At The New Hospital things had been arranged.
It was 7:30 or 8:00 in the evening when we arrived at the new hospital and the nurse in charge of pre-op had been on a choir trip recently with my wife. She was able to help my wife feel more assured about what was happening.
As I lay on the bed waiting for surgery to begin, the anesthesiologist that I initially asked for came walking by my bed, spotted me, and stopped to see what had happened. I showed him my finger and asked if he would be my anesthesiologist. I also asked if I could have a local instead of general anesthesia. He agreed to assist and said that he didn’t see a problem with a local.
Off to Surgery
Soon, I was being wheeled into the operating room, my left arm numb from the shoulder down. The surgeon removed a vein from my wrist. They didn’t let me watch, but when they started to transplant the vein from my wrist into my finger, I was able to see them working on the monitor that magnified the proceedings. They removed the crushed section of the vein in my finger and then stitched around the tiny vein’s circumference from my wrist on both ends where it attached to the old vein. As I watched, my hand seemed disconnected from my body, mainly because I could not feel what was happening. I even tried to participate in the conversation about skiing that the two surgeons were having, but they ignored me.
Recuperating Is Not Easy
The following morning, I awoke in my hospital bed with Silvadene cream slathered on my burns and my left hand bandaged and elevated. I was not allowed any caffeine because it causes veins and arteries to constrict. Soon, I developed a splitting caffeine withdrawal headache that the pain meds I was receiving did not affect.
After staying in the hospital for a week, the hospital released me to continue my recovery at home. I still needed to keep my arm elevated, so my wife rented a hospital bed to sleep in to keep my upper body and arm raised. The bed was essential to keep the stitches around the vein from blowing out.
The Prognosis was Grim
The surgeon informed me that it would be twelve months before feeling would return to my finger. Nerves only grow so fast, and the speed of that growth is well known. This would make pottery throwing extremely difficult, without any feeling in my index finger for a year. How was I going to make pottery, finish the papal mass order, and provide for my family without using my left hand, my dominant hand, my writing hand?