Notes from Windward: #62

The work as of the end of January

Construction Phase Two - Half-time

     While this project has been a lot of fun, it's also been physically demanding. Perhaps the most stressful part has been using the heavy-duty drill to power in the decking screws that we're using to hold the entire thing together since the stress that the drill puts on one's wrist is rotational, a stress that one rarely encounters.

     The upshot is that a bit before the end of the year, I started waking up at night with my hands "asleep" and noticing that there was a general numbness in my thumb, index and middle finger. No doubt, some of you recognize those as classic symptoms of carpal tunnel stress.

     I scheduled a visit to the neurologist, and was put through the nerve conductivity tests, and was quickly diagnosed with a sufficient degree of nerve function loss that the doctor called for surgery on both wrists at the first available opportunity. Indeed, she picked up the phone, called the surgeon and sent me down the hall to meet with him.

     The surgeon explained the procedure and sent me home to arrange my affairs so that I could afford to stop doing physical work for at least a month. Ouch!

     I immediately got to work and spent the next week wrapping up a variety of projects and concerns, and then went in for the first operation. They only do one wrist at a time so that a person can still attend to things that need attending to while going through the healing process. Intellectually it seems like it would be best to just get all the surgery done at once and have it behind you, but it's really much more practical to take it one wrist at a time.

     The surgery itself only took about 10 minutes, at least that's my understanding of how it went. They gave me an IV which contained something to insure that I didn't really care very much how long the actual surgery lasted. About all I remember is the surgeon commenting to the nurse that I was very thick skinned :-)

     I spent the next two days pretty much in a fog thanks to the marvels of modern chemistry, and by the third day I was able to function on the keyboard, albeit in a somewhat slow and clumsy manner. As I'm writing this, I'm five days out from the surgery, and although I still don't have any gripping strength to speak of, I am pretty much able to use the hand with full dexterity. The main thing is that the surgical wound isn't showing any signs of infection, which was more of a concern to me than the actual surgery.

     I'm scheduled for the other wrist to be done two weeks out from the first, and so in another couple of weeks, I expect to have this behind me and be back to work on the castle. While the calendar is steadily ticking away the days between now and the event, the castle work is to the point where the real design and construction questions have been worked out and built, and now it's pretty much a matter of repeating the existing work again and again until the walls are finished.

Two Week Update

     As described above, I went in for carpal tunnel surgery on my right wrist on Feb 12th. The surgery went without incidence, and surgery on the second wrist was scheduled for Feb 26th.

     About a week later, I took a fall in the night causing the stitches to be sucked in to the wound. I had to be at an event in Seattle that weekend, and by Sunday, I was experiencing shooting pains and a light fever, so instead of returning to Windward on Monday, I just went straight to doctor's office.

     As she took out the first stitch, the nurse decided that the surgeon needed to be called in.

     He proceeded to open up the wound, remove the embedded stitches, and cancel the second surgery. That left me with a two inch open wound that had to drain as it healed. Now, almost a week later, the open part of the wound is down to about an inch, and it seems to be healing fine. I still have a little numbness in part of my thumb and the tip of my index and middle fingers, but there's a definite improvement, and they tell me that it can take up to six weeks for the nerve to fully recover.

     At this point, I'm planning on having the second wrist done the week of March 10th with the goal of being back to work on the castle by the end of the month.

Notes from Windward, Vol. 62