As I promised yesterday in an email I sent out, I wanted to send out an update from my arm and wrist surgery. So many of you prayed for me and sent me wonderful messages and gosh, I’m just so grateful for all of you.
If you missed it – my diagnosis was Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (numbness and tingling in my little finger and ring finger due to a pinched nerve in my elbow). And in my wrist – a TFCC Tear, Ulnar Positive Variance, and Ulnar Impingement Syndrome). Short version: the ulna bone in my right arm was too long and it was causing all the pain.
This pic below is from last Saturday – we visited the “Mississippi Grand Canyon”… also know as Red Bluff Park in Foxworth, MS. We didn’t stay long or do any hiking but it was SO nice to get out in the sunshine.
Of course, my hand started to swell pretty quickly so we kept the outing short & sweet but this girl needed some fresh air and sunshine!!
Warning: I’ll be including some post-surgery pics of my arm so if that sort of thing bothers you, I wanted to give you fair warning. They’re not too gruesome, but still, I wanted you to know.
As of today (Saturday), it’s been 16 days since my surgery and things finally looking up. I still can’t do a lot with my right hand.
First, because it swells and hurts and second, because it’s still healing and any weight-bearing work (pushing/pulling) is just not possible yet. Normal day-to-day use is okay, just not “work.”
Example: I can type, but I can’t push a grocery cart or roll out fondant. Cake decorating? Not so much.
Cubital Tunnel Surgery & Ulna Shortening Surgery.
These are the procedures I had: arthroscope right hand; ulnar shortening osteotomy; right cubital tunnel release.
First, Dr. Wegener did a scope in my wrist to verify damage from my ulna bone being too long. Because it was too long, there was not the needed (and normal) space between my ulna and the bones in my wrist.
So my repetitive work had torn a hole in the cartilage (cushion) between bones in my wrist because the bones were banging against each other when I worked. The torn cartilage caused a lot of pain and the bones banging together made my wrist “pop” and “crunch” when I worked.
After verifying the damage, he then made an incision in my arm, cut my bone diagonally and removed 4mm of length. It’s put back together with a plate and screws. The new space will prevent the bones from banging together and hopefully eliminate the pain and “popping” in my wrist.
Last, I also had cubital (not carpal) tunnel syndrome. So I have another lengthy incision along my elbow (below) to release that impingement which was causing pain and numbness in my little and ring fingers on my right hand.
I guess because carpal tunnel syndrome is really common for cake decorators, I was misdiagnosed with carpal tunnel a couple of times. I was also told I had a pinched nerve in my neck and maybe arthritis before finally getting these correct diagnoses.
I don’t fully understand how the nerve in my elbow was “fixed” (and don’t care to) but he moved the nerve from the pinched space (the cubital tunnel) to another place in my elbow. He said my nerve was completely flat where it was compressed but hopefully now, things will be “right” again.
One other note – my hand surgeon also specialized in plastic surgery and he did an excellent job on my incisions. There was only one tiny (almost invisible) stitch at the end of each incision. I cannot tell you how much relief this brought me. Just the thought of stitches gives me severe anxiety so when I woke up without any, that was a very bright silver lining. And I’ll barely have any scars when it finally heals. 🙌🙌🙌
After surgery – recovery time.
Those first pictures were taken about 4 days post-surgery. The scars look even better now and the swelling is significantly less. The bruises are also probably 90% disappeared 😊. These pics were taken yesterday (16 days post-surgery):
Note: It’s really hard to take pics of the backside of your arm! I tried to get a kid to help but their pics were no better, so you get what you get 😊
Now, how was the recovery?
For the first 8-10 days, I was in a LOT of pain. Bone pain is the worst I’ve personally ever experienced. I had to keep my arm elevated above my heart at all times and I couldn’t move my fingers at all without screaming in pain.
I can’t say how many times I found myself
crying sobbing in pain – crying out like a child – just because I moved my fingers the wrong way. I couldn’t sleep at all unless I was heavily medicated. My husband actually started setting an alarm to wake me up before my pain meds wore off so that I wouldn’t wake up crying.
The pain in my forearm where they cut my bone was actually so excruciating, I remember telling my Mama that my elbow didn’t hurt at all. Like, I actually felt like nothing had happened there compared to the bone pain.
But eventually, all that pain started to ease up and now I’m barely taking any pain meds. I’m actually typing this post with both hands on my laptop with very little discomfort.
The hardest part is, the incision on my elbow doesn’t allow me to rest on my elbow (there’s still a pocket of swelling there that is pretty tender) and the incision on my forearm is in the exact right (wrong?) spot for me to rest my arm on my laptop or edge of a desk/table when typing.
So I have to sort of hold my hand (arm) above the laptop to avoid any sore spots touching a surface and keep my elbow on a pillow (or raised up) at all times.
That leads to my hand and arm getting pretty tired, pretty fast, but it’s not the end of the world. I carry a small pillow around with me when we go somewhere and now that I’m typing… I just type a while, rest, repeat.
I went to see my surgeon earlier this week and he said I’m doing great with my movement and pain levels. As far as limitations, he said my bone isn’t going anywhere and basically I can do anything I can tolerate. So I’ve been getting out – riding with my arm (and feet) propped up so I can still do our normal activities.
My arm is still likely to swell (and then hurt) if/when I overdo things so I try to not use it too much but I’m also trying to get back to somewhat “normal” life after laying around doing nothing for 2 weeks.
So that’s that… the first few days were the worst pain of my life (bone pain = 😭) but after getting over that hump, it’s been tolerable pain (with some medication) and getting better every day.
As for my cake decorating 🧁️… I have two orders this weekend that Sarah is doing with my minimal help & oversight and next weekend we have a wedding cake!!
So please – keep praying for me and hopefully, I’ll get back to my normal blogging and caking and sharing very, very soon!
Thanks again for all the love and prayers! My readers are the reason I keep doing what I’m doing! ❤️️❤️️❤️️
Until next time… happy caking!