Conclusion: I continue to be a hazard to myself

By Mir
September 6, 2013

Hey, remember that time I broke my hand on an apple and turned into a cyborg? Good times, man. That was almost a year ago, now. It was year ago next month, in fact, though I wasn’t thinking about that at all this week. After the surgery I did months of physical therapy and then also kept going back to the hand surgeon for rechecks because my hand remained kind of weird and deformed for a LONG time, prompting him to keep saying, “Let’s have another look in a couple of months.” And then I’d go back and he poke and prod and finally my hand mostly looked like a hand again and he said, “Okay, you’re good to go!” and that was that.

That was that until this past Wednesday, anyway, because I AM ME and if I made stuff like this up you’d be all, “Oh don’t be stupid, that could never happen.” That’s because on Wednesday I was making a lovely from-scratch chicken pot pie—one of Monkey’s favorite things, so he kept wandering into the kitchen and asking if it was ready yet, starting at about 2:00 in the afternoon—and the thing about me and chicken pot pie is that it’s a “one dish meal” where I end up using every pot and pan in the kitchen. I had to bake the chicken, roast the veggies, caramelize the onions, etc. I was moving things around and lifting heavy pans and making a huge mess and having a grand time.

Finally dinner was in the oven, and Licorice—who’d been under my feet all afternoon, hoping I’d drop anything at all, but hopefully some chicken—sat down by her dishes and wagged. So I pulled out the canister of kibble and scooped her dinner, and then as I was putting the container away…

… something in my hand… gave way.

It was weird. The dog food container isn’t heavy, and I wasn’t doing anything weird with my hand, position-wise, but it was indeed my BIONIC HAND, and something was definitely… wrong.

I tried to shake it off. I rubbed my hand for a minute. Perhaps a tendon had just kind of rubbed against the metal plate, or something. My hand throbbed, and waves of pain radiated outward from the knuckle at the top of my surgery scar. I felt a little dizzy.

But you know, I am also kind of a wimp about pain, and also prone to a bit of exaggerated poor-me-ing, sometimes. So again, I tried to shake it off, and went back to dealing with dinner (read: making Chickadee some non-animal-laden food). I couldn’t really grasp anything firmly with my left hand, though, so I worked with my right, and after a few minutes I stopped to take some Advil, but I thought surely it would stop hurting very soon.

I called the kids to come sit down and eat shortly before Otto got home, because I knew he was going to be late. Monkey was so excited about the chicken pot pie he immediately fell to shoveling food into his face, but Chickadee looked at my hand and then looked at my face in that pitying, “you are kind of too dumb to live” sort of way, and said, “Ummmm… I think you’d better put some ice on that. It’s kind of… purple? What did you DO?”

“I put the dog food away,” I answered, through clenched teeth. But I went and got myself an ice pack.

Otto came home and suggested we go to the Emergency Room. I argued, because who wants to spend the evening in the ER? I could still move everything, and while it hurt, I obviously didn’t have a broken bone, or anything. On the other hand (perhaps the one that wasn’t swelling up like a blowfish…?), what if a screw was loose in there? Or a piece of the plate had broken off? OR MY TENDON HAD SIMPLY EXPLODED? (Okay, I only thought that last one in my inside-the-head-drama-queen voice.) Otto suggested we give it an hour to see how I felt, but we actually ended up going even sooner than that, because I was sort of freaked out and it really hurt and also I didn’t want to be there all night.

In the elevator at the hospital, Otto smiled at me and said it had been a while since we’d had a date night. That was enough to get me laughing, which I suspect was the goal.

We waited and waited and waited some more, and then someone came and took me for X-rays, and then we waited even longer, and eventually they put us in the same room where I’d been when I broke my hand in the first place, which prompted me to proudly point out to Otto that the FIRST THING I did when I hurt my hand, this time, was to take off my wedding rings. (Last year, I’d ended up hunched over the sink in that room, soaping up and sobbing while prying rings off my rapidly-swelling, broken hand, lest they be cut off, instead.) Eventually a doctor came in and said my film looked good, the hardware was fine, and it was likely a “soft tissue issue.” I should go see my hand surgeon as soon as possible. And in the meantime, they would splint the affected area to make me more comfortable. But they were just going to move us, first.

I suspect there was a room shortage; we ended up in a couple of chairs in the hallway, and a nurse came along and wrapped me up after a while.

“More comfortable?” I’m pretty sure those words, they do not mean what I think you think they mean, doctor.

We made it home close to midnight, and I told Otto I hated everyone and everything before I ate all the Advil in the house and flounced into bed.

Yesterday I called the hand surgeon and got an appointment for today. Yesterday I left the splint on and my hand hurt; today I took the splint off and my hand still hurt, though I notice now it’s turning lots of pretty colors.

The meeting with the surgeon involved some poking and prodding and a declaration of a “scar tissue tear,” which sounds about as unpleasant as it felt. As to why, he had no answer. As to whether it will happen again, yeah, he doesn’t know that either. He told me that at this point it is “completely up to me” whether or not I have a second surgery to remove the hardware. Pointing out that I am not a doctor didn’t seem to sway his opinion. “Most people” do fine with this sort of plate. “Some people” have complications. “Some of those people” have continued complications.

“So what would you like to do?” he asked.

“Punch you in the face” seemed like a bad response, so instead I said, “Ummmm… how about we… just… see how it goes? See if it happens again?”

He nodded. “That’s a good approach, I think,” he said. “If it happens again, I will recommend removal of the plate. But this could’ve been a freak thing. Just keep icing it and taking Advil. Hopefully that’s it.”

So, you know. My hand is apparently full of explosive scar tissue that could attack at any moment, but no biggie. I’ll just sit around waiting for it to pull that fun little “OH HEY PAAAAAAAIN!” trick again. Or not. Nobody knows what will happen! The human body is a WONDERLAND! And my left hand is confused, because it seems to believe it should be an asshole.

I guess for now I’ll just continue… not touching anything… ever. That seems like the best plan.


  1. Chuck

    Well…I have had broken bones in my left hand before, more than once, but they always healed without surgery, so I don’t have any good advice. I do hope that you’re not left-handed like I am. One time it happened right before finals in college so I had to learn how to write while wearing a claw-like cast/splint thing.

  2. Raquel

    So…my husband has had hand surgery twice and also broke his hand and declined the surgery once. Based on that extensive second hand knowledge of a perhaps equally hazardous to self person like you, I would encourage you to think about getting that plate out. He regrets not having the hand surgery (which his doc also said “up to you”, which ???). And my personal experience having had multiple surgeries over the last few years for various orthopedic injuries (I just wrap up in bubble wrap before heading out now), if you have one complication that may recur, it’s gonna recur. It’s so much more preferable (I know, odd word choice) to do those things on your own terms rather than in an emergency situation like when your hand goes *SPROING* just before you’re about to go on a much needed, ten years in the waiting vacation. JUST AS AN EXAMPLE.

  3. karen

    Hmmm… to tell you this or not. My cousin who is about your age screwed up his hand too… in a skateboard accident. He doesn’t normally ride skateboards and he probably never will again. He did have the hardware removed after two years.. it never felt right or healed all the way, even though it LOOKED like a normal hand, it didn’t work like one. He said he didn’t realize how not-normal his hand function was until he had the stuff removed, and he is glad he did.

  4. meghann @ midgetinvasion

    I’m disappointed you didn’t post a picture of all the colors for us to look at. You did last time, you know.

  5. Issa

    Aren’t doctors awesome? So helpful and all that. The it’s up to you thing as infuriated me over and over again throughout the years. YOU ARE THE DOCTOR! YOU TELL ME! I am not a doctor. Duh. Then again I say that and in truth when a spine doctor tried to push me to have surgery he got sooooo pissed when I declined.

    Hands are weird. I once heard that we have so many nerve endings in our hands and feet that they tend to hurt more at next to nothing then say another part of our body would. Shrug. I’ve injured myself a lot. Lets just say I’m the run into walls, trip over air type of person. I broke my thumb twice in one year. No clue how.

    All that is to say, solidarity sister! Ice in the air! Something. heh. I hope it stops hurting quickly. Have you tried soaking it in Epsom salts? For some reason that tends to help muscles.

    • Cathy

      I second the epsom salts! Kroger, if you have them in your area, actually sells epsom salts with menthol added, which is greatly soothing AND results in an almost bubble bath-y tub.

  6. Amanda

    I said it exploded! Does that make me a hand surgeon now?

  7. Cathy

    I can’t speak knowledgeably about hands, but I can about healthcare. One sneaky way to get many doctors who aren’t advising as you want them to is to rephrase “What should I do?” to “What would you do in my situation?” Doing this isn’t foolproof, but you definitely get a higher response rate. It automatically places some of them in a more empathetic frame of mind and they even place more thought into their answers.

    Worked with me at the orthopedist this morning in fact. After a year recuperating a bad ankle injury, I fell over Labor Day weekend and sprained the same (explicative) ankle. So I feel your stupid re-injury pain. Hang in there and feel better soon!

  8. Nicole

    Adhesions! Adhesions are your enemy! Scar tissues anchor all over the freakin’ place, with the goal of stabilizing. Do you want your hand to be stabilized (i.e., immobile)? Not so much, no.

    I don’t know what your resources are or if you’d be into this, but I strongly, highly, emphatically recommend finding a “functional manual physical therapist.” Mine has been a freakin’ miracle worker. I spent years with myriad neck and back and wrist/arm/shoulder issues, and no matter who I saw (physician, chiropractor, massage therapist, pilates instructor, physical therapist), my progress was two steps forward, two steps back. It became a (warped) point of pride that I would stump and challenge my practitioners’ understanding of the human body and their particular field’s ability to improve my health. And then I was referred to my current PT, for whom every single symptom fits into her understanding of my whole system (and adhesions & tension as problems that throw off your entire systems within your body is part of that understanding). For me, it has turned out that probably 90% of my issues can be traced back to car major injuries sustained in my younger life, along with problems arising after my body was no longer able to absorb daily stresses thanks to those accidents.

    I am a bit nervous about this next part, as I am directly dispensing advice you didn’t ask for. Take it with whatever grains of salt it may need….

    If your hand is not functioning properly (as demonstrated by snapping during basic usage, sheesh), I strongly urge you to consider physical therapy (particularly as a first step before further surgery, which will cause…more scar tissue). To get good results, you would probably want to at least locate a therapist who has studied and is particularly concerned with adhesions, and who has the sensitivity in his/her hands to follow the particular strands of scar tissue laid out in your hands (as opposed to a textbook idea of where scar tissue would likely form). And to get the best results, I highly recommend finding a functional manual therapist who can assess not only the post-surgery scar tissue but also whatever restrictions might have caused your hand to break apart in the first place.

    /end soap box

    I’m sorry your hand’s causing you such grief. :-(

  9. Nicole

    Whoops. If you decide you’d like to find a functional manual therapist, you can do a provider search on (It looks like there is one in Atlanta and one in Athens; I’m not sure if either of these would work for you.)

    • Dawn

      Oh when I read your post I was so excited. I have had multiple surgeries on my foot (had hardware installed and removed and a bone fusion done in my ankle) and the scar tissue has wrapped around some of my nerves. “Regular” PT did no good, so the options my orthopedic surgeon gave me were pretty much 1) more surgery to release the scar tissue (and ironically create more in the process) or 2) take narcotics for the rest of my life if I ever want to sleep again since the pain keeps me awake. Yeah, neither one is a great option.

      Alas, there are no functional manual therapists in my whole state on that list. But now that I know what to look for, I will start asking around!! Thank you!

  10. kapgaf

    It would have been ok to say “punch you in the face” because he knew and he knew that you knew that he knew that you weren’t going to jeopardize the only good hand you had left. Nevertheless, I think you need to be looked after (our preshussss) and I like the idea of bubble wrap which of course makes me think of Kathy Bates in Saran wrap. Tawanda!

  11. jwg

    Why does this not surprise me? I strongly second the physical therapy idea. PT has kept me out of the clutches of the neurosurgeon who would like to fuse my spine and besides which the PT place is an interesting people watching site.

  12. Jeanie

    Oh, Mir, I’m sorry. Always something, huh?

  13. Pamela

    Is it possible that you had hand surgery done by the same people who fixed your pool liner? That might explain a lot, both about the pool and the hand.

    • Mir


  14. Chris

    I was going to reply but have to agree with Mir – Pamela wins!!!

  15. Daisy

    Is a second opinion available? i mean a second hand surgeon or orthopedic specialist, not a second blogger or commenter. You have plenty of those around.

  16. Lynda M O

    Mir, coming from a place of hands that are failing for no apparent reason, may I offer a bit of advice that I got from an 83-y/o who had had a stroke on her dominant side, “Practice now so when it happens you don’t have to learn to use the other hand all at once.” I took her at her word and started using leftie twenty-five years ago and when rightie gave up the ghost three years ago and I hadda relearn wiping after potty, I appreciated all my prior left hand use.

    Pamela, please come and comment at my place, you are a funny funny gal !~!

    Headed home now so Pam can bask in the glory of winning…

  17. Jennifer

    Wow, this explains so much. I had wrist surgery about 8 years ago and had a plate put in when I leaped from a horse and landed on my face. Since the wrist has healed, about three times a year for no explainable reason I will be picking something up or doing something completely normal when I get a shooting pain and my hand will not work properly due to the pain. Scar tissue! Now why didn’t I think of that. I too though a screw was loose or a tendon must have popped or rubbed on something it shouldn’t have. Mine fortuneately never turned purple and swelled up… after an advil and immobilizing it overnight I was generally back to normal but this really strikes a chord with me! Thanks for sharing and I hope yours gets better soon!

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