Wednesday, March 12, 2008

...and it's off!

OK, so I had the doctor's visit earlier today. They did a set of x-rays, and the verdict was that the bones are about 85% healed. Which, apparently, is sufficient for them to remove the external fixator.

So they removed the various outside pieces that kept the pins in the correct position, and while he was doing so the good doctor filled me with some interesting pieces of trivia. Did I know that the military gives two of these to every Marine -- so that if their limb is broken in combat the field medic can "shoot" the pins into the bone and establish a temporary external fixator? (Answer: no, this I did not know). Did I know that they did so after figuring out that casts [the old method, apparently] just didn't work well in wet environments like Vietnam? (Again, this piece of trivia had somehow eluded me). Had I been aware that the soldiers having this particular practice performed on them likely didn't care because at that point they're probably pumped full of morphine? (I didn't know this one, but I would most certainly hope so!)

Then came the actual unscrewing of the pins. This is not performed very rapidly. There's no electric drill type of instrument. It's very hands-on with a metal tool that has a warning label that says "do NOT strike!" I'm not sure exactly why they felt it necessary to put that label on there, but I guess it's comforting in a way. Basically, it's just like a fancy screwdriver designed to provide enough torque so as to unscrew these bolts out of your bones.

I'm not exactly sure just how to describe how this feels. The first turn is mildly to moderately painful and there's an odd sensation that traveled down my arm towards my fingers. After that, it just feels kinda weird until the very end where they're pulling it out through the final layer of skin. At that point, it's coming into contact with more heavy concentrations of nerve cells, and it's briefly painful.

Breathe, they tell you at this point. Then they start work on the other three.

I was curious if there was any special treatment I needed to do once the pins were removed. Not really, they informed me. Keep cleaning it like you have been (with hydrogen peroxide once per day) so that it will heal from the inside out. Keep it clean and dry until it's all healed over in a couple of days or so.

Oh, and do about three weeks of physical therapy, about three times per week.

Anyway, I'm glad to be rid of the thing. I'm looking forward to getting some PT, getting more strength and range of motion back in my left wrist. I very much hope to golf yet this year.

Peace to you all.


Diane said...

yay!! glad you are healing.

more cows than people said...

what fascinating conversations we can have with medical professionals.

sounds like an icky process, but glad you're on the other side of it.

and thanks again for the talks yesterday.

becky said...

I am SO SORRY about your arm!! Yikes! But glad you are recovering. How crazy is it that we haven't talked in so long. I was in a car accident about the same time that you had your icey encouner. Just whiplash, which is worse than I ever could have imagined, but doesn't require hospitalization. :) Take care!

Wyldth1ng said...

So how has it been? Is your therapy fun?

Magdalene6127 said...

I am glad this is over for you, friend. Let the freedom and healing continue...