In my introductory post I promised I would tell y’all about my robot wrist someday, and that day has finally come. I figure it’s appropriate since the original incident occurred exactly one year ago today.
Ah, the original incident. I like to call that day “Hailstorm: 1, Jacqui: 0.” I’ll let you have a hilarious mental image here: me opening our front door to see the hail, rain blowing in and wetting our hardwood floors, and me proceeding to slip and fall forward onto my fragile wrist. Ow. I knew it was broken immediately, so off to the ER we went.
We waited awhile, as one usually does at a hospital, and then I got x-rayed and sent to a room to wait for results. I will never forget the odd look on the ER doctor’s face when he walked into the room, or the words he said in an inappropriately jovial tone.
“Your wrist is definitely broken… but we saw something else on your x-rays. I think it’s a tumor!”
Um. Excuse me?
We proceeded to consult an orthopedic doctor and a wrist surgeon, but the news remained the same. After a biopsy, it was confirmed that I had a Giant Cell Tumor in my radius – a rare and aggressive non-cancerous tumor that was eating away at my bone.
Surgery was scheduled to remove the tumor, fill in the hole in my bone with cadaver tissue (yes, ew) and attach plates and screws to stabilize the entire wrist. But alas, “we plan, God laughs.”
To my surprise and dismay, I woke up with THAT sticking out of my arm.
THAT is called an external fixator, or “ex-fix” and it took the place of plates and screws when my doctor realized my remaining bone was too fragile for them. I may or may not have informed him that this was “sh*t” upon hearing I’d be part-robot for 12 weeks. In my defense, I was still pretty loopy from the anesthesia. Also, it WAS pretty sh*tty ; )
As you can tell from my awkward smile, I gradually got used to the fairly painful and inconvenient contraption. Something I never got used to was cleaning the wounds around each of the 4 pins sticking out of my arm.
I still had adventures! I was able to travel to Florida for a vacation with my best friends, and would have definitely missed my flight if I hadn’t been able to jump the entire security line to have my robot arm “tested” for hazardous materials…
I was even trusted with babies! This is my cousin’s daughter Lily, who was actually born while I was in surgery having the tumor removed. She’s definitely skeptical of the arm giving her a bottle…
Overall it was a pretty crazy experience, but I definitely learned a lot about my patience and adaptation skills. I also learned how to finagle a cardigan sleeve over the ex-fix when the air conditioner got too high. Here are my scans from my checkup in March – I’m tumor free and I almost have full movement back in that wrist!
Does that contraption completely freak you out, like it did for me? What’s the craziest medical experience you or a family member has ever had?