Thursday, October 30, 2008

Erica's Hand

We went to the plastic surgoen and plaster technician today. Verdict - surgery in at least six months or up to a year. Not Yet. Not until after NZ. And since the scar is hardening, she is condemned to wear the splint ALL DAY.

Kanji came too, and we are both getting a bit fed up with the doctor, who doesn't have an ounce of bedside manner. We came pretty early today, and got an appointment right at 8:30. I thought there would still be a little bit of a wait, so I went to the car to put some things away, wondering idly what would happen if they got called while I was gone.

Yep, you guessed it, they were called while I was gone. The car was right next to the building, but it was all over by the time I got back. He was already on his computer selecting the date for our visit next month. Fortunately I had discussed my concerns with Kanji in the car before we arrived, so he knew what I wanted to ask!

So Kanji told me what he'd said about the splint having to stay on 24 hours a day now, and I just had time to ask him about the peeling skin on the scar tissue on the palm and the red marks on the back of her hand from the splint. He said we needed to keep putting on the cream, which I do of course, and as for the red marks - we need to see a dermatologist about that. Grrr. We could have gone two weeks ago if we'd known that!

The other problem we were having was that her thumb would just slip out of the thumb section of the splint almost as soon as I put it on her, no matter how tightly I secured the velcro straps. Just before we left the hospital last time, the Plaster Technician slipped in a tiny extra bit of black foam to help it stay in place, and I've been so careful to use it...then last night I finally lost it and decided to just try it - and found out that her thumb stayed in place all night!

To think that all this could have been prevented if I'd just lost that damn bit of black foam earlier. With the thumb in the right place each night, the scar wouldn't have contracted as much as it has. It's causing her a great deal of pain now to put it on, and stretch that thumb back. She starts to pull her hand away and wail, that high-pitched wail you know means real pain. I hate doing it to her!

I also asked about the pool, as I was worried that the pool water was causing her skin to peel. But this guy barely took the time to listen to me, instead laughing that 'of course you can take it off for swimming'. I don't think he realized what I was trying to say. He must think I'm an idiot, thinking she'd have to wear the splint in the pool. Well, he must think all his patients are fools if he doesn't take the time to listen to them.

'Mother must try harder'. Great. I tried so hard, I don't want her to have surgery and I thought if I do this right, if I get this scar softened, maybe she won't need it, so I tried hard! But without sitting down and listening to me, he must just think I'm lazy and stupid.

Well, we got a new kind of cream anyway, a heparin cream, and I'll put it on more often, even though the doctor just gave us the standard 'morning and evening' instruction. What I'd like is a long chat with a nurse or someone with some experience looking after these types of injury, with advice on how to manage it day by day.

I think I'll take it off in the morning and leave it off until it starts to dry out again, then try to get it back on, then take it off again for the bath and leave it off until bedtime. I thought I might also take it off for lunch. That's four nasty putting-on sesssion, that's enough! But I do want her to have time to use her hand. She's just started to use a pencil - in her left hand. I just sent Mum a birthday card with a message from Erica - the first she wrote, and she might not be writing any more for some time if I have to keep this splint on all day!

So I thought that morning; lunchtime and eating lunch; bathtime and bath play; and after the bath could be time for me to concentrate on getting her to use that hand. I am actually quite worried, not only that she'll lose the use of the hand with the bones and tendons cramping up, but also that she'll miss the boat developmentally because of this, if she loses the opportunities to learn and grow that she would otherwise have, making little discoveries about things with her hand.

ALL of this, of course, it would be nice to talk to a professional about, instead of having to make it up myself. At least the Plaster Techinician takes the time to listen to our concerns and try to find solutions for us. We told him there's no way Erica will leave it on all day, and wondered if we could get buckles instead of velcro. He is concerned about getting it on tight enough with buckles, and suggested a double-layer of velcro straps with one set opening on the other side. He has taken the splint for the week to work on it, which means that we get ONE WEEK of blessed freedom before this 24-hour marathon begins.

And I will be looking for any advice on the internet, and if any one of the many medical workers in my family or anyone else knows a plastic surgeon/hand specialist/burns specialist/pediatric sugeon who could even just point me in the direction of some advice, please do let me know!

No comments: