This past Wednesday Don had the pin in his left pinky (I spelled it “pinkie” in the last post — apparently that’s the Scottish English spelling and “pinky” is the American English spelling – who knew?!) removed. The doctor used a pair of pliers and twisted it back and forth to get it out — it was screwed in through the bone and the joint. Ouch. Here’s a picture of the pin with the key for perspective.
Check out how sharp the point is.
Right after the pin was removed Don met with Tara, his wonderful Occupational Therapist (he worked with her for months following the fire). She worked his finger through a series of exercises – after 4 weeks with the pin in his finger, it was hard to get it to bend at all. But she did get it moving quite a bit and after about 30 minutes of moving it around, we left with written instructions for hourly exercises during waking hours and a splint at night.
The next day (Thursday, 1/5/12), his finger was so swollen and throbbing, he couldn’t bend it at all. It’s still swollen and painful today but slowly getting better. We’ve been focusing on ways to reduce the inflammation so the healing could begin and he could get going on the flexibility exercises. Otherwise, his finger will be stuck in a straight position. To reduce inflammation he’s been taking fish oil, zinc, and NOW brand quercetin with bromelain (which has the added benefit of reducing the itchiness of his back donor site). He’s been drinking green tea with fresh grated ginger added and putting ground flax seed and turmeric on his food. All documented natural remedies to fight various kinds of inflammation. Don hasn’t thought it wise to workout since the pin was removed because the added blood flow to the finger increases the swelling and pain. But he’s going to give it a shot today since the downside of not working out is beginning to outweigh the downside of the finger issue.
Don is scheduled to have his right hand operated on Friday, 2/3 – his palm has a large contracture from the forefinger to the thumb that is preventing him from fully opening his hand and his right pinky is stuck in a bent position (same as the left pinky was). His right hip will be the donor site for the skin graft(s) required. Until the doctor is inside the pinky, it is unclear if it will require a skin graft or if the doctor will just be releasing ligaments surrounding the 5th PIP joint and not need to cut out scar tissue. But a large graft will be required to cover the area from his forefinger to his thumb. So this surgery will be much more extensive than the left hand was. And we want to make sure his left hand is just about fully recovered before 2/3 when his right hand becomes immobilized.
At least we aren’t missing much up in the mountains since it hasn’t snowed yet this winter and it’s basically just a few trails open with manmade snow turned to ice from too many people scraping over it. We’re hoping by the time we can ski in March, conditions will have improved.