Since this blog began a few years ago, I’ve always suffered hand pains and within the last year, I have had a ganglion cyst develop.
I fell on my hands in January of 2016 and ended up tearing a ligament in my left hand. This tear went unnoticed, I thought nothing of the bruising and never had it checked. We didn’t even know any damage had happened until my wrist started to cause some pain with movement and we began the basics of treatment.
I began with primary care who then referred me to occupational and physical therapy.
With occupational therapy and physical therapy, or Musculoskeletal, MSK, they tested my hand strengths and weaknesses, ordered radiology scans, and they gave me hand braces and strengthening tools.
For scans, I’ve had MRIs on each wrist, along with x-rays and multiple ultrasounds. The left has shown all the issues, but the right continues to hurt with scans showing unremarkable.
From there, I was given a paraffin treatment machine and corticosteroid shots in both hands to help the pain. I’ve gotten another different style braces for my hands and I was taught stretches for my wrists. I am on my third set of braces now. See Carpal Tunnel Shots & IVF for Vets.
I’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel and De Quervain’s tenosynovitis as I always fail the Finkelstein test no matter how many times they ask me to do it, which is at every appointment.
During my time with these hand issues, the appointments kind of went from wrist to wrist, depending on which was causing the most problems at the time.
- Steroid shots on both wrists – Sept 2016
- Swelling on left began – April 2017
- MRI & X-ray on left – June/July 2017
- Aspirated Ganglion cyst – Nov 13, 2017
- Ganglionectomy # 1 – Jan 30, 2018
Originally, the left bruised after the fall, but the right hurt me more and led to the steroid shots to begin with and the left has had most of the problems since getting steroid shots in both.
I had left-hand swelling begin, nothing major and nothing overly noticeable, but once it began to grow, I could barely lift with this wrist.
Picking stuff up, moving my wrist certain ways, it sends pain through my arm and hand. I’ve changed coffee mugs, I’ve changed the way I hold my phone, I baby my wrists these days to prevent this pain.
Then, as if it showed up overnight, I had a large and noticeable ganglion cyst appear that never went away.
With an injury, sometimes a collection of synovial fluid can accumulate, and just my luck it would happen to me.
We aspirated, or drained, the ganglion cyst for it to come back in less than a week, this time it doubled in size. I call this Part One.
We had only pissed it off and we knew it needed to come out. (See Entyvio #5)
Lumpy as I called him, was getting cut out!
Since aspiration failed, which it usually does, considering the cyst sac is still inside, surgery was the next step.
Now, surgery isn’t a fail-safe either. There is a 1 in 5 chance of the cyst returning. And even after a second surgery, the chance of returning remains.
With local anesthesia and some stitches, the ganglion cyst was removed, sac and all, a ganglionectomy. See Ganglionectomy. I call this Part Two.
After my ganglionectomy, my hand and wrist continued to hurt, and in my follow-up appointment with the surgeons to check my healing and wound, I was told my pain was a phantom pain, that they would see me in a few months if there were no issues.
Now, in April, having just had it removed in January, the cyst returned. I counted 70 days time.
This time the cyst returned starting small and barely there. It was different than the first, more pointed, harder, and almost wedged beside the scar tissue from the first surgery.
At first, I just watched it. I kind of knew it would begin to grow so I planned to call the surgeons office as soon as it was blatantly noticeable.
It only took a few days, much like after the aspiration, for it to grow in size and start really bothering that area of my wrist. I scheduled to be seen with surgery and they scheduled my second ganglionectomy surgery for 5 days later, having the surgery yesterday. This I call Part Three, hence the trilogy.
Ganglionectomy surgery #2 went exactly like surgery #1. I already knew the drill: No food or drink after midnight. No medication. Chlorhexidine sponge scrub down and no metal earrings or jewelry.
Now, they say no nail polish, so the heart monitor finger sticker can pick up your heart rate, but I left on my acrylics and they got my heartbeat with my middle finger after trying my first.
They tell me to remove my jewelry, and I do, for the most part. All ten earrings are removed, my necklace and thumb ring and two of the three nose hoops are taken out.
If ever they say something about the septum, much like the MRI dilemma in previous posts lately, I usually offer to put tape or a band-aid over it to ‘hold it in place’, even though it takes some significant force to remove. My surgeon doesn’t seem to care, considering this is surgery on my wrist, so I’ve been lucky to leave it in both times.
I had the same plastic surgery care team as I did for surgery #1, so we were all ready to begin immediately. I especially like that I had the funny anesthesiologist with the counting sheep over his name.
I got the lovely hospital gown, the traction socks and was told to take “everything off but the smile”.
I got the same nurse team as last time, too, with the same nurse who didn’t get my IV in the vein and who got saline all over. She missed my IV again this time, too.
Once I was wheeled back to the operating room, I didn’t have pre-med happy juice like last time, so I remember the team getting my body prepared.
I only remember moments and that the drug the anesthesiologist used stung this time. He warned me after the fact. I thought I had injured the IV site because I noticed the sting of medication. And within seconds I remember fading.
I somewhat woke up towards the end this time, even though I warned them that I wake easily from anesthesia – I woke up mid-procedure during my first Colonoscopy.
Luckily I was numbed or they were literally wrapping me up, but I remember a sheet-like barrier blocking my view of my left arm.
I barely remember anything but I know I must have mentioned that I keep it wrapped in an Ace bandage and that I had one at the house, I think I was rambling, and the doctor offered to wrap my wrist in one so I’d have another.
Now, blame the sedative but I could have dreamt that. And I’m not 100% certain if it was all me or the nurses doing for some reason, but I think I pulled down the barrier so I could see.
After that, I was wheeled back to my recovery room and given back my belongings and clothes.
A nurse brought discharge papers and told me to take Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain… like, what? Last time I was given Percocet, and even that left me with pain in my wrist. Also, Ibuprofen is an NSAID, a big no-no for Crohn’s disease because they can lead to further ulcerations and bowel wall erosions.
I asked her why there was no script for pharmacy and she told me to wait while she called. When she came back, there was an order in the pharmacy for pain meds and I was good to leave.
Yesterday and today, I’ve spent most of my time napping in between writing this. The pain medication makes me super drowsy and not so hungry. I hope I don’t hurt like last time, where I continued to hurt for weeks after surgery. I have been wearing my sling and taking it easy. I’ll finally see the wound tomorrow so I will try to add an updated image. I will also finish writing my ‘normal’ blog post, too.
We scheduled my follow-up for the stitches to be removed finally, but I’m having to work that out with my jury duty obligation that same week.
I am pleased we are removing stitches before two weeks since last time the stitches were almost embedded into my skin and it was a whole ordeal removing them myself and almost losing one inside the scar.
There’s always the chance of Lumpy returning but I’m hoping for better days, less pain and more range of movement for this hand that ails me.
For me, It Could Be Worse.
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IBD News Today Column:
Welcome to ‘It Could Be Worse’ – A Column by Mary Horsley
Previous Posts on It Could Be Worse:
Carpal Tunnel Shots & IVF for Vets
2 Year Anniversary of Crohn’s Diagnosis Day
Stelara Infusion & Ganglionectomy Pain