Arthrodesis

AO platear·throd·e·sis

ärˈTHrädəsəs/

noun

  1. surgical immobilization of a joint by fusion of the adjacent bones.

___________________

Seems as though an old injury has come home to roost, in a big, ugly, arthritic way. And the only cure is, well, it’s not more cowbell.

A total fusion of my right wrist is scheduled for Sept. 19, and I’m pissed. Losing what’s left of pitch and yaw, I’m looking at a 2 1/2 hr. surgery, four weeks in a hard cast, another 6 or so in a removable brace, who knows how much physical therapy, and I’ll reach ‘full recovery strength,’ whatever that looks like, in about nine months. Seven inches of titanium secured by seven screws. Fused. Like chicken nuggets.

Apparently I broke my wrist years ago, and shook it off. The first doctor, the one who found the fracture, called it a ‘guy injury’–that should have been the first red flag with him. I’d gone to see him for Dupuytren’s Contracture, a fun little anomaly in my hand that had begun to pull my ring finger toward my palm. I made the mistake of saying something about some pain in my wrist. The X-ray showed the old fracture, and he said, “Whenever you decide to fix the Dupuytren’s, I’ll fix that at the same time!” The idea was to ‘shave off’ some bony growth that had been impeding my thumb, remove some dead bone fragments, inject it with cortisone, and presto! Oh, he fixed it all right.

What had been some annoying pain in the thumb side of my wrist was, after surgery, weeks in a splint, and physical therapy, completely untenable. Way more of the same pain I’d had before, and only about 40% of my grip strength. My physical therapist actually suggested I go find another doctor, who looked at the x-ray and said, “It’s hindsight of course, but I wouldn’t have done that surgery. Your wrist is trashed, arthritic. You need to have that fused.” Great.

Back to the first doctor for follow up, and he explained, “What we tried to do was  was preserve the most motion with the least intervention. The result isn’t what we’d hoped for. Nobody signs up for two surgeries, but you’ll need to have that fused.” He went on to say there were a couple of options, but I was pretty much done listening to him by then.


The third doctor says, “You’ll need a total fusion. I do a lot of ‘second surgeries.’ You don’t have much movement anyway, and this will take care of the pain.” Great.

So the word of the day is Arthrodesis. Screwed seven times.

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