head with the heavy cast. I thought I was holding my arm up…

The next few weeks were hard. Surgery was in Thursday, on Saturday (after my wife made several calls to hospitals), we spent over 4 hours in the ER to get me a new cast. My hand was so swollen, I thought it would burst. And I held my hand high, cooled it, tried to move my fingers, I did everything I needed to do and still my had became a balloon. But it took them four hours to cut the cast and give me a new one. When the first one was cut open, I felt like I was gonna faint. The room started to spin, I started to sweat, I immediately said I didn’t feel well. Wife remarked that I was as pale as a white sheet. So within a minute, I was on the bed instead of next to it. So much pain, holding on, being strong… I was so happy, because within an hour I already felt and saw a difference in my hand. I was angry that I had to wait for 4 hours while I said I was in a lot of pain and it was clearly visible. That next week became, like I predicted, the hottest one we had so far this year (I was joking beforehand to my wife that it would be my luck to be in a cast during the warmest week of the year…). The people who gave me the new cast weren’t the best… I already noticed at the ER, but the bandage that they wrapped around the plaster was getting loose quickly. And when my arm started to lose some fluids as well, it felt like my stitches were stuck in the cast. It hurt every time the cast moved a bit and I can tell you, that happens a lot! So when I could get the new cast, a plastic one, no more plaster, I was very happy. Getting the stitches out of my arm was another painful adventure. And then I got the new cast, whoop it was bright yellow and lighter and I loved it. Well, as much as you can love a cast I guess. It after a few days, my wrist kept hurting more than it had done before. I felt a pressure around the wound and it drove me insane. So wife called hospital again and we could come back that same week. And indeed, there were deep pressure points around the wound and someone with sensitive skin like me, that hurts. Soooooo another cast and this one stayed until the end…

Lots of sleepless nights, lots of pain and even oxycodone to help me through the night. I even took zoplicon to help me sleep as I was driving myself insane. I could not function and I thought removing the cast would make it all better. Especially since we were about 5 weeks since surgery day and with all that rest I had in that cast… By the way, the hand looked so awful when the cast came off, wow… Dreadful. So when I got home, I started treating my hand. Slowly peeling off old skin and then using moisturizing stuffs to get the skin more soft and flexible. But the hand, it felt like it wasn’t mine. And the thumb itself… Still feels like it isn’t mine, even now, 7 weeks later. Probably some nerves have been damaged, which makes physical thumb therapy even more painful. When I (or my wife/therapist) do the bending practice, I feel like they (or even I when I do it myself) are trying to break my thumb.

I keep doing my exercises, keep trying to use the hand as much as I can. The thumb is still a bit swollen, so movement might be good for the fluid drainage.

When the pain gets too bad, I get angry again. Angry because if the people at the hospital who looked at the xray last year October had looked closely, they would have seen the dislocated thumb and referred me to take the right actions. And not just send me home, get some therapy and keep using it. Because all that usage is what caused the arthrosis, which got me into this surgery in June… It could most likely all have been prevented and saved me so much pain (and probably money as well, haven’t gotten the bill yet). When I saw the xray, even I could clearly see the dislocation, without knowing about it, with an untrained eye. They must have seen it and just said “it’s not broken, keep using it as much as you can and get some therapy”. That indeed makes me angry.

I am also, at times, angry with myself. If I had been more careful, I might not have slipped… Also angry that I need so much more help with things I could normally do myself. I already have given up so many things, both fun and also necessary ones like jobs around the house. I really hoped I could start doing them once the cast was removed. As I have gotten no information from the hospital (another thing I’m still angry about), I thought I would need therapy to regain strength in my hand. Not that my thumb would barely be able to move and when it does, it makes me wanna cry.

I know for sure that both hospitals with that name, been to the other location for my hip back in 2006, will never have me as a patient again. Hip surgery had many issues and mistakes and now again… Like waiting 4 hours for a cast… When my wife called they first wanted to give me more painkillers. My hand was like a balloon. All websites say that when that happens and the high holding/cooling and all doesn’t help, you need to get to the ER asap… So much frustration, so many mistakes.

So, I’m now gonna try to add some images to this post and the finally post it. It took me several hours to type… But at least I got it all out.

If you made it all to the end, thanks for reading, thank you very much. Comments, questions, kind words… All are welcome in the comments area. Have an awesome day and thanks for caring enough to read all my babbling.

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~ by Lonely Wallflower on August 4, 2017.

4 Responses to “Pain and anger”

  1. Hope you find some relief from the pain soon!

  2. Post cast crud is yuckky 😂 love ya, hate the pain , sending healing thoughts xxxx

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