Infection Blues

Last week I was cursed with what seems to me the one-month-post-op-infection. The same thing happened with my left hand. Luckily I don’t think it was quite as bad this time around, but I still was in some pain for a few days and back to popping pain pills after work and to sleep.

Captain Kirk's Swollen Hands

Captain Kirk’s Swollen Hands

It started probably last Monday night, but I was in denial of the increased pain. When I woke up on Tuesday it still hurt but I took some tylenol and told myself it was just due to the distraction. By the end of the workday my hand was so swollen and getting stiffer, which made me nervous because I had physical therapy in the morning and did not want to disappoint. I tried putting heat on my hand to loosen it up, which was foolish since it was swollen and most likely infected but I was still hoping the swelling would disappear. Then after a painful session at the Apple Genius Bar (worst bar ever, not a drink in sight!) I got home and called my mother to complain about my hand hurting. Denial wasn’t getting me anywhere so I also e-mailed the doctor with pictures of my swollen hand and the pins. My hand was incredibly swollen, think Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek, but the pin sites seemed nice and neat still.

Actual swollen hand

Actual swollen hand

I woke up to an e-mail saying to start a course of antibiotics. I had an appointment the next day, but Dr. R asked if I could come in that day, because New York was expecting a huge storm. Sadly I could not, because I was still in St. Louis. Like I expected my physical therapist was very concerned about the look of my hand. Because the pin sites weren’t bad, but there was swelling she worried it might be celluitis. I didn’t know what this was and when I got to work and looked it up I did not like the sound of it. My physical therapist also made me a new splint to help keep my metacarpal extended since the ring finger is hanging a bit low. Before I was sleeping in a splint that kept my fingers bent. Now it’s the other way around.

I was planning to leave for the airport after work, but around lunch time I found out Southwest cancelled my flight because of the weather. There wasn’t a single snowflake in sight between St. Louis and New York yet and it wasn’t scheduled to start until after I landed, but they decided that their planes not being snowed in was more important than me going to the doctor to get my infection checked out. Luckily I snagged a flight through Chicago to Newark. It wasn’t cancelled because it was flying straight back to Chicago. I left work early and landed the same time I was originally scheduled to get in.

Getting into New York for my 9AM appointment was its own adventure. The train wasn’t bad, plenty of seats for once, but the subways were super crowded and the walk to the office was comparable to when Dennis Quaid goes to save his son in The Day After Tomorrow. But we made it! And a little bit after my scheduled appointment Dr. R made it in too. He had a few other patients to see that day, but I was most likely the only one he actually saw, because I imagine anyone with lower extremity issues would have had too much trouble getting there in the weather.

What New York Looked Like

What New York Looked Like

Dr. R didn’t seem too worried about my infection. He prescribed me a stronger antibiotic in case I didn’t see results in the next few days, but I haven’t needed them. We looked at my x-rays and determined I needed 3 – 5mm of turns left. It’s pretty much up to me when to stop. I asked if I could slow down turning, because I was still in a lot of pain from my infection and thought the turning might be a part of it. We decided to knock it down to only three 1/8 turns a day.

24 days of turning ~12 mm of distraction

25 days of turning ~12.5 mm of distraction

Getting back into New Jersey was even more trouble. My mom and I smartened up and took a cab from the hospital to Penn Station. At the train station we learned that all our trains were leaving from Hoboken and we’d have to take the Path to get there. We wondered around Penn Station contemplating finding a place to eat and trying to figure out exactly how to get to the Path before walking a few blocks to the entrance to the Path. We went to Hoboken and caught the train back to our town’s station. The car was covered in snow in an unplowed lot. At least we didn’t get a ticket for not having the correct parking permit (it’s a new car)! We grabbed a very late breakfast at one of the few places open in town and then walked home. My mom later managed to get the car out of the lot and the swelling started to go down the next day. I definitely think resting it helped.

I’m not scheduled to go back til March 12th. Finger’s crossed I have lots of bone growth between now and then!

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One thought on “Infection Blues

  1. Dang – quite an adventure. Movie references are cracking me up.
    Yes – fingers crossed! I’ll keep my shorties crossed for ya 😉
    ( p.s. same susan – I switched to gmail)

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