I was told by my primary doctor that I should see a hand surgeon about my broken hand. Bottom line, I just had my appointment with the hand surgeon and everything looks fine. It’s healing on its own and I won’t need surgery, but it will be a while longer before it’s fully healed, so good news there.
I found out that the end of the bone (on the hand) is broken off and pointing downward toward my palm, and that’s the way it is growing back together. Seems weird and sounds like a problem, but surprisingly, it isn’t. They wouldn’t do anything with it surgically (now or when it first happened), because it doesn’t affect the full use of my hand, which they tested in the office. I guess you don’t need your bones pointing straight ahead for your hand to work perfectly fine.
First I had to see the nurse.
I have not met a more humorless person than the nurse that first showed me to the examining room. She was young, maybe 30 years old, but completely flat, no emotion—her face frozen, immobile like a mask—didn’t show even so much as a twitch of affect in her face the whole time she interviewed me. And none of my attempts at friendliness made any noticeable impact.
She looked over my form, pages of material I had filled out at home, luckily, without the encumbrance of the cast (lol, I had to stop wearing that thing, so I’ve been keeping it on my desk, but I put it back on for the office visit).
“You say you’re not in much pain,” she starts off.
“Right, hardly any at all,” I answer, thinking that’s a good thing, but also wondering if she thinks I’m wasting her time with an unnecessary visit, and maybe that’s why she looks unhappy.
“So it doesn’t hurt if you squeeze the hand or bang it?” she asks.
“That’s excruciating,” I say, “but I try to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s why it doesn’t hurt, because I don’t do any of those things to it.”
She doesn’t deviate from her course. “What would you say the pain level is if you squeeze it?”
Not nearly as much pain as I’m in right now, just answering your questions, I want to say. Instead I say, “about an 8.”
“Do you elevate?” she asks, pen on the form, waiting for me to answer.
I squint at her (but she isn’t looking my way) trying to get her to elaborate a little. We’re not communicating very well, I can tell. Do I walk around all day with my arm in the air? Isn’t that a little extreme for an injury of this magnitude that doesn’t hurt unless you squeeze it? I’m not even wearing the blasted cast, to tell you the truth.
“No, I haven’t been elevating,” I say, “because I still have to live my life,” I add.
Her pen stays frozen on the page. Not funny and not a productive answer. After a few seconds she resets herself and moves on.
“Would you be okay without the cast on for a few minutes so the doctor can get a closer look?”
LOL. I’ll see if I can manage to tolerate it, considering that its been sitting on my desk for the last three days, after the nasty rash it gave me. Yeah, I’ll give it a try—just don’t crush my hand when you get up from the table, as tempting as it may seem.
“No Problem,” I say.
Here’s my exchange with the doctor.
“Your hand is fractured, but you already knew that, and the tip of the bone is pointing down toward your palm,” the doctor said, summarizing the X-ray fresh out of the machine.
“So why is the bone pointing down?” I asked.
“Because it’s broken,” he answered, exasperated, like, do you have any idea about what a broken bone is, and isn’t that why you came in today and are you listening to a single thing I’m saying, do you need me to go slower?
“Oh, I thought maybe the bone had split down the middle and sort of spread each piece to the side.” That seemed completely plausible to me, even more likely than what really happened.
He gave a short, quick shake of his head. “No,” was the only word he said, but what he meant was: Quit being ridiculous. We don’t have time for such foolishness coming out of you.
Okay, I’m thinking, I didn’t look at the X-Rays, so give me a break, here. “So that won’t be a problem to have it heal that way?” I ask.
“You just won’t have a knuckle anymore, so you can’t be a hand model,” he said.
Of course, a doctor in a bow tie would say something like that. Snappy fellow. BTW, I don’t have fingerprints, according to my last CORI check, so now I won’t have a knuckle. Also I was born without tonsils or wisdom teeth. Who needs all that stuff, anyway?
“You have full use of your hand, you can make a fist and your finger tracks properly, so surgery would only be for cosmetics,” he said.
“What about the cast, do I need to wear that to, you know, promote the rest of the healing?” I asked, hoping for a particular answer. And before you answer, doctor, keep in mind that all the positive things you’ve been saying about how the hand is healing fine—that’s without wearing the cast very much.
“You don’t need the cast to help it heal, you just wear that as a precaution, so no additional accidental trauma occurs to the bone while it’s trying to heal.”
Phew. Good thing he said that. I was tempted to ask him about how critical it was to elevate, but I didn’t want to push my luck.