Any advice for a frustrating, 15-month old hand injury?
August 8, 2012 4:53 PM Subscribe
Any advice for a frustrating, 15-month old hand injury?
posted by schmichael to health & fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, YANMD. Nevertheless...
I injured my right (dominant) hand in a punching accident last year, roughly 15 months ago. Stupid but unintentional, I was fooling around in front of the mirror in my bathroom and smashed the head of my 2nd metacarpal (index finger) into a vertical piece of hard wood. Spent the next two months or so with a splint and the index and middle finger taped together. The head of the metacarpal was driven back into the shaft a fraction of a centimetre, shortening the bone slightly. The bone and finger did not rotate though - apparently very positive.
I am a student and basically as soon as I could peck out words on my MacBook with my right hand I went back to using my computer as much as possible. I was told by fracture clinic specialists in my city that the bone would heal fine and they confidently told me it would be back to normal soon enough. I didn't do any hand exercises after the splint came off - I was told my hand muscles would be weakened though. However after about 11 months from the injury I realised it was not good. It was sore and stiff all the time, and the joint felt tight and crunched when I extended my index finger. Typing was painful and any extended use of my MacBook trackpad to swipe or scroll with my right hand was impossible. I can no longer remember what it's like to use a computer without pain (tapping this out with a stylus on the iPad which I bought to give myself some way to stay connected - which is frankly naughty of me.)
At this point I returned to the fracture clinic and was referred to a hand physio specialist. Sandra told me that the tendon sheaths running over the joint capsule had adhesions and had me rub the knuckle in circular motions to try and loosen them. I also did finger stretching exercises with rubber bands. Nothing really changed and after a while I started to get pain in my left hand knuckles and both wrists. Sandra told me it was most likely developing RSI and I needed to stop using computers, walk away from them permanently (for the time being), to let my hand(s) heal. She remained blithely positive that my hand will be just fine in the future.
Now it's been a few weeks since I last touched my MacBook. I have tried to stop texting, although I use my iPad more than I should (this is the first, and last, long piece of writing I will do for the time being). This is excruciating. Left to my own devices, I am an internet speed-freak. I surf, I read, I think, I research, I comment, I chat as fast as my fingers and mind will let me - which until this injury was pretty fast indeed. Having to slow down - and really I should stop completely - has been a nightmare. There is a whole world of learning, debate and networking that I am desperate for - in fact depend upon utterly if I want to move forward and make anything of my life and my skills - that is completely transparent as long as you have strong, painless fingers to tap, click, scroll and swipe upon flat, hard surfaces, and which turns completely opaque as soon as you lose that asset. I am slowed to a crawl in feeding my mind and translating my thoughts into words on the screen. I am 23. I'm smart, but after finishing my aimless university years with an aimless (though accomplished) degree in history, I feel like an overgrown man-child. I want to find a solid career direction and start learning properly and build some momentum. I can barely surf my Facebook newsfeed.
No specific questions but I would hugely appreciate any advice on any facet of my problem. Feel free to pick at underlying assumptions. Similar experiences would be awesome to hear about. Hell maybe you have career ideas for me. Shoot.
1) the thought that the most effective treatment for this sort of thing starts early and I left it too long freaks me out.
2) the idea of being locked off to one side while the internet moves faster and faster - and all the jobs and opportunities and adventures I want and need to plan and achieve using the net pass me by - freaks me out
3) looking at my hand and seeing this cramped up crippled stiff sore thing freaks me out. I used to play pretty good piano you know. Fuck. And apparently it's not even that bad. Will it ever be normal? Or do I just have to accept it being a shadow, and learn to live with drastically lowered expectations of my self-education, entertainment and career prospects?
4) I'm sick of being assured that it'll be just fine. It's been 15 months. That's a fucking long time - or is that normal? I don't know!
5) I'm not sure if I should be doing absolutely nothing with my hands, or doing stretches, or what. I have no idea what the balance is. I go for a while doing almost nothing but soaking it in hot water + Epsom salts and/or old water - then suddenly get furious at it and want to beat it into submission or cut it off.
6) yes, I know I shouldn't even be tapping out this post. Sorry, this is a once-off. I'm so frustrated and I guess I need some support.
7) if I was a Roman patrician with a small flotilla of slaves I'm sure this would be a bit easier to handle. As it is, my mum is incredible and is taking care of me and doing anything and everything I ask of her. But I can't use her to live my private net life for me...
Thank you very much in advance for your time and consideration in reading my story :)