I feel the need to clear my head of its whizzing thoughts, in a vague attempt that I might get a good nights sleep and it means I can get in some typing practice with this darned contraption that its now helping my fingers move.
It wasn’t going to be for anything other than for me to re-read but having written so much I decided that it ought to be a blog post; so I’ll start at the beginning...
I was having an pretty enjoyable summer until I had a crash in a mountain bike race (and my only shot at a podium all season!). The experience of this is something I can’t help but think about. The crash itself happened pretty quickly and I can’t say as I remember it but what I do remember is the poor boy (who’s brake lever had impaled me!) asking me if I was OK as I sat up and realised I had a gaping (and rather gross looking) hole in my arm and a very helpful man who put his hand over it and laid me down.
The laying down for ages waiting wasn’t very exciting, my arm was hurting and it was rather cold (despite the blanket that someone nice had found for me!). I became aware pretty quickly that I couldn’t move my fingers properly and I worried that I’d done some damage to my wrist as it was hurting. It was starting to feel pretty odd, I thought at the time it was just the man holding my arm too tight but it turned out to be the swelling!
A rather disorganised paramedic turned up in a rapid response car so she took me to A&E in that, complete with sirens; she had offered me oxygen too, seen as I nearly fainted when I stood up, but I assured her I was ok, as she seemed to being having difficulty finding anything in her car! There was a bit of a panic when we arrived at the hospital as the assessment people thought I’d broken my arm, and quite badly at that (and from the swelling I could see why!), so I was rushed through to x-ray (well, once they’d given me morphine!). Thankfully nothing broken so they cleaned me up and I had 7 stitches!
Definitely having issues with finger movement but after they got one of the consultants to come and have a look at me it was put down to swelling and I was sent on my way home, with an appointment the following week to see the consultant again.
That night proved to be one of the most painful nights I’ve ever had (once to morphine wore off!) but thankfully after that the pain was ok. I had 2 appointments with the consultant who I didn’t really like. He wasn’t very nice and felt the need to basically ask me multiple times if I was making it up! He referred me to Leicester (25 miles in the wrong direction from where I wanted to go!), where that day I saw 3 consultants, all of whom were baffled and decided that surgical exploration was the way to go. At my request I was referred to my local hospital for this.
This turned out to be a very good thing as the consultant I now have is really nice, and seems to vaguely know what he’s doing. So just over 3 weeks after the crash I had nerve tests (which were rather unpleasant) and then surgery to see what the problem was (after spending all day in hospital the previous week waiting for an operation only to be cancelled!). By this point I was managing pretty well (only had 2 fingers that wouldn’t straighten), and it didn’t really hurt, but I was optimistic they could fix me!
Glad it was postponed as it was done in a slightly different (and much nicer) part of the hospital. Very surreal laying on the bed being knocked out, having been put under before I wasn’t worried about that bit, but was still odd as one minute I was having a nice bike related conversation with my anaesthetist and what felt like the next I woke up feeling terrible (I assume in recovery); I fell straight back asleep and woke up again on the ward, it was already getting late and I was the only one there - they tried to keep me in overnight as I couldn’t eat (well I could eat but it didn’t stay inside me for very long!) and I wasn’t waking up very well, but I convinced them I was ok enough for them to let me go home as I didn’t fancy a hospital stay! At this point all I knew was my operation had been 3 and a half hours, rather than the expected one and that it hurt a lot. I assumed from the extended time that they’d found the problem and fixed it. 2 days later my hand was still numb from the surgery and swelling so I didn’t know whether it was fixed or not but I went to see the consultant - he said it was a mess inside, and that they’d followed the path that the brake lever had taken all the way through (apparently it was close to coming out the other side!) , and they found the main nerve was in tact but there was a lot of scarring so they had no chance of looking at the small branches.
After frequent visits to the consultant, with my final one before uni being scheduled for next week it has become apparent that, now, just over 6 weeks since the op I am definitely worse off than I was before - having lost the majority of the use of my hand and wrist, and am still in quite a lot of pain. I think my consultant was genuinely upset when I told him that it was worse, especially because he doesn’t really know why. It may have been their fault but I don’t regret having the op done. It does mean that more surgery is looking likely, a tendon transfer, probably around New Year, although it may get delayed until the summer (depends how I get on at uni). This will at least give me some movement in my thumb. Wish I didn’t have it hanging over me though because I’m already worried about it so I hate to think what I’ll be like when the time comes to actually get it done!
The hand therapists have made me a rather cumbersome splint which holds my fingers straight (but still lets me bend them), very useful in principle, but I’m a bit disappointed as it is holding my wrist in such a way that makes some things more difficult than before. It needs a few adjustments though, to make it more comfortable, and more effective (only got it yesterday) so will persevere with it for a while at least, especially as they put a lot of effort into making it!
I am now also rather worried about uni and beyond. If my hand isn’t working, what chance do I stand of getting a job in a lab? I’ve got until late october/ early november to decide what to do but at the moment I’m pretty sure I’ll switch onto the 3 year course, and therefore (hopefully) graduate in the summer; rather than doing 4 years and getting a masters out of it. No huge rush to get a proper job straight away.
In the mean time I’ve got to continue with uni - taking notes and doing lab work (although hopefully getting some help from disability support for this) and somehow manage to do my own cooking, cleaning, washing etc. No idea how I’ll cope as how much I can actually do depends on how tired/sore my arm is. Attempted to make dinner for the family the other night but had to get help to chop and stir as I just couldn’t do it! Might be having a few more take aways and ready meals this year...
On top of that I’ve got my usual silly worries about getting things sorted in my appointments. I’m not good at actually speaking to people a lot of the time, and I know monday is my last chance to sort out any problems I have with my consultant before I go back to uni (I have tried and failed on 2 occasions to tell him that I’m still in enough pain that I haven’t been sleeping properly!). Not to mention the fact that because I can’t write I’ve barely done any work for uni over the summer. Oh heck!
Oh, and there’s money to think about, somewhere down the line my calculations went a bit wobbly because I thought I’d be ok if I bought myself a laptop for uni (seen as I can’t write...) but it turns out that if I deduct my rent and phone bill from my student loan, I’ve got an awful lot less to live on that I thought so I think it’ll be hello overdraft again!
All of this, along with the fact that I’m one of those people that really doesn’t like change and unknown situations and whatnot, has led to me having a generally grumpy demeanour, and the fact that this hand business is looking like it might be permanent is starting to sink in. I know it could have been a lot worse, and I’m very glad that it wasn’t, but for me, this is still something pretty big and scary and its difficult to be happy when I think about it!
On the plus side, I did pluck up the courage to ask my land lord about bringing Ned the hamster back to the uni house with me. I’d been planning what I was going to say for the last 2 months and still struggled to say anything at all but thankfully he said yes, so at least thats something to be happy about. Having the hamster around beats actually being sociable with most other people!
Oh, and I’ve now managed to get back on the bike! Can only ride one handed, and not very far, singlespeeding up hills with only one hand holding on is difficult! But its something! :)
OK, well a lot of that seems a bit insignificant but I’m a worrier by nature, and its enough to keep me awake at night!