External fixator fixation and PT

Today I became a little fixated on finding blogs of people who had external fixators, not just to fix brachymetacarpia/brachymetatarsia, but for other lengthening procedures and injuries. I found a really inspiring one by a guy who hit a tree snowboarding. He had several surgeries on his leg/ankle and just recently had a below the knee amputation, because years later the ankle was causing too much pain. I haven’t read it all yet, because it spans four years but it’s very inspiring and entertaining, 

I also stared watching youtube videos of external fixators being removed. I had watched one video way back when in which the kid screamed a lot and I pushed it out of my mind. My mom mentioned she didn’t know what it entailed so I told her that it was an in office procedure that probably hurt a lot, but realized that now that I’m one procedure in I probably should know more about what else is to come, even if it’s not for several more months. 

The videos I watched today confirmed what I told my mom, but there was less screaming thankfully. The doctor uses a power drill to remove the pins, which is the part that seems to really hurt (not that there’s much to my ex fix besides the pins). Thanks to my dad purchasing me a power drill when I was freshman in college in order to install a floor length mirror, I now have the tools necessary to remove the ex fix on my own. Don’t worry though, I’ll stick to hanging mirrors for now.

I had my first physical therapy session today. My doc’s prescription had my diagnosis as “left hand deformity” so the PTs didn’t know what to expect. The woman I was working with wasn’t sure what exercises to have me do. The doctor wants me to maintain strength in my wrist and elbow but I can’t lift anything heavier than 5 lbs! I therefore have to use one of those stretchy rubber band things. Those exercises are sorta fun, probably because they aren’t too hard or painful. Some of the hand stretches are really challenging. I can’t even make a fist anymore. I worked on my exercises a lot during any down time at work, but my hand started to get really achy. My elbow’s been hurting a bit too.

Even though I would have preferred my physical therapist to have worked with lots of cases like mine, I enjoyed talking with people who had never seen my condition or treatment but knew information about both fixators and hands. One of the PTs was surprised to find out I wasn’t having any type of implant and wanted to know how I did pin care. Apparently the doctors in St. Louis prefer not to use hydrogen peroxide. Forgot to ask what they use instead. This also confirmed that I made the right choice in trekking to New York to have the surgery, because if the PTs at Barnes Jewish had never had a patient like me, I’m fairly certain the orthopedic surgeons here also never performed this surgery. 

One last thing: I asked my doctor if I could switch up my pain meds since I wanted to give my liver a break from Tylenol. He said no, because Advil and Aleve inhibit bone healing. This further makes me hate that nosy self proclaimed pharmacologist who had the “exact same surgery” as me. I knew her advice was stupid then, but I didn’t realize how horrible she it actually was.



3 thoughts on “External fixator fixation and PT

  1. What an interesting story! Yours is the first finger lengthening I’ve come across so far, but until last year I thought I was the only one with a short toe. The Web is a wonderful tool. Hope you’re doing well.

  2. Hi there! Congrats on your surgery and your blog! I’m from St. Louis but live in Austin, Texas now and had surgery for brachymetatarsia here last year. I considered going home to St. Louis for it, one of my sisters works at an ortho office, and they have a podiatrist there too, and there was another doctor I had found in Creve Coeur that was familiar with the surgery, but in the end I stayed here and it all worked out well for me. Yours is the first case I’ve read of in the hand so thanks for sharing! Best of luck to you 🙂

    • Thank you! Your blog was one of the first I found after I discovered the possibility of having surgery and started to do some research. It definitely helped prepare me with some questions for my doctor and have a better idea of some things to expect, so thanks!

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