It’s raining today and will continue to rain for the next three days. Heavily at times, they say. It sounds like a great weekend for reading and baking and drinking tea. Not a bad way to spend the weekend before I start my new job.
However, that is not the purpose of this post.
When it rains, I feel it in my wrist, and I will feel it in my wrist for the rest of my life (sayeth the orthopedic surgeon back in the day). To recap, in October 2006, I had a proximal row carpectomy (PRC) on my left wrist (wow – I was going to link to a site that describes exactly what that means/is, and discovered that there are quite a few video results showing the surgery being performed. I don’t think I feel like seeing that right now. I haven’t had breakfast yet. Just know that they’re out there if you’re curious.)
I had this surgery to relieve the pain of Kienbock’s disease. It’s a rare little condition, but people who have it and have had the surgery have reached out to me via this blog since resources online are a little limited. When you have the conversation with the doctor about having the surgery, the prognosis for life after a PRC is pretty dismal – you won’t regain all your strength, you won’t regain your full range of motion (ROM), you’ll have some stiffness or weirdness with weather changes from then on… physical activity will be limited, etc. It can be rather upsetting.
So, here we are. Three and a half years after the surgery. Things are pretty good. I’m still rock-climbing and am feeling a lot stronger in my left wrist. I can hang off of it; it can hold up my body weight for a short period of time. There are times that I have to work around it since it simply will not bend very far one way or the other (that limited range of motion thing), but the point is that I’m rock climbing. I’m opening doors. I’m making bread and kneading the dough. I’m knitting. I’m carrying heavy bags in BOTH hands.
Yes, I feel the weather in my wrist – it’s a dull ache more than anything else. Yes, if I accidentally hit my wrist against something and it is bent past the limits of my range of motion, it hurts like a bitch and tears will spring to my eyes. THAT is a sharp pain. If I get up in the morning and forget about it and try to lift up my entire body weight on my left wrist, that hurts. I can’t do push-ups or handle yoga/Pilates positions that require my left wrist to be weight-bearing, but there’s plenty of yoga and Pilates action that doesn’t require that.
There’s still a scar. It’s pretty visible – but it’s about 2.5″ wide across my not quite 3″ wide wrist, so that might have something to do with it. My wrist gets sort of “crunchy” feeling because during my surgery, there was a tiny bone fragment the doctor couldn’t remove – it doesn’t hurt, but if I make circles or figure 8s with my wrist, I feel a little crunchiness at a certain point in that rotation. My wrist gets tired pretty quickly, especially if I’m doing something repetitive; my friend asked me to play some piano chords for him and I managed to play for about 90 seconds and my wrist was cramping. Same thing with playing the guitar or bass; having my wrist curved over the fretboard makes it cramp up pretty quickly. The same thing can happen if I’m typing for an extended period of time, but I got an ergonomic keyboard and that helps with the wrist position and keeps it from getting uncomfortable as quickly. I am glad that I am right-handed.
It’s not bad, all in all. That’s my report.
My advice if you opt for the surgery: after-care is the most important thing. Commit to the occupational therapy. Do the exercises. WORK at it. It’s really the best possible thing for you, even though it will feel tedious, painful and (at times) embarrassing and inane… because you’re moving little foam blocks that look like primary-colored marshmallows from one box to another using salad tongs, or because you’re squeezing and flattening what is essentially therapeutic Silly Putty with varying levels of resistance.