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    How 3 Stitches Turned Into 80 and 14 Weeks of Turmoil

    January 17, 2018 3 min read

    How 3 Stitches Turned Into 80 and 14 Weeks of Turmoil
    Words by Jacob Lambert.

    What started, and what I thought ended, as a few stitches in my wrist escalated into a full-blown arm injury with a 14-week repair date thanks to a knife that was unsheathed too early and a Mahi-Mahi that had slipped the shaft [original post].   I’ve learned a lot in the last 3 months mostly about how to avoid future impalement, how to deal with a running fish and the best way to destroy a perfectly executed surgical tendon repair…  

    severed fcr tendon
     
    To quickly recap: I cut myself on the 28th of August.  I was stitched up that day at Wynnum Community Health Centre [not a hospital, but stitched me up, both kinds of stitch-up...] and while being stitched they performed some tests on my motion and strength and decided that I’d done no real damage. 4 days later I start noticing bruising around my wrist and elbow and immediately realised it wasn’t as casual as it all seemed. Not until I removed the bandage could I see the tendon was no longer in-tact.  
     
    mahi mahi spearfishing
    A blessing and a curse, note the weight-belt/towel/boat light splint. 
     
    So, I knew I’d done real damage and, with some home-diagnosis, came to the conclusion it was the unnecessary Palmaris Longus tendon. I dare say I made that conclusion because it meant I didn’t need surgery… The following day I checked into the Mater Public specialists clinics and after taking one look at it they checked me in for an explorative procedure the next day.  I’d never had surgery before, well surgery that required a general anaesthetic, and I was pretty excited by the whole affair.  Roll in, fall asleep, wake up fixed- how good!   
     
    lazy s incision fcr tendon

    I must admit, removing the cast and seeing this 'lazy S' was mildly concerning.
     
    Surgery was a success! They explored the place and found a complete cut of the Flexa Carpi Radialis [FCR] and stitched it back up. In saying that, I entered the place with a 2.5cm cut and walked out with a 10 cm incision, a lazy ’s’ they called it. Unfortunately, when tendons are no longer in tension they begin to waste away.  In my case, the 8 days between the initial cut and surgery meant my tendon-ends were necrotic and weak. Basically, the tendon was intact but far from strong so they put me in a fancy splint in order to make it impossible to engage the FCR structure.
     

     

    plastic split for fcr tendon repairGetting out of the plaster and into this split was the greatest feeling. 

     

    2.5 weeks of healing later I was going about my business, trying to slip off my un-tied shoe with my index finger and BANG the whole repair exploded… The entire injury process up until this time had been painless but the re-rupture was quite possibly the most painful thing I’ve ever felt. My whole body went warm, even my knees hurt!?  The worst bit was that I could feel bristley ends of the stitches scraping around on the inside of my arm and neighbouring bits, eww.  
     
     
    post-operative fcr tear plaster cast
     Post-operative plaster number 2.  
     
    I went into emergency the next day to have the zone inspected by ultra-sound and it was clear to them I needed another round of surgery. Queue another few days and I’m back in surgery, getting the same repair done, except this time they have to extend the cuts even further in order to get a grip on my retracted tendon. Coming out of general was by far and away the most painful experience of my life, my whole arm ached and my body hurt to the point even thinking was painful. Thankfully there was this angel standing next to me who said something along the lines of ‘hey I got all the morphine’ and what seemed like a few minutes later, I was being discharged.
     
     
    extended lazy s incision
    The resulting scar from operation number 2.
     
     
    So here we are, about 14-15 weeks after the original cut.  I’ve downgraded to a neoprene splint and just began rehab.  I was excited for rehab, slightly worried, but the first session was postponed as they found most of the area around the incision and repair has fused together and rehab on the tendon won't begin until I've torn the skin away from the tendons.   Moral of the story: go to a real hospital and do as the doctors say, oh and don’t stab yourself in the first place!
     

    Special thanks to my Marcel & Taylor for loading my gun as of late!