THE SECOND AND THIRD HAND SURGERIES: MISSING
SOME KNUCKLES, BUT LOOKING
A WHOLE LOT BETTER
Peter Noonan of Herman's Hermits once sang about Henry the Eighth,
"second verse, same as the first." Similarly, August would introduced
a repeat of the May surgery, but on the opposite hand.
Andrew proved rugged coming out of this one, needing morphine
only coming out of surgery in the recovery area. Mere Tylenol®
(not Tylenol with codeine, which makes him upchuck) kept his pain
at bay thereafter.
It's often the denouement of the surgery (recovery at home) that
leads to surprises. First Andrew's pseudo-gel, semi-adhesive clear
wrap over the abdomen fell off, exposing the choice area where
skin-for-grafting is removed. Another trip to the emergency room,
and a two-hour wait, hoping that someone present will know that
this kind of repair requires different wrapping and protective
bandaging from that norm.
October: Making Two Fingers Out of "One."
This fall operation held more uncertainty for us, although Dr.
Bentz had no doubts. And he was correct. I thought that Andrew
had only one finger bone inside the skin and tissue that formed
the conjoined middle two fingers. But a late X-ray revealed that
two separate finger bones came from the knuckles on the hand,
and the only conjoined bone was from the finger tips down to where
the first knuckles were supposed to be. Still a challenge, to
cut through the conjoined bone and give Andrew two distinctly
separate middle and ring fingers on his left hand.
The surgeon made it look easy, surprising us by wheeling Andrew
out of surgery almost an hour earlier than we had expected.
Now this time, I thought, with two throbbing fingers fresh
from a surgical separation at bone level, Andrew would certainly
require morphine during his night stay at the hospital.
But Andrew proved me wrong again. He might frighten all too easily
at some of the ordinary aspects of life, but he's a soldier coming
out of surgery. All through the night he only needed Tylenol¨,
although I had to administer it: he would no longer let anyone
in a blue smock or scrubs get near him if he could help it. These
surgeries had made him immediately mistrust those trained caregivers
And this would happen yet again, early in 2001, to separate similarly
conjoined fingers on Andrew's right hand.