It’s 6 and a half months since I had my right ulnar nerve transposition (ie it was moved) and, at last, I’m off the antibiotics that have been part of my life since the operation – the chest infection has finally cleared and I am feeling a lot healthier in myself. It was a massive operation – I’d didn’t quite understand the full implications of ulnar nerve transposition recovery – let alone with recurrent infections, but I’m getting there.
As I said in my first post about the operation, I was planning to write on a monthly basis about my recovery but that hasn’t really worked and to be honest, there wasn’t a huge amount of change to report each time anyway. I was back to see the consultant at University College Hospital in London last week so it seems time to write again.
I have full movement in my elbow and my ‘glide’ is good – that’s how smoothly I can bend and extend my arm. We expected this to be good anyway due to my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome; my elbows have always had a degree of hypermobility so, for once, I have done what was predicted. The strength is good as well – I have been acutely aware of the risk of muscle wastage and have tried my hardest to get back to full strength as quickly as possible. As much as it’s a combination of wrist and elbow strength, I can easily lift a kettle and drain a saucepan full of pasta. Family life allows for little else.
I have good sensation in my 4th (ring) finger reliably for the first time in years – this is a delight. The little finger has still to get full sensation back but it’s also been the finger that has suffered the most over time so I’m not surprised. I’m back typing at full speed, and playing the piano for my beloved school choir – most rehearsals have gone extremely well, there have been a couple where I’ve found the fingers to drag and that’s frustrating but seeing as most of the children are still at the stage where they say “your fingers go well fast Miss” I reckon they haven’t noticed as much as I have. Today I am playing for the end of year performance of Bugsy Malone – the elbow will be tired and sore later on but I can do it.
Pain wise things are pretty good. My Ehlers Danlos Syndrome has flared up more times than I appreciate recently and I am aware how that affects the scar and the pain sensations I get. Odd things make it hurt – like typing at my desk with just the wrong bit of the elbow on the edge, or resting my arm on the car window or on a fence. Things that you do habitually without thinking of the repercussions. Relearning those behaviours is hard but I suspect as the nerve grows back (it’s doing nicely at 1mm a week but that’s a long time to get from the elbow to the tip of my little finger) it won’t be so much as a problem. Like anyone, if I catch my elbow on a door frame (think hitting your ‘funny’ bone) it hurts – although for me it’s more of a stomach churning, curse inducing hurt and possibly a bruise. I still have the odd dose of tramadol if it flares up but I suspect it’s more a systemic issue with me and the pain is pronounced in an area of weakness.
The scar is still the scar – now I’m in short sleeves I’ve got through the self-concious stage. For those who stare long enough, I’m still going with the “you should have seen the state of the shark” line – or a slightly overly gory explanation of what my lovely surgeons did. It seems to do the trick.
The surgeon is pleased with the progress – next step is to try and stabilise my wrist. The years of piano playing and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome are beginning to take their toll – the words “wear and tear” and “degenerative changes” have been mentioned. I’ve decided that aged 38 I am not old enough for either of these, however my body seems to think differently. Next step is another steroid injection and then, I suspect after that, more surgery to try and stop the grinding, reduce the hypermobility and see if there is an osteocyte (bit of bone that shouldn’t be there) growing in the wrong place. That scares me. A lot.