Last Thursday was hopefully my last time going to the orthopedic doctor. He said that I didn't need to come back unless I was having problems. He wanted me to go to the occupational therapist for 4 - 6 weeks before I did come back if I needed to come back. I hope that I never have to go back! I am so done with these doctor's appointments. It's been about 14 weeks since I first broke my hand. We still have no idea why it healed so slowly.
Yesterday at the occupational therapist, I learned that I have to go through a crazy amount of pain to get these fingers working correctly again. Before going, I wasn't forcing my fingers to bend. I was just trying to use them naturally in every day tasks. But they weren't getting pushed through maximum range of movement. If I was doing something and it hurt, I quit. I really didn't want to create more problems for myself! Yesterday I learned that I have to push through the pain and it won't (hopefully) end up hurting me or my progress. I have to believe that I can trust my occupational therapist when she tells me that nothing in my hand is going to break. She said that people explain the pain as "popping" or like it feels like it's going to "explode." She assured me that my tendons, joints, whatever won't actually "explode."
When I was talking to my hubby last night he said "that just doesn't sound right." And it really doesn't. It seems counter-intuitive to try to do something that hurts that much!
Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of any of the stuff that she used to evaluate me. She took measurements of the circumference of my fingers and joints in my right hand as compared to my left hand to see how much swelling there was. And she measured the angles of the joints to be able to see how far I can bend them. She also tested the strength in my right hand as compared to the strength in my left hand~~which truthfully shouldn't be used as a comparison because even though I've been using it for 3 months~~is still really weak. It's just not a good measure. Hahaha. It is however very flexible and able to bend the way it's supposed to without my knuckles turning purple!
Here's a picture for comparison of what my right hand should look like. The right picture might be a little larger than the left picture, but I think you can still tell what's going on. Please excuse my old hands. They have not fared as well as the rest of me~~hehe. I really need to start using some anti-aging lotion on my hands!
I also used a machine that she called a whirlpool. It has two openings for you to put your hands in up to your elbows and then there are straps that tighten around your arms. The machine has ground up corn husks in it that are heated to 105 degrees and blow around your hands while you try to do the occupational therapy exercises. It's easier to work the muscles and tendons when they're warm.
At home, I've been trying to heat a damp washcloth up in the microwave to warm my hand up a little bit. The washcloth doesn't stay warm very long, though.
She gave me two different kinds of exercises to work on. One is called "Hand tendon gliding" and the other is called "blocking." They both hurt the snot out of me. Every time I was trying to do them, she said, "Nope. Farther. Keep pushing." I think occupational therapists have to be hard-asses to make sure you push yourself.
She wanted me to come once a week, but there weren't any appointments available next week anywhere near me. She told me that I could skip next week as long as I promised to work hard.
We can't begin strength training until I get full range of motion back.
Aye-aye-aye! This has been a long process. As hard as these exercises are, it's hard for me to believe that these fingers will ever bend again. BUT, I know they will and I'll do my best in the next two weeks. I'm hoping to have full mobility back by the time I go back and be able to make a fist!
This is the best I can do right now. It's frustrating. But as I said, I'll keep working at it.
Silly little non-bendable pinky! Come on pinky, you can do it!!!!
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