Posted by: ritagone | March 21, 2012

Lessons Learned in Surgery (Very Minor Surgery)

Two months ago I had surgery on my ring finger of the right hand for a malady commonly known as “trigger finger.”   It’s a cross-up of the tendons that criss-cross your palm which causes a finger to lock in a bent position, and the surgery to correct it is a rather minor surgery at that.  I had had it done on the middle finger of the same hand six years ago quickly and efficiently; in fact, I hopped a plane to New York City the very next day afterwards. (Or at least that’s my recollection of that procedure; perhaps with time I’ve simplified the surgery and the recovery.  Maybe it was more complicated and more of a recovery period than I recollect.  I don’t honestly know at this point.)

Lesson learned:  You think you’ll never forget something like a surgery – albeit a minor one – but you do, you do.  A few years down the road, and it’s a dim memory.  So dim that when you try to recall how much pain, what the recovery period was like, you honestly can’t, to save your life.  I suppose that’s why people unveil their appendix scars for all to see: those are the surgeries and operations that we do remember.  Aren’t they?  Or do we also selectively adjust those procedures to be more or sometimes less than what they really were?  I’m not sure anymore about any of it.  I thought certain events would be etched into my mind forever in minute detail: weddings, births, surgeries (of which I’ve fortunately had blessed few).  But alas, the memories are few.  I remember the overall events, that they were wonderful and glowing and meaningful.  I remember that I had a great time and that the evening was enveloped in a kind of glorious haze of fun and nostalgia.  But I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what people said or even, for that matter, select people who were or weren’t there.  People tell me all the time that they attended my wedding or my son or daughter’s wedding.  Couldn’t prove it by me.

We have a friend who can recall specific foods eaten at various outings to restaurants with different couples throughout the years.  Me, I’m lucky if I remember that I was even with him at any of those outings.

So the lesson learned is that you aren’t going to remember what you think you’re never going to forget.  Take notes.  Take pictures.  Write it down.  You will forget.  The sharp edges will blur, eventually.  Sometimes much sooner than you would even dare to think.

So here I am, two months later, and the trigger finger itself seems to be cured, but what I’m left with is a finger that won’t bend like it used to, and a fairly discernible lump on the palm of my hand that wasn’t there before.

Lesson learned: I suppose I’m still too much in the thick of things to have too many lessons learned about my recent trigger finger surgery, but one thing I do know: don’t change surgeons when the first one did an excellent job.  Perhaps a better way to put this is: if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.  I succumbed to the suggestion of one of my other doctors, who recommended this new surgeon, instead of sticking to the guy who had done such a good job previously, and now here I am, two months later, with a finger that won’t bend completely, a lump in the palm that shouldn’t be there, and a soreness that sure doesn’t feel normal.  I’m ticked off, mainly at myself.

I’ve noticed that complaining about a sore finger or a slight bump in my palm doesn’t get me a lot of sympathy.  Particularly when I tell people that it’s on my right hand and I’m left-handed, I can see the sympathy quotient disappear another 25% or so.  After all, it’s not a leg or an eye or even, being a hand, unuseable. I can still function very well with my left hand, my strong hand.  It’s a finger that will most likely eventually heal or, at worst, be remedied by going back to the original doctor and asking him to make good what isn’t working after his initial surgery or, if need be, having the entire operation re-done by the first surgeon, which is probably what I should have done in the first place (see previous lesson learned).   So what I’ve learned is that rather than tell people the woes of this very minor incident, I need to just move on.

There are, after all, much worse things happening around the planet, and I really will survive this calamity.

Another lesson learned:  Just shut up and get it fixed, already!  That’s me saying this lesson learned to myself, actually.  I’m tired of complaining, tired of trying to garner sympathy for something that doesn’t quite merit it, and really do want to move on.  I think some day I may be in a situation where there will be real peril, real danger, real trauma, and I’d rather store up my sympathy and my tears for such a time as that.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned a few lessons due to this second trigger finger surgery, and that’s about the best we can expect in life sometimes.

But as I said, I’m too close to it right now.  Ask me again in a few months and maybe I’ll have a few more – or different – lessons learned about the whole episode.

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