November 4, 2012

Surgery, Anyone?

Sometimes we have guests that drop by from in town.  Sometimes we have folks come in from other towns. Sometimes we have visitors arrive from other countries, like the U.S.  And every now and then, we have all three at once.  A couple weekends ago was one of those every-now-and-then times.  And we loved it.

Sunday, we had 13 folks over, some spending the night, some here for a few hours, some for over a week.   Did I mention that it poured rain most of the day?  That evening, the clouds rolled back for a few hours, and we all ran out of the house like clowns filing out of a Volkswagen Beetle.  

In the process of the fun we had running around at the riverfront, I somehow managed to hurt my thumb.  The best we can figure is when I rolled out of my inflatable kayak into 6-inch deep water, to give the next person a turn at rowing around, I torqued it funny or came down on a rock, or, well, something.  A few minutes later, my thumb was swollen and painful, and within the hour, it was really, really bothering me.

A few x-rays, some diagnostic tests, a couple of specialists, and some hours later, one of the doctors at the local emergency room called me into another area to talk about what was going on.  I'd hoped for a bruise, but with all the hoopla and no one talking, I was bracing myself for another fracture, and, worst case scenario, a cast.  I was imagining the hassle of that when the doctor explained to me that I needed immediate surgery.  WHAT?!

Okay, I have a house full of visitors, and those who are related to me aren't leaving for another week.  I have had enough surgeries in Paraguay, and I'd rather not add to that.  I don't even know how I did it, Doctor!  

Seems that somewhere in the fun, I snapped that little ligament in two, the one that holds the base of my thumb in joint with my wrist.  One of the doctors demonstrated that it could be pushed right back in (Ouch!  Thanks, Doctor!), but as soon as he stopped pushing, it slid right back out.  Great.  The only way to fix that, I was told, was to get in there and sew it back together.

I managed to get out of there with orders to come back the next morning, and I promptly called the trauma doctor I trust in Asuncion.  (He's the one who worked wonders cutting my femur in two and taking out the wedge to repair the break that had healed crooked.)  After explaining the situation, he strongly suggested I make my way to the capital as soon as possible.  I went through my speech, and he gave me a reprieve until the next week, providing I'd splint the hand/wrist/thumb till then.  Thankfully, this is not the same hand I use to hold the cane. 

So the next Monday, we drove north a few hours to the airport to drop off the fam, then headed west about 5 hours to Asuncion.  Tuesday morning, I saw three different specialists, gave blood, and took some more x-rays. I'm surprised I don't glow in the dark by now!

There was some disagreement about the type of surgery needed, and my normal doctor understood my reluctance to jump right into what seemed like a very complicated, slightly dangerous operation in a tiny part of an important area of my hand.  RISKY!  But the problem was the window of opportunity, needing to do the surgery within a certain time frame of the injury or else move into a bigger deal.  But there wasn't 100% agreement of surgery as the ONLY option, only about 95%.  I took my chances on that 5%.

In the end, we decided to go with a cast for 6 weeks, holding my thumb splayed out to see if it would heal itself.  That's the prayer.  If not, I'd need a slightly MORE complicated surgery to take a tendon from my arm and rebuild the joint capsule, as well as reconstructing the original torn ligament.  So we're hoping that won't be necessary at all.  For now, I'm in a permanent thumbs-up, and my family has once again gone into "help out Mom" mode.  Thank God for good help.  ;) 


  1. Wow! I am glad you were able to figure out what to do. I have this picture in my mind of a new Olympic event: cooking dinner with one hand in a cast and the other holding a cane. :-$

    I'm praying the God will protect you from future injuries so that you won't resemble the folks at the end of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

    Did the doctors check your leg while they were at it to see how it was healing?

  2. Ha, ha! My leg doctor had another x-ray taken while I was there, mostly because I was pressuring him to operate right away, but he said it is still not totally healed. He said we should still be good for February, though. :)


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