I first got indications of the problem in my left hand in my early twenties. It started as a lump on my palm and although I discussed it with my GP in my late twenties never had anything done about it at the time.
My right hand began to develop the condition in my forties and progressed more rapidly than the other hand had done, two fingers becoming bent at more than a right angle into the palm. In the end the inconvenience (hardly being able to pick up a pint of beer) overcame my exceedingly high level of anxiety and I was referred to a surgeon. He told me that the operation should be able to be done under a local anaesthetic (arm deadened by a block) so I decided to go ahead. In the event a general anaesthetic was required. When I came round in the basement of the Queens Medical Centre surrounded by many other half awake individuals in flowered nighties I was amazed to find the op had taken two and a half hours!
As I had allowed the condition to progress so far it had been necessary to remove skin from my upper arm to repair my palm and finger. I now have some hair growing on the front of my fingers of my right hand. Mad or what.
The surgeon did an excellent job but I have to say that I was not prepared for the considerable and fairly excruciating pain that I experienced in the post operative period. This was I understand due to the fact that the many nerves present in the fingers are damaged in the course of the operation and need to repair over a period of time. Numbness of the finger ends was also present for a time but this resolved.
Three years on I am clear that the operation was a success. I have more mobility in the right hand although I am unable to clench it as tightly closed as I could. I now have one hand that won't fully close and one that won't fully open.
Why have I not had the other one done?
- I have concerns about subjecting myself to a two and a half hour anaesthetic for a non life threatening condition - if I had known it was going to take so long I might not have had the right hand done
- It was very very painful
- The condition can return though fortunately mine has as yet shown no evidence of returning
I suppose the lesson that I have learned from my experience is that if you begin to develop the condition get it resolved whilst it is in it's early stage of development and requiring less drastic surgical intervention.